Read for Empathy

Scientific research shows that reading builds empathy. So let’s use stories to help children develop empathy skills, and build a better world.

What is empathy?

Empathy is our ability to understand another person and feel their emotions. It's a force for change because it makes us want to help people. 

Who is EmpathyLab?

EmpathyLab is the first organisation to build children’s empathy, literacy and social activism through the use of high quality books. Their strategy builds on new scientific evidence showing that quality literature is an effective way to build our empathetic understanding of others

What is Empathy Day?

There is a day in June each year called Empathy Day. It's a day to help us understand each other better by using books to step into someone else's shoes. When you read, your brain reacts as it would to real events. This makes books the perfect empathy boosting vehicle. Train your brain with stories!

What is Read for Empathy?

EmpathyLab also publishes Read for Empathy Guides and Book Collections. Each guide features a diverse collection of books for children aged 4-16 years old. Books are selected by an expert panel to improve children's empathy skills.

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2021 Read for Empathy Collections

Read For Empathy Book Covers for the 2021 book list
© Empathy Lab UK

Books for 4-11 Year Olds: 

  • Hello, Friend! - Rebecca Cobb
  • The Suitcase - Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
  • Umbrella - Elena Arevalo Melville
  • Clean Up! - Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola
  • Felix After the Rain - Dunja Jogan
  • Tibble and Grandpa - Wendy Meddour & Daniel Egneus
  • Maia and What Matters - Tine Mortier & Kaatje Vermeire
  • Ride the Wind - Nicola Davies & Salvatore Rubbino
  • The Boy in the Jam Jar - Joyce Dunbar
  • Too Small Tola - Atinuke
  • Five Ways to Make a Friend - Gillian Cross
  • The Lost Homework - Richard O'Neill & Kirsti Beautyman
  • How to Change the World - Rashmi Sirdeshpande & Annabel Tempest
  • Rain Before Rainbows - Smriti Halls & David Litchfield
  • Once Upon a Dragon's Fire - Beatrice Blue
  • Belonging Street - Mandy Coe
  • Bright Bursts of Colour - Matt Goodfellow
  • Poems Aloud - Joseph Coelho & Daniel Gray-Barnett
  • This Rock, That Rock - Dom Conlon & Vivianne Schwarz
  • Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - Rey Terciero & Bre Indigo
  • The Faraway Truth - Janae Marks
  • Talking to the Moon - S E Durrant
  • The Space We're In - Katya Balen
  • The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates - Jenny Parsons
  • The Time of Green Magic - Hilary McKay
  • A Kind of Spark - Elle McNicoll
  • The Taylor Turbochaser - David Baddiel
  • The Star Outside My Window - Onjali Q Rauf
  • Windrush Child - Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Freedom - Catherine Johnson

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Books for 12-16 Year Olds:

  • Clouds Cannot Cover Us - Jay Hulme
  • A Hurricane in my Head - Matt Abbott
  • Tin Boy - Steve Cole
  • The Last Paper Crane - Kerry Drewery
  • I Was Born for This - Alice Oseman
  • Eight Pieces of Silva - Patrice Lawrence
  • Gloves Off - Louisa Reid
  • The Undefeated - Kwame Alexander & Kadir Nelson
  • The Gone Book - Helena Close
  • And the Starts Were Burning Brightly - Danielle Jawando
  • On the Come Up - Angie Thomas
  • The Missing - Michael Rosen
  • Scavengers - Darren Simpson
  • Boy, Everywhere - A M Dassu
  • When Stars Are Scattered - Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed
  • Clap When You Land - Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Run, Rebel - Manjeet Mann
  • A House Without Walls - Elizabeth Laird
  • Look Both Ways - Jason Reynolds
  • Chinglish - Sue Cheung

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Last Updated: 20 October 2021