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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Charlotte McLaughlin

Marcus Rashford and Joseph Coelho make children’s empathy book list

PA Wire

Footballer Marcus Rashford and writer Joseph Coelho are among the authors listed in the 2023 Read For Empathy book collection aimed at children.

EmpathyLab announced on Wednesday the 65 books, aimed at three to 16-year-olds, that have been chosen by expert judges for offering young people different ways of experiencing, understanding and building empathy.

The picture books, novels, poetry, non-fiction, graphic and verse novels give insights into issues like economic hardship, war, homelessness and hearing loss.

Manchester United striker Rashford’s book You Can Do It: How To Find Your Voice And Make A Difference is on the secondary school list for those aged 12 to 16.

The book, written with The Athletic writer Carl Anka, who also wrote You Are A Champion: How To Be The Best You Can Be with the England player, tells young people to surround themselves with the right team, show kindness and celebrate and champion difference.

It also draws on Rashford’s experiences campaigning, which has included pushing for low-income families to be provided with free school meals outside term time.

He has also called for the rate of universal credit to be raised and has helped get book donations to under-privileged children.

Coelho, a performance poet, playwright and children’s author who was made Waterstones Children’s Laureate in 2022, is listed for primary school children aged three to 11 for Our Tower.

Illustrated by Richard Johnson, the picture book tells the story of three children discovering the magic inside their tower block.

Other books to make the empathy list include Tyger by SF Said, Yes You Can, Cow! by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Lisa Thompson’s Sidney Makes A Wish.

Pupils are seeking out injustices and using empathy to resolve differences in the classroom and playground. There have been fewer incidences of racism since we began our empathy journey
— Michele Thomas, headteacher

EmpathyLab’s founder Miranda McKearney, who was on the judging panel, said: “Each of the collection’s wonderful books has been chosen to do a specific empathy-building job, giving educators practical tools to raise an empathy-educated generation.

“Imagine the power of every child being inspired to learn about the importance of empathy and develop this critical life skill – the future would be in safe hands.”

The 11 other judges include school teachers and librarians.

The annual list is to be used as a guide for parents and teachers.

Michele Thomas, headteacher at Pembroke Dock Community School, said: “Pupils are seeking out injustices and using empathy to resolve differences in the classroom and playground.

“There have been fewer incidences of racism since we began our empathy journey.”

The full list for the 2023 Read for Empathy collection is available at

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