Chapter Books with a Heart-Mind Message


"Getting lost in a book" is not only a pleasurable feeling, but according to neuroscience, it is also a state where empathy networks become deeply engaged in the brain[1]. When readers connect emotionally with a character, brain activity is stimulated and strengthened.  

The Heart-Mind Chapter Book list offers books that both "teach" social and emotional skills but also may provide a boost of feelings as young readers "get lost" in the story.


Researchers measured brain activity using Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) in subjects reading passages from Harry Potter.  Passages that were more emotional stimulated empathy networks in the brain. Fear, in particular, resulted in the strongest neural activity in the cingulate cortex (which is also associated with Executive Functions).

  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.