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Books to build empathy - For children aged 12 to 16


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Empathy is our ability to understand and experience someone else’s feelings. It builds stronger, kinder communities. It’s a crucial life skill that young people need to learn, thrive and make a positive difference. We’re not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s a skill we can all learn. Excitingly, research shows that books are a powerful tool to develop it. When young people identify with book characters, they learn to see things from others’ points of view. As they read, they are building their empathy skills. 

You’ll find twenty-five fantastic empathy-boosting books – chosen by an expert panel – to help young people aged 12 to 16 gain insights into other people’s feelings, perspectives and ways of life.

Graphic & Verse Novels, Poetry & Short Stories
Twenty-five powerful books, including novels, non-fiction, verse novels, poetry and graphic novels. All chosen to help young people aged 12–16 develop real-life empathy.
* Indicates titles that are suitable for older readers and books with themes that may need to be introduced with caution.

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