The official collection of titles picked for this year’s Empathy Day (9th June) was revealed yesterday, having been selected by the thirteen incredible judges, and we thought we would give you our #BookBound insight into the titles from the different genres and age groups, beginning with today’s blog on Picture Books. These titles that have been selected for 2022 Read for Empathy day, by the judging panel, all fit the criteria perfectly.
A Shelter for Sadness – Anne Booth and David Litchfield
– A beautifully illustrated book that reminds readers of the importance in allowing ourselves the time and space we need so that we can cope and deal with life’s troubles. When I read about what inspired Anne to write this picture book I was completely in awe of the strength shown by Holocaust victim Etty Hillesum, and the powerful emotion that is evident in what she said, but I was also fascinated by how what Etty is suggesting felt like something we all should have considered by now, and how it should have felt obvious in a logical way but didn’t, not until i read it, and that same principle is true of this powerful picture book, which shows younger children that which they may have overlooked or have yet to learn, but will benefit them all no matter what.
Amara and the Bats – Emma Reynolds
This title offers a role model in Amara, who loves Bats, and faces a situation where Bats do not fly around and dwell near her new home because they are losing their habitats. Amara is determined to make a difference, and help the bats, and alongside her friends she comes up with a plan. The environment is very much at the heart of this book, and both drawing awareness through Amara’s plight, and how to be able to help
Barbara Throws a Wobbler – Nadia Shireen
As the title suggests, this is a book about tantrums, and how to deal with them. Young girl Barbra is in a mood, having faced a combination of little things during the day that build up, and create a tantrum as a reaction and consequence. The book also tells of how in coping with the emotions that build up, Barbra can be happy again, and not allow tantrums to dominate. The book adds humour whilst sharing Barbra’s ordeal, and really importantly shows how to deal with tantrums.
Can Bears Ski? – Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar
This picture book brings awareness to what it is like to be deaf or hard of hearing, through the story of a bear and his dad, and how the pair navigate living with deafness through using other senses to compensate. It is only when little bear has hearing aids put in that he comes to understand that others around him haven’t been asking ‘Can Bears Ski?’, they have been asking whether young bear can hear them. As someone that has grown up with hearing issues myself, I can see the value in this book, and would have loved to have gained some understanding of how I was compensating for my hearing issues like young bear, and how it is normal, and to recognise myself in a book, which is rare when it comes to this situation, and as this book gives both perspectives on life with hearing loss it is beneficial to all, and should absolutely be a title shared with younger children in schools.
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners – Joanna Ho and Dung Ho
I first reviewed this book last May, when I had the privilege of being able to get my hands on a copy, which you can read here. This book has won awards, and quite rightly, because it’s ability to celebrate the ancestry that is passed down through the generations via our characteristics is done so in such a beautiful way, and the illustrations do the story justice so incredibly well, bringing another book that is long overdue belonging on the bookcases of homes and school libraries, to once again offer children the ability to recognise themselves in the characters and stories they see.
Last – Nicola Davies
Through the use of colour in this debut by illustrator Nicola Davies, who has an incredible talent portraying nature, this book tells of a rhino that believes himself to be the last of his kind, and his environment is colourless as a reflection of how that feels to him. That is, until he is rescued and bought back home, and upon realising he isn’t the last of his species, and then the colour is returned to his world. The book celebrates having hope, that joy we experience in being ‘home’, and having a sense of belonging.
Luna loves Art – Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers
When Luna, Finn, and their classmates visit a gallery the pair realise that they do not recognise themselves in the family themed sculpture they are there to look at, and so they set about admiring the other works of art instead as they come to appreciate, and celebrate how amazing it is that each family is unique, and just how great that is to embrace. This is such a vital book to share with children of all ages, and would be a fabulous choice of title to share in school assemblies, classrooms, library sessions, and of course homes.
My Beautiful Voice – Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys
A book that promotes empathy as much as it does the value to being brave, readers are introduced to a shy child that never speaks, and follows along with them through their journey as they are encouraged to shine, and that comes about through an incredible teacher seeing the potential this child has to offer, and inspiring them with poetry. There is a shyness in us all, depending on the environment we are in, so we can all relate to this story, and the idea of standing up at the front of the class and reading our own work is daunting for so many of us, so this book inspires at the right age, and encourages the best from us all, in many ways, along the way.
Nen and the Lonely Fisherman – Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew
Helen reviewed this title as part of our content last September, which you can read here, and she immediately reflected on this being a love story. It tells of how Nen the Merman falls in love with a lonely fisherman, and they face the dilemma of whether their differences can ever allow them to be together. A storm creates appropriate atmospherics in the story, and much like the calm that comes after a storm there is much love, appreciation for one another, and happiness to conclude this beautiful book, a book which also has undertones of the importance of ocean preservation too, which readers will be keen to help achieve as they come to love the characters in this book, and the story too.
The Invisible – Tom Percival
With themes of belonging, and making a difference, this is the story of a little girl called Isabel, who has to leave the family home she has always known as home, and move across the city because her family have gone from getting by from day to day to being unable to afford the bills. Moving home and leaving the things we know and love behind is really difficult, and understandably overwhelming, but to Isabel’s credit she finds that humanity and love make the perfect combination to prevail in making a difference that matters. This book brings awareness to poverty with warmth and compassion, and leaves readers full of hope.
The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K.Ali, and Hatem Ali
In this title you can expect to read a story that celebrates siblings, the challenges and rewards to be had from first experiences, religion, and togetherness. It is the story of two sisters, and the various challenges they both face, which are equally as important as each others. This is a book that promotes being resilient to things that aren’t a postive influence or impact, and being proud of who you are, and what makes you special. This is another powerful picture book that allows children to recognise themselves in the characters and/or content, as well as to children looking to be inspired.
Tisha and the Blossom – Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egneus
It seems as though every thing Tisha does is always needing to be completed in a hurry, and it falls to her mum to remind the family of the need and importance of slowing down, and does so with the introduction of a special game to help them accomplish this. This is a book that encourages children to see that peace and calmness are as essential as the need to be quicker sometimes, in fact the need for some tranquil time is vital, and that is regardless of how old a person is, so little ones can look forward to some to.
What happened to You? – James Catchpole and Karen George
Joe is the young lad that this story focuses on, as it tells of the many different questions people ask him in relation to his leg, because apparently people feel they have the right to ask, and the right to know. It is when Joe considers whether he needs to answer them that matters, and whilst as adults we know that he doesn’t have any obligation to do so, the children hearing this book do not necessarily yet understand, and so this is an invaluable book because it allows readers to see both perspectives, and apply some thought before asking personal questions, in the wrong manner, in future. This book is funny, and approaches the subject of disability respectfully whilst ensuring it captures the hearts and minds of those children enjoying it.