Skip to content

EmpathyLab announces 2020 Read for Empathy Book Collection

“Scientific research shows that reading builds empathy. So let’s use stories to help the rising generation develop superb empathy skills, and build a better world. It’s our best hope for the future.” EmpathyLab judging panel

EmpathyLab have annouced the 50 books chosen by expert judges for the 2020 Read for Empathy collection.

“These books made us laugh, cry, and crucially, hope. We intend them to be behaviour-changing, as children gain insights into other people’s experiences and perspectives.” Judging panel

Two collections (one for primary and one for secondary) consist of 33 books for 4-11 year-olds, and 17 for 12-16 year-olds. Some illuminate the experience of people from a range of cultures or life circumstances. Others help children explore emotions, so they can understand how other people feel. Several reflect stories of our time, such as the refugee experience, or coping with anxiety.

The 12 judges are national experts and grassroots practitioners from schools, public libraries and organisations such as Amnesty, the School Library Association and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

Miranda McKearney, EmpathyLab’s founder said: “Society faces an empathy crisis. But research shows that 98% of us can improve our empathy skills and that in books we have a hugely practical tool. This collection can play a powerful role in helping raise a generation of empathic citizens, story by story.”

Guides to the collection are available as free downloads for parents, teachers and librarians to use as empathy-building tools – with children and young people in the home or learning settings.


The 2020 Read for Empathy Guides will be used by parents, teachers and librarians in the run up to Empathy Day on 9 June and beyond. This annual event focuses on using books – and talking about them – to build understanding of the importance and practice of empathy. Schools nationwide will run empathy assemblies, host author visits, make Empathy Awards and more.

Libraries will participate nationwide (in 2019 98 library services took part, up from 19 for the first Empathy Day). The Empathy Circle, a group of leading children’s publishers, will launch bespoke initiatives to amplify the Day’s message and everyone is encouraged to find and start an empathy-boosting book through a social media #ReadForEmpathy campaign.

Back to news

Urgent help