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30EMPATHYBOOKS 1Teachers and parents are increasingly concerned about the potentially empathy-draining effect of social media on children, and new pressures caused by societal divisions and the rise in hate crimes. To combat this, EmpathyLab is harnessing the power of stories to build empathy, inspired by scientific evidence showing that reading can boost real-life empathy skills. EmpathyLab asked publishers to submit their best recently published children’s books with a strong empathy angle. Today they announce the titles selected for a 2018 Read for Empathy Guide.

An expert panel has chosen thirty books to strengthen children’s ability to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives, spark insights into different lives and inspire them to put empathy into action in their communities.
A linked book collection for 4-11 year olds is now available from school and library book suppliers Peters.  This is for parents, teachers and librarians to use in the run-up to Empathy Day on 12 June, and beyond.

The Panel praised the quality of submitted books, choosing 14 picture books, 2 graphic novels, 1 poetry book and 13 novels. They noted the many great books exploring the topical theme of displacement and migration, and the need for empathy to help everyone feel they belong.  They chose several strong tiles which help children understand how others experience and manage their emotions, and others which illuminate the experiences of children facing challenging circumstances, such as deafness, autism or bereavement.

The Panel noticed a big gap in the publisher submissions for poetry, and empathy-boosting books for 7-9 year-olds. Within the young fiction arena the panel chose two short novels: Atinuke’s The No 1 Car Spotter Fights the Factory (illustrator Warwick Johnson Cadwell), and Michaela and Elaine DePrince’s Ballerina Dreams (illustrator Ella Okstad). Joseph Coelho’s poetry in Overheard in a Tower Block makes an important contribution.
The panel members were especially keen to reflect the breadth of realities of our society and ensure the inclusion of quality authors and illustrators from our multi-ethnic community. The submissions received highlighted a shortage of available titles for primary aged children by black and minority ethnic authors and illustrators.  However the collection includes nine titles by writers or illustrators of colour and eleven featuring characters from a mix of ethnic backgrounds.

Order the Read For Empathy book collection online at and enjoy 20% off plus a FREE set of bookmarks and a display poster. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us on 0121 666 6646 or
email empathy[at]


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