Read stories. Build empathy. Make a better world.

Published Friday, 1st June 2018

Library Books on Shelves

EmpathyLab has announced that 12th June 2018 will be National Empathy Day.

After a highly successful 2017 pilot, the Day will now be an annual, national event every June. Founder Miranda McKearney OBE says: “In our darkening and divided world, empathy is a beacon of hope. Empathy Day is a galvanising focal point for us all, a reminder that striving to understand other people is a powerful way to make the world a better place.

Books are a potent tool to build it because neuroscience research shows that the emotions we feel for book characters wires our brains to have the same sort of sensitivity towards real people”.

Southend on Sea Libraries are supporting Empathy Day. Empathy Day has a major focus on using books as a tool to challenge prejudice and build connections between us.

It’s about helping children realise that Empathy is like having a special superpower. It helps you understand how other people are feeling, and that helps make the places we live and learn in much better and happier.

Families at Storyrhymes (held in all Southend Libraries) enjoy a great bonding time with their young children whiles singing nursery rhymes and listening to stories. They will be asked to take part in Face-to-Face rhymes because looking into parents’ eyes is critical to developing early empathy which is important for healthy emotional development. Dan Siegal, a psychologist specialising in early parental bonding, says: every child yearns for, and must have, this eye contact for healthy emotional development to occur.

There are lots of great books for developing empathy held in Southend Libraries. Here is a few suggestions:

Picture Books

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival.

Lulu gets a cat by Anna McQuinn.

Stories for older readers

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.


Overheard in a Tower Block by Joseph Coelho.

Those in the book industry and people living and working with children are particularly encouraged to join in on the Day, along with the wider public.

Read: Parents and teachers can use a special Read for Empathy Guide, available from the Empathy Lab website to find specially selected stories and poetry to help build 4-11 year olds’ empathy.

Share virtually: use #ReadforEmpathy to join in a massive social media campaign in which everyone - including authors and celebrities - shares empathy-boosting book recommendations.

For more information on this and wider EmpathyLab plans contact via email