9 books from the Reading for Empathy Collection 2024 you won't want to miss!

Assorted book covers from the 2024 Read for Empathy Collection


Empathy Day 2024 is happening on 6th June and it's an event we eagerly anticipate each year. Organised by Empathy Lab, this initiative is dedicated to fostering empathy through the power of literature.

Empathy Lab believes that reading books which delve into diverse perspectives and experiences can significantly help children and young people cultivate empathy and understanding, becoming more compassionate, inclusive members of society as a result. This is a belief we wholeheartedly share.

Each year, Empathy Lab curates a Read for Empathy Collection. This selection of books is meticulously chosen for their capacity to emotionally engage readers and inspire thoughtful reflection on the lives and experiences of others.

The collection is an invaluable resource for parents and educators alike, featuring 65 books aimed at readers aged 3 to 16. Selected by an expert panel of teachers, librarians, and academics, these books tackle vital and timely themes such as poverty, homelessness, identity, and intolerance.

We highly recommend exploring the entire collection but to help you get started, here are our top 9 picks:

Cover of Budgie by Joseph Coelho 

Budgie by Joseph Coelho

This is a sweet and charming short chapter with beautiful, full-colour illustrations. Miles is captivated when he finds a lost budgie, but unfortunately, the bird doesn't survive. It turns out the budgie belonged to their cranky neighbour, who comes over after hearing the news. In sharing their affection for the bird, Miles realises that Mr. Buxton is actually quite wonderful.

Cover of Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr 

Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr

This action-packed historical adventure has a classic feel and is a perfect read for age 8 and up. Jason’s brother Richie attempts to manage things after their parents' death, but he finds himself in serious trouble. Set in Wales, this story features beautifully developed relationships and an exciting adventure as Jason and his friends race to win £100 for spotting a big cat...

Cover of Fablehouse by E. L. Norry

Fablehouse by E. L. Norry

This thrilling and atmospheric fantasy adventure would be perfect for fans of Sophie Anderson and Katherine Rundell. Fablehouse shelters children in care from a society unable to accept their skin colour. Troubled Heather discovers an intriguing cairn, leading to a magical adventure. This stunning novel is the first in a series and offers profound insights into how children in care feel and the power of friendship.

Cover of The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon

In this tender animal adventure a puppy born in unpromising circumstances finds his forever manpup but a terrible accident rips them apart. This verse novel told from the perspective of Scruffity highlights both the cruelty of humans and the intense bonds formed between humans and animals.

Cover of The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow

This stunning verse novel has been a runaway bestseller and it's not hard to see why. Nate’s voice rings loud and true – in a northern dialect – in this authentic, moving story. He’s in his last year of primary school, looking after his brothers while his mum plays bingo. Then precious brother Dylan collapses...

Cover of Until the Road Ends by Phil Earle

Until the Road Ends by Phil Earle

This thrilling, historical adventure is fantastic for readers aged 8 and up offering powerful insights into wartime emotions, from an animal’s perspective. Peggy is evacuated from war-torn London. Her beloved stray dog Beau is left behind, and heroically rescues people from the rubble. When Peggy’s parents are killed, Beau knows he has, somehow, to find her.

Sing If You Can't Dance by Alexia Cassale

We absolutely loved this book and were excited to included it in one of our Macaw subscription boxes for 12 to 14-year-olds. Ven is a determined and outspoken teenager living with chronic pain. Though often angry and frustrated, she is also an excellent problem solver, driven to discover new paths to fulfillment. This is a genuine story of courage, hope, and love.

Cover of The Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam

Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam

This joyous book about growing up and finding your voice has also been a hit with our tweens and early teens. Storm's shyness limits her life but she has a talent for running. With the support of empathetic teammates, her confidence grows and she abandons her toxic friendship circle and becomes a sporting hero.

Swimming on the Moon by Brian Conaghan

Swimming on the Moon by Brian Conaghan

This reassuring story explores the bond between Anna and her non-verbal autistic twin brother as they navigate the anxiety of their parents’ marriage breaking down and support each other through the most difficult period of their lives. Another excellent choice for 12 to 14-year-olds.


You may also be interested to check out our Guide to Empathy Day and children's books that encourage reading for empathy. 



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