Michael Rosen, Cressida Cowell, Malorie Blackman (pictured) and Jacqueline Wilson are among those appearing at Empathy Day in June, set to be the biggest version yet of the event.
Michael Morpurgo, Patrice Lawrence, David Baddiel and Holly Bourne will also appear at the online event, now in its fifth year.
The Empathy Day Live programme on 10th June will be launched by Cowell, the Children’s Laureate, and take audiences through three steps: "read", "connect" and "act". It includes an Empathy Day "draw along" with Rob Biddulph, a "listening lunch" with Jacqueline Wilson, an "authors’ secrets" creative writing session with Blackman, Bali Rai and Bourne, as well as a "making empathy resolutions" lesson, among various other sessions.
Organisers said: “Central to this year’s programme is a new call for families to take their own Empathy Walks led by authors and illustrators including Joseph Coelho, Michael Morpurgo, Patrice Lawrence and Jane Porter who will share their own examples throughout the day. This year’s programme also puts young people centre stage, with young empathy leaders sharing what empathy means to them and talking with Kwame Alexander, about empathy as an antidote to prejudice. and Welsh children’s laureate Eloise Williams about combatting loneliness.”
“For adults, there’s a cutting-edge evening conversation with authors Catherine Johnson, Michael Rosen and David Baddiel. They will talk with Professor Dr Robin Banerjee, an expert in developmental psychology, about the role of empathy in society and using books to nurture young people’s empathy skills.
Organised by not-for-profit organisation EmpathyLab, the day helps young people learn more about empathy and how reading encourages it.
“Backed by major children’s publishers, the day has gained a groundswell of support among schools, libraries and families, inspired by a growing body of scientific research showing that empathy is a learnable skill and that stories can help us understand each other better,” organisers said. This year’s activities aim to encourage children across the UK “to walk in someone else’s shoes”.
Founder Miranda McKearney OBE said: “Empathy opens our eyes to other people’s perspectives. It’s a powerful force for hope and change, a catalyst for a kinder and more united society. The pandemic has seen a wave of community-based social action. Let’s use the momentum of Empathy Day to build a much sharper empathy focus into our education system and society.”
As in previous years, EmpathyLab has developed free resources in the run-up to the day to support families, schools and libraries. For more information, visit the website. All the Empathy Day events can be watched live and will be available to watch afterwards.
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