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NEWS: Read for Empathy 2024 Collection Announced

Announced today, the 2024 Read For Empathy book collection comes at a time when empathising with others has never been needed more. Chosen by expert judges, the primary collection features 40 books for 4-11 year olds, including picturebooks, novels, poetry, non-fiction and graphic novels, all published within the last three years. This blog post shares details of the 2024 collections….
empathy collection 2024

empathy collection 2024

Read for Empathy 2024 Book Collections Announced

This Year’s Read for Empathy Collections Unveiled

read for empathy collection Today, EmpathyLab has announced its 2024 Read for Empathy book collection of 65 books for 3-16-year-olds. It features major authors including Neil Gaiman, Jeffrey Boakye, Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, Hannah Gold, Phil Earle and Nadia Shireen.

There are 40 recommended books for 3-11-year-olds, and 25 for 12-16-year-olds. The Read for Empathy collection is part of a unique and growing UK empathy education movement, using literature as a tool to develop this transformative life skill.

EmpathyLab’s work is based on scientific research showing that empathy is learnable, and that books help to build it: identifying with fictional characters’ feelings helps build real-life empathy. The 2024 collection includes picture books, novels, poetry, non-fiction, graphic and verse novels. Each book offers young people different ways of experiencing, understanding and building empathy.

Take a look at the primary read for empathy collection booklist here.

Free Guides to the 2024 Read for Empathy collection can be downloaded from the Empathy Lab website.

The Empathy Collections

The 2024 Read for Empathy collection will be used by parents, carers, teachers and librarians to boost young peoples’ empathy skills year-round and particularly in the run-up to Empathy Day. Teachers using EmpathyLab’s approach report that using empathy-rich texts builds mutual understanding. Impacts include improved behaviour and a culture with less racism and in which children themselves help resolve disputes.

The books in the collection cover powerful real-world themes. Finding Bear focuses on empathy for the earth’s creatures faced by climate change. Eight powerful picture books are included to help young readers understand their own and other people’s emotions, with Blue exploring feelings of sadness and Geoffrey Gets the Jitters exploring anxiety. Changing society for the better is explored in Nour’s Secret Library, which shows child activists in Syria building a secret library to sustain their community. Fight Back viscerally illuminates the refugee experience and the main character in How to be More Hedgehog struggles with a stammer


The full lists are as follows: 

read for empathy 2024 collection primary

Read for Empathy books for children aged 3–11

Understanding & sharing emotions

  • Be More Dog Caroline Crowe & Carlos Velez Floris Books
  • Beneath Cori Doerrfeld Scallywag Press
  • Blue Sarah Christou Faber
  • Geoffrey Gets the Jitters Nadia Shireen Puffin
  • I Will Swim Next Time Emily Joof & Matilda Ruta Floris Books
  • The Spaces In Between Jaspreet Kaur, illustrated by Manjit Thapp Big Picture Press
  • Victor, the Wolf with Worries Catherine Rayner Macmillan
  • When I Feel Surprised Illustrator Paula Bowles Child’s Play

Picture Books

  • Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf Craig Barr-Green, illustrated by Francis Martin Little Tiger
  • Grandpa and the Kingfisher Anna Wilson, illustrated by Sarah Massini Nosy Crow
  • I Am Nefertiti Annemarie Anang Natelle Quek Five Quills
  • My Baba’s Garden Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith Walker
  • Nour’s Secret Library Wafa’ Tarnowska Vali Mintzi Barefoot
  • To the Other Side Erika Meza Hodder

Early Readers

  • Bear and Bird –The Picnic and Other Stories Jarvis Walker
  • Budgie Joseph Coelho Barrington Stoke
  • Dimple and the Boo Pip Jones, illustrated by Paula Bowles Barrington Stoke
  • The Girl Who Became a Fish Polly Ho Yen Illustrator Sojung Kim-McCarthyKnights Of


