Read for Empathy 2021 :: NEWS
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Read for Empathy 2021

26 January 2021 Share


Today EmpathyLab launches its 2021 Read For Empathy book collection at a time when empathising with others has never been needed more. 

50 books for 4-16 year olds are featured, each chosen to do a specific job in building young people’s empathy.  The primary collection is for 4-11

year olds and consists of 30 books; the secondary collection features 20 books for 12-16 year olds. Many of the books help readers understand the lives of those experiencing tough situations, from witnessing domestic violence to becoming a refugee. Others explore everyday situations and emotions, like friendship problems. Several help readers understand the experience of living with autism.  The diverse range of creators, formats and genres helps expand children’s world view and understand others better.   


Guides to the collection are available as free downloads for parents, teachers and librarians to use with children and young people in the home or learning settings.  


Empathy Day 2021 

The Read for Empathy collections will be used by parents, teachers and librarians in the run up to Empathy Day on 10 June and beyond to instil empathy values and skills. This annual event focuses on using books – and talking about them – to build understanding of the importance and practice of empathy. This year’s theme is Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes. For more information visit the EmpathyLab site


Training for those working with young people   

As well as the book collection, EmpathyLab is running training for teachers and library staff  in the run up to Empathy Day on 10 June. The sessions happen on 17 and 22 March, and are run in partnership with the University of Cambridge.  


The SLA have a webinar - free for SLA members. Run by Sarah Mears MBE, Libraries Connected Programme Manager, this webinar will highlight the newly launched 2021 #ReadforEmpathy book collection 

Sarah will be talking about some of her favourite books in the collection and explain the ‘empathy angles’ that guided their selection and the skills they hope that using the books will build. She will be suggesting ways to use the collection within an empathy context - describing the connections between empathy and reading and what happens in the brain when we read.Finally, she will be sharing some of the exciting plans Libraries Connected have for Empathy Day 2021 and giving some hints and tips for getting involved, including their brand new Empathy Walks campaign and highlighting the toolkits that will be available to support schools and families.

Book here.


The Judging Process

As one of the team from schools, libraries and the wider book world I had, what was a privilege, of reading quite a few books in the lead up to the decision of what to include. I had to keep stressing to my family when yet another book arrived at home that I hadn't spent (even more) money on reading for myself as I added each book to the growing pile. All the books we read could have been included, but there was simply not enough space. So difficult decisions had to be made in a couple of meetings to flesh out what we couldn't do without and what might best benefit children and young people in today's strange world. We couldn't come to physical blows as this was virtual, but we had a healthy discussion to champion our favourites, and in the end it wasn't too heated - except for the excitement. What we agreed we hope you too will choose to read to your pupils, your family and to recommend when you know someone else is going through a similar experience, or simply to enjoy as an activity to take your mind away from the current situation.

Dawn Woods,

Member Development Librarian, SLA