Books That Teach Empathy

Teaching kids character strengths and life skills such as empathy is one of the most important jobs of being a parent. Empathic kids can put themselves in someone else's shoes. It also allows them to develop other caring character strengths, such as compassion and gratitude. These great books for all ages help make it easier by celebrating friendship, difference, and the importance of caring for one another. For even more empathy-building media picks, just check these movies and TV shows that promote empathy.

Browse Books That Teach Empathy

Bully Book Poster Image
Simple animal tale of bullying, empathy, and forgiveness.
By Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(2013)
(2013)
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Good News Bad News Book Poster Image
Spare story of ups & downs great for toddlers, preschoolers.
By Jeff Mack
(2012)
(2012)
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Be Kind Book Poster Image
Warm story shows big impact of simple acts of kindness.
By Pat Zietlow Miller
(2018)
(2018)
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First Grade Dropout Book Poster Image
Boy burns with embarrassment in hilarious, relatable tale.
By Audrey Vernick
(2015)
(2015)
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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love Book Poster Image
Knitting = love in this warm and fuzzy tale of kindness.
By Michelle Edwards
(2016)
(2016)
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In Plain Sight Book Poster Image
Playful, loving relationship shines in sweet grandpa tale.
By Richard Jackson
(2017)
(2017)
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Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla Book Poster Image
Poignant, sensitive story of captive gorilla builds empathy.
By Katherine Applegate
(2014)
(2014)
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Little Elliot, Big Fun Book Poster Image
Friendship soothes fears in charming amusement park tale.
By Mike Curato
(2016)
(2016)
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Otis and the Scarecrow Book Poster Image
Tractor reaches out to silent friend in tale of empathy.
By Loren Long
(2014)
(2014)
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We're All Wonders Book Poster Image
Boy who's different promotes kindness in fresh empathy tale.
By R.J. Palacio
(2017)
(2017)
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Coat of Many Colors Book Poster Image
Lyrics of inspirational Dolly Parton song address bullying.
By Dolly Parton
(2016)
(2016)
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Dad and the Dinosaur Book Poster Image
Dad helps son manage fears in kind story full of empathy.
By Gennifer Choldenko
(2017)
(2017)
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Hey Jack! Series Book Poster Image
Kind boy and sweet stories are great for new readers.
By Sally Rippin
(2016)
(2013)
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Hudson and the Puppy: Lost in Paris: Paris-Chien, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Dog helps homeless pup in charming Paris adventure.
By Jackie Clark Mancuso
(2018)
(2018)
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Malala's Magic Pencil Book Poster Image
Nobel winner tells what inspired activism in relatable tale.
By Malala Yousafzai
(2017)
(2017)
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The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm Book Poster Image
Reassuring tale soothes fears, promotes sharing feelings.
By LeVar Burton, Susan Schaefer Bernardo
(2014)
(2014)
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The Invisible Boy Book Poster Image
Kind tale of empathy shows how to reach out to left-out kid.
By Trudy Ludwig
(2013)
(2013)
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Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability Book Poster Image
Young man shares info about disability with honesty, humor.
By Shane Burcaw
(2017)
(2017)
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Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year Book Poster Image
Engaging school story about a messy boy with a good heart.
By Bill Harley
(2013)
(2013)
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Charlotte's Web Book Poster Image
Gentle, much-loved barnyard classic delights all ages.
By E.B. White
(2006)
(1952)
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Ramona the Pest Book Poster Image
Ramona tale helps young kids build empathy.
By Beverly Cleary
(2003)
(1992)
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Big Nate Lives It Up: Big Nate, Book 7 Book Poster Image
Nate at his best, showing empathy for geeky new kid.
By Lincoln Peirce
(2015)
(2015)
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The Goldfish Boy Book Poster Image
Intriguing mystery inspires empathy for OCD sufferers.
By Lisa Thompson
(2017)
(2017)
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Just My Luck Book Poster Image
Touching fourth-grade story of empathy and kindness.
By Cammie McGovern
(2016)
(2016)
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The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez Book Poster Image
Rich, authentic characters are heart of thoughtful novel.
By Peter Johnson
(2014)
(2014)
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Moo Book Poster Image
Moo
City kids meet cow in fun tale of empathy, perseverance.
By Sharon Creech
(2016)
(2016)
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Ms. Bixby's Last Day Book Poster Image
Remarkable story of three boys honoring spirited teacher.
By John David Anderson
(2016)
(2016)
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One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street Book Poster Image
Orange tree draws a neighborhood together in unique story.
By Joanne Rocklin
(2011)
(2011)
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Prairie Evers Book Poster Image
Great novel about a girl, her chickens, and her best friend.
By Ellen Airgood
(2012)
(2012)
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A Whole New Ballgame: Rip and Red, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Fun, gentle story about kids gaining confidence and empathy.
By Phil Bildner
(2015)
(2015)
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Wishtree Book Poster Image
Moving, gentle friendship story tackles anti-Muslim bigotry.
