Eight picture books to celebrate Empathy Day

This week marked Empathy Day in the UK. To celebrate we put together a list of thoughtful picture books that encourage the important themes of understanding, friendship and big emotions.

Floss in the playground boss jacket imageFloss is the Playground Boss

Floss is the playground Boss. That is until a new boy named Peter shows up.

When Peter decides he doesn’t want to play along with Floss’ rules, she learns that having friends can be much more fun than being the playground boss in this beautiful picture book, teaching children about friendship and sharing.




Thank Goodness for Bob jacket imageThank Goodness for Bob

Max worries. A lot. Soon it feels like his worries might take over the world!

Thank Goodness for Bob lets children know that the best way to deal with worries is to share them with a friend.

Told with sensitivity and a sense of fun, this relatable story encourages empathy and illustrates the importance of talking about worries with a lightness of touch.



Where's the Elephant? Jacket imageWhere’s the Elephant?

A visionary picture book from the genius of Barroux, Where’s the Elephant? pairs beautiful wordless storytelling with a powerful message.

What starts as a game of jungle hide-and-seek soon becomes an important tale conveying the dangers of deforestation upon the animal kingdom.




Welcome Jacket ImageWelcome

When Polar Bear and his friends are swept away from their icy home, they hope to find refuge in a new land.

But when they are turned away from one new place after another, they start to doubt that they will ever find somewhere they will be made welcome.

Barroux once again crafts a powerful story in Welcome, touching on the plight of migrants and refugees, as well as global warming, in a gentle, open-ended way.



The unexpected visitor jacket imageThe Unexpected Visitor

A  beautiful and warm-hearted picture book all about the friendship between a fisherman and whale.

When the little fisherman gets an unexpected (and very large) visitor one day, they instantly become friends. They have a lot of fun exploring each other’s homes, but where have all the fishes gone?

The Unexpected Visitor is the perfect way to introduce the notion of sharing, sustainability and taking care of the creatures in our oceans with young children ages 3 years and up.


The Thing jacket ImageThe Thing

One day, The Thing falls from the sky and four strangers stumble across it. Together they decide to work together to take care of the Thing.

But before long debate about the Thing spreads far around the world.

What is the Thing? What does it do? And is it any use for anything at all?

A story about thoughtfulness, an adventure in friendship and an intriguing and gentle social commentary on the search for meaning in modern life.


The boy on the bench jacket imageThe Boy on the Bench

The playground is packed with children playing, but Tom is The Boy on the Bench.

Tom can’t see a space for himself anywhere in the playground. Not on the slide, or on the roundabout or on the swings.

But when a little girl loses her teddy, will Tom have the courage to help?

Gabriel Alborozo’s warm, friendly illustrations perfectly bring to life this gentle, empathetic story by Corrinne Averissa bout overcoming fears and being yourself.


An uplifting story about confronting big emotions from the author of The Night Box, stunningly illustrated by Júlia Sardà.Sweep

Ed’s bad mood begins as something really small, hardly a thing at all.

But before long it grows, gathers pace, and spreads through the whole town.

Can Ed sweep his troubles away?

Sweep is an uplifting story about confronting big emotions from the author of The Night Box, stunningly illustrated by Júlia Sardà.



About Empathy Day

Empathy Day was founded in 2017 by Empathy Lab. It harnesses the power of stories to help us understand each other better, and highlights empathy’s power and importance in our divided world. These are the calls to action:

Empathy Day logoRead– because reading in itself can make us more empathetic

Share – because sharing books on Empathy Day can connect us in new ways

Do – put empathy into action and make a difference in your community

Find out more about Empathy Day on the Empathy Lab website and on twitter.

Other Articles

Win a Beast and the Bethany book bundle!

This week the Beast was unleashed from the pages of The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips. He’s hungrier than ever and we need YOUR help to tame him. But the Beast has never been one to make things easy, particularly his outrageous meal requests. Read More

The Wonder Tree author Teresa Heapy meets Screech Owl Wildlife Park

We can think of no better way to have a HOOT then a chat about all things owls in the presence of an actual owl. That’s exactly what Teresa Heapy got to do when she spoke to Karen, Paula and Honey the Tawny owl from Screech Owl Wildlife Park. Read More

Egmont Books signs World Rights for Monster acquisition

Egmont Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is inviting children around the world to become monster hunters after acquiring world rights to Monster Hunting for Beginners by debut children’s author Ian Mark. Lindsey Heaven, Fiction Publishing Director, Egmont Books, and Liz Bankes, Editorial Director at Egmont Books, secured world rights… Read More