“Empathy is learnable – only 10% of our empathic ability is genetic. Scientists say that
reading builds empathy, and this collection will play a direct role in helping raise an
empathy-educated generation.” Miranda McKearney OBE, EmpathyLab’s founder
EmpathyLab have revealed the 2021 Read For Empathy book collection after an expert judging panel weighed up hundreds of publisher submissions to select 50 of the very best contemporary empathy-boosting books for 4-16 year olds.
The aim is for schools, libraries, families and community groups to use the books to help raise a generation with strong empathy skills. Free downloadable guides, with tips on how to use the books with children and young people in the home or learning settings, are available online for free at empathylab.uk/2021-read-for-empathy-collections. EmpathyLab’s work on the book collection is supported by specialist book suppliers Peters. Schools and libraries can order the books from them at peters.co.uk/empathy 2021.
The primary collection is for 4-11 year olds and consists of 30 books; the secondary collection features 20 books for 12-16 year olds. Many of the books help readers understand the lives of those experiencing tough situations, from witnessing domestic violence to becoming a refugee. Others gently explore everyday situations and emotions, like friendship problems. Several help readers understand the experience of living with autism. The ebullient range of creators, formats and genres helps expand children’s world view and understand others better.
The 2021 Read For Empathy book collection comes at a time when empathising with others has never been needed more. As the judges said, “We have an unprecedented chance to do things differently, building on the wave of community caring we’ve seen in the pandemic. This collection seizes that chance with both hands. The books will help children be their best selves; to think “we”, not “me”. Right now, what could be more important?”
EmpathyLab is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to harness the power of the word – of stories, graphic novels, non-fiction and poetry – to build a more empathetic generation. Each year EmpathyLab select a new contemporary Read for Empathy collection. They also deliver an annual Empathy Day to shine a light on this real life superpower. 2021’s Empathy Day is on 10 June.