© Empathy Lab UK

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 3-16 years old. Books are selected by an expert panel to improve children's empathy skills.

2023 Read for Empathy Collections

Books for 3-11 year olds

Picture books - Understanding and Sharing Emotions

  • Storm Goliath - James Sellick and Craig Shuttlewood
  • The Stompysaurus - Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton
  • Everybody has Feelings - Jon Burgerman
  • The River: A powerful book about feelings - Tom Percival
  • Sometimes I Am Furious - Timothy Knapman, Joe Berger, et al.
  • What If, Pig? - Linzie Hunter
  • Sometimes I'm a Baby Bear, Sometimes I'm a Snail: Ways to Say - Moira Butterfield and Gwen Millard

Picture books

  • Yes You Can, Cow! - Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Rikin Parekh
  • Valentine's Guest House - Sam Sharland
  • The Queen on our Corner - Lucy Christopher and Nia Tudor
  • The Comet - Joe Todd-Stanton
  • The Can Caravan - Richard O'Neill and Cindy Kang
  • That's Nice, Love - Owen Gent
  • Saving the Butterfly: A story about refugees - Helen Cooper and Gill Smith
  • Our Tower - Joseph Coelho and Richard Johnson
  • I Am the Subway - Kim Hyo-eun

Early readers

  • The Boy Who Grew a Tree - Polly Ho-Yen and Sojung Kim-McCarthy
  • Nikhil and Jay: The Star Birthday - Chitra Soundar and Soofiya
  • Sidney Makes a Wish - Lisa Thompson and Jess Rose
  • All to Play For - Eve Ainsworth and Kirsti Beautyman


  • Who Are You? - Smriti Halls and Ali Pye
  • First Questions and Answers: What is racism? - Katie Daynes, Jordan Akpojaro, et al.


  • The Last Firefox - Lee Newbery and Laura Catalan
  • The Good Turn - Sharna Jackson
  • The Boy Who Lied - Kim Slater
  • Rosie Raja: Churchill's Spy - Sufiya Ahmed
  • Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu - Maisie Chan
  • Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? - Simon Packham
  • Cuckoo Summer - Jonathan Tulloch
  • Children of the Benin Kingdom - Dinah Orji
  • Can You Feel the Noise? - Stewart Foster
  • Call Me Lion - Camilla Chester
  • The Tide Singer - Eloise Williams and August Ro

Graphic novels

  • Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear - Nguyen Thi Thu Trang and Jeet Zdung
  • Frankie's World - Aoife Dooley


  • This is How the Change Begins - Nicola Davies
  • Here Be Monsters - Jay Hulme and Sahar Haghgoo
  • Courage in a Poem - Various Authors and Various Illustrators
  • Cloud Soup: Poems for Children - Kate Wakeling and Elina Braslina

Books for 12-16 year olds


    • When Shadows Fall - Sita Brahmachari and Natalie Sirett
    • When Our Worlds Collided - Danielle Jawando
    • When I See Blue - Lily Bailey
    • Tyger - SF Said and Dave McKean
    • This Is My Truth - Yasmin Rahman
    • The Secret Sunshine Project - Benjamin Dean
    • The Light in Everything - Katya Balen and Sydney Smith
    • Run for your Life - Jane Mitchell
    • Read Between the Lies - Malcolm Duffy
    • Our Sister, Again - Sophie Cameron
    • No Man's Land - Joanna Nadin
    • Nisha's War - Dan Smith
    • Fight Back - A M Dassu

    Graphic novels

    • The Golden Hour - Niki Smith


    • These Are the Words: Fearless verse to find your voice - Nikita Gill
    • Let's Chase Stars Together: Poems to lose yourself in - Matt Goodfellow


    • You Can Do It - Marcus Rashford
    • Queer Up - Alexis Caught

    Short novels

    • Evolution - Zelda Conway
    • Needle - Patrice Lawrence

     Picture books

    • What Do You See When You Look at a Tree? - Emma Carlisle

    Short stories

    • Happy Here: 10 stories from black British authors and illustrators - Theresa Lola, Dean Atta, et al.

    Verse novels

    •  The Silver Chain - Jion Sheibani

    Milton Keynes City Council Libraries contact information

    Milton Keynes Central Library, 555 Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9 3HL