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Our guide to Empathy Day and children’s books that encourage reading for empathy

Empathy Day was set up back in 2017 by the fantastic folk at EmpathyLab who are on a mission to help children become more empathetic, creating a generation that understands the power of this vital skill. Their aim is to reach a million children a year by 2026.

The reason we’re so enthusiastic about Empathy Day is that it focuses on using books and stories to help children step into someone else’s shoes and flex those empathy muscles.

Can fiction books really play a part in empathy?

Children lying on a white floor holding colourful books in front of their faces.

The short answer is yes! Research has shown that reading fiction has some very specific benefits for children and adults. Learn more by taking a look at our blog post - reading fiction and empathy: the amazing benefits of books for children.

Books aren’t just brilliant at developing empathy. There are a host of amazing benefits educationally, emotionally and socially. You may like to check out our top reasons why reading matters. Some of the health benefits of reading may surprise you too!

Which books can help boost empathy?

Assorted covers of books featured in the Reading for Empathy collection

Any book which transports you into another person’s shoes is going to help boost empathy. But of course, there are some titles that do this particularly well, or weave themes of kindness, compassion, resilience and inclusion into the story in such a way that it super-charges the benefits to readers.

Each year EmpathyLab create a Reading for Empathy Collection with this in mind. It’s their top picks from the children’s publishing landscape and a fantastic resource for parents and teachers.

Of course, we’d recommend you check out the whole list but we’ve also picked our top 10 from the collection to get you started.


What’s happening on Empathy Day in 2022?

Empathy Day badge and save the date Thursday 9th June 2022

On Thursday 9th June 2022, children, teachers, authors, illustrators and all manner of book-related professionals will be enjoying a day of activities and celebrations.

Empathy Lab are inviting us all to complete their Empathy Superpower Challenge. They’ve created 9 empathy-boosting activities for children and adults to have a go at. Complete 3 and you’ll get a badge, manage all 9 and you’ll receive a certificate signed by award-winning author Michael Rosen!

There will also be a completely free timetable of online events featuring brilliant children’s authors and illustrators. Whether in school or at home, this is something kids will not want to miss.

In the run up to the day, Empathy Lab will also be sharing a collection of brand new and exclusive stories from some of our best-loved children’s authors and some brilliant new illustrations from children’s book illustrators too.