Use The Weeping Wombat to Learn Empathy for Mental Health Awareness Month

This graphic shows Tobin, a pangolin, consoling Wally, a wombat, who is crying in front of a flower bush. Written above them are the words: “Weeping is just another way to show how we feel.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! For young children, reading a book and discussing the story can create the opportunity to talk about mental health and empathy for others.
In The Weeping Wombat—a Nocturnals early reader book by Tracey Hecht—the characters teach us that to properly understand mental health, it’s important to practice empathy. In the book, the animals listen to their new friend Walter the Wombat as he shares his feelings with them. They show Walter that it’s okay to cry and express yourself, and that weeping is just another way to show how we feel.
Below are some questions and prompts based on the story to help start conversations with young children about understanding their emotions.
  • Empathy is when you understand how someone else is feeling. What does the word empathy mean to you? Can you discuss a time you either showed or received empathy?
  • How do The Nocturnals characters show empathy to Walter the Wombat?
  • What information does Walter share with the animals about his feelings?
  • Do you agree with Dawn the Fox when she says, “Sometimes weeping can make you feel better” (p. 43)? Why or why not?
  • Ask readers to explore any of the books in The Nocturnals series and explain how empathy can help the characters solve the problems they face. 
You can find these discussion questions and more educational materials for The Nocturnals on our website.