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 she can relate to the skinned knee and wailing tears of another child who had fallen off a bike.
When she switches gears after realizing her friend isn’t in a good mood to play.
When she knows better than to tease her brother, because she understands what it’s like to feel teased herself.
It’s one of the most important skills to nurture, and one kids carry with them through adulthood.
Your child will be able to show compassion for others instead of focusing only on her needs and wants.
Empathy allows her to see other people’s points of view so she isn’t stuck thinking she’s always right. And she can tell what others must be feeling and relate to them so they feel understood.
Even if your child doesn’t know empathy by name, she can still learn about what it’s like to be someone else, or to 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 children’s 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 about empathy, but whose story lines can show your child what empathy looks like.
You’ll meet a boy who feels invisible among a flurry of classmates, and how one friend helped him feel better. You’ll also meet a first grader so embarrassed in class, which can help your child understand that we all go through terrifying moments.
And through crayons—yes, crayons!—your child can come to understand what it’s like to face expectations based on how we look. These are the books I’ve read with my kids, and the stories and characters that practice simple ways of showing empathy.
As you read through the books, ask your child open-ended questions about what the characters must feel. Ask her why she thinks the characters did what they did, and what she might do in that situation.
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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