Interactive Empathy Training Novel Nominated for Award

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An interactive graphic novel (IGN), designed to promote empathy among children in elementary school, has been chosen as a finalist in the interactive category for the 2014 Prix Jeunesse, the prestigious international award for children’s media. Based on the hit children’s series Arthur, So Funny I Forgot to Laugh allows its young readers to zoom in on characters to see what they are thinking and feeling. The novel is the creation of the Arthur Interactive Media Study (AIMS), funded through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and aims to foster understanding about the perspective of others.

In this story, Arthur pushes a joke too far with his friend Sue Ellen and becomes aware of hurting her. The IGN asks the reader questions such as whether Arthur is laughing at or with his friend. Anne Richards, one of the judges for the prize, praised the novel, saying, “It’s a very direct take on the emotional world of young kids, but it’s thoughtfully and gently done in a way that’s sympathetic to all of the story’s characters.”

A recent Huffington Post article explored the results of the study. Julie Dodrow of Tufts University, where AIMS is based, explained, “Preliminary analysis of the data has shown researchers that kids do, in fact, seem to be learning from Arthur.” The encouraging preliminary data will be explored further by gathering additional evidence as the project develops.

The Prix Jeunesse International festival runs from May 30 to June 4, 2014. Its theme this year is “Feelings in Focus” and will celebrate the hundreds of projects submitted from countries all around the world.