Want to raise kids with empathy for other people? Read these children’s books about empathy to discuss how others feel and teach compassion.
Your child may not know this skill by name, but it’s what happens when he can relate to the wailing tears of another child who had fallen off a bike.
When he switches gears after realizing his friend isn’t in a good mood to play. When he knows better than to tease his brother because he understands what it’s like to feel teased himself.
It’s one of the most important skills to nurture, and one that kids carry with them through adulthood.
Your child can show compassion for others instead of focusing only on his needs and wants.
Empathy allows him to see other people’s points of view so he isn’t stuck thinking he’s always right. And he can tell what others might be feeling and relate to them so they feel understood.
Even if your child doesn’t know empathy by name, he can still learn about what it’s like to be someone else or wonder how others feel.
I’ve talked about the importance of showing empathy to our kids, as well as simple techniques to teach them empathy. As always, I love turning to picture books to further cement the concept and put it into practice.
Children’s books about empathy
Thankfully, many books on empathy are available. This list includes books that not only teach the lesson of empathy but whose storylines can show your child what it looks like.
You’ll meet Brian, a boy who, as the new kid, feels invisible among a flurry of classmates, and how a new friendship helps him feel welcome. You’ll also meet a first grader so embarrassed in the classroom, which can help kids understand that we all go through terrifying moments.
Another shares a wonderful story of a sick bear whose animal friends help him feel better. And through crayons—yes, crayons!—your child can hear a gentle story of what it’s like to face expectations based on how we look.
These are the books I’ve read with my kids. The stories, beautiful illustrations, and memorable characters can help you teach empathy with yours.
As you read through the books, ask open-ended questions about what the characters must feel. Point out small acts of kindness and honesty, and difficult ones like bullying and loneliness. Ask them why they think the characters did what they did, and what they might do in that scenario.
Take a look at the selection of books. I hope they serve as a starting point for talking about the importance of empathy.
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