My Favourite Kids Books on Empathy

Updated: Mar 30

Each month I will share a new book with you about Empathy and topics related to empathy, kindness, humanity and emotions. If you have any recommendations, please send through to me

Over on Instagram you can find my son Rowan and I reading and discussing books about empathy, emotions and community LIVE each week (head to the video tab).

Through weaving narrative and colour The Way of Play invites children (big and small) to consider ways play connects mindfulness and wellbeing into the day to day. In a world of excessive sensory exposure our bodies can tense up, our breathing can change and this effects how we experience the world around us. Children can lead us back to vibrant wellbeing if we allow them to lead through play. The Way of Play inspires children to keep the magic alive.

A kids book about EMPATHY is pure delight and captures the essence of empathy so beautifully with an insightful comparison of empathy and sympathy and 4 simple steps to be empathetic with our friends - Breathe, Listen, Ask and Imagine. and I recommend you check it out at

"I like how it explains the difference between empathy and sympathy, because that can get confusing". Rowan Butterworth

You, Me and Empathy teaches kids (and their parents) about empathy, feelings, kindness, compassion, tolerance, respect and recognising bullying behaviours. It's definitely one to sit and read with your kids as there are question prompts the whole way through like "What makes you happy? Sad? Worried? Mad?" There are also age-specific question prompts and activities at the end of the book.

For some kids it might be a bit much to get through in one sitting so maybe spacing it over a few nights and with each child separately would be a really special activity to share. Watch Rowan and I read it together.

Be Kind - 125 kind things to say and do by Naomi Shulman

Be Kind is very sweet and well-intentioned. It's full of simple acts of kindness you can share with your kids such as :

- Put the grocery cart away

- Set the dinner table without being asked.

- Send a card to your grandparents just to say HI!

- If you overhear kids saying bad things about someone else, step in to say something nice about them.

- If you see a kid crying, ask what's wrong - and help find a grown-up if they need one.

- Paint kind messages on rocks and leave them somewhere unexpected. like BE BRAVE. YOU ROCK. HELLO FRIEND

Kindness makes us strong by Sophie Beer is a very sweet book for the littlies. (Age 3-5). It takes nearly no time to read so it would hold the attention of young ones if you incorporate lots of questions and ask how they feel. The pictures are lovely too and give lots of opportunity for discussion. We got the board book version which is great for grabby little fingers. Recommended for parents to read with their little readers.

What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

I read this book to my Social Enterprise University students this month who are about to embark on their journey to change the world. My kids love this book and I hope you do too. Watch Rowan and I read it together.

"This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child's confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens.

This is a story for anyone, at any age, who's ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It's a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's just getting started."


Hi! I'm Leanne Butterworth, Empathy Speaker and Educator, University Lecturer and Mental Health Advocate.

Empathy First is a Brisbane-based social enterprise offering Empathy workshops, online courses and individual Empathy coaching to help you build connection and strengthen your relationships for personal and professional success.

Contact me today and let's talk about how you can put Empathy First.

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