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…

  • 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. 

  • Clean Getaway

    Author: Nic Stone
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 10-14
    Reading age: 9+

    One day, Scoob's Grandma turns up at his house and invites him on a road trip - retracing the steps of a trip she took with his late grandpa. This is a satisfying, timeless read about a family’s history which intersects with the American civil rights movement, and reminds readers of the impact of racism and intolerance.

  • Feel Better, Daddy

    Author: Nancy Loewen and Hazel Quintanilla
    Publisher: Words and Pictures
    Interest age: 1-3

    This adorable story about a little girl taking care of her unwell father is one that encourages empathy in little ones. It's a lovely little story with appealing red, black-and-white illustrations in a ten-page board book.

  • When Sadness Comes to Call

    Author: Eva Eland
    Publisher: Andersen Press
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 5+

    Introducing the concept of mental wellbeing, this picture book helps children to recognise and understand difficult emotions. The result is a contemplative and ultimately uplifting tale.

  • No Ballet Shoes in Syria

    Author: Catherine Bruton
    Publisher: Nosy Crow
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    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. 

  • It’s a No-Money Day

    Author: Kate Milner
    Publisher: Barrington Stoke
    Interest age: 4-8
    Reading age: 5+

    This moving picture book about a family’s visit to the food bank is a sensitive exploration of how it may feel to live below the poverty line. Perfect to share with young children to develop empathy and understanding (or to recognise their own situation).

  • The Boy at the Back of the Class

    Author: Onjali Q Raúf
    Publisher: Orion
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 10+

    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.

  • Can You See Me?

    Author: Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Starting secondary school is a daunting time for any 11 year old – and Natalia is no exception. This is a powerful, readable and relatable story about trying to fit in. Along the way, a host of assumptions and stereotypes about autism are smashed. 

  • Two Sides

    Author: Polly Ho-Yen Illustrator: Binny Talib
    Publisher: Stripes
    Interest age: 6-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Lula and Lenka are the best of friends until they have an argument and neither will say sorry. Will they ever manage to make up? Polly Ho-Yen beautifully explores the complexity of friendships and learning that there are always two sides of a story. 

  • Boy 87

    Author: Ele Fountain
    Publisher: Pushkin Children’s
    Interest age: 10-11
    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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A Library of Lemons

    Author: Jo Cotterill
    Publisher: Piccadilly
    Interest age: 8-11
    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.