Roald Dahl’s BFG and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird have topped the list of books parents said best helped children develop empathy.
A YouGov opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International to coincide with the ‘Amnesty CILIP Honour’ – the first ever human rights commendation for children’s books - has shown that more than half of UK parents think reading a book is the best way to develop their child’s empathy. The poll was released on International Children’s Book Day on Saturday (2nd April).
In the poll, parents of children were asked to select the pastime from a list of activities that they thought was most likely to develop the ability of their child to put themselves in other people’s shoes, with more than half of parents selecting reading a book (53%) while 12% of parents thought watching a television programme would be most beneficial. Altogether 5% thought watching a film at the cinema, and 3% thought playing a computer game was the best way to develop empathy.
Of the books parents thought had best helped them to learn to identify with others, one in six parents (17%) chose Roald Dahl’s BFG, closely followed by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (16%). The other titles included The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (14%), Goodnight Mr Tom, by Michelle Magorian (13%) Charlotte’s Web by EB White (10%), Winnie the Pooh, by AA Milne and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (both 9%).
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (7%), Noughts and Crosses, by Malorie Blackman and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D Taylor (both 2%) complete the list.
Amnesty has partnered with Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards, with one book from the Carnegie shortlist and one from the Kate Greenaway illustrated book shortlists to be awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour to the books that most distinctively illuminate, uphold or celebrate freedoms.
The shortlists for both prizes, revealed last month, put Patrick Ness in the running to become the first author to win three CILIP Carnegie medals, whilst Chris Riddell, Anthony Browne and Helen Oxenbury are all up for their third CILIP Kate Greenaway award.