Habits of the Mind: Listening With Empathy & Understanding

  • Oct. 1, 2016, 4:42 p.m.

I have used Art Costa's "Habits of Mind" as a springboard for discussion. Using children's literature or novel studies, we can help students identify with characters who demonstrate examples or non-examples of positive academic behaviors. Below are a few books you can read and discuss during the first weeks of school.


Gerald is a tall thin giraffe who is rather clumsy. His self confidence is low because the other jungle animals laugh at him and say "Giraffes can't dance!". It isn't until Gerald finds a friend that will listen and offer great advice about how he needs to stop and listen to the nature around him. When Gerald stops and listens, he finds his strength! Habits to discuss: Listening with Empathy and Understanding, Responding with Wonderment and Awe, Thinking Flexibly.


The summer that Winn Dixie ran into Opal's life was the best yet! Opal was a lonely little girl who longed to know about her mama and make new friends. It isn't until she adopts a stray dog named Winn Dixie that she gets all she ever needed and more. Habits to discuss: Empathy, Listening, Persisting, Thinking Flexibly, Taking responsible Risks, Finding Humor.



Alexander is having the worst day ever! From gum in his hair to lima beans for dinner, nothing is going his way. It isn't until Alexander's mom sits down to listen and tells him that everyone has bad days. The power of listening heals all, especially when it's your mama. Habits to discuss: Listening with Empathy and Understanding, Thinking Flexibly, Thinking About Your Thinking.