Soundar and Stevens in 2018 EmpathyLab guide

Soundar and Stevens in 2018 EmpathyLab guide

Books by authors and illustrators including Chitra Soundar, Benji Davies, Joseph Coelho, Robin Stevens and Kiran Millwood Hargrave are amongst those in EmpathyLab’s new ‘Empathy Guide’ for children.

EmpathyLab, founded by McKearney in 2016, is  a not-for-profit organisation, aimed at using the power of stories to help children be more empathetic. The 2018 Read for Empathy Guide is a list of 30 books for 4-11 year olds that EmpathyLab believes will develop empathy in children, so they have a better understanding of other people’s perspectives as well as put empathy into action in their communities. It was put together for teachers and librarians to use in the run-up to Empathy Day, an EmpathyLab project which will take place on 12th June.

The guide features 14 picture books, such as You’re Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry (Lantana), Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood (Two Hoots) and Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies (Simon and Schuster). Authors in the 16-strong ‘novels, graphic novels and poetry’ section include Robin Stevens (The Guggenheim Mystery, PRH Children’s), Kiran Millwood Hargrave (The Island at the End of Everything, Chicken House), Sita Brahmachari (Tender Earth, Macmilion Children’s Books) and Cece Bell (El Deafo, Amulet Books).

The books were chosen by a panel led by EmpathyLab’s founder, Miranda McKearney, and experts including journalist Nicolette Jones, who said: “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.”

The panel also said many of the books explored the theme of migration and displacement, and several others were designed to help readers understand how others manage their emotions.

The collection features nine titles by writers or illustrators of colour but the submissions revealed a shortage of available titles by BAME artists, the panel said. There was also a big gap in submissions of poetry.

The full collection of titles is available from school library supplier Peters.

The Read for Empathy titles in full:

Picture Books:

Lulu Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw (Alanna Books)

The Parrot and the Merchant by Marjan Vafaian (Tiny Owl)

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival, Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood, Two Hoots

Can I Join your Club? John Kelly, illustrator Steph Laberis, Little Tiger Press

In My Heart: a Book of Feelings, Jo Witek, illustrator Christine Roussey, Abrams Appleseed

You’re Safe with Me, Chitra Soundar, illustrator Poonam Mistry, Lantana

15 Things Not to Do with a Granny, Margaret McAllister, illustrator Holly Sterling, Frances Lincoln

Here I Am, Patti Kim, illustrator Sonia Sanchez, Curious Fox

King of the Sky, Nicola Davies, illustrator Laura Carlin, Walker Books

Willy and the Cloud, Anthony Browne, Walker Books

Grandad’s Island, Benji Davies, Simon and Schuster

Leo: a Ghost Story, Mac Barnett, illustrator Christian Robinson, Chronicle Books

My Name is Not Refugee, Kate Milner, Barrington Stoke


Novels, graphic novels, poetry"

The Number 1 Car Spotter Fights the Factory, Atinuke, illustrator Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Walker Books

Ballerina Dreams, Michaela and Elaine DePrince, illustrator Ella Okstad, Faber & Faber

Me and Mister P, Maria Farrer, illustrator Daniel Rieley, Oxford University Press

The Wild Robot, Peter Brown, Piccadilly Press

The Road to Ever After, Moira Young, Macmillan Children’s Books

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrator Steven Lenton, Macmillan Children’s Books

Tender Earth, Sita Brahmachari, Macmillan Children’s Books

Sky Dancer, Gill Lewis, Oxford University Press

The Song From Somewhere Else, A.F. Harrold, illustrator Levi Pinfold, Bloomsbury

Smart, Kim Slater, Macmillan Children’s Books

Overheard in a Tower Block, Joseph Coelho, illustrator Kate Milner, Otter-Barry Books

Charlie and Me, Mark Lowery, Piccadilly Press

The Guggenheim Mystery, Robin Stevens, Puffin

Illegal, Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrator Giovanni Rigano, Hodder Children’s Books

The Island at the End of Everything, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Chicken House Books

El Deafo, Cece Bell, Amulet Books