  • City of Stolen Magic Nazeen Ahmed Pathak Puffin
  • Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star Laura Noakes Flavia Sorrentino HarperCollins
  • Fablehouse E.L. Norry Bloomsbury
  • Finding Bear Hannah Gold HarperCollins
  • Glitter Boy Ian Eagleton Scholastic
  • How to Be More Hedgehog Anne-Marie Conway, illustrated by Raahat Kaduji UCLan
  • Jamie L.D. Lapinski Orion
  • Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer Jeffrey Boakye Faber
  • My Life on Fire Cath Howe Nosy Crow
  • The Mystery of the Missing MumFrances Moloney Pushkin Press 
  • Until the Road Ends Phil Earle Andersen Press
  • Where the River Takes Us Lesley Parr Bloomsbury

Verse Novels

  • The Final Year Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton Otter-Barry
  • The Way of Dog Zana Fraillon Chicken House


  • My Heart is a Poem Various Little Tiger
  • What You Need to Be Warm Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Various Bloomsbury

Graphic Novels

  • Finding My Voice Aoife Dooley Scholastic
  • It’s Her Story: Irena Sendler Margaret Littman, illustrated by Sara Luna Sunbird


  • A Child Like You Na’ima B. Robert, illustrated by Nadine Kaadan Otter-Barry
  • All Bodies are Wonderful Beth Cox, illustrated by Vicky Barker b small
  • Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Refugees Katie Dayne & Ashe de Sousa, illustrated by Oksana Drachkovska Usborne
  • Our Story Starts in Africa Patrice Lawrence, Magic Cat


Read For Empathy
books for young people aged 12–16


  • All the Pieces of Me Libby Scott Scholastic
  • Away With Words Sophie Cameron Stripes
  • Boy Like Me Simon James Green Scholastic
  • Crossing the Line Tia Fisher Hot Key
  • Different For Boys Patrick Ness, illustrated by Tea Bendix Walker
  • Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One Maggie Horne Firefly Press
  • Kicked Out! A. M. Dassu Old Barn Books
  • One More Mountain Deborah Ellis, illustrated by Shamsia Hassani Oxford University Press
  • Promise Boys Nick Brooks Macmillan
  • Quiet Storm Kimberly Whittam Usborne
  • Safiyyah’s War Hiba Noor Khan Andersen Press
  • Sing If You Can’t Dance Alexia Casale Faber
  • SOLD: What Will It Take to Find Freedom? Sue Barrow Cadence
  • Stand Up Ferran Burke Steven Camden Macmillan
  • Swimming on the Moon Brian Conaghan Bloomsbury
  • The Climbers Keith Gray Barrington Stoke
  • The First Move Jenny Ireland Penguin
  • The Piano at the Station Helen Rutter, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli Barrington Stoke
  • What the World Doesn’t See Mel Darbon Usborne
  • Wild Song Candy Gourlay David Fickling
  • You Think You Know Me Mohamud Ayaan Usborne

Verse Novels

  • Crossing the Line Tia Fisher Hot Key
  • Stand Up Ferran Burke Steven Camden Macmillan


  • Choose Love Nicola Davies & Petr Horácek Graffeg
  • You Are Not Alone Shauna Darling Robertson Troika

Graphic Novels

  • Global Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano Hodder
  • Oxygen Mask Jason Reynolds Faber


Head to our Empathy booklist to find out more about the books in the primary collection, or visit the Empathy website to explore all of the selected books and related resources.

Sets of the books can also be purchased via Bookshop or Peters.


 Empathy Day is on Thursday 6 June 2024 and is open to all to get involved and inspired. Schools and libraries can now register for the free Mission Empathy resources at 

Everyone can also enjoy a free online Festival, featuring live events with many of the amazing authors and illustrators included in the book collection. More details announced 14 March 2024. 


Where next?

Head to our Empathy booklist to find out more about the books in the primary collection,

> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub.

> Browse our Topic Booklists.

> See our Books of the Month.

> View our Year Group booklists

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