6 Great Picture Books for Social-Emotional Learning

Inside: Support children at home and school with this collection of 6 helpful picture books for social-emotional learning.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a huge component of success at school, and for learning more generally.

Teachers understand that it’s very difficult for a student to learn if he or she is struggling with emotional wellbeing. Luckily, there are many high quality picture books available to help kids learn they are not alone, whatever struggle they are facing.

And these books aren’t just for the child struggling emotionally right now, they can also help children of all ages to develop coping skills for the future, as well as empathy and tolerance towards peers who may be struggling at the time.

Picture Books for Social Emotional Learning

6 Great Picture Books for Social-Emotional Learning

SEL books: Dont Think About Purple ElephantsDon’t Think About Purple Elephants by Susanne Merritt
People of all ages, both young and old, worry.  Some fret just a little, while others have heart-pounding anxiety, even in their earliest years of school.  Sophie, the main character, is one such student until her mother comes up with a strategy to help Sophie calm herself. Children everywhere will appreciate the humorous, elephant-infused strategy Sophie and her mother use to tackle her anxiety in this charming picture book.
Available: Amazon  |  The Book Depository

For more like this, check out our list of books about worry and anxiety for kids of all ages.

Jabari Jumps: Books for SE Learning

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwal
It’s time. Jabari has finished his swimming lessons and knows what to do. He’s practiced and stretched. He’s even watched a few of his friends jump off the diving board. So why is it so hard for him to actually climb that ladder and do it himself?  The reader will appreciate Jabari’s dad’s patience and encouragement as Jabari summons inner courage and learns how to face challenges head-on.
Available: Amazon  |  The Book Depository

For more books about facing fears, we have a great big list of picture books about fears.

The Invisible Boy: Picture Books for Social Emotional Learning

The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton
Brian is the invisible boy. He is invisible because nobody notices him or includes him in their games or activities. One day Justin, a new boy, comes to school and teams up with Brian on a project. This interaction 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 the group.
Available: Amazon | The Book Depository

For further stories about developing all sorts of social skills check out our great big list of 101 Books About Friendship, Communication & Social Skills.

The Memory String

The Memory String by Eve Bunting
Laura sits with memories of her mother while trying somehow to tolerate her new stepmother. Every button on Laura’s memory string symbolizes a piece of her family history, and when the string breaks, her heart breaks with it. When her new stepmother genuinely tries to help, Laura’s opinion of her changes. In this picture book, Bunting’s moving story of grief through the eyes of a child will resonate with readers of all ages.
Available: Amazon | The Book Depository

What Should Danny Do? SEL Picture Books Ideas

What Should Danny Do? (The Power to Choose Series) by Adir Levy
Following the once-popular choose-your-own-adventure format, the author has included nine stories in this interactive book.  As your child reads through the stories and makes choices for Danny, the reader realises that each choice adds up, ultimately deciding what kind of a day Danny will have. Use this interactive social-emotional learning book to help talk about the choices your kids make in their own lives.
Available: Amazon

Chrysanthemum: Books for SE Learning

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Henkes is a prolific author whose writing speaks to children for a variety of reasons. In this picture book, the main character, Chrysanthemum, adores her name. Why wouldn’t she? Her parents chose the name especially for her. When she finally gets to go to school, though, the experience isn’t all that she’d hoped for. Her peers are teasing her because of her beautiful and unique name. How will she handle this unexpected problem? Share this story to help your children learn about what makes them unique and how to handle adversity and respect the differences of others.
Available: Amazon | The Book Depository

Two more great resources to support this topic include our Books About Kindness list and this collection of 15 Anti-Bullying Videos for kids from four to fifteen years of age.

Whether day-to-day moodiness or bigger emotional topics, your children all struggle emotionally from time to time. A steady diet of books addressing a range of social-emotional learning areas can help kids feel accepted and understood (even older students can learn important lessons from these stories!)

Related resources;

15 Feelings and Emotions Books for Toddlers  21 Fabulous Picture Books About Feelings & Emotions