I'm going to declare this book as the ideal early-years first introduction to empathy. Bobo is a baby chimp living in the jungle and he has lost his mum. Everywhere he goes, he sees other baby animals being cuddled by one of their parents and he cries the same refrain on every page, "hug!". His desolation becomes almost unbearable when suddenly his mum bursts into the book for a heart-swelling reunion - which then turns into a hug-fest across the jungle. The book uses just two words: hug and Bobo, but tells a rich and emotional story that any small child can relate to - but doing so through the eyes of a baby chimp. Of all the little board books I read to my children when they were very young (I mean less than one), this was the one that most explicitly started to nuture their empathy. Here's a short video of it being read aloud. 


Kate Raworth is so right,

Kate Raworth is so right, this book has to be what it all boils down to. And a three to five year old would very much still enjoy this book but can also be asked lots of gentle guiding questions, to encourage them to practise their empathic language: 'How is the little chimp feeling? Why is he sad? How do the elephants feel when they see that he is sad? How do they help the little chimp? Are the animals kind? What would you do if you saw Bobo?' Etcetera. Children seem to give surprisingly detailed answers to the last question, which only goes to show how well they can feel their own way into Bobo's story. 


Wonderful empathy story!

Wonderful empathy story!


test on my kids

Right, I'm going to test out Jo Ely's last question on my kids: What would you do if you saw Bobo?

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Jez Alborough
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