Empathy is a learnable skill, and a vital element in social and emotional learning. The urgent need for empathy education strategies is highlighted by society’s increased polarisation and the rise in post-Covid behavioural and mental health problems.

This conference seizes a crucial moment, and is the first focused exclusively on using literature to build empathy. Empathy increasingly features in key frameworks as a fundamental social and emotional skill. It is highlighted by the 2023 DfE Reading Framework and in recent OECD and Education Endowment Foundation reports.

You will hear the case for an explicit empathy education, share an exclusive preview of new psychology research and hear from leading authors. You will come away with a deeper understanding of the research base for book-centred empathy work; practical tools and strategies to build a whole school, evidence-informed approach to harnessing reading’s power to build empathy understanding and skills.

– Hot-off-the-press psychology research from the University of Sussex into how reading relates to children’s affective and cognitive empathy

– The wider evidence base for reading’s power to develop the key life skill of empathy

– School case studies and expert guidance on choosing and using books for empathy work

– Authors as partners in educating for empathy – leading children’s authors sharing their perspective on empathy, and their learning from empathy-focused work in schools

– Cutting-edge thinking on how an empathy focus can develop reading for pleasure

– Practical, creative ideas and resources to use in classrooms and homes