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10 Children's Books to Help You Teach Empathy on International Children's Book Day

Reading has always been one of my favorite obsessions, ehhh, I mean hobbies. My to-read list is long and full of so many books that I can’t possibly get through them all at the pace that I add to it. I would spend hours at the library and come home with a tote bag full of new adventures to have. As a parent, I have found such joy in passing on that love to my son. Children’s books are a part of our nightly routine and I love watching him remember and recite the words to his favorites, even though he’s a little way out from actually reading the book himself. It’s even better when he talks about them throughout the day and makes his own observations about the characters’ experiences.

Children’s books have quickly become regular purchases as I believe they’re the best way to teach important lessons. Assuming the role of another character and experiencing their lives, joys, and trials in the first person is a powerful way to instill empathy in our kids.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, IBBY celebrates International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

Since today is ICBD, I thought it would be a great chance to round up 10 children’s books that will help teach our kids about poverty, hunger, and empathy.

Last Stop on Market Street 

By Matt de la Peña  (Author),‎ Christian Robinson  (Illustrator)


Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2015
Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Beatrice’s Goat