What if we could use storytelling to build and encourage compassion amongst 3 to 5 year olds?

A project undertaken from July to November 2014, this publication which is primarily a set of three books with supplements done as a part of the Katha, 'If I were Sky, If I were Story' studio in Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.


Our context had to spring from a story, thought, idea, person or people that we encountered in a Tibetan settlement in Karnataka, Bylakuppe. Even though I was fascinated by multiple things there, what essentially touched me was how everyone there had such a strong belief in empathy and compassion. I heard different stories from monks and the common folk there, but all their stories had a similar essence. Thus I decided I wanted to introduce empathy at a very simple level for a child, through the idea of opening their minds to new people, new friends.

With the monks in Sera Jey monastery in Bylakuppe

With the monks in Sera Jey monastery in Bylakuppe

In order to understand the effectiveness of the content that would translate these concepts, a few of my classmates and I held a workshop with kids to get a sense of who we are designing for. This three day workshop involved games, activities and story telling sessions.

The following are style iterations for the possible visual illustrative element of the book. The writings were mostly in a short poem format inspired by the works of children’s book authors like Shel Silverstein where the content and visual imagery sort of plays out together.

I came up with a set of three books that were packaged in a box - each of the books were written in the form of poems which were accompanied by illustrations. This form of writing made it interactive and playful for the children, making them get more involved and actually associate themselves and their friends with the characters in the book. The books titled ‘ME WE’, ‘Saying Hello’ and ‘Who Do I Pick’ encourage children to look beyond the devices and gadgets that they often find more stimulating than the company of other children. This project, done three years ago, remains more pertinent than ever.

You can view each of the books by clicking on the spreads below.


The set comes with a manual to help parents and teachers understand how they can use the set effectively. The set also has colouring and activity pages that can help the child interact and think about empathy in different situations. You can view the manual here.

One of the poems ‘Me, We’ was published under Katha publications under a larger collection of poems titled My Big Book of Kindness.

© 2018 Pallavi Datta