It is easier to show and model character traits for our children, rather than tell them what we expect. Using picture books to model empathy is effective because the student’s transform into the character’s lives and see how they are feeling.
I use these five empathy books in my classroom. Each of them allows children the opportunity to understand the perspective of the characters. As a teacher this serves a double purpose. Reading picture books to your students is something you do daily. In fact, you may have these empathy books in your classroom library already. (If not, I am an Amazon affliate member, and you can click on the books to purchase). During your read-aloud, it is very simple to pause and ask about the character’s motivation.
- What are they thinking right now?
- Why did they make that decision?
- Do you think they’ll make the same decision next time?
- Why or why not?
For other examples of how to teach empathy, click HERE for a social emotional learning blog.
I hope you enjoy reading these books to your students as much as I do.
Keep reading, teacher friends!
We're All Wonders
The unforgettable bestseller Wonder, now a major motion picture, has inspired a nationwide movement to Choose Kind. Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio.
Over 6 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy.
Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.
We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.
Praise for Wonder:
A #1 New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Top 100 Bestseller
An Indie Bestseller
A Time Magazine 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time Selection
A Washington Post Best Kids’ Book
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
An NPR Outstanding Backseat Book Club Pick
An Entertainment Weekly 10 Great Kids’ Books Selection
A Chair For My Mother
This classic and award-winning picture book was written and illustrated by the celebrated Vera B. Williams and was named a Caldecott Honor Book by the American Library Association. "A tender knockout . . . it's rare to find much vitality, spontaneity, and depth of feeling in such a simple, young book."—Kirkus Reviews
After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother save their coins to buy a really comfortable chair for all to enjoy. A Chair for My Mother has sold more than a million copies and is an ideal choice for reading and sharing at home and in the classroom. "A superbly conceived picture book expressing the joyful spirit of a loving family."—The Horn Book
Supports the Common Core State Standards
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, the nationally bestselling and celebrated creator of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, and Kitten's First Full Moon, Chrysanthemum is a funny and honest school story about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance to share all year round.
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. "You're named after a flower!" teases Victoria. "Let's smell her," says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?
This popular picture book has sold more than a million copies and was named a Notable Book for Children by the American Library Association. "Perfectly executed in words and illustration, Chrysanthemumexemplifies Henkes's talent for creating true picture stories for young audiences."—The Horn Book
Supports the Common Core State Standards
Amos and Boris
Amos the mouse and Boris the whale: a devoted pair of friends with nothing at all in common, except good hearts and a willingness to help their fellow mammal. They meet after Amos sets out to sail the sea and finds himself in extreme need of rescue. And there will come a day, long after Boris has gone back to a life at sea and Amos has gone back to life on dry land, when the tiny mouse must find a way to rescue the great whale.
Amos & Boris is a 1971 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, Notable Children's Book of the Year, and Outstanding Book of the Year.
Hey, Little Ant
What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?