The EmpathyLab has unveiled its 2024 Read for Empathy book collection of 65 books for 3-16 year-olds. It features major authors including Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Boakye, Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, Hannah Gold, Phil Earle and Nadia Shireen.

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. The collection contains 40 recommended books for 3-11 year-olds and 25 for 12-16 year-olds which will be used nationwide by those living and working with young people to help them learn about empathy and put it into action.

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.

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 people's empathy skills year-round and particularly in the run-up to Empathy Day on Thursday 6th June.

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 6th June 2024 and is open to all to get involved and inspired. Schools and libraries can download free Mission Empathy resources at

Everyone can also enjoy a free online Festival, featuring live events with many of the amazing authors and illustrators included in the book collection. Find out more at

Read for Empathy books for children aged 3–11

Understanding & sharing emotions
Be More Dog by Caroline Crowe & Carlos Velez
Beneath by Cori Doerrfeld 
Blue by Sarah Christou 
Geoffrey Gets the Jitters by Nadia Shireen 
I Will Swim Next Time by Emily Joof and Matilda Ruta 
The Spaces In Between by Jaspreet Kaur, illustrated by Manjit Thapp 
Victor, the Wolf with Worries by Catherine Rayner 
When I Feel Surprised Illustrator Paula Bowles 
Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf by Craig Barr-Green, illustrated by Francis Martin 
Grandpa and the Kingfisher by Anna Wilson, illustrated by Sarah Massini 
I Am Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang, illustrated by Natelle Quek
My Baba's Garden by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith 
Nour's Secret Library by Wafa' Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi 
To the Other Side by Erika Meza 

Early Readers
Bear and Bird –The Picnic and Other Stories by Jarvis 
Budgie by Joseph Coelho 
Dimple and the Boo by Pip Jones, illustrated by Paula Bowles 
The Girl Who Became a Fish by Polly Ho Yen, illustrated by Sojung Kim-McCarthy 

City of Stolen Magic by Nazeen Ahmed Pathak 
Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star by Laura Noakes, illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino
Fablehouse by E.L. Norry 
Finding Bear by Hannah Gold 
Glitter Boy by Ian Eagleton 
How to Be More Hedgehog by Anne-Marie Conway, illustrated by Raahat Kaduji 
Jamie by L.D. Lapinski 
Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer by Jeffrey Boakye 
My Life on Fire by Cath Howe 
The Mystery of the Missing Mum by Frances Moloney 
Until the Road Ends by Phil Earle 
Where the River Takes Us by Lesley Parr 

Verse Novels
The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton 
The Way of the Dog by Zana Fraillon 

My Heart is a Poem by Various
What You Need to Be Warm by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Various 

Finding My Voice by Aoife Dooley 
It's Her Story: Irena Sendler by Margaret Littman, illustrated by Sara Luna 

A Child Like You by Na'ima B. Robert, illustrated by Nadine Kaadan 
All Bodies are Wonderful by Beth Cox, illustrated by Vicky Barker
Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Refugees by Katie Dayne and Ashe de Sousa, illustrated by Oksana Drachkovska 
Our Story Starts in Africa by Patrice Lawrence

Read for Empathy books for young people aged 12–16

All the Pieces of Me by Libby Scott 
Away With Words by Sophie Cameron 
Boy Like Me by Simon James Green 
Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher 
Different For Boys by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Tea Bendix 
Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne 
Kicked Out! by A. M. Dassu 
One More Mountain by Deborah Ellis, illustrated by Shamsia Hassani 
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks 
Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam 
Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan
Sing If You Can't Dance by Alexia Casale 
SOLD: What Will It Take to Find Freedom? by Sue Barrow 
Stand Up Ferran Burke by Steven Camden
Swimming on the Moon by Brian Conaghan 
The Climbers by Keith Gray 
The First Move by Jenny Ireland 
The Piano at the Station by Helen Rutter, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli 
What the World Doesn't See by Mel Darbon 
Wild Song by Candy Gourlay 
You Think You Know Me by Mohamud Ayaan 

Verse Novels
Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher 
Stand Up Ferran Burke by Steven Camden 

Choose Love by Nicola Davies and Petr Horácek 
You Are Not Alone by Shauna Darling Robertson 

Graphic Novels
Global by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano 
Oxygen Mask by Jason Reynolds