Monday, May 15, 2017

Empathy Day 2017

London, UK, 15 May 2017: EmpathyLab today announces the launch of Empathy Day on 13 June 2017.
This is a platform to emphasise the importance of empathy in our divided world, and raise awareness of the power of stories to develop it.     

A new Read for Empathy guide for adults living and working with children aged 4-11 will be published on 13 June. It features 21 “must-reads” endorsed by The Sunday Times’ children’s book reviewer Nicolette Jones and is available free from

EmpathyLab is a new organisation with a mission to use stories to help us understand each other better.
It is led by Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of The Reading Agency. 

Miranda McKearney OBE, Founder: “We’re establishing an Empathy Day to shine a bright light on the importance of empathy in our divided world - new approaches to building this core life skill are badly needed with the recent dramatic rise in hate crimes.

Helping children learn about empathy lays strong foundations for resisting prejudice and intolerance and books are a potent tool. Neuroscience research shows that the emotions we feel for characters wires our brains to have the same sort of sensitivity towards real people. Our Read for Empathy guide for 4-11 year olds has great new book ideas, and we’re delighted to enjoy the support of high profile authors and illustrators including Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell, Jacqueline Wilson and Cressida Cowell. 
Authors are key figures in a drive for a more tolerant society because they are natural masters of empathy. On the Day authors will visit schools and take to social media in a #ReadforEmpathy drive.
About empathy
Our understanding of the complex mechanisms underpinning empathy is changing all the time, and psychologists, neuroscientists, sociologists and philosophers have different interpretations. Most agree on three elements:emotional/affective empathy where we literally resonate with someone else’s feelings; cognitive empathy or perspective-taking where we apply reason to working out how someone else feels and empathic concern, which is a powerful motivator for helping others, a force for social change.
Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of Sussex: “Empathy is a pivotal factor in children’s wellbeing – my research identifies its relevance to behaviour, mental health, and achievement at school.  Work to support it is relevant to all children, but especially those who are vulnerable. EmpathyLab’s strategy of focusing on the literacy domain as a context for supporting its development is particularly powerful and resonates with the findings from cutting-edge psychological research. I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction to the Day.”
Activities on 13 June 2017
Parents: a free Read for Empathy guide gives parents book recommendations and research-based tips for talking about books in ways which build children’s ability to understand others. Downloadable from

Schools: pilot schools will hold Empathy Award ceremonies to celebrate children’s choices of book characters showing exceptional empathy (e.g. Miss Honey from Matilda or Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon). Any school can get involved by creating book displays and joining in the social media campaign.
Authors and illustrators: author partners will be recommending the books which helped them understand other people better, using the hashtags #ReadforEmpathy and #EmpathyDay. Former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell has contributed a special illustration to be shared across social media. Authors running 13 June sessions in schools include BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney, Cathy Cassidy, Jo Cotterill, Elizabeth Laird, Alan MacDonald, Ross Montgomery and CBBC presenter Katie Thisleton.
Libraries: a selection of libraries from Sheffield to Devon will run empathy-focused book promotions and activities. The Day is supported by The Society of Chief Librarians. 

Author supporters

Dame Jacqueline Wilson: “To be a successful human being, you need to be in touch with other people’s feelings. I’m fascinated by EmpathyLab, by its ideas, and by the way it’s drawing together the world of words with the fields of neuroscience and wellbeing. I’m delighted to see the launch of Empathy Day and it’s marvellous that schools with be holding special Empathy Award ceremonies on June 13.”
Neil Gaiman: “In reading, you get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
Cressida Cowell: “Of all the many gifts that books and reading can give us, empathy is one of the most valuable. Reading forces you to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, and feel what it is to be them. Empathy is a skill, and books are the best, and most fun, way to learn it. I applaud EmpathyLab for fulfilling a much-needed role and hope teachers and parents will get involved on 13 June.”

For more information on Empathy Day, to download the ‘Read for Empathy’ book list and for ideas of how to get involved visit

Margaret Mallett Award for Children's Non-Fiction

Winner of the Inaugural Margaret Mallett Award for Children's Non-Fiction Announced

Winner of the Inaugural Margaret Mallett Award for Children's Non-Fiction Announced
We are pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural Margaret Mallett Award for Children's Non-Fiction
It Starts With a Seed by Laura Knowles, illustrated by Jennie Webber
words & pictures, 978190277171
The prize has been established by the English Association in memory of Margaret Mallett, a Fellow of the English Association and a long-serving member of the editorial board of our journalEnglish 4-11, who died after a short illness in March 2017.Margaret was a passionate advocate for high quality books for children, and in particular non-fiction books. She had a deep and wide-ranging knowledge of children's literature, and her reviews of new titles in Books for Keeps and the School Librarian were hugely admired. She was able to get to the heart of a book and deliver a perceptive judgement that was both just and generous.
The prize was announced on 26th April at a Memorial Service for Margaret in Richmond upon Thames and will be awarded at the English Association's Annual General Meeting on 24th May.
It Starts With a Seed is also shortlisted for the English 4-11 Picture Book Awards. You can read our review here

The shortlist for the 2017 Branford Boase Award

Seven debut authors shortlisted for award known as ‘the one to watch’

Stars of the future named on the shortlist for the award that singles out the most talented debut authors for children

Two from Chicken House on the shortlist including Waterstones Children’s Book Award winner Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Middle grade dominates on “particularly strong, varied and interesting list”

The shortlist for the 2017 Branford Boase Award is announced today (Monday 8th May 2017). TheBranford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent.

Now in its seventeenth year the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with an impressive record in identifying authors with special talent at the start of their careers. Previous winners and shortlisted authors include Siobhan DowdMeg RosoffMal PeetPhilip ReeveFrank Cottrell Boyce and Patrick Ness; last year’s Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge won with her debut novel Fly By Night in 2006. The shortlist for the 2017 award is as follows:

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl, edited by Rebecca Hill (Usborne)
We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodd, edited by Niamh Mulvey (Quercus)
Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant, edited by Kirsty Stansfield (Nosy Crow)
The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster, edited by Rachel Mann (Simon and Schuster)
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, edited by Rachel Leyson (Chicken House)
Beetle Boy by M G Leonard, edited by Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyson (Chicken House)
Riverkeep by Martin Stewart edited by Shannon Cullen and Sharyn November (Penguin Random House)

The rules for the Branford Boase Award state that the award is for the most promising book for children aged seven and up by a first novelist. The author may have published books in another genre but eligibility requires that this be their first novel for children. Two books longlisted for the 2017 award, Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan and Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence, were discovered to be ineligible and were withdrawn as the authors have previously written short novels for children.
This year the judges are Brenda Gardner, former children’s editor and founder of Piccadilly Press; Joanna Halpin, manager at Waterstones Trafalgar Square; Elizabeth McDonald, winner of the 2016 Public Librarian of the Year Award; and Horatio Clare, author of Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, winner of the 2016Branford Boase Award. The panel is chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival.

Julia Eccleshare says: “Children’s publishing in the UK is an extremely healthy state and this is a particularly strong, varied and interesting list. There are moving contemporary stories that vividly depict modern family relationships; inventive and brilliantly imagined fantasy stories; stories that will move and inspire readers; and some to make them laugh. Any one of these seven authors would be a worthy winner and we are already excited about what they will write next.”

The winner of the 2017 Branford Boase Award will be announced on Wednesday 5th July at a ceremony in London. Frances Hardinge will present the winner with a cheque for £1,000 and both author and editor will receive a unique, hand-crafted silver-inlaid box.
For further information please contact Andrea Reece on 07807893369 or