Building Empathy: Let’s Start Early

It’s as good a day as any to talk about building empathy in our community. I wager that we all know people who are kind, understanding, and loving toward others, without judgment, and that we know people who aren’t so much so. When I am faced with a situation that involves a person from the latter group it makes me look at myself and wonder if I also behave that way; even if at a different level. It makes me wonder when it starts. Now, I could be off the mark, but I believe that if we teach children to be empathetic, then as they grow and face a variety of situations, they will have a solid foundation on how to deal with people with the filters of understanding, love, and kindness.

I decided to become a Barefoot Ambassador because of the many books that cover issues such as this: the need for empathy in our communities. Additionally, there are books that discuss emotions & routines, gratitude, generosity, and other values. The cool thing is that these things are discussed in a way that is liked by children (Read: Not boring).

So, without further delay, let me show you some of the good stuff I am talking about!

MamaPanyasPancakes_PB_W_1.jpgOn Generosity: In this book, Mama Panya is confronted by her son Adinka’s lack of understanding of money and how far it can stretch to buy the things we need. As they walk to the food market, Adinka invites a few friends to have pancakes at their home. Though Mama Panya was concerned that she would not have enough to feed everyone, when her guests came they brought more flour and other things for them to share. The lesson of the story is that they “have a little bit, and a little bit more” and that was enough.


On Gratitude: In The Blue Bird’s Palace we read of Natasha, who makes a selfish choice and the Guardian of the Blue Forest transforms her into a blue bird! Will she learn to be grateful for what she has, or will she be a blue bird forever?

In The Blue Bird’s Palace we read of Natasha, who makes a selfish choice and the Guardian of the Blue Forest transforms her into a blue bird! Will she learn to be grateful for what she has, or will she be a blue bird forever?


boywhogrewflowers_hc_w.jpgOn Understanding Others: The Boy Who Grew Flowers was a part of what would be considered an odd family. A cool family, but seemingly odd 🙂 As noted on Barefoot Books’ site, this book is inspired by the experiences of Jen Wojtowicz’s brother, who has autism. She weaves the story of an unusual boy with an incredible secret, and how his life changes when a new kind girl joins his class. Contains a lovely message about the power of accepting those who seem different.




EmilysTiger_HC_W_1_2.jpgOn Emotions and Routines: 

Most of us do not like being told what to do and when to do it. Small humans have a particularly difficult time with this as they figure out who is the authority and what it is they can do of their own accord. Well, in this book Emily turns into a tiger when she is angry. Although children can’t turn into tigers (thank the heavens), playing pretend is possible and can be healthy. With this book you can discuss emotions like anger with your children, in a way with which they will associate.




On Empathy and Self-Esteem: This is one of many cool books! The Barefoot Book of Children. It shows children who have different types of parents or guardians, who believe in different things including religion or otherwise. There are children who have eye-patches, have Down Syndrome, need a wheelchair, or who communicate using sign language. It is a beautiful book to instill self-esteem in a child by seeing the beauty in they way she (or he) is; no matter what.



For more amazing books please visit my Barefoot Books page. Be mindful of any sale that might be happening site-wide & use the discount codes for better pricing.

For free tips on how  to teach children inclusivity and diversity please click here

Let’s build our global community to be the best it can be. It does take a village, and because technology is advanced enough, the village is global! We all affect one another 🙂

Happy Summer!

~ Sophia

(On the cover of this blog is Shopping with Dad; a book about accidents and taking responsibility.)

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