2 Get ready for Empathy _________________________________________

Day: Miranda McKearney looks forward to 12th June

3 Rebels with a Cause: Fen Coles on the Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction

Harnessing the power of stories to build empathy


4 Children’s books as a mirror to society, how do they measure up? asks Chitra Soundar

6 Authorgraph: Brian Conaghan interviewed by Joy Court

10 Eleven of the Best football reads chosen by Jim Sells of the NLT

12 Beyond the Secret _________________________________________

Garden? ‘In Times of Peril’: Britons, Asians, Muslims

14 From Page to Stage: Miriam Halahmy on the new adaptation of Hidden


15 The Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist appraised by Derek Brazell

By Miranda McKearny, EmpathyLab and growing, divisive


Our children are growing up in a society with a worrying,

marked by a rise in hate crimes, cyberbullying and an increasingly


8 Windows into Illustration: Kate Hindley


Our pressurised education system emphasises individual success, not the common good. How can we break through this to a better future? EmpathyLab believes that the rising generation is our greatest hope, and that helping every single child develop empathy skills would be a powerful long term antidote to hatred and division.

Books and empathy Excitingly,

_________________________________________ neuroscientists are discovering that

reading is a potent empathy-building tool. As we read, our brains are tricked into thinking we’re genuinely part of the story, and the empathic emotions we feel for characters in books develops our sensitivity towards real people. EmpathyLab provides tools and training for

adults living and working with children. These help them harness the power of stories to build children’s empathy and literacy skills and their social activism.


16 The Carnegie Medal shortlist appraised by Nicholas Tucker


18 Two Children Tell: Filling in the picture book gaps

19 I Wish I’d Written… Sarah Govett chooses

19 Good Reads for Empathy Day, chosen by primary school pupils

_________________________________________ _________________________________________

Empathy Day, 12 June EmpathyLab has experimented with a range of interventions, including a national Empathy Day. This was piloted very successfully in 2017 and is now an annual event. The Day focuses on using books to build understanding and connections between us all, and on inspiring a new national conversation about empathy’s importance.The calls to action are: • READ – because reading in itself can make us more empathetic


20 Kat Wolfe Investigates: an interview with Lauren St John


21 Reviewers and reviews Books about Children’s Books Under 5s (Pre-School/ Nursery/Infant) 5-8 (Infant/Junior) 8-10 (Junior/Middle) 10-14 (Middle/Secondary) + New Talent 14+ (Secondary/Adult) + Ed’s Choice


32 Classics in Short No. 129 The Little Grey Men, Last of the Little People

_________________________________________ COVER STORY

This issue’s cover illustration is from The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, illustrated by Elisa

Paganelli. Thanks to Usborne Publishing for their help with this May cover.

• SHARE – because sharing books on Empathy Day can connect us in new ways

• DO – put empathy into action and make a difference in your community

Everyone is being encouraged to use the hashtag #ReadforEmpathy to join in a massive social media campaign to identify and share empathy-boosting book recommendations. Parents and teachers can use a 2018 Read for Empathy Guide to find potent contemporary literature for 4-11 year olds.

Across the country, communities are celebrating Empathy Day in different ways:

Books for Keeps

May 2018 No.230 ISSN 0143-909X © Books for Keeps CIC 2016 Editor: Ferelith Hordon Assistant Editor: Ruth Williams Editorial assistant Grace Hebditch Managing Editor: Andrea Reece Design: Louise Millar Editorial correspondence should be sent to Books for Keeps,

c/o The Big Green Bookshop, Unit 1, Brampton Park Road, Wood Green, London N22 6BG

2 Books for Keeps No.230 May 2018

empathy deficit, public


- 4 library services (Devon, Essex, St Helens and Sheffield) are piloting a special project which involves local people in identifying which issues in their community would be helped by more empathy. Authors including Sita Brahmachari, Bali Rai, Gillian Cross and Helen Moss will lead special Empathy Day activities on the communities’ chosen issues of loneliness and inter-generational connections*

- Children at EmpathyLab’s 14 pioneer schools are making Empathy Awards to book characters which

have empathy. shown, or elicited, exceptional Visiting authors including Robin

Stevens and Joseph Coelho will announce the winners and lead empathy-focused workshops.

- 37 library services are running activities including empathy-focused book recommendation displays, rhyme times, reading groups, author events and discussion forums. Some are piloting activities such as Swap Your Reading Life and Empathy Pledges.

How to join in Absolutely everyone can join in Empathy Day by sharing ideas on social media, using #ReadForEmpathy. If you want to mount your own activities, take a look at the toolkits and resources at There are lots of ideas for big or small things, for instance:

- Swap Your Reading Life – find someone very different to you to swap a book with, and then talk about it on Empathy Day, using the occasion to connect to someone at a deeper level.

- Empathy Walls: schools, libraries and workplaces can create visual display areas, Empathy Walls, as a focal point to gather people together to talk about the books that have really helped them understand someone else.

- Empathy glasses: children can download and make their own Empathy Glasses, used to really concentrate on the feelings of book characters

- Put empathy into action: make an Empathy Promise, and put empathy into action in homes, workplaces and communities. Download a pledge card at and share on social media.

Books for Keeps is available online at A regular BfK Newsletter can also be sent by email. To sign up for the Newsletter, go to and follow the Newsletter link. If any difficulty is experienced, email addresses can also be sent to*


Website: *Email addresses will be used by Books for Keeps only for the purpose of emailing the Newsletter and will not be disclosed to third parties.

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