An incredible book and one certainly to share and use to build empathy. With #EveryDayEmpathyDay being the new hashtag for EmpathyLab, this book and blog post are so timely and relevant. I am thrilled to welcome Karl Newson with his recommendations of picture books to build empathy. Some of my favourites have made the list!
Picture books are brilliant, aren’t they? They take us away, they bring us back home, they fill us with energy, they settle us down for bed, they make us laugh and cry, sit down and stand up, dance and sing, and they help us to listen to and understand the world around us. Right now, this world feels full of rainbows and storms – and I must admit it’s given me a good shake these past few months too – but in amongst these flashes of colour and rumbles of thunder there is a new world emerging to the sound of hope and togetherness and love. And now more than ever we need each other to understand… each other. To listen. To hear. And to learn. None of us is too young or too old to make a difference in the world. In us. And none of us too old to learn from the story of a 32 page picture book that is most often overlooked as a being only a bedtime device for the young. That bedtime device is bigger than it appears on the outside. Deeper too. And charged with energy to help us grow. Well, I like to think so, anyway. Empathy can of course be found in many different places, but in a picture book it is wrapped up inside a story that quietly says “Not now Bernard.” or “and it was still hot.” Picture books are brilliant, aren’t they?
Here are a few of my favourite picture books on the theme of empathy…
Mr Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo by Kevin Waldron
Tells us how easy it is to get things wrong, to overthink things, and to let our minds wander off into a world completely made up by ourselves.
Not Now Bernard by David McKee
Gives us an insight into what it’s like to feel overlooked and unimportant… and unbelieved! A spin on that carelessly spoken retort ‘I’ll just die then, then you’ll be sorry!’ children often find themselves saying.
Grandpa’s Gift by Fiona Lumbers
The sadness and loneliness of moving to a new home is eased by finding the magic of the everyday.
Barbara Throws a Wobbler by Nadia Shireen
A joyous look at moods! What they are. How they make us act. And what we can do about them.
Pip & Egg by Alex Latimer and David Litchfield
Discusses our differences. Growing up. Growing apart. And the friendships that stay forever.
The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb
Shares joy and tears. Evokes memories. And reminds us to gift our treasures to others so that they may treasure them too.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
We all get a little mad sometimes (and taming those wild things is tough) but the story here is that there’ll always be love in the end.
What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and Karen George
Shows us what it might feel like to be seen as different and makes us examine if we really need to know the answers to some questions.
The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton
Tackles anxiety and the comfort we can find in our own little things to help chase those tummy butterflies away and ultimately enjoy the day.