The best children’s books exploring empathy

The Books I Picked & Why

Last Stop on Market Street

By Matt de la Peña, Christian Robinson

Book cover of Last Stop on Market Street

Why this book?

Although this picture book tells the story of a single bus journey, it somehow contains the whole world. A child makes a very ordinary trip with his grandmother, but along the way, we meet all kinds of people. People without homes, people with tattoos and those in wheelchairs, buskers, teenagers, a blind man, and a lady with some butterflies in a jamjar. We see beauty in the every day and see the world through other people’s eyes. Not only one of my favourite books, but one of my son’s too.

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Nope. Never. Not for Me!

By Samantha Cotterill

Book cover of Nope. Never. Not for Me!

Why this book?

If you happen to know a child on the autism spectrum then I’m sure the word ‘empathy’ will have taken on a whole new dimension. This series of picture books has been written specifically for sensitive children, and I can’t recommend them more highly. As well as being extremely funny, they’ve really helped myself and my son talk about parts of the day we both find challenging. And to see things from the other’s point of view.

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The London Eye Mystery

By Siobhan Dowd

Book cover of The London Eye Mystery

Why this book?

Here’s one for slightly older children. The story of two siblings, one with Asperger’s syndrome, who find themselves at the centre of a riveting detective story. They’re on the hunt to find their cousin Salim, who’s gone missing from a sealed carriage on The London Eye. Throughout the book, we are challenged to see the world from different people’s points of view in order to solve the mystery.

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The Little Island: (Caldecott Medal Winner)

By Margaret Wise Brown, Leonard Weisgard

Book cover of The Little Island: (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Why this book?

This beautiful picturebook won the Caldecott Medal in 1947, but it’s as timeless as they come. It’s a shame you don’t see it around that much these days. It tells the story of an island throughout the four seasons, including crabs, seals and a visiting cat who can’t handle the island’s deepest secret. It seems like a simple book, but there’s a whole lot going on beneath the surface. The way the world appears is all to do with who’s looking at it.

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A Bear Called Paddington

By Michael Bond, Peggy Fortnum

Book cover of A Bear Called Paddington

Why this book?

A little lost bear, all alone in a major transport hub, 6,000 miles from Peru, with only his name pinned to his tiny little duffle coat and the crumbs of his last marmalade sandwich rattling round his case. If that doesn’t melt your heart, then there’s no hope for you. Rumored to have been inspired by children sent away from cities during the Blitz. Has been making children think of others ever since.

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