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The Gruffalo is a modern classic, and rightly so. Its impulsive rhythm makes it a great read aloud even for very young children - my twins were gripped by it when they were one.
Let your child learn how to empathise with a biscuit. This is the story of a little bear-shaped biscuit who escapes into the kitchen in the middle of the night and bakes himself a circusful of friends.
Ben is given a toy penguin. Despite all Ben's efforts to make friends with his gift, Penguin says nothing and appears characterless. But the shocking behaviour of a passing lion prompts Penguin to show his true colours, and his love for Ben.
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!".
The beauty of this book is that it conveys the deep message and practice of mindfulness without ever naming it or making it into some big intellectual thing.
This deceptively simple picture book depicts the creation of a new friendship using only one or two words per page and illustrated with two expressively drawn characters. An exuberant boy greets a seemingly shy, somewhat downcast boy as they walk down the street. The greeting of Yo!
Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" -- and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them.
Another classic Alfie book from that wonderful empath and observer of small human nature, Shirley Hughes.
Three small owls wake in the night and 'things move' around them. Worse, they cannot see their mum. Whilst the elder two try to figure out the angles, the youngest simply has faith in his feathered parent.
'Two Monsters' is writer-illustrator David McKee's darkly funny take on war and diplomacy, told via the tale of two monsters arguing over who's right whilst laying waste to the mountain they lean on. Small children will get the joke right away.