Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Get Ready For Empathy Day on 13th June 2017! - by Dawn Finch

Spreading the power of empathy in our divided world, and stories as a tool to develop it

Empathy Lab supporter Dame Jacqueline Wilson says: “To be a successful human being, you need to be in touch with other people’s feelings. I’m fascinated by EmpathyLab, by its ideas, and by the way it’s drawing together the world of words with the fields of neuroscience and wellbeing. I’m delighted to see the launch of Empathy Day.”

Tuesday June 13th is the first Empathy Day, launched by the very wonderful Empathy Lab. On the day I will be joining in with others tweeting my recommendations for books that support empathy. It has never been more important to support our children through dark times, and to help them grow up with a better and more empathetic understanding of others.

Empathy Day on 13 June 2017 is a platform to emphasise the importance of empathy in our divided world, and raise awareness of the power of stories to develop it. A new Read for Empathy guide for adults living and working with children aged 4-11 will be published on 13 June. It features 21 “must-reads” endorsed by The Sunday Times’ children’s book reviewer Nicolette Jones and will be available free from

The Day is being launched by Empathy Lab, a new organisation with a mission to use stories to help us understand each other better, led by Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of The Reading Agency. Miranda says, “We’re establishing an Empathy Day to shine a bright light on the importance of empathy in our divided world - new approaches to building this core life skill are badly needed with the recent dramatic rise in hate crimes. Helping children learn about empathy through books lays strong foundations for resisting prejudice and intolerance.”

On the Day authors will visit schools and take to social media in a #ReadforEmpathy drive, and many schools plan to hold special events and assemblies.

What can you do on 13 June 2017 to support Empathy Day?
Authors and illustrators and author partners will be recommending the books which helped them understand other people better, using the hashtags #ReadforEmpathy and #EmpathyDay. Former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell has contributed a special illustration to be shared across social media.

You can join in and show your support by tweeting or blogging about the books that you feel support the development of empathy in young people. Start thinking about the books you might like to share now. On the day, let’s see if we can get those hashtags trending – retweet and share as much as you can! Spread the conversation as far and wide as you can.

To find out more about Empathy Lab and Empathy day, visit

What other Empathy Day supporters have said...
Neil Gaiman: “In reading, you get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.”

Cressida Cowell: “Of all the many gifts that books and reading can give us, empathy is one of the most valuable. Reading forces you to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, and feel what it is to be them. Empathy is a skill, and books are the best, and most fun, way to learn it. I applaud EmpathyLab for fulfilling a much-needed role and hope teachers and parents will get involved.” 

Get involved at, and add your voice on Empathy Day on June 13th 2017

Dawn Finch is a children's writer and librarian and Past President of CILIP. She is also a member of the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG), and a member of the Reading Agency's steering group looking at the wider benefits of reading for pleasure.

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