15 empathy books and videos for the classroom to teach kids empathy skills, such as compassion, inclusion, and community.
Help students develop empathy and social awareness at school using books and videos. Children will relate to the characters in these stories and movies, making it easier for them to learn how they can be more empathetic. Here are 10 books and 5 videos that will highlight these characteristics for students.
Teaching Empathy Skills to Students
One of the best ways to teach empathy and social awareness to children is to use teaching materials they’ll enjoy. Grab a copy of a few of the 10 books and set-up your access to these 5 videos to teach and illustrate to children how to be more empathetic.
Books that Teach Empathy Skills
You can use stories to teach kids about empathy. Here are 10 books that teach empathy in a fun and positive way.
Books that Teach Kids Empathy
Everyone feels the same feelings, including happiness, sadness, and anger. This book helps students understand their own emotions, giving them a way to know what their feelings are and why they feel them. Once students understand their feelings, they can begin to empathize with others when they realize that their friends and neighbors have those same feelings. With this book, children will get the chance to see how everyone is the same when it comes to feelings.
Teach kids that words and actions have consequences and that they can change how another person is feeling. Teach the wrinkled heart poem and activity by giving each child a heart. Practice folding parts of the heart each time something negative is said. They will quickly realize that words and actions can last a lifetime. Get the FREE wrinkled heart activity below!
What would it feel like to be invisible? While kids might think that it’s fun and interesting at first, they’ll soon realize that being invisible can hurt too. In this book, the main character feels invisible. He’s left out of games and parties and is never invited into a group.This changes when a new student shows up and shows him kindness. Children will get the chance to see how even a small kindness can make a world of difference in another person’s life.
It can be hard for kids to understand others who are different. Whether it is someone who is a different gender or ethnicity, kids can have trouble understanding those differences. With this book, you can help students understand that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Johnny, the main character, learns how to celebrate these differences instead of being afraid of them.
With this book, kids will learn that it’s easier than they think to feel empathy towards others. They will learn how to stand in a friend’s shoes to learn what they’re feeling. When you consider someone else’s feelings, you’ll get the chance to develop a deeper and more meaningful relationship.
Teach kids what it means to put themselves in someone else’s shoes through role-playing and classroom discussions. Read a book and make a shoe craft to pledge to act with compassion. Click here to check it out.
All kids can understand the feeling of wanting something they can’t have. In this story, they get the chance to follow along with Jeremy who desperately wants a pair of those shoes, shoes that all of his friends have. Throughout the story, Jeremy learns that there are things more important than the latest fashion trends, such as family, friendship, and helping others.
This book is based on the popular move Wonder. In this story, students get the chance to learn about how everyone wants to belong and to be loved for who they are. Students will learn to empathize with others as they see that everyone has the same wants and emotions that they do.
Kids will learn all about the different emotions associated with empathy and how they can use empathy and their feelings to help others. Jayneen Sanders, the author of You, Me and Empathy, does an exceptional job of helping kids understand these emotions.
As kids grow, they need to learn that it’s ok to experience different emotions. The Feelings Book brings up different feelings that kids might have so that you can discuss it with them. Once they understand their own feelings, they can work on understanding others’ feelings, helping them to develop empathy.
Share scenarios that kids can relate to or read books where the characters go through different experiences, good and bad. Ask them to hold up a feeling stick to show how that person or character might be feeling. Click here to check it out.
In order to develop emotional awareness, kids need to learn that it’s ok to make a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, including adults. What’s important is that you learn from your mistake and try to transform your problem into something beautiful! Kids will learn about not getting upset at their mistakes or to judge others for theirs.
If you ask your students, they will probably tell you that they’ve wanted to be someone else at some point. It’s so easy to look at a friend who looks like they have everything and feel like you want to be them instead. In this book, kids will learn that the best person to be is themselves.
It is important to give children opportunities to practice being empathetic when they are young. Have pairs stand up and act out a scenario from a scenario card. Ask the class for suggestions of ways to show empathy. Click here to check it out.
Videos that Teach Empathy Skills
1. The Present Short Film by Jacob Frey
In this video, a mom brings home a new dog for her son. As kids watch the video, they’ll see that the dog is missing a leg. At first, the boy tries to ignore the dog, pushing him away. As the movie progresses, the dog wins over the boy for one very big reason. You can use this video to discuss why the boy was so upset at first, as well as why the dog helps the boy in the end.
2. Singa and the Kindness Cubbies (Ep 2) – Empathy
Kids will enjoy watching this video as they see how compassion and understanding can make you a better friend. In the video, Tosh is mean to Tomeo about a test they all take. Tosh’s friends walk him through why his words hurt Tomeo and help him figure out what he can do to make things right.
Encourage kids to identify ways that they show compassion to others at school, at home, or in the community. They can create a pennant to join in a classroom compassion banner. Click here to check it out.
3. Daniel Tigers Neighbourhood – Someone Else’s Feelings/Empathy at School
Daniel Tiger is a popular character that kids love. In this episode of Daniel Tiger, kids will learn how to empathize with other people’s feelings. This will teach them to be a better friend at school, as well as at home and in the neighborhood.
4. Sesame Street: Mark Ruffalo: Empathy
Kids will get the chance to learn all about empathy from a favorite show — Sesame Street! In this video, Mark Ruffalo joins Murray from Sesame Street in order to learn about the word empathy. Mark and Murray do a wonderful job of explaining empathy in a way that kids will understand.
5. Start With Sorry: Children’s Empathy Story, Read Aloud
In this read aloud, Luna gets jealous of her older brother because he can do more than she can. She reacts in anger, but this hurts her brother’s feelings and makes him sad. Luna then has to fix this situation, learning that saying sorry is a good way to do this.
These empathy books and videos will help you teach students about social awareness in the classroom. They will help kids learn these important topics in a fun way that they can understand.
Empathy Classroom Resources
FREE Wrinkled Heart Poem & Activity
Give one of our engaging digital SEL activities a try! Get a FREE copy of the Wrinkled Heart activity. This activity includes a poem and online read-aloud formatted for Google Slides, plus a printable heart template for your empathy lesson.
Click the image below to grab a copy.
Social Awareness Curriculum for K-2
The complete empathy and social awareness unit includes tons of helpful lessons and activities to help children learn about empathy, compassion, inclusion, and community. Click HERE to see everything included.
Read More about Teaching Empathy Skills
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