Picture Books to Boost Social-Emotional Learning Skills

I love librarian and author Molly Pearson’s description of picture books as “big ideas in small packages.” Stories are wonderful tools for homes and classrooms to strengthen children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) abilities (i.e., empathy, self-awareness, emotion regulation, problem-solving, and relationship skills).

Why is there such a strong need for these kinds of resources? Research studies show that SEL positively impacts academic performance, supportive relationships, mental wellness, and more. Feel free to use this list as your starting point for picture books that promote SEL skills in your young readers.

no no 9780735229358 The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

This sweet story shows the importance of being a caring listener when someone feels sad or hurt. Rabbit may not solve little Taylor’s problems, but the bunny helps Taylor get through their hurt by being a comforting, compassionate listener.
(Ages 3 – 5)

9780593323182 The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague, illustrated by Brad and Kristi Montague

This heartwarming story relays the importance of widening your circle of relationships. Connecting with one another in healthy ways is an essential component of social-emotional learning.
(Ages 3 – 5)

9780735230378 Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

This story reminds me of Eleanor Estes’s classic, The Hundred Dresses. Adrian lets his classmates know he has a horse, but Chloe knows it’s not true. Should she call him out on this? Or should she let it go? Young readers will learn that compassion and understanding are more important than judgment.
(Ages 3 – 5)

9780451478894 Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim

Readers will become smitten with the adorable protagonist Danbi. As a Korean immigrant living in America, Danbi uses her spunk and imagination to adjust to a new school and make new friends. Danbi learns that when you open your world to others, their world opens to you!
(Ages 3 – 7)

9781984812100 In Our Garden by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Melissa Crowton

In this beautiful tale of a girl settling into a new city, Millie misses her family’s garden back home. With the help of her school community and neighbors, Millie’s garden proposal takes root and blossoms. In Our Garden shows what we can accomplish with vision, patience, hard work, and collaboration.
(Ages 3 – 7)

9781883672546 Hey, Little Ant by Phillip Hoose and Hannah Hoose, illustrated by Debbie Tilley

A small ant tries to convince a boy not to squish him because he has feelings and a family. The story ends with the reader deciding the fate of the ant: “We’ll leave the kid with the raised-up shoe. What do you think that kid should do?” It’s an excellent opportunity for generating thoughtful discussions about empathy with children!
(Ages 3 – 7)

9781101919071 Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson

It can be puzzling for little ones to figure out who their true friends are. Where Oliver Fits shows young readers that fitting in isn’t always the best fit; it’s more important to find friends who accept and appreciate the real you.
(Ages 3 – 7)

9780593372562 Not Enough Lollipops by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Micah Player

When kind-hearted Alice wins a wagon full of lollipops, sharing them with her classmates becomes more complicated than she expected. This is a playful story about Alice’s moral dilemma and problem-solving strategy. For older kids, Not Enough Lollipops works as an introduction to the scarcity mindset.
(Ages 4 – 7)

9780525579748 Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

The creators behind the New York