Posted: Friday 1st June 2018
“Reading fiction provides an excellent training for young people in developing and practising empathy and theory of mind, that is, understanding of how other people feel and think”.
- Maria Nikolajeva, Professor of education, Cambridge University
Willy the Cloud by Anthony Brown
Explaining dark moods to a child can be challenging. Browne uses the image of a personal cloud hanging over the central character in this multi-layered, powerful and moving book
Grandads Island by Benji Davies
A sensitive exploration of the emotions involved in bereavement, and healing. Davies subtly conveys a positive message about letting go whilst always carrying the loved one in your heart.
Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood
Colin is a carrot struggling to fit in with the peas’ games. Sparsely witty illustrations celebrate their growing realisation that their differences don’t have to divide them.
Can I Join Your Club by John Kelly
Duck really needs some new friends but none of the other animals will let him join their club. So he starts one of his own and he welcomes everyone in. A story that shows the importance of being open to making real connections, not judgments.
15 Things Not To Do With a Granny by Margaret McAllister
A granny is a wonderful person to have in your life, but never make assumptions about what grannies do! A book which will make everyone laugh whilst getting children thinking about their own family members, and what they really need.
Lulu Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn
Understanding pets’ feelings and needs can help children develop their empathy muscles. Lulu learns how to make her new cat feel at home in this gently delightful book.
My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner
A boy describes his experience of having to leave his town, asking very direct questions of the reader that invite reflection about how we would cope in his situation. Ends with the powerful message that Refugee is just a label – not a name.
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
In this beautifully illustrated story Norman suddenly finds himself with a pair of wings, and struggles to accept himself until other children reveal that they also have wings!
You're Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar
The forest creatures are afraid of the thunder and strong winds, but reassured by a mother figure. Great for exploring relationships, and different perspectives
The Parrot and the Merchant by Marjan Vafaian
A Persian merchant loves keeping colourful birds in cages, but her favourite talking parrot longs to escape. A lovely story based on a Rumi fable, which sparks empathic reflection on how our actions affect other creatures
El Deafo by Cece Bell
A moving semi-autobiographical graphic novel told from the viewpoint of a young deaf girl. Thought bubbles and dialogue draw us into Cece’s world, making it easy to identify with her self-consciousness and frustration, and with her friends’ confused feelings as they struggle to do the 'right thing'.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
A young boy makes a terrifying journey from Africa to Europe. Upsetting, important graphic novel with illuminating insights into the experiences of refugees and migrants and their resilience.
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies
A lonely boy in a new country meets an old man, and they start to share a passion for racing pigeons. Superb book, exploring inter-generational understanding and what helps people to feel less alone
Here I Am by Patti Kim
A powerful wordless picture book about the chaotic feelings of a boy coming to a new country, and how these emotions gradually ease as he experiences kindness.
The No 1 car spotter fights the factory by Atinuke
An African village is overcome with problems caused by a corrupt developer, but the brilliant Oluwalase Babatunde Benson (the No. 1 Car Spotter) saves the day. Lovely insights into different emotions and life challenges.
Sputniks guide to life on earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Sputnik is an alien tasked with writing a guidebook to Earth, who struggles to understand how humans work. With his new, shy friend Prez, he learns about the planet’s very best things. Exuberant, witty writing with a strong emotional core.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
What does it mean to be human? That’s the question raised by this tale of a shipwrecked robot. The robot (Roz) is inadvertently activated and gradually learns to feel, to care and to love. The ability to feel empathy is at the heart of Roz’s journey.
Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer
Arthur is struggling with conflicting feelings of jealousy, guilt and love, caused by his brother’s learning difficulties. Then Mr P (a polar bear) stumbles through the front door… and helps Arthur cope with his emotions.
The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Amihan is separated from her mother, who has leprosy, and sent to live in an orphanage on a distant island. A gripping read, with beautifully drawn characters to help children expand their emotional understanding.
Also available on Borrowbox
The Song From Somewhere Else by AF Harrold
Francesca (Frank) is bullied but finds courage through an unlikely friendship. A magical story with an ethereal quality, yet firmly rooted in gritty reality.
Also available on BorrowBox
Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis
A great example of how books can help children see different people’s perspectives. The characters hold diametrically opposed views about whether to shoot or protect endangered hen harriers on a grouse moor. A superb, uplifting book.
Charlie and Me by Mark Lowery
Martin takes his big-brother responsibilities very seriously, and understands Charlie (who has health and behavioural issues) like no one else does. A deeply affecting, story, of an epic journey from Preston to Cornwall with an extraordinary twist.
The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens
This gloriously inventive art-theft whodunit is narrated by Ted Sparks, who is living with autism and has unusual powers of detection (read The London Eye Mystery to meet him for the first time). A lovely depiction of how Ted’s family value him for who he is.
Also available on BorrowBox
The Road to Ever After by Moira Young
A magical adventure about an unlikely friendship between thirteen-year old Davy, who is homeless, and the elderly Miss Flint. Deeply touching, this is an example of how great writing creates characters children will care about – ones that expand their emotional understanding.
Also available on BorrowBox
Overheard in a Tower Block by Joseph Coelho
A powerful poetry collection about growing up. The agonies of missing an absent dad, the grief of a mother and the stresses of city life touch our emotions through Coehlo’s potent yet approachable voice.
Ballerina Dreams by Michaela and Elaine DePrince
Don’t be misled by the cover – this is a gritty true story of how a Sierra Leone orphan overcame racism as she followed her ballerina dreams. It opens children’s eyes to very different life experiences, and has a message of hope – Michaela is now a principal ballerina.
Tender Earth by Sita Brahmachari
Empathy can motivate people to try to make a difference. In this sensitive coming-of-age story, readers experience Laila’s growing determination to make a stand against racism in her community. Even small acts of empathy can change lives.
Smart by Kim Slater
The assumptions we make about people can inhibit our feelings of empathy. Kieran, the central character here, makes no such judgments and his genuine compassion makes a huge difference to his community
The books above are just a sample of the Empathy books, for more titles have a look at the pdf
Empathy Day Booklist, 12 June 2018