Muhammad Khan’s top 5 books about empathy

Learning how to understand and sympathise with the feelings of others is a vital part of growing up. Here, author Muhammad Khan shares some of his favourite books which encourage empathy.

Empathy is more important than ever in these difficult times. On 9th June 2020 Empathy Day aims to help everyone understand and experience its transformational power, and books have a vital part to play in helping kids – and adults – develop empathy. Stories help us step into someone else’s shoes, and the more you empathise with characters in a book, the easier it is to understand other people’s feelings in real life. Here, Muhammad Khan, author of young adult novels I Am Thunder and Kick the Moon, shares his top five books to encourage empathy.

The Day War Came

by Nicola Davies

Book cover for The Day War Came

A powerful narrative about the hardships faced by refugees with simple but evocative illustrations and an important message about kindness.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

by Danielle Jawando

Book cover for And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

In this poignant debut, we have the tale of two brothers – one living, one dead. When Nathan discovers Al has taken his own life, he retraces his footsteps to uncover the truth with help from Megan, a former classmate of Al’s. This book bubbles with empathy and forces us to revaluate how we judge others without really knowing them.

The Space We’re In

by Katya Balen

Book cover for The Space We’re In

A stunning book about neurodivergent brothers. Frank loves his mum and wishes she could still paint, but since Max was born, she just can’t find the time. When their world begins to crumble, can the boys learn to love and support one another?

Rose, Interrupted

by Patrice Lawrence

Book cover for Rose, Interrupted

A thoughtful novel exploring what life is like for a pair of siblings after ex-communication from a strict religious sect. Rose yearns for freedom, while it’s redemption young Rudder seeks.

Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

Book cover for Bridge to Terabithia

An unforgettable story that affirms friendship transcends gender, wealth or popularity. Two lonely kids invent an entire kingdom for themselves to rule over. But then tragedy strikes.