© 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.

2024 Read for Empathy Collections

Books for 3-11 year olds

Picture books - Understanding and Sharing Emotions

  • Be More Dog - Caroline Crowe & Carlos Velez
  • Geoffrey Gets the Jitters - Nadia Shireen
  • Blue - Sarah Christou
  • I Will Swim Next Time - Emily Joof & Matilda Ruta
  • When I Feel Surprised - Illustrator Paula Bowles
  • Victor, the Wolf with Worries - Catherine Rayner
  • Beneath - Cori Doerrfeld
  • The Spaces In Between - Jaspreet Kaur & Manjit Thapp

Picture books

  • I Am Nefertiti - Annemarie Anang & Natelle Quek
  • Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf - Craig Barr-Green & Francis Martin
  • Nour's Secret Library - Wafa' Tarnowska & Vali Mintzi
  • To the Other Side - Erika Meza
  • Grandpa and the Kingfisher - Anna Wilson & Sarah Massini
  • My Baba's Garden - Jordan Scott & Syndey Smith

Early readers

  • The Girl Who Became a Fish - Polly Ho-Yen/Sojung Kim-McCarthy
  • Dimple and the Boo - Pip Jones/Paula Bowles
  • Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories - Jarvis
  • Budgie - Joseph Coelho/David Barrow


  • Finding My Voice - Aoife Dooley
  • It's Her Story: Irena Sendler - Margret Littman


  • All Bodies Are Wonderful - Beth Cox
  • A Child Like You - Na'ima B Robert
  • Lift the Flap: Questions and Answers about Refugees - Katie Daynes & Ashe de Sousa
  • Our Story Starts in Africa - Patrice Lawrence/Jeanette Gonzales


  • City of Stolen Magic - Nazneen Ahmed Pathak
  • Finding Bear - Hannah Gold
  • My Life on Fire - Cath Howe
  • Glitter Boy - Ian Eagleton
  • How to Be More Hedgehog - Anne-Marie Conway
  • Until the Road Ends - Phil Earle
  • Jamie - L D Lapinski
  • Fablehouse - E L Norry
  • Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star - Laura Noakes
  • Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer - Jeffrey Boakye
  • The Mystery of the Missing Mum - Frances Moloney
  • Where the River Takes Us - Lesley Parr

Verse novels

  • The Final Year - Matt Goodfellow
  • The Way of Dog - Zana Faillon

Graphic novels

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


  • My Heart is a Poem - Mandy Coe, Laura Mucha, Debjani Chatterjee and 17 others
  • What You Need to be Warm - Neil Gaiman

Books for 12-16 year olds


  • You Think You Know Me - Ayaan Mohamud
  • Safiyyah's War - Hiba Noor Khan
  • SOLD: What Will It Take to Find Freedom? - Sue Barrow
  • Promise Boys - Nick Brooks
  • Away With Words - Sophie Cameron
  • Swimming on the Moon - Brian Conaghan
  • Sing If You Can't Dance - Alexia Casale
  • What the World Doesn't See - Mel Darbon
  • Kicked Out - A M Dassu
  • Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One - Maggie Horne
  • One More Mountain - Deborah Ellis
  • The Climbers - Keith Gray
  • Wild Song - Candy Gourlay
  • Boy Like Me - Simon James Green
  • The First Move - Jenny Ireland
  • Different For Boys - Patrick Ness
  • The Piano at the Station - Helen Rutter
  • All the Pieces of Me - Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott
  • Quiet Storm - Kimberly Whittam

Graphic novels

  • Global - Eoin Colfer & Andre Donkin
  • Oxygen Mask - Jason Reynolds


  • You Are Not Alone - Shauna Darling Robertson
  • Choose Love - Nicola Davies & Petr Horacek

Verse novels

  •  Stand Up Ferran Burke - Steven Camden
  • Crossing the Line - Tia Fisher

Milton Keynes City Council Libraries contact information

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