The best 26 Empathy books

In a world that often seems divided, empathy is a powerful force that brings us closer and promotes understanding. To help you cultivate this essential skill, we've compiled a collection of books that explore empathy from various angles and perspectives.
From scientific research to personal stories, these titles offer valuable insights into the nature of empathy and how we can embrace it in our daily lives. Join us on this journey of connection and compassion.

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1
Empathy Books: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

One for the Murphys

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

What's One for the Murphys about?

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a heartwarming and poignant novel about 12-year-old Carley who is placed in a foster home after a difficult family situation. As she navigates her new life with the caring and supportive Murphy family, Carley learns about love, trust, and the true meaning of family. This beautifully written book reminds us that sometimes, family is not about blood, but about the people who love and support us.

Who should read One for the Murphys?

  • Readers who enjoy realistic and heartfelt stories
  • Those interested in exploring themes of family, identity, and belonging
  • Teachers, parents, or caregivers looking for a book to discuss empathy and resilience with young readers

2
Empathy Books: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

What's Fish in a Tree about?

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a heartwarming and inspiring novel about a young girl named Ally who struggles with dyslexia. Feeling ashamed and misunderstood, Ally learns to embrace her differences with the help of her supportive teacher and new friends. It's a story about the power of resilience, the importance of empathy, and the belief that everyone has their own unique strengths.

Who should read Fish in a Tree?

  • Parents and teachers looking to understand and support children with learning differences
  • Young readers who want to connect with a relatable and inspiring protagonist
  • Individuals interested in themes of resilience, empathy, and the power of mentorship

3
Empathy Books: Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks, Gita Varadarajan

Save Me a Seat

Sarah Weeks, Gita Varadarajan

What's Save Me a Seat about?

Save Me a Seat is a heartwarming novel by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan that tells the story of two boys, Ravi and Joe, as they navigate the challenges of middle school. Told from alternating perspectives, the book explores themes of friendship, bullying, and the importance of being true to oneself. Set in a school cafeteria, it highlights the power of empathy and understanding as the boys learn to stand up for what is right.

Who should read Save Me a Seat?

  • Children in late elementary school or early middle school
  • Readers who enjoy realistic fiction with diverse characters
  • Individuals who want to explore themes of friendship, empathy, and overcoming adversity

What's Little Fires Everywhere about?

Little Fires Everywhere (2017) by Celeste Ng is a novel that delves into the complexities of motherhood, identity, and the power of secrets. Set in the picture-perfect suburb of Shaker Heights, the story intertwines the lives of two very different families, uncovering the long-buried truths that eventually ignite a destructive fire. With beautifully crafted characters and thought-provoking themes, this book captivates readers from beginning to end.

Who should read Little Fires Everywhere?

  • Anyone interested in exploring the complexities of motherhood and identity
  • Readers who enjoy character-driven stories with multiple perspectives
  • Individuals who appreciate thought-provoking explorations of race, privilege, and social dynamics

5
Empathy Books: Born for Love by Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz

Born for Love

Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz

What's Born for Love about?

Born for Love is a thought-provoking book that delves into the science of human emotions and connections. Written by renowned psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry and journalist Maia Szalavitz, it explores the importance of empathy in our lives and how early experiences shape our capacity for love and compassion. Drawing on real-life stories and scientific research, the book offers valuable insights into the role of empathy in creating a more caring and connected society.

Who should read Born for Love?

  • Parents and caregivers who want to understand and support their children's emotional development
  • Educators and professionals working with children and adolescents
  • Individuals interested in the neuroscience and psychology of empathy and human connection

What's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? about?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is a thought-provoking science fiction novel that delves into the nature of humanity and empathy. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter tasked with 'retiring' rogue androids. As Deckard questions his own morality and reality, the book raises profound questions about what it means to be human.

Who should read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep??

  • Science fiction enthusiasts who enjoy thought-provoking stories
  • Readers interested in exploring the theme of artificial intelligence and its impact on society
  • People who appreciate complex characters and philosophical explorations within a narrative

7
Empathy Books: Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me

Jacqueline Woodson

What's Harbor Me about?

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson is a powerful and timely novel that follows a group of diverse kids who form a bond while sharing their stories and experiences in a special room at their school. Through their conversations, they learn about empathy, friendship, and the importance of finding a safe harbor in the midst of life's challenges. It is a thought-provoking and heartwarming book that highlights the importance of listening and understanding one another.

Who should read Harbor Me?

  • Individuals who want to explore themes of empathy, friendship, and social justice
  • Readers who enjoy emotionally resonant and thought-provoking stories
  • Educators or parents looking for a book that promotes conversations about diversity and inclusion

8
Empathy Books: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge Home

Padma Venkatraman

What's The Bridge Home about?

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman is a moving story about four homeless children in India who form a family and fight for survival. With themes of friendship, resilience, and the power of hope, this book offers a heartfelt portrayal of the challenges faced by marginalized youth, while also highlighting the strength and determination that can help them overcome adversity.

Who should read The Bridge Home?

