5 Children’s Books That Teach Empathy

Empathy is a powerful emotion: it allows us to sympathize, share and relate to the experiences and emotions of those around us. For children, developing empathy is a key part of their emotional growth and socialization. It’s something that should be fostered from a young age and what better way to teach your children about empathy than through books!

Here are five of our favorite children’s books that teach children about this emotion and are fun to read at the same time.

Walk a Mile In Their Shoes

By Early Moments


Books that inspire empathy in children.

  • The Together Book

    By Maria Tallarico

    Is there any group that better captures the idea of community than the Sesame Street crew? The Together Book, an ideal fit for preschool-aged little ones, is about the joy of giving and receiving a helping hand. The activity book encourages child participation, and the pairings—like Big Bird and Snuffy, and Bert and Ernie—turn problem-solving into peer participation fun. Being part of such a tight-knit community helps the Sesame Street gang be in tune with one another’s emotional needs—even Oscar the Grouch’s.

  • The Butter Battle Book

    By Maria Tallarico

    Dr. Seuss’s wacky and wonderful stories are layered with incredible life lessons, from the importance of exploration to the unexpected rewards of adventure. Empathy is a key in many of his books, such as The Butter Battle Book. Faced with a Cold War–style face-off over something entirely trivial, the characters in this book illustrate a great lesson in what happens when conflict escalates. We see that a little understanding and comraderie go along way, making the Yooks and Zooks neighbors rather than enemies. After reading, maybe your child will even come up with a few ideas for world peace (or Zooks and Yooks peace, at least).

  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

    By Maria Tallarico

    Other Dr. Seuss books, like I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew and Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, deal with gratitude. Through gratitude, children can begin to understand that the people they encounter may not be as fortunate as they are and this may grow into an ability to recognize and help friends who are facing obstacles in their lives.

  • Piglet’s Big Movie

    By Maria Tallarico

    The feeling of being left out or left behind can be a devastating one for children. Helping them recognize that emotion in themselves, and in others, will serve them well throughout their lives. When Pooh’s ragtag group of pals go in search of—what else?—honey, they leave poor Piglet behind, and the ensuing adventure is a nice lesson in appreciation and mindfulness in relationships.

  • Lilo & Stitch

    By Maria Tallarico

    Stories of empathy come in many forms, like the tale of a lonely Hawaiian girl who struggles to find her place in the world in Lilo & Stitch. Lilo, a delightful and rambunctious “problem child,” and Stitch, an intergalactic experiment posing as a dog, forge a bond through their mutual need for a friend—and family. The two may not come from the same world (or even the same species) but their ability to show compassion, kindness and loyalty to one another is a lesson in approaching others with an open mind and an open heart.


Top photo credit: Yury Koslov/Shutterstock

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