NCCP Empathy Reading Club

In April, we started a new club at our community building on Lawrence Way: Reading for Empathy. Each week, a group of primary school children (aged 9-11) from schools across North Cambridge have been meeting to read together,chat about books, share book recommendations and build our empathy skills in a relaxed reading environment. The project aims to:

  • Bring young people together from across the
  • Encourage more reading for pleasure
  • Support wellbeing
  • Develop key empathy skills through reading
    and, as a result, cultivate pro-social attitudes
    and action

Empathy is a vital social and emotional skill.The ability to focus on other people’s feelingsand perspectives is powerful. It helps us predicttheir needs and understand their behavior andit builds better relationships and wellbeing. Andresearch shows thatempathy is a skill that canbe learnt and developed through practice.

“Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while.”
  –Malorie Blackman

Sharing stories is an excellent way to build empathy skills. Reading allows your body to experience feelings and emotions in situations that aren’t actually happening to you right now. The empathy we feel for book characters wires our brains to have the same sensitivity towards real people. Stories equip children with emotional skills that they can use in their lives: with their friends, their families, their teachers.

We have shared picture books, short stories, poems and have just finished our first novel with another one already lined up. Children have also been borrowing books to read on their own and sharing recommendations with each other about good empathy reads. On 10th June we celebrated Empathy Day: families were invited to join us to explore what empathy means, how bookscan give us empathy experiences and to reflect together on any issues in our community that could be helped by people having more empathy.

If you think your child would like to join us,please get in touch at :

About Helen: I worked in schools for 15years as a teacher and Deputy Head. I amcurrently taking a break to care for my youngfamily. I am passionate about fostering a love of reading in young people. I’m also a huge advocate of the role of reading in developing people’s empathy skills, which in turn can lead to improved wellbeing, better communication skills, more pro-social attitudes and the motivation to act to improve things for others. This project has been inspired by my involvement in two educational initiatives: the Open University’s Reading for Pleasure project and EmpathyLab. I also review books for the children’s literacy centre Just Imagine.



To get in touch by email

North Cambridge Community Partnership

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