  • Readers who enjoy heartfelt stories about friendship and resilience
  • Those interested in exploring the lives of underprivileged children in India
  • Individuals who appreciate diverse and authentic perspectives in literature

9
Empathy Books: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for a Whale

Lynne Kelly

What's Song for a Whale about?

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly tells the story of a young deaf girl named Iris who feels isolated and misunderstood in a hearing world. When she learns about a whale who sings at a frequency no other whales can hear, she becomes determined to create a song for him. This heartwarming tale explores themes of communication, empathy, and the power of connection.

Who should read Song for a Whale?

  • Anyone interested in stories about the deaf community and the power of communication
  • People who are passionate about marine life and conservation
  • Readers who enjoy heartfelt and emotionally impactful middle-grade fiction

10
Empathy Books: Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind

Sharon M. Draper

What's Out of My Mind about?

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper tells the story of Melody, an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Unable to speak or move, Melody is often underestimated by those around her. However, she is incredibly intelligent and has a photographic memory. The book explores her journey as she fights to be heard and respected in a world that often overlooks people with disabilities.

Who should read Out of My Mind?

  • Anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges and capabilities of individuals with disabilities
  • Educators, parents, and caregivers looking to promote empathy and inclusion
  • Readers who enjoy compelling and thought-provoking stories with unique narrators

11
Empathy Books: The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

The Art of Empathy

Karla McLaren

What's The Art of Empathy about?

The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren delves into the power of empathy and how it can transform our relationships and emotional well-being. Through personal stories, practical exercises, and insightful research, McLaren offers a guide to understanding and harnessing the gift of empathy in our lives.

Who should read The Art of Empathy?

  • Individuals seeking to improve their interpersonal relationships
  • People who want to better understand and connect with others
  • Professionals in fields such as counseling, coaching, or teaching

12
Empathy Books: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie

Kate DiCamillo

What's Because of Winn-Dixie about?

Because of Winn-Dixie is a heartwarming tale by Kate DiCamillo about a young girl named Opal who adopts a stray dog and names him Winn-Dixie. Through their adventures in a small town, they befriend an eclectic group of characters and uncover the truth about Opal's own family. It's a story about friendship, forgiveness, and the power of unconditional love.

Who should read Because of Winn-Dixie?

  • Readers who enjoy heartwarming and touching stories
  • Children and young adults looking for a relatable and memorable protagonist
  • Animal lovers who appreciate the bond between a person and their pet

13

What's Because of Mr. Terupt about?

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea is a heartwarming novel that follows the lives of seven fifth-grade students and their new teacher, Mr. Terupt. Through the ups and downs of the school year, the book explores themes of friendship, empathy, and the impact one person can have on others. It's a touching story that reminds us of the power of connection and understanding.

Who should read Because of Mr. Terupt?

  • Readers who enjoy heartwarming and uplifting stories
  • Teachers looking for a book that captures the impact educators can have on their students
  • Parents and educators interested in themes of empathy, understanding, and resilience

14
Empathy Books: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

Ann M. Martin

What's Rain Reign about?

'Rain Reign' is a captivating novel by Ann M. Martin that follows the story of a young girl named Rose who has high-functioning autism. Rose adores homonyms and her dog, Rain. When Rain goes missing during a storm, Rose sets out on a journey to find him, discovering the true meaning of love and loyalty along the way. Martin beautifully portrays the unique perspective of a child with autism and the power of unconditional friendship.

Who should read Rain Reign?

  • Readers who enjoy heartwarming stories with well-developed characters
  • People interested in exploring the unique perspective of a protagonist with autism
  • Parents, educators, or caregivers looking to gain insights into understanding and supporting children with special needs

15
Empathy Books: El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo

Cece Bell

What's El Deafo about?

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a heartwarming graphic novel that tells the story of a young girl named Cece who loses her hearing due to illness. Through colorful illustrations and a touch of humor, the book explores Cece's journey as she navigates the challenges of fitting in at a new school and embracing her differences. It's a beautiful and inspiring tale of friendship, self-acceptance, and the power of communication.

Who should read El Deafo?

  • Children and young adults with hearing loss
  • Those who want to learn about the experiences of people with hearing impairments
  • Parents, educators, and caregivers looking to foster understanding and empathy towards individuals with disabilities

16
Empathy Books: Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Magic Pencil

Malala Yousafzai

What's Malala's Magic Pencil about?

Malala's Magic Pencil (2017) is a heartfelt memoir by Malala Yousafzai. It tells the story of her childhood in Pakistan, her desire for a magic pencil to make the world a better place, and her journey towards education and activism. Through her inspiring words, Malala encourages children to believe in the power of their own voices and to stand up for what they believe in.

Who should read Malala's Magic Pencil?

  • Children who are inspired by real-life stories of courage and activism
  • Parents and educators looking to teach empathy and the importance of education
  • Readers who enjoy beautifully illustrated and engaging picture books

What's Turtles All the Way Down about?

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green delves into the life of 16-year-old Aza Holmes as she navigates friendship, love, and her own thoughts. Set against the backdrop of a mystery, this novel offers a raw and honest portrayal of mental illness and the complexities of the human mind.

