Fostering Empathy and Sense of Self

Carefully-selected books for infants and toddlers to support their budding skills.

Lovely Book Cover


Written and illustrated by Jess Hong, this book encourages readers to love themselves and embrace others and the many different ways they may be.

Finding Kindness Book Cover

Finding Kindness

Written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Irene Chan, this book shares ways to show care and kindness to others. 

Piggy and Elephant Book Cover

My Friend Is Sad

Written and illustrated by Mo Willems, this story is about a friend’s attempts to make his friend happy.

Different Same Book Cover

We're Different, We're the Same

Written by Bobbi Kates and illustrated by Joe Mathieu, this book features text and illustrations describing a variety of ways people are alike and different. 

Book cover for Horray for Hat

Hooray for Hat!

Written and illustrated by Brian Won, this delightful story shows how a simple act of kindness can brighten up someone else’s day by showing we care.

Skin You Live In Book Cover

The Skin You Live In

Written by Michael Tyler and illustrated by David Lee Csicsko, this story encourages young readers to love themselves and embrace others, no matter the color of their skin.


Read Early and Often

Whether you teach young infants, older infants, or toddlers, children of all ages benefit from read-alouds. But what strategies work best? What should my expectations or goals be?

Published by Zero to Three, this article shares guidelines for choosing, sharing, and reading books with young children of all ages. By reading early and often, you can support children’s development and love of reading right from the start.


Key Takeaways

Books help young children connect with us

When we share books and tell stories, we strengthen our bonds with young children. Look for signs of engagement and take a break whenever they need one.

Books help children see themselves

Young children are just beginning to see themselves as separate from others. Share books that help them explore their bodies, abilities, and interests.

Books help young children care for others (or see others)

When we embrace diversity through books, we support young children to appreciate differences among people. Point out ways we show care and kindness to others.