Ten Picture Books to Teach Social Emotional Learning

picture books to teach social and emotional learning

Perhaps more than ever before, Social-Emotional Learning is at the forefront of the minds of everyone involved in education. The following picture books address a variety of social-emotional learning. These authors deliver their messages in effective, resonant ways that speak to the elementary learner. Stock your shelves with these Ten Picture Books to Teach Social Emotional Learning. These titles are appropriate for all ages at the elementary level!

Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Brian is the invisible boy. Although everyone can physically see him, nobody includes him in their games or activities.  When new student Justin arrives and teams up with Brian on a project, it changes Brian’s life and shows everyone how much he has to offer. This is a great book to share that will especially speak to the introverts in your library classes or school. 

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood, ruining a perfect summer. Fortunately, dad has a plan for getting rid of enemies – his secret recipe for Enemy Pie.  Unfortunately, the recipe includes spending an entire day with the enemy! This endearing story will amuse and intrigue while teaching about inclusion. In addition, introduce to students as a lesson on dealing with conflict. 

The Memory String by Eve Bunting

Laura remembers her mother while trying to tolerate her new stepmother. Each button on the memory string represents a piece of her family history, and when the string breaks, her heart breaks with it. When her new stepmother helps her, Laura’s opinion changes. This story is perfect for children dealing with transition in their families and for others to show compassion. 

Grow Happy by Jon Lasser

Just like growing a garden, one can also cultivate happiness. The main character, Kiko, shows your students how to ‘grow happy’ using tools like social support, good choices, and problem-solving skills. The reader comes to understand that she has all the tools necessary to nurture her own happiness. What a fantastic resource to introduce to your library students! 

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson

This is the true story of Emmanuel, from Ghana, West Africa.  Dismissed by most people because of a disability, his mother’s love and encouragement leads him to achieve amazing things.  Emmanuel tells the reader that disability is not inability.  This is an inspirational story for every child about overcoming obstacles.

We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

This picture book follows Wonder character Auggie and his dog Daisy on an original adventure. Every child’s hope to belong is recognized in this book, which is the perfect vehicle for discussing empathy and kindness with young children. If your students are familiar with the book or movie <em>Wonder</em>, this is the picture book version that kids will love just as much!

Niko Draws a Feeling by Robert Raczka

Niko loves drawing the world around him, but nobody seems to understand his art. Then he meets a new friend named Iris, and everything changes. Share this story with your unique, artistic students to express their differences. 

What Should Danny Do? by Adir Levy

Following the choose-your-own-adventure format, the reader is able to make choices for Danny as the story goes along. This interactive book contains nine stories, all of which help the reader to see that individual choices ultimately add up. This book should be on any social-emotional learning list!

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes

Prolific author Grimes uses a variety of poetry to remind us how important it is to be thankful, and how good it feels to express it. I love using this book to teach different types of poetry, encourage writing, and have students express gratitude. 

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

How much of childhood is spent waiting? A LOT! In this book, stuffed animal friends are lined up on a windowsill waiting for various things to happen. Will they keep waiting patiently, or will they stop waiting and do something unexpected? Use this book in your library to teach about patience. 

These ten picture books to teach social-emotional learning are perfect additions to your library classroom. Share them as classroom read-alouds, with your fellow teachers for their curricular connections, and just encourage students to check them out!

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