Who should read Turtles All the Way Down?

  • Readers who enjoy contemporary young adult fiction
  • Those interested in mental health and its portrayal in literature
  • People looking for a captivating and relatable story about friendship, love, and overcoming personal challenges

18
Empathy Books: Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day

David Levithan

What's Every Day about?

Every Day is a captivating novel by David Levithan that tells the extraordinary story of A, who wakes up in a different body every day. A has accepted this unique existence until the day A meets Rhiannon and falls in love. As A struggles to maintain a connection with Rhiannon, the book explores themes of identity, love, and the beauty of being human.

Who should read Every Day?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and unique love stories
  • Those interested in exploring themes of identity, empathy, and human connection
  • People who are open-minded and curious about experiencing life from different perspectives

19
Empathy Books: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water

Linda Sue Park

What's A Long Walk to Water about?

A Long Walk to Water (2010) by Linda Sue Park is a novel based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Sudanese “Lost Boy” who fled his war-torn country as a child. The book intertwines Salva's journey in 1985 with the story of Nya, a young girl in 2008, both struggling to survive and find clean water. It is a powerful and inspiring tale of resilience, hope, and the unbreakable human spirit.

Who should read A Long Walk to Water?

  • Anyone interested in stories of resilience and survival
  • Young adult readers seeking a compelling and educational narrative
  • Educators looking to incorporate themes of global issues and empathy into their curriculum

20
Empathy Books: Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Guts

Raina Telgemeier

What's Guts about?

Guts is a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier that delves into the author's experiences with anxiety and fear during her childhood. Through her vivid illustrations and honest storytelling, Telgemeier explores the challenges she faced and how she ultimately found the strength to overcome her struggles.

Who should read Guts?

  • Readers looking for a relatable and honest graphic novel memoir
  • People who have experienced anxiety or digestive issues and want to feel understood
  • Parents and educators who want to help children navigate fears and challenges

21
Empathy Books: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Nic Stone

What's Dear Martin about?

Dear Martin by Nic Stone is a thought-provoking novel that tells the story of Justyce McAllister, a high school student who starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to make sense of the world around him. While dealing with racism, police brutality, and societal expectations, Justyce seeks guidance from King's teachings and tries to navigate his own path towards justice.

Who should read Dear Martin?

  • Anyone interested in exploring the complexities of race and systemic injustice in America
  • Young adults looking for a thought-provoking and timely novel
  • Readers who appreciate engaging storytelling that challenges their perspective

22
Empathy Books: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama

Raina Telgemeier

What's Drama about?

Drama by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel that follows the story of Callie, a middle school student who is passionate about theater. As she navigates friendships, crushes, and the ups and downs of putting on a school play, the book delves into themes of self-discovery and the excitement of being part of a creative community.

Who should read Drama?

  • Readers who enjoy young adult graphic novels
  • Individuals who have an interest in theater and behind-the-scenes production
  • Anyone who wants to explore themes of friendship, self-discovery, and navigating middle school

23
Empathy Books: George by Alex Gino

George

Alex Gino

What's George about?

George by Alex Gino is a heartwarming and important novel that tells the story of a transgender girl named Melissa, who is determined to show the world who she truly is. With the help of her best friend, Melissa takes on the role of Charlotte in her school's play, revealing her true identity to her family and friends along the way. This book beautifully explores themes of identity, acceptance, and the power of being true to oneself.

Who should read George?

  • Parents and educators looking to understand and support transgender children
  • Anyone interested in exploring themes of identity, acceptance, and empathy
  • Readers who enjoy heartwarming and thought-provoking middle-grade fiction

24
Empathy Books: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Robert C. Evans

The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway, Robert C. Evans

What's The Old Man and the Sea about?

The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Ernest Hemingway tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who struggles with a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream. Filled with themes of struggle, resilience, and the nature of mankind, it is a timeless classic that explores the relationship between man and the natural world.

Who should read The Old Man and the Sea?

  • Readers who enjoy literary classics and timeless stories
  • Those interested in themes of perseverance, resilience, and the human spirit
  • People who appreciate insightful exploration of the relationship between man and nature

What's The Boy At the Back of the Class about?

The Boy At the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf tells a heartwarming story of a group of friends who go to great lengths to help a new boy at their school, who is a refugee. It highlights the power of friendship, kindness, and empathy in the face of adversity, and is a poignant reminder of the importance of welcoming and supporting those in need.

Who should read The Boy At the Back of the Class?

  • Children aged 9-12 interested in understanding refugee experiences
  • Teachers and parents looking to promote empathy and compassion in young readers
  • Readers who enjoy heartwarming and thought-provoking stories

26
Empathy Books: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein

What's The Giving Tree about?

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a heartwarming tale that explores the selfless nature of unconditional love. Through the story of a tree and a boy, it teaches valuable lessons about the joy of giving and the importance of gratitude. Silverstein's simple yet profound storytelling and whimsical illustrations make this book a timeless classic for both children and adults.

Who should read The Giving Tree?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally impactful stories
  • Parents looking to teach their children about selflessness and love
  • Those who appreciate simple yet profound illustrations

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