Reading builds empathy, and empathy leads to action. Here are five great books to help your young readers act to help others.
Written by Anna Baccelliere
Illustrated by Ale + Ale
An eye-opening introduction to an important issue
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child in the world has the right to play. Unfortunately, that universal right is not always respected. I Like, I Don’t Like presents this reality to readers by showing how children in varying circumstances can see the same object very differently.
With stark illustrations that perfectly capture the tone of the book, I Like, I Don’t Like will inspire meaningful discussions about privilege and poverty.
Written by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen
Illustrated by Akin Duzakin
A remarkable book for encouraging self-reflection
In this empathetic book, a young girl wonders what life would be like if she lived somewhere else. What if she lived in a city with millions of people? What would it be like to be a refugee from a war-torn country? Is she meant to be in a different place? Or is she right where she’s supposed to be?
Stirring and impactful, this book will cause readers to ponder life’s big questions and have a better understanding of their place in the world.
Written by Chris Barton
Illustrated by Don Tate
A unique biography of a remarkable Reconstruction figure
John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.
This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.
Written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Illustrated by Doug Chayka
When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one.
As the girls go about their routines—washing clothes in the river, waiting in long lines for water, and watching for their names to appear on the list to go to America—the sandals remind them that friendship is what is most important.
Four Feet, Two Sandals was inspired by a refugee girl who asked the authors why there were no books about children like her. With warm colors and sensitive brush strokes, this book portrays the strength, courage, and hope of refugees around the world, whose daily existence is marked by uncertainty and fear.
Written and illustrated by Jean François-Dumont
An emotionally stirring book about kindness and friendship
Life isn’t easy for a bear. Not when he has to sleep on the sidewalk among cardboard boxes and old clothes. Not when he lives in a city full of people who are repulsed by him. Not when he’s hungry and homeless. But one day a young girl smiles at the bear, and he realizes that maybe there is something that could make life a bit easier—a friend.
This poignant, heartwarming tale will move readers of all ages and inspire them to be more compassionate and empathetic towards others.
Peruse the book in our illustrated excerpt on Eerdlings.
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Fore more great books for raising activists, see our entire featured collection.