How literature can teach young readers to build empathy and resilience

Book challenges in Iowa, and beyond, have been grabbing headlines and sparking controversy in recent months. These challenges have also sparked some important conversations.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the literature of the Holocaust, and the importance of reading books written about the Holocaust by those who witnessed the atrocities, with Elka Heckner. Heckner is a lecturer at the University of Iowa in the German department and teaches courses on how the Holocaust is portrayed in literature and film.

Later in the podcast, teacher librarian Chelsea Sims explains how school libraries function. She talks about how books are selected, the transparency that already exists and the processes in place for when a book is challenged. Sims recently decided it was time to pull the curtain back on what school librarians do and the laws, rules and values ​​they follow by writing Iowa School Librarian: How the Book Review Process Already Works for the Iowa Starting Line.

This Episode Originally aired 2-2-22


  • Elke Hecknerlecturer in the department of German, courses of Holocaust literature and film, University of Iowa
  • Chelsea Simsteacher, librarian at South East Junior High, Iowa City

Books mentioned in this Episode:

  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Ghetto Diary by Janusz Korczak
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Flavor by Art Spiegleman
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered by Ruth Klüger
  • Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

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