In a world that’s ever changing, teaching little ones to be kind and understanding has never been more valuable. Here are 10 powerful books that will help children understand the concept of empathy.
Voices In The Park by Anthony Brown | Picture Corgi
One trip to the park is described by four very different characters. Each describes what they see, who they meet, and how they feel about it in their very own unique voice. This book carefully shows how perspective affects experiences. Anthony Browne’s wonderful illustrations give added detail to each of the character’s stories that will give little ones plenty to discover themselves.
Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis | Andersen
This is a story of a little girl in a wheelchair called Susan who laughs, sings, flies and swings – just like every other little girl. Accompanied by Tony Ross’ delightful artwork, this fun and colourful picture book aims to combat stereotypes around disability and people with differing abilities.
Beegu by Alexis Deacon | Red Fox
Poor Beegu is not supposed to be on Earth. As she searches for help she finds that the big creatures on this planet are not very welcoming at all. Sad and alone, she continues on her quest until she comes across a playground of children, who welcome her into their playful games and Beegu suddenly feels much more at home. This lovely tale of acceptance is a valuable tool that demonstrates empathy in action and shows how little readers can help new friends feel welcome.
Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin | Andersen
An ordinary bubble may seem pretty harmless to most. However, to the monsters of La La Land, bubbles are simply terrifying. Thanks to lots of encouragement from both the narrator and the readers these monsters learn to confront their fears and embrace the bubbles. This is a great book for getting children to understand where fear comes from, while encouraging them to support others too.
Sometimes I Feel Sunny by Gillian Shields | Picture Corgi
Sometimes I Feel Sunny follows four friends as they experience a range of emotions, and is perfect for helping children explore all of their different feelings - and to better understand the way others feel, too. This bright and engaging picture book will help your little readers acknowledge that although we all have happy days, we all also get some 'scratchy, grumpy and yucky days' too.
Mile High Apple Pie by Jeanne Willis | Red Fox
Mile High Apple Pie is a touching and sensitive tale of a little girl’s relationship with her Grandma, who is suffering with dementia. It's the perfect story for helping children with ageing relatives to understand a bit more of what they are going through. It also provides gentle reassurance that, even if memory fails, the love and bond between families will always remain.
Bluebird by Bob Stake | Andersen
This stunning wordless picture book tells the story of a heroic bluebird who befriends a lonely boy and gives him courage and hope as he goes about his day. Capturing a range of emotions from start to finish, this book offers lots of talking points to begin discussions with tots, and approach the subject of empathy in an enjoyable way.
Is it Because...? by Tony Ross | Andersen
A little boy is trying to understand why a boy at school is picking on him: 'Is it because he misses his mum? Is it because he still sucks his thumb? Is it because he smells like a pike? Is it because he can't ride a bike?’ Is it Because...? is a thought-provoking book from Tony Ross that will get kids thinking about both sides of the story.
The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis | Puffin
When two girls discover an adorable creature by the pond, they can’t wait to take him home to take care of him. But, even though they make him try all their own favourite things, they just can’t work out how to make him happy. The Bog Baby is a magical story that will teach little ones that their likes and needs may not always be the same as everyone else’s.
We're All Wonders by R J Palacio | Puffin
Although he’s always looked different, Auggie is determined to get others to look beyond his facial deformity and see the kind and funny person he is inside. Told from the perspective of the beloved hero of Wonder: Auggie Pullman, We’re all Wonders has been created to inspire young children to always choose kindness above all else.