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

Simple animal tale of bullying, empathy, and forgiveness.
By Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(2013)
(2013)
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Spare story of ups & downs great for toddlers, preschoolers.
By Jeff Mack
(2012)
(2012)
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Boy burns with embarrassment in hilarious, relatable tale.
By Audrey Vernick
(2015)
(2015)
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Knitting = love in this warm and fuzzy tale of kindness.
By Michelle Edwards
(2016)
(2016)
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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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Friendship soothes fears in charming amusement park tale.
By Mike Curato
(2016)
(2016)
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Tractor reaches out to silent friend in tale of empathy.
By Loren Long
(2014)
(2014)
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Boy who's different promotes kindness in fresh empathy tale.
By R.J. Palacio
(2017)
(2017)
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Lyrics of inspirational Dolly Parton song address bullying.
By Dolly Parton
(2016)
(2016)
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Dad helps son manage fears in kind story full of empathy.
By Gennifer Choldenko
(2017)
(2017)
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Kind boy and sweet stories are great for new readers.
By Sally Rippin
(2016)
(2013)
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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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Kind tale of empathy shows how to reach out to left-out kid.
By Trudy Ludwig
(2013)
(2013)
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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 tale helps young kids build empathy.
By Beverly Cleary
(2003)
(1992)
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Nate at his best, showing empathy for geeky new kid.
By Lincoln Peirce
(2015)
(2015)
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Intriguing mystery inspires empathy for OCD sufferers.
By Lisa Thompson
(2017)
(2017)
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Touching fourth-grade story of empathy and kindness.
By Cammie McGovern
(2016)
(2016)
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Rich, authentic characters are heart of thoughtful novel.
By Peter Johnson
(2014)
(2014)
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Moo
City kids meet cow in fun tale of empathy, perseverance.
By Sharon Creech
(2016)
(2016)
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Remarkable story of three boys honoring spirited teacher.
By John David Anderson
(2016)
(2016)
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Orange tree draws a neighborhood together in unique story.
By Joanne Rocklin
(2011)
(2011)
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Great novel about a girl, her chickens, and her best friend.
By Ellen Airgood
(2012)
(2012)
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Fun, gentle story about kids gaining confidence and empathy.
By Phil Bildner
(2015)
(2015)
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Moving, gentle friendship story tackles anti-Muslim bigotry.
By Katherine Applegate
(2017)
(2017)
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Wise words to live by cleverly packed in a "Wonder" package.
By R.J. Palacio
(2014)
(2014)
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Complex adventure mixes immigration issues, space travel.
By William Alexander
(2014)
(2014)
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Super relatable heroine, lots of middle school drama.
By Erin Entrada Kelly
(2015)
(2015)
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Charming, funny comics memoir of growing up deaf.
By Cece Bell
(2014)
(2014)
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Outcasts join forces to conquer readers' hearts.
By Rodman Philbrick
(2004)
(1993)
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Sweet coming-of-age story teaches empathy, kindness.
By Kevin Henkes
(2011)
(2011)
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Fun, fresh sci-fi adventure has touching message of empathy.
By Sophia McDougall
(2015)
(2015)
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Poignant tale of autistic girl and her dog.
By Ann M. Martin
(2014)
(2014)
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Sensitive adaptation of classic sci-fi adventure.
By Madeleine L'Engle, Hope Larson
(2012)
(2012)
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Heartbreaking story of motherless girl's grief, healing.
By Jerry Spinelli
(2017)
(2017)
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Thought-provoking stories of kindness and friendship.
By R.J. Palacio
(2016)
(2015)
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Gripping, taut eco-thriller a thoughtful, satisfying read.
By Louis Sachar
(2015)
(2015)
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Sensitive story of misfits striving to be their real selves.
By Donna Gephart
(2016)
(2016)
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Moving tale of girl whose brother died in school shooting.
By Kathryn Erskine
(2010)
(2010)
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Deliciously macabre, well-spun tale for fans of horror.
By Jonathan Auxier
(2014)
(2014)
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Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina.
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
(2011)
(2010)
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Tragedy, triumph, and wisdom in funny, heartfelt tween tale.
By Kate DiCamillo
(2016)
(2016)
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Moving tale of facially different boy with inner beauty.
By R.J. Palacio
(2012)
(2012)
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Boy stands up for autistic sister in compassionate tale.
By Gennifer Choldenko
(2005)
(2005)
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Moving memoir of boy Holocaust survivor on Schindler's list.
By Leon Leyson, Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran
(2013)
(2013)
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Joey tries to heal his family in emotional series finale.
By Jack Gantos
(2014)
(2014)
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Gripping, heartfelt coming-of-age tale sure to hook teens.
By Matthew Quick
(2013)
(2012)
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Blind teen finds love and more in engaging coming-of-ager.
By Josh Sundquist
(2017)
(2017)
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Devastating, deeply moving story of love and resilience.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2015)
(2015)
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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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Kids', teens' authors share personal bullying experiences.
By Megan Kelley Hall, Carrie Jones
(2011)
(2011)
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Quirky friendship tale fosters empathy.
By Anna Priemaza
(2017)
(2017)
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Teen romance inspires empathy for immigrants.
By Melissa de la Cruz
(2016)
(2016)
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Thoughtful coming-of-ager about looking beneath the surface.
By Cammie McGovern
(2015)
(2015)
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Dark, moving foster-kid story shows power of friendship.
By Robin Roe
(2017)
(2017)
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Empathetic, empowering story of gender-fluid teen.
By Jeff Garvin
(2016)
(2016)
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Gritty Steinbeck classic brings Great Depression to life.
By John Steinbeck
(2010)
(2002)
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