I can't help but feel that reading has helped me become a better person. Stories teach us that there are different versions of truth and right conduct by showing us people who are different from us and putting forth nuanced portrayals of human beings and their decisions. In other words, stories expand our worldview and instil empathy in us.


Teachers are the most empathetic of people. Their job demands it from them. Interacting with different children from myriad backgrounds every day necessitates empathy and compassion. Actively trying to better oneself is part and parcel of being a teacher. Reading these acclaimed, award-winning novels will help you further your goals by showing you alternate belief systems and lived experiences.

The Catcher in the Rye:

This coming-of-age novel by American author J.D. Salinger is widely read all over the world as an account of teenage angst and alienation. However, it was originally intended for adults. A teenager-favourite, this book will help you comprehend the ups and downs of your troubled teens with greater empathy.

The God of Small Things:

This award-winning debut novel by Arundathi Roy is a poignant reflection on caste and gender in India. Every teacher should read this because they craft the citizens of tomorrow, and hold the power to instil compassionate, egalitarian values in children. Very often, homes do not provide conducive environments for this sensitization. Teachers and schools can offer a great alternative and this beautifully written book will help you gain more perspective regarding the matter.

The Book Thief:

This historical novel by Australian author Markus Zusak is set in Holocaust Germany. This novel uses a child’s perspective to narrate the horrors of the Holocaust in unique, spellbinding ways. How do people help each other in difficult times? Why is it important that we believe in love and look out for each other? How do our prejudices affect those who are at the receiving end of it? This book will answer all these questions. It’s humorous, heart-wrenching and eye-opening, all at the same time.

Illicit Happiness of Other People:

This novel written by Manu Joseph is a dark comedy and family drama set in Chennai. It talks about culture, families, and mental health. Mental health is often treated as a taboo word, but that only serves to make things worse. This book will make you ask yourself what normalcy is and why we force people to strive for it. It’ll help you gain more perspective about mental health issues and self-harm.

The Sympathizer:

This novel by Vietnamese-American author Viet Thanh Nguyen throws light on the political struggles that defined the Vietnamese war. Set in both Vietnam and the United States, this novel shows you that there is no single truth. How we look at things define how we perceive things. In an increasingly divided world, this book is a shining light encouraging its readers to sympathize with each other- an important skill that can help you in the classroom and beyond.