EmpathyLab Announces Powerful List of 30 Books to Boost Empathy in 2018

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Teachers and parents are increasingly concerned about the potentially empathy-draining effect of social media on children, and new pressures caused by societal divisions and the rise in hate crimes. To combat this, EmpathyLab is harnessing the power of stories to build empathy, inspired by scientific evidence showing that reading can boost real-life empathy skills. EmpathyLab asked publishers to submit their best recently published children’s books with a strong empathy angle. Today they announce the titles selected for a 2018 Read for Empathy Guide.

An expert panel has chosen thirty books to strengthen children’s ability to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives, spark insights into different lives and inspire them to put empathy into action in their communities. The Panel praised the quality of submitted books, choosing 14 picture books, 2 graphic novels, 1 poetry book and 13 novels. They noted the many great books exploring the topical theme of displacement and migration, and the need for empathy to help everyone feel they belong.  They chose several strong tiles which help children understand how others experience and manage their emotions, and others which illuminate the experiences of children facing challenging circumstances, such as deafness, autism or bereavement.

Picture book selections include Perfectly Norman, Grandad’s Island, You’re Safe with Me and King of the Sky, whilst The Road to Ever After, Sky Dancer, The Island at the End of Everything and Illegal all feature in Novels, graphic novels and poetry.

A book collection for 4-11 year olds is now available to buy from school and library book suppliers Peters.  This is for parents, teachers and librarians to use in the run-up to Empathy Day on 12 June, and beyond.

Click here to see the FULL LIST.

The Panel noticed a big gap in the publisher submissions for poetry, and empathy-boosting books for 7-9 year-olds. Within the young fiction arena the panel chose two short novels: Atinuke’s The No 1 Car Spotter Fights the Factory (illustrator Warwick Johnson Cadwell), and Michaela and Elaine DePrince’s Ballerina Dreams (illustrator Ella Okstad). Joseph Coelho’s poetry in Overheard in a Tower Block makes an important contribution. The panel members were especially keen to reflect the breadth of realities of our society and ensure the inclusion of quality authors and illustrators from our multi-ethnic community. The submissions received highlighted a shortage of available titles for primary aged children by black and minority ethnic authors and illustrators.  However the collection includes nine titles by writers or illustrators of colour and eleven featuring characters from a mix of ethnic backgrounds.

Nicolette Jones, panel member says: In a world full of hate-mongering, I believe passionately in this drive to use books to expand children’s empathetic understanding. EmpathyLab’s work gives me hope for the future – it is very much needed”.

EmpathyLab Founder Miranda McKearney OBE says: “It’s time to make far more systematic use of books’ power to tackle society’s empathy deficit. This 2018 Read for Empathy Guide is part of an empathy movement to help us understand each other better. We’re seriously delighted to be working with authors, publishers and Peters to launch it in the run up to Empathy Day on 12 June