Booklists | June 15, 2021

5 Books That Inspire Empathy in Children


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Empathy is one of the most important skills for success. In personal life, it helps create healthier relationships. In the workplace, it’s been linked to increased performance and sales and better leadership abilities. Beyond the individual, empathy can even help avoid massive global disasters by increasing compassion. 

Like most skills, it is not inherent but learned. And studies have shown that books, in particular, increase children’s emotional intelligence and their ability to connect with others.

Reading fiction, although enjoyable on its own, can also increase our sensitively to others. In other words, it can help us become more empathetic. Here are 5 children’s books written by authors from around the world, and available on the BookSmart app, which can inspire empathy and kindness.

Why is Nita Upside Down?

Why Is Nita Upside Down? by Roxana Bouwer

Published by Book Dash

Ages 6-8

Sometimes, we fear that others won’t accept us because of the things that make us unique – whether we look different to others, think differently or have other interests. The reality is that everyone of us is different in some way, and that is our strength. This wonderful children’s book celebrates individuality and encourages self-confidence in children.

► Read it in English here.

► Leer en español aquí.

Being Polite: Sorry

Being Polite: Sorry by Dolphin Press

Published by Dolphin Press

Ages 6-8

This book will help your child learn polite words, as well as when and how to use them.

► Read it here.

Lara the Yellow Ladybird

Lara the Yellow Ladybird by Martha Evans

Published by Book Dash

Ages 6-8

The color of our skin shouldn’t influence the way that people treat us or the way that we treat others. It’s important for children to learn this from a young age. Lara is a yellow ladybird who is different from all her friends – they all have red shells. Lara doesn’t always like being different. What would it be like to be the same as the others?

► Read it in English here.

► Leer en español aquí.

The Bus for Us

The Bus For Us by Suzanne Bloom

Published by Astra Young Readers (Astra Publishing House)

Ages 0-5

Tess is excited. Today is her first day of school and her very first ride on a school bus. Waiting at the bus stop with her older friend Gus, Tess eagerly asks, “Is this the bus for us, Gus?” as each vehicle passes by.

► Read it in English and Spanish here.

My Girls & Curls

My Girls & Curls by Layla Steele

Published by Young Authors Publishing

Ages 6-8

There is no better way to celebrate Lila’s birthday than cooling off at the pool. Her friend Ashley had just gotten a silk press, but that doesn’t stop her from jumping in with her girls. Realizing her hair is no longer straight, Ashley cries. Her friends decide to help Ashley style her natural hair. Will they find the perfect style for Ashley? This story celebrates the natural hair journey of three young girls finding beauty in friendship and their coils.

► Read it here.

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