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Kindness, compassion and empathy

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Help put your child in another person’s shoes with these books that inspire compassion: whether that’s towards animals, friends, or people in very different situations to your own.

Not only will you end up caring about about them all, but you’ll also feel grateful for the simple things you have and the people you love.

So share these books as a family, and let’s spread a little kindness in the world…

  • Give Me Shelter

    Author: Editor: Tony Bradman
    Publisher: Frances Lincoln
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    Told through the eyes of children, this moving collection of short stories focuses on the experiences of asylum seekers from all over the world.

  • Shadow

    Author: Sir Michael Morpurgo
    Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    This is a candid exploration of the injustices of war, at home and away, and an unflinching account of the treatment of asylum seekers.

  • Girl with a White Dog

    Author: Anne Booth
    Publisher: Catnip Publishing
    Interest age: 11+
    Reading age: 10+

    Jessie is delighted when she finds a beautiful white puppy at Gran's house. But then Gran starts becoming confused, and saying strange things about their new pet.

  • Red Leaves

    Author: Sita Brahmachari
    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 12+

    Sita Brahmachari has created a beautiful tale of modern multicultural Britain. Her characters come from diverse backgrounds but are brought together by the common theme - they all feel they have been abandoned by someone they love.

  • Gorilla Dawn

    Author: Gill Lewis
    Publisher: Oxford
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 9+

    This book tells the story of Imara, taken as a small child from her village when rebels raid it, and brainwashed into thinking that she has magical powers.

  • Refuge

    Author: Anne Booth Illustrator: Sam Usher
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 5+
    Reading age: 5+

    This beautiful book follows Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus as they flee into Egypt as refugees. The gorgeous drawings and Booth's sparse, poetic words make this a Christmas book to treasure.

  • I am Malala

    Author: Malala Yousafzai
    Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
    Interest age: 13+
    Reading age: 13+

    This is the real life story of one of the most incredible and inspirational young people in the world. Reading this book might just change the way you think and feel.

  • Footpath Flowers

    Author: JonArno Lawson Illustrator: Sydney Smith
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 5+
    Reading age: 3+

    A little girl spreads joy and colour through the grey townscape, when she picks and presents flowers from the pavements to the people and animals she meets. This wordless picture book is a beauty to behold.

  • A Library of Lemons

    Author: Jo Cotterill
    Publisher: Piccadilly
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 8+

    Believable, memorable, charming and moving, fans of Jacqueline Wilson's domestic dramas will enjoy this bittersweet story of a family finding their feet in the next chapter of their lives.

  • Kindness Rules!

    Author: Eunice and Sabrina Moyle
    Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
    Interest age: 2-4

    Magic Manners, a large blue elephant with a superhero costume and cape, is here to remind us that kindness rules! This bright, cheery, rhyming board book is great for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning to share and treat others with gentleness. 

  • Kind

    Author: Alison Green Illustrator: Axel Scheffler & with pictures by 38 artists
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 5+

    A delicious book by Alison Green with illustrations and a foreword by Axel Scheffler, plus pictures by 38 international illustrators, to celebrate kindness and humankind. A profound book that is quite simply a treasure trove of wisdom and beauty. 

  • Mighty Min

    Author: Melissa Castrillón
    Publisher: Alison Green Books
    Interest age: 4-7
    Reading age: 5+

    Min is a tiny girl who lives in a miniature house at the bottom of the garden with her four small-but-mighty aunts. This delightful tale of kindness, courage and ingenuity is accompanied by exquisite pencil drawings in warm, gentle colours. 

  • My Pet Star

    Author: Corrinne Averiss Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw
    Publisher: Orchard Books, Hachette
    Interest age: 2-5

    A star falls from the night sky and is cared for by a small girl, who introduces him to all the things she loves, until it's time to say goodbye. A gentle, magical story about the importance of kindness with a positive message about letting go. Perfect for bedtime.

  • The Boy at the Back of the Class

    Author: Onjali Q Raúf
    Publisher: Orion Children's Books
    Interest age: 7-12
    Reading age: 10-12

    This is the story about how four classmates have a massive impact on the life of Ahmet, a boy that comes to their school as a refugee from Syria. An inspiring and sweet tale that should help children be the best they can be and realise the power of kindness.

  • Boy 87

    Author: Ele Fountain
    Publisher: Pushkin Children’s
    Interest age: 10+
    Reading age: 10+

    This is a timely and important book which illuminates the realities of life as a refugee. The horrors that 14-year-old Shif is escaping are all too real, but this is ultimately a story about the power of kindness and the strength of the human spirit.

  • No Ballet Shoes in Syria

    Author: Catherine Bruton
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 9+
    Reading age: 8+

    Aya is a Syrian asylum seeker, looking after her mother and baby brother in the cold, unfamiliar city of Manchester – but she is also a talented ballet dancer. Children who love stories of performance and friendship will enjoy this book.