© 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 4-16 years old. Books are selected by an expert panel to improve children's empathy skills.

2022 Read for Empathy Collections

Books for 4-11 year olds

Picture books

  • The Proudest Blue - Ibtihaj Muhammad, S K Ali & Hatem Aly
  • A Shelter for Sadness - Anne Booth & David Litchfield
  • Amara and the Bats - Emma Reynolds
  • Last: The story of a white rhino - Nicola Davies
  • My Beautiful Voice - Josephy Coelho & Allison Colpoys
  • The Invisible - Tom Percival
  • Can Bears Ski? - Raymond Antrobus & Polly Dunbar
  • Barbara Throws a Wobbler - Nadia Shireen
  • Eyes that Kiss in the Corners - Joanna Ho & Dung Ho
  • Nen and the Lonely Fisherman - Ian Eagleton & James Mayhew
  • Luna Loves Art - Joseph Coelho & Fiona Lumbers
  • What Happened to You? - James Catchpole & Karen George
  • Tisha and the Blossom - Wendy Meddour & Daniel Egneus

Early readers

  • The Dog that Saved the World (Cup) - Phil Earle
  • Swallow's Kiss - Sita Brahmachari
  • Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister - Chitra Soundar
  • Narwhal's Otter Friend - Ben Clanton
  • Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates - Mark Bradley

Poetry and non-fiction

  • Stars with Flaming Tails - Valerie Bloom
  • Being Me: Poems about thoughts, worries and feelings - Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow, Laura Mucha
  • A Different Sort of Normal - Abigail Balfe


  • The Soup Movement - Ben Davis
  • Front Desk - Kelly Yang
  • The Shark Caller - Zillah Bethell
  • Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths - Maisie Chan
  • Mohinder's War - Bali Rai
  • The House on the Edge - Alex Cotter
  • A Street Dog Names Pup - Gill Lewis

Novels and graphic novels

  • The Girl Who Stole and Elephant - Nizrana Farook
  • How to be Me - Cath Howe
  • The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh - Helen Rutter
  • The Great (Food) Bank Heist - Onjali Q Rauf
  • The Last Bear - Hannah Gold
  • Mayhem Mission - Burhana Islam
  • Allergic - Megan Wagner & Michelle Mee Nutter

Books for 12-16 year olds

Graphic and verse novels

  • Little Light - Coral Rumble
  • The Crossing - Manjeet Mann
  • Wrecked - Louisa Reid
  • Punching the Air - Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
  • The Sad Ghost Club - Lize Meddings


  • SLAM! You're Gonna Wanna Hear This - Chosen by Nikita Gill
  • The Curious Case of Karl Nova - Karl Nova


  • This Book is Cruelty-Free - Linda Newbery
  • Black and British - David Olusoga
  • Silence Is Not an Option - Stuart Lawrence


  • Splinters of Sunshine - Patrice Lawrence
  • Felix Ever After - Kacen Callender
  • Sofa Surfer - Malcolm Duffy
  • After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside - Tom Palmer
  • When the Sky Falls - Phil Earle
  • Queen of Freedom - Catherine Johnson
  • The Year I Didn't Eat - Samuel Pollen
  • In the Key of Code - Aimee Lucido
  • When Life Gives You Mangoes - Kereen Getten
  • When the World Was Ours - Liz Kessler
  • Show Us Who You Are - Elle McNicholl
  • In Her Element - Jamila Gavin
  • Future Girl - Asphyxia
  • Cane Warriors - Alex Wheatle
  • Tsunami Girl - Julian Sedgwick

Milton Keynes Libraries contact information

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