A selection of children's books about empathy on a green background with multicoloured stars

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Topsy and Tim Help a Friend (2015)

Topsy and Tim’s classmate Stevie is being bullied by some bigger children. At first, Topsy and Tim aren’t sure what to do, but when they see how unhappy Stevie is they want to help – so they decide to tell Mummy and their teacher, Miss Terry, about the bullies. This Topsy and Tim ‘first experiences’ book is a wonderfully gentle way to help your child understand bullying, while also emphasising friendship and kindness.

Pablo's Feelings (2020)

As well as helping autistic children and their families feel seen, the Pablo series is a wonderful tool to help educate neurotypical children on autism. Pablo’s mum has suggested they go and visit Pablo’s cousin Lorna. Pablo is excited to see her but his face doesn’t match what he’s feeling so his mum cancels. People with autism often experience a mismatch between feelings and facial expressions. In Pablo’s Feelings, young readers will learn how to better understand and empathise with those with autism.

Ned and the Great Garden Hamster Race by Kim Hillyard (2021)

It’s the day of the Great Garden Hamster Race and Ned can’t wait. He’s been training long and hard for this and wants to win. The race starts and Ned is way out in front. He also comes across several critters in need of his help. But determined to get to the finish line, Ned carries on. It’s only when he finds himself in a spot of trouble does Ned realise what’s the right thing to do. A touching story about how acts of kindness and empathy are far more rewarding than winning.

Don't Hug Doug (He Doesn't Like It) by Carrie Finison & Daniel Wiseman (2021)

Doug doesn’t like to be hugged. Hugs are too squeezy and squashy. He does like to high five and low five – even side five. And although Doug may not like hugs, that doesn’t mean he likes you any less. A great and fun tale to teach children about consent and boundaries, and that even though people can feel differently about certain things, it doesn’t mean they deserve any less compassion. 

Peppa Pig: George’s First Day at Playgroup (2011)

Peppa isn’t sure she wants George to join her at playgroup – it’s a very big change for both of them. But with all her friends so excited to meet him, will Peppa change her mind? If you know a little one facing their first day at school or playgroup, this book is a good way to help introduce the idea as well as encouraging older ones to show empathy towards their friends and siblings.

Please Help Planet Earth (2021)

Planet Earth is truly remarkable. It’s given us a home, food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. But now our planet needs your help! Told from the perspective of Earth, this charming story addresses climate change and the ways we can all make a difference and look after our planet better. A great book to teach children how to show compassion for Earth and that they’re not too little to do their bit. 

Baby Touch: Feelings (2020)

Kids are never too young to start learning about empathy! On every page in Baby Touch: Feelings, little ones will find a face displaying a different emotion. Happy. Sad. Angry. Shy. The bright colours, adorable illustrations, and touch-and-feel sections will stimulate baby’s senses and help introduce them to the concept of emotions and in turn empathy. 

Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Fishy Friends (2016)

Peppa’s worried that her goldfish, Goldie, is getting lonely in her tank, so it’s off to the aquarium to find her some fishy company. Will they find someone for Goldie to get along swimmingly with? Of course, they will, because everyone needs a friend. A sweet and considerate tale for little ones to enjoy.

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