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Founded by EmpathyLab, Empathy Day helps children learn about empathy’s importance, and have inspiring empathy experiences. The strategy is based on research showing that empathy is learnable and that identifying with book characters builds real-life understanding of others.
The books highlighted here are a selection from the Read for Empathy Collection 2021.
Empathy Day is on 10 June, with a countdown week running from 3-9 June.
This year’s Empathy Day theme is ‘walking in someone else’s shoes’. Resources include:
Find out more here and follow Empathy Lab on Twitter at @empathylabuk.
Rumours abound about a fearsome dragon and the village is terrified of him. But it takes two children with open hearts and minds to visit the dragon and recognise what he needs to combat his sorrow and loneliness. And the warmth the dragon feels when someone starts to care helps save the village from a terrible storm.
This is a gorgeous picture book about understanding others and the empathetic power of stories.
Tola is the smallest member of the family and her abilities are often doubted by her siblings. However, ever surprising, Tola demonstrates that being small need not hold anyone back.
This book is great for expanding children’s world views, with insights into Tola’s Nigerian life, in which people with different religious beliefs live together. It will also help children recognise some of the universal themes and challenges of childhood – a fantastic early reader.
Leonard has an idyllic childhood in Jamaica. However, at the age of ten he boards a ship with his mother to journey to England. Once there, he’s reunited with his father who has already been working in England for several years.
Leonard and his parents are part of the Windrush generation. As well as getting used to the cold weather and cramped living conditions, Leonard has to deal with daily prejudice and racism. The story follows Leonard up until 2018, when he is denied citizenship by the country that is his home.
This graphic novel reimagines the story of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and shifts its location to modern-day Brooklyn. With their father away at war, it’s up to the March sisters to occupy themselves while their mother works to make ends meet.
Letters and emails from each of the girls split up the chapters and provide insight into each character’s world.
With sensitive portrayals of illness, blended families, sexuality, class, and race, the text shines a light on a range of experiences, prompting readers to question what it might feel like to be in the characters’ position and reflect on their own lives.
Belonging Street is a wide-ranging collection of poems, all based on a loose theme of belonging. Poet and illustrator Mandy Coe has written about the natural world and why we are responsible for protecting it, the importance of family life and the power of connection.
The poems create wonderful discussion opportunities, as well as chances for students to write and be creative, and encourage empathy with our planet and its inhabitants.
Thank you to contributors Jon Biddle (Moorlands Primary Academy), Richard Charlesworth (Springwell School) and Sarah Mears (EmpathyLab co-founder).
Everything you need for every subject across Key Stages 1 and 2.