What Goes On in Strangers’ Minds? How Reading Children’s Books Affects Emotional Development
AbstractBased on recent studies in developmental psychology and cognitive narratology, this article shows the impact of Theory of Mind on children’s understanding and apprehension of other people’s thoughts and beliefs presented in fictional texts. With a special focus on the depiction of emotions in two children’s novels, Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives (1929) and Anne Cassidy’s Looking for JJ (2004), it is argued that the representation of the main characters’ states of mind demands specific capacities on behalf of the reader, encompassing mind reading and acquisition of higher levels of empathy, thus fostering children’s comprehension of fictional characters’ life conditions.
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