By Katherine Applegate
(2017)
(2017)
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365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts Book Poster Image
Wise words to live by cleverly packed in a "Wonder" package.
By R.J. Palacio
(2014)
(2014)
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Ambassador Book Poster Image
Complex adventure mixes immigration issues, space travel.
By William Alexander
(2014)
(2014)
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Blackbird Fly Book Poster Image
Super relatable heroine, lots of middle school drama.
By Erin Entrada Kelly
(2015)
(2015)
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El Deafo Book Poster Image
Charming, funny comics memoir of growing up deaf.
By Cece Bell
(2014)
(2014)
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Freak the Mighty Book Poster Image
Outcasts join forces to conquer readers' hearts.
By Rodman Philbrick
(2004)
(1993)
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Junonia Book Poster Image
Sweet coming-of-age story teaches empathy, kindness.
By Kevin Henkes
(2011)
(2011)
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Mars Evacuees Book Poster Image
Fun, fresh sci-fi adventure has touching message of empathy.
By Sophia McDougall
(2015)
(2015)
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Mascot Book Poster Image
Tween's humor lifts story about grief, physical injury.
By Antony John
(2018)
(2018)
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Rain Reign Book Poster Image
Poignant tale of autistic girl and her dog.
By Ann M. Martin
(2014)
(2014)
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A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel Book Poster Image
Sensitive adaptation of classic sci-fi adventure.
By Madeleine L'Engle, Hope Larson
(2012)
(2012)
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The Warden's Daughter Book Poster Image
Heartbreaking story of motherless girl's grief, healing.
By Jerry Spinelli
(2017)
(2017)
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Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories Book Poster Image
Thought-provoking stories of kindness and friendship.
By R.J. Palacio
(2016)
(2015)
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Fuzzy Mud Book Poster Image
Gripping, taut eco-thriller a thoughtful, satisfying read.
By Louis Sachar
(2015)
(2015)
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Lily and Dunkin Book Poster Image
Sensitive story of misfits striving to be their real selves.
By Donna Gephart
(2016)
(2016)
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Mockingbird Book Poster Image
Moving tale of girl whose brother died in school shooting.
By Kathryn Erskine
(2010)
(2010)
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The Night Gardener Book Poster Image
Deliciously macabre, well-spun tale for fans of horror.
By Jonathan Auxier
(2014)
(2014)
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Ninth Ward Book Poster Image
Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina.
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
(2011)
(2010)
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Raymie Nightingale Book Poster Image
Tragedy, triumph, and wisdom in funny, heartfelt tween tale.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2016)
(2016)
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Wonder Book Poster Image
Moving tale of facially different boy with inner beauty.
By R.J. Palacio
(2012)
(2012)
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Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Boy stands up for autistic sister in compassionate tale.
By Gennifer Choldenko
(2005)
(2005)
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The Boy on the Wooden Box Book Poster Image
Moving memoir of boy Holocaust survivor on Schindler's list.
By Leon Leyson, Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran
(2013)
(2013)
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The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza Book Poster Image
Joey tries to heal his family in emotional series finale.
By Jack Gantos
(2014)
(2014)
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Boy21 Book Poster Image
Gripping, heartfelt coming-of-age tale sure to hook teens.
By Matthew Quick
(2013)
(2012)
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Love and First Sight Book Poster Image
Blind teen finds love and more in engaging coming-of-ager.
By Josh Sundquist
(2017)
(2017)
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Orbiting Jupiter Book Poster Image
Devastating, deeply moving story of love and resilience.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2015)
(2015)
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Paperboy Book Poster Image
Award-winning coming-of-age book teaches empathy, bravery.
By Vince Vawter
(2014)
(2013)
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To Kill a Mockingbird Book Poster Image
Stunning classic examines racism -- and justice.
By Harper Lee
(2004)
(1960)
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Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories Book Poster Image
Kids', teens' authors share personal bullying experiences.
By Megan Kelley Hall, Carrie Jones
(2011)
(2011)
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Kat and Meg Conquer the World Book Poster Image
Quirky friendship tale fosters empathy.
By Anna Priemaza
(2017)
(2017)
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Something in Between Book Poster Image
Teen romance inspires empathy for immigrants.
By Melissa de la Cruz
(2016)
(2016)
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A Step Toward Falling Book Poster Image
Thoughtful coming-of-ager about looking beneath the surface.
By Cammie McGovern
(2015)
(2015)
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A List of Cages Book Poster Image
Dark, moving foster-kid story shows power of friendship.
By Robin Roe
(2017)
(2017)
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Symptoms of Being Human Book Poster Image
Empathetic, empowering story of gender-fluid teen.
By Jeff Garvin
(2016)
(2016)
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The Grapes of Wrath Book Poster Image
Gritty Steinbeck classic brings Great Depression to life.
By John Steinbeck
(2010)
(2002)
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