Educational Empathy Resources

Read stories. Build empathy. Make a better world.

Empathy is a human super-power which helps us all understand each other better. It is also an essential social and emotional skill, crucial if children are to thrive.

We’re not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s a skill we can learn. Excitingly, new research shows that books are a powerful tool to develop it, because in identifying with book characters, children learn to see things from other points of view. So when you read with childrenyou can build their empathy skills at the same time.

An expert panel has chosen these thirty fantastic books for 4–11-year-olds, excellent for building children’s empathy. They offer powerful insights into other people’s feelings, and develop understanding of different ways of life and issues people face, like being bereaved or becoming a refugee. We hope they will inspire children to turn feelings of empathy into action – in their homes, schools and communities.

The final titles in the reading list were selected by the following people and chaired by Miranda McKearney OBE (Services to Education and Literature) Miranda is the Foudner of Empathy Lab.

Jon Biddle is a teacher at one of EmpathyLab’s pioneer schools, with a passion for developing genuine reading cultures in schools. He coordinates the Patron of Reading initiative, writes a regular blog and talks about books at every possible opportunity.
Aimée Felone is co-founder of newly launched Knights Of – a children’s publisher whose main focus is hiring diversely and commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds. She has always been a supportive voice within the book industry, working to promote diversity.
Paul Harris has worked in education for almost 30 years , working across all key stages, in FE, HE, adult education, managing training for the NHS and working in the third sector. Since 2014 he has been a teacher at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School, an in-patient mental health setting.
Nicolette Jones is a writer and journalist who has been the children’s book reviewer of the Sunday Times for more than two decades.
Sarah Mears is one of EmpathyLab’s founders. Her library background has long convinced her of the power of stories to change children’s lives. She is  Programme Manager for Libraries Connected a national development organisation supporting public libraries.
Nicky Parker heads the publishing programme at Amnesty International UK, with a focus on children’s books and human rights. She is also chair of trustees at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.
Farrah Serroukh is the Learning Programme Leader at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. She is passionate about promoting every child’s right to quality learning underpinned by access to a rich and varied diet of quality literature.