Empathy Books for Kids are a great way to discuss various topics and have fun reading them together. Many of the books on this list have excellent visual pictures and great lessons on each page. I love reading, so I’ve put together Book Recommendations for all Ages to explore as well!
All the books on this list are great for discussing kindness, empathy, and growing together as a family.
There is not enough practice regarding kindness and empathy in today’s world. Kids need to learn how to do it, and it’s something that has to be practiced.
An excellent way to help your kids learn empathy is by having them read books about it and stories that show it. All these books are perfect if you’re looking for great books to teach your children about empathy!
How do I talk about empathy to my kids?
Teaching children empathy is essential in helping them understand and build relationships with others. It can be difficult to find the right words when discussing this abstract concept, but simple conversations and examples can make a difference in how a child learns empathy.
Start by discussing how feelings are universal and can affect different people differently. Ask your kids how they would handle specific scenarios so they are encouraged to use their own experiences and thought processes for problem-solving.
Create opportunities for role-playing, too, since it is an effective way for kids to gain practical experience in understanding other points of view without judgment.
The goal is for your child to recognize the importance of observing another person’s perspective, express empathy towards them, and act with kindness.
What are random acts of kindness that families can do together?
A family can practice random acts of kindness together in various ways. For example, helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or snow shoveling is a great way for everyone to contribute and offer assistance.
Parents and children can also visit a nursing home or assisted living facility to converse with the residents and share stories.
Families could support their local food pantry by donating canned goods or organizing a fundraiser drive to benefit homelessness resources in their area.
These activities bring families closer together while demonstrating compassion and understanding of those less fortunate in the local community.
What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?
Empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably; however, there is, in fact, an important distinction.
Empathy involves feeling with another person as if one were experiencing their feelings first-hand. At the same time, sympathy is the act of understanding and sharing another’s feelings without necessarily experiencing them directly. While sympathizing can help provide emotional solidarity and support, being able to empathize demonstrates a more intimate level of connection.
Empathy allows people to comprehend not only the emotions experienced by someone else but also the perspective they have on their life circumstances.
No matter how old your child is, there is something on this list that can help them. Here are 20 books that teach children about empathy.
Empathy Books for Kids
These books are great for teaching kids about empathy. Work your way down the list and enjoy reading together as a family.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is an incredible read for children. The book’s main character is Ally, an 11-year-old girl with a flair for drawing and a great adoration of her teacher, Mr. Daniels. With huge secrets hiding inside, Ally finds it difficult to concentrate in class like the other kids, and she keeps it to herself until one day when Mr. Daniels notices something special about her. As the story progresses, readers are taken through Ally’s journey of discovering her unique set of skills and opening up to follow her true passion in life. With an unwavering message of hope and acceptance along with sheer determination, Fish in a Tree speaks directly to young people who often feel ignored or incapable and offers them an opportunity for courage, self-expression and self-belief.
Each Kindness, written by author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by artist E. B. Lewis, is an incredibly meaningful children's book that explores themes of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion. Through the endearing story of young Maya and her kindness classmate Chloe, readers are encouraged to reflect on their own relationships with themselves and others. With vivid illustrations and thoughtful narrative, this remarkable book is highly recommended for younger audiences as a powerful tool for learning about empathy in a way that speaks to their age group.
Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning about Empathy is an educational book that teaches children the power of empathy. Through a combination of engaging stories, interactive activities, and thought-provoking questions, the book helps foster empathy skills in children.
The Rabbit Listened is a children’s book written by Cori Doerrfeld. It tells the story of a rabbit struggling with sadness and loneliness after a recent traumatic event. The rabbit does not understand what it should do to improve its emotions, so it goes on a journey to find someone who can help. As it meets other creatures, it discovers many different ways to express its emotion and ultimately learns how to accept and move forward.
Hooray for Hat! is an entertaining board book by children's author and illustrator Brian Won. With its bold colors, charming illustrations, and delightful rhyming couplets, this whimsical tale will surely keep the little ones entertained. Aimed at preschool-aged children, it follows a trio of imaginative animal friends as they get ready to have a party to celebrate the arrival of their friend’s new hat. Written with poetic rhythm, each fun-filled page captures readers’ attention as they share in the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming party.
Kindness Makes Us Strong is a children's book that emphasizes the importance of being kind to one another. It provides an effective tool for teaching young people to respect each other and others in their community.
All Are Welcome, a children's book written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, promotes inclusivity and diversity. The story follows two characters, Robert and his classmates, through their school day to explore the various ways kids belong. Through bright colors and strong visuals that depict different cultures, religions, and experiences, readers get to learn about unity in difference. The book contains inviting storylines that allow children to imagine how they can make each other feel welcomed and accepted no matter who they are or where they come from.
This book is ideal for promoting conversations about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance.
Those Shoes, a children's picture book by Maribeth Boelts, tells the story of Jeremy, a young boy who dreams of owning a new pair of red shoes. Despite his mother's insistence that there is no money for such luxuries, Jeremy cannot help but admire the shoes on his classmate's feet. The thoughtful illustrations express Jeremy's emotions as he yearns to fit in and struggles to understand why he must go without. This narrative speaks to the importance of friendship, empathy, and the power of positive thinking.
This captivating story follows Sophie, a young girl eager to carry out random acts of kindness in her community. With vibrant and cheerful illustrations from Jen Hill, Be Kind speaks to respecting differences among people to promote empathy and inclusion. Be Kind is full of life lessons that aid young readers in comprehending how kindness has the power to build strong communities and good relationships on and off the page.
This book is great for helping children learn how to identify feelings and understand the feelings of others, too.
I Am Human: A Book of Empathy (I Am Books) is an excellent educational resource for teaching the concept of empathy to children.
Wonder, written by R.J Palacio is a groundbreaking work of children's literature that has captivated readers all over the world. Set in modern day America, it tells the story of August, a young boy born with a facial deformity who must attend school for the first time. With unrivaled sincerity and candor, Wonder navigates the minefields of childhood friendships, bullying, and self-acceptance that many youngsters face as they come into their own. Replete with characters both sympathetic and complex and situations both relatable and original, it is sure to become an essential tool parents and teachers can employ to discuss difficult issues that haunt our schools today.
Use this book to help teach children about feelings, empathy, and kindness. Great for reading together.
Strictly No Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is an enchanting children's book. Strictly No Elephants is sure to delight young readers while providing them with valuable lessons about acceptance and friendship.
The Invisible Boy is a thrilling novel, perfect for young readers. Written by Trudy Ludwig, this captivating story follows Brian – the invisible boy. After being overlooked by his family and classmates, Brian discovers unique qualities that eventually lead to newfound friends who appreciate him for who he is. The novel excellently portrays the universal problem of feeling excluded and unknown while emphasizing the importance of friendship and empathy. With expressive illustrations and an important message, The Invisible Boy stands out as a dynamic book geared toward children of all ages.
Is it possible to hep a dragon learn empathy? Find out how it can happen in the pages of this book!
Come With Me is a great book for young children that contains thoughts, ideas, and conversation starters to help them discover the world around them in an exciting and fun way.
The Kindness Book is a wonderful way to introduce children to virtues like empathy, compassion, and kindness. Through vivid illustrations and engaging stories, the book helps young readers visualize what it looks like to be kind in various situations.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is an award-winning lyrical children's book about a young boy named CJ and his journey on the bus to Grandma's house. Along the way, CJ begins to notice the beauty of his neighborhood and appreciate what he has.