Thursday 9th June is Empathy Day. What is Empathy?
Empathy is our ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings. It builds stronger, kinder communities. It’s a crucial life skill that children need in order to learn, thrive and contribute.Empathy Lab UK
We’re not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s a skill we can all learn. Excitingly, research shows that books are a powerful tool to develop it. When children identify with book characters, they learn to see things from others’ points of view. As they read, they are building their empathy skills.
In this post we will explore some of the fantastic books on the 2022 Read For Empathy list and we would love to know some of your recommended books on this theme – let us know in the comments or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.
Reading allows us to view the world – and ourselves – through another’s eyes and to walk in their shoes for a while, developing understanding. This is the very essence of connecting and communicating effectively with othersMalorie Blackman. Author.
Books for Younger Readers
Nen and the Lonely Fisherman
Far out to sea and deep below the whispering waves lives a merman called Nen. Nen spends his days exploring his underwater kingdom, but something is missing: his heart is empty. So, Nen ventures to the forbidden world above and it is here that he meets Ernest, a lonely fisherman. But can two people from different worlds be together and what will happen when a terrifying storm gathers?
A lyrical, beautiful celebration of love, acceptance and faith, with a gentle message about how we treat our oceans, and each other.
What Happened To You?
What happened to you? Was it a shark? A burglar? A lion? Did it fall off?
Every time Joe goes out the questions are the same . . . what happened to his leg? But is this even a question Joe has to answer?
A ground-breaking, funny story that helps children understand what it might feel like to be seen as different.
Narwhal’s Otter Friend
Narwhal and Jelly – and Otty?! In the fourth book of this blockbuster early graphic novel series, exuberant Narwhal and sceptical Jelly test the waters of adding a new friend to their pod when they meet Otty the super-adventurous otter!
A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three short stories and a super fun ocean fact page – and joke page too!
The Dog that Saved the World Cup
Pickles the dog and his owner Elsie love football more than anything. And they’ve just heard the most amazing news. The World Cup is coming home to England and Elsie’s team have a chance to play in a half-time match at Wembley – with some help from Pickles, of course!
But life off the pitch is tough, even when Dad works hard to provide what they need. It’s their team of three against the world and right now it feels like they’re losing. So when disaster strikes and Elsie’s dreams of playing at Wembley are shattered, it’s up to Pickles to save the world (cup).
A thrilling World War II adventure set in occupied France, featuring an Indian RAF pilot. Great for fans of Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne, and those who want diverse historical fiction. Thirteen-year-old Joelle Breton stumbles across Indian-born RAF pilot Mohinder Singh when his plane crashes in occupied France and it’s up to her and her parents to hide him from the Nazis. After all, her parents are brave members of the French Resistance and will do everything they can to help get Mohinder back to Britain. But when they are betrayed and tragedy strikes, Joelle and Mohinder will have to act fast if they are ever to evade the enemy.
The Shark Caller
Dive beneath the waves with this spell-binding adventure of friendship, forgiveness and bravery, set on the shores of Papua New Guinea, perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and Eva Ibbotson.
“I want to be able to call the sharks. Teach me the magic and show me the ways.”
Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller, but instead she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing’s island.
At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all…
The Great Food Bank Heist
On Thursdays, Nelson, Ashley and Mum head out to the bank. But not just any old bank – the food bank. With its shining tins and packets of food stacked from floor to ceiling, Nelson thinks it’s the best kind of bank there is. But there’s a thief in town, and the shelves of the food bank are getting emptier each day, leaving people hungrier than ever. For the sake of his family and everyone else’s, Nelson needs to make them stop. But can he and his friends really be the ones to catch the bank robber?
Books for Older Readers
The Sad Ghost Club
‘I know exactly what you mean.’
Six simple words, and suddenly Sam doesn’t feel so alone.
A heart-warming series about friendship, compassion and finding your kindred spirits.
This is the story of one of those days – a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it’s a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn’t. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything.
Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club – a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don’t belong.
This Book is Cruelty Free
How do the everyday choices you make affect animals and the environment? This book looks at all the things you can do to live cruelty free.
It’s a guide for older children and teenagers concerned about animals, wildlife and the planet we live on.
When the World Was Ours
A powerful and heart-breaking novel about three childhood friends living during the Second World War whose fates are closely intertwined, even when their lives take very different courses. Inspired by a true story, this is the perfect read for fans of The Book Thief and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
Elsa, Leo and Max have always been best friends, a special team of three. Then the Nazis come.
As a growing darkness descends around them, Leo and Elsa run for their lives, taking two very different paths across Europe. And Max, once their closest friend, now becomes the enemy as he is drawn into the Hitler Youth. Will the friends ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to?
Nobody free till everybody free.
Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches .
Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760.
The Year I didn’t Eat
14-year-old Max only has one person he can really talk to. Her name is Ana – also known as anorexia, his eating disorder. Max writes to Ana every day. She feeds on his fears, encouraging him to lose more and more weight. For Christmas, Max gets an unusual present from his older brother Robin: a geocache. He hides it in the forest near their house, thrilled by the anonymity it gives him. Anyone can leave Max a note – and soon, he gets one from the mysterious `E’. Could it be the Evie, the new girl at school, playing tricks on him? In the midst of a family crisis, Max’s eating disorder quickly deteriorates. Ana pulls him further and further away from his family and friends, until he feels totally alone. Can anyone help him find a way out?
Get involved with Empathy Day – tune into Empathy Day Live the Empathy Day Online Festival, on Thursday 9th June.
Download the Empathy Day Family Activities pack and take the Empathy Superpower Challenge, the Empathy Superpower Challenge is made up of nine different tasks, each one helping you to boost your empathy skills. Complete three tasks and you’ll earn yourself a badge to share with the world. Complete all nine and you’ll be able to download a certificate – signed by the brilliant Michael Rosen!