Empathy Lab launched their new book collection for 2024 on social media last week! It caused quite a stir as educators, parents, authors, illustrators and librarians joined in to celebrate this new collection. Please read below for all the details!
Launch of 2024 Read for Empathy book collection sees major authors &
illustrators help grow UK’s empathy education movement.
EmpathyLab has unveiled its 2024 Read for Empathy book collection of 65 books for 3-16-yearolds – each chosen for their empathy-building power. The list features major authors including Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Boakye, Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, Hannah Gold, Phil Earle and Nadia Shireen.
There are 40 recommended books for 3-11-year-olds, and 25 for 12-16-year-olds. They will be
used nationwide by those living and working with young people to help them learn more about
empathy and put it into action. The Read for Empathy collection is part of a unique and growing UK empathy education movement, using literature as a tool to develop this transformative life skill.
EmpathyLab’s work is based on scientific research* showing that empathy is learnable, and that
books help to build it: identifying with fictional characters’ feelings helps build real-life empathy. The 2024 collection includes picture books, novels, poetry, non-fiction, graphic and verse novels. Each book offers young people different ways of experiencing, understanding and building empathy. Several explore the world’s big empathy issues, including war, climate change and the refugee crisis. Others help children understand different cultures and identities, name and share their emotions and gain insight into challenging life circumstances, such as being disabled or having a stammer.
Free Guides to the 2024 Read for Empathy collection can also be downloaded from
EmpathyLab’s founder, Miranda McKearney OBE, said: “The world is in such a sad state. We
see focusing on educating for empathy as a practical, hopeful step we can all take to build a better
future. We dream of a world led by a generation of children educated to understand the vital role of empathy in building connection, and combatting hatred and division.”
The 2024 Read for Empathy collection will be used by parents, carers, teachers and librarians to
boost young peoples’ empathy skills year-round and particularly in the run-up to Empathy Day.
Teachers using EmpathyLab’s approach report that using empathy-rich texts builds mutual
understanding. Impacts include improved behaviour and a culture with less racism and in which
children themselves help resolve disputes.
Empathy Day is on Thursday 6 June 2024 and is open to all to get involved and inspired.
Schools and libraries can now register for the free Mission Empathy resources at
The fourteen judges** responsible for choosing the 2024 Read for Empathy collection are national
experts and grassroots practitioners from schools, public libraries and national organisations.
‘This year’s collection is particularly strong. Every book is in the collection on its merit, every book
can make a difference to a child’s life. If we ever needed an empathy revolution, with everything
that’s happening in the world, that time is now!’ Jon Biddle, Primary Teacher.
‘Imagine if you could hold the power to change the hearts and minds of the lives of the children
and young people around you. Change the way we think and feel, and in real ways, we start to
change the world. With the Read for Empathy collection 2024, that power truly does lie in your
hands.’ Jake Hope, Reading Development & Children’s Book Consultant.
Reading powerful texts with finely drawn characters matters – and that’s what the collection does.
It offers each teacher, parent, child, librarian, brilliant books for 3-16-year-olds that entice them in, engage them in the story, and connect them to characters who explore contemporary issues – and in the process will help them develop their affective empathy.’ Teresa Cremin, Professor of
Education, The Open University.
The judges highlighted the collection’s diversity. Of the 128 authors and illustrators, 34% are
people of colour; neurodivergent and LGBTQ+ authors and topics are included.
Judges also drew attention to some of the collection’s powerful themes:
• The world’s big empathy issues: Finding Bear focuses on empathy for earth’s creatures faced by
climate change; in Safiyyah’s War a Muslim girl works with the Jewish community in WW2 to help people escape Paris.
• Handling and sharing emotions: eight powerful picture books to help young readers
understand their own and other people’s emotions: Blue explores feelings of sadness;
Geoffrey Gets the Jitters explores anxiety.
• Changing society for the better: Choose Love is a poetry collection calling for us to be the
best selves we can be; Nour’s Library shows child activists in Syria building a secret library
to sustain their community.
• Understanding the experience of people living with challenging life circumstances:
Fight Back viscerally illuminates the refugee experience; First Move explores what it’s like to
live with arthritis; the main character in How to be More Hedgehog struggles with a stammer
EmpathyLab’s mission is to raise an empathy-educated generation, inspired to build a better world for everyone. The non-profit aims to benefit 1 million children a year by 2026. Founded in 2015, EmpathyLab specialises in using literature to build children’s empathy awareness and skills – its work is based on scientific research showing that empathy is a learnable skill, and that reading, and identifying with book characters’ feelings, builds our real-life empathy.
EmpathyLab’s programme offers educators an Empathy Year, with campaigns and resources:
• Annual Read for Empathy collection launched in February
• An annual Empathy Day every June
• Empathy Action Month throughout November
Publishers are important strategic partners, supporting EmpathyLab to become a major force for
change, and 47 children’s publishers are now Empathy Builders.
**2024 Read for Empathy collection judging panel
Jon Biddle – Teacher, Moorlands Primary Academy & Patron of Reading coordinator
Richard Charlesworth – Reading lead and Assistant Headteacher at Avonmore Primary, London
Kevin Cobane – Teacher, University of Birmingham School
Teresa Cremin – Professor of Education (Literacy) & Co-Director of the Literacy & Social Justice
Centre, The Open University
Phoebe Demeger – Librarian, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
Scott Evans – Teacher & founder, The Reader Teacher
Graham Fairweather – Senior Librarian at the High School of Glasgow
Jake Hope – Reading development and children’s book consultant & Working Party Chair, Yoto
Carnegie Medals for Writing and Illustration
Shaheen Mogradia Engagement & Programmes Assistant, Bolton Library & Museum
Sarah Smith – Libraries Development Manager, Brent Libraries
Sonia Thompson – Headteacher, St. Matthew’s C.E. Primary School, Birmingham
Dawn Woods – Member Development Librarian, School Library Association
Miranda McKearney OBE – EmpathyLab founder
Sarah Mears MBE – Programme Manager, Libraries Connected & EmpathyLab founder
Accessing the books
The books can be bought and ordered through local independent bookshops and other retailers –
instore or via bookshop.org: uk.bookshop.org/shop/empathy-lab.
Sets of the primary and secondary books are available to buy from specialist children’s schools and libraries book supplier, Peters: peters.co.uk/empathycollection2024. You can also borrow the
books from your local library.
See the full 2024 Read for Empathy collection and download the free guides at
Join the conversation @EmpathyLabUK #ReadForEmpathy