Roots of Empathy


Mary Gordon

Roots of Empathy Book US

Roots of Empathy Founder/President Mary Gordon chronicles the creation of her award-winning classroom program. Mary shares her vision of a society of compassionate and caring children who will pass on their legacy of empathy to their own children.

Read Chapter 1 - From a Tiny Seed


"We hear a good deal about emotional intelligence. Gordon's brilliant idea is one of the first to show how it might be learned. Her program is closely in tune with how we Canadian think of ourselves. It's a bold and wonderful idea."

- Keith Oatley Globe & Mail, The Globe 100, November 25, 2006

From the cover...

"This brilliant program belongs in every classroom in every school in every country of the world, forever. There's no better way to teach empathy – the essential human trait."

- Raffi Cavoukian singer, author, ecology advocate

"This is a remarkable book. In clear and lively language, Mary Gordon introduces us to the wisdom of babies and shows us how they can teach us - and our children - what it is to be human. Over a lifetime, I have learned that the human capacities for empathy and respect must be fostered from earliest childhood to reduce violence in the world and build a truly civil society."

- The Honourable Landon Pearson

Advisor on Children's Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada

"This book displays the extraordinary value of the Roots of Empathy program, probably the best program of its kind to support optimal early childhood development and to help communities build tolerant pluralistic democratic societies."

- Dr. J. Fraser Mustard Founding President and Institute Fellow

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

"There is nothing more cruel or wasteful than the marginalization that cripples perhaps a third of humanity, drags down economics, and contributes so much to prejudice and destructive self hate. Roots of Empathy cuts right to the roots of this plague. It opens a door that allows children to escape the closed circle of aggression begetting aggression. It frees them to begin the long process of learning and mastering the empathy based ethics that is central to their world and the world's future."

- Bill Drayton Chair and CEO of Ashoka Innovators for the Public, U.S.A.

"I lived next door to Mary Gordon from birth until the age of ten, I had the great privilege of experiencing first hand her method of communicating with, and engendering empathy and emotional literacy in children. There is nothing in this world I feel more grateful for. I believe it is the main reason why I became an artist and a social activist."

- Sarah Polley
Genie Award-winning actor and director
Winner of best Canadian film for 2012 - Stories We Tell

Buy your copy online at

Canada - Buy at Amazon or Indigo

USA - Buy at Amazon or The Experiment

From the inside cover

Every so often in the life of a civilization, there comes a book that can literally change the way we are in the world. Roots of Empathy is such a book.

As a society, we have accomplished many things, but we have overlooked one vital aspect of our humanity that if paid attention to can literally change our lives: the innate empathy and wisdom of babies.

With violence, anti-social behaviour, bullying and aggression among young children escalating at a frightening rate, it is clear that we need to develop a new understanding of childhood.

Mary Gordon is an educator who has worked for more than two decades with children from all kinds of backgrounds. She has discovered that the solution to bullying and other anti-social behaviour lies within each child's natural sense of caring and compassion

Through Roots of Empathy, her highly successful organization, Mary Gordon creates a rich, rewarding classroom experience that fosters empathy within children. The program brings babies and students together in a symbiotic loving environment that has been proven to reduce aggression and increase tolerance and emotional understanding in children. Mary Gordon's organization now has more than 1,100 programs in English and French and has reached more than 68,000 students across Canada.

In Roots of Empathy, the innovative and inspired book based on her ground-breaking and successful classroom program and solid research, Mary Gordon shares her vision of a society of compassionate and caring children who will pass on their legacy of empathy to their own children. She believes that infusing children with empathy constitutes nothing less than a new paradigm in our approach to child-raising. It is an approach that could very well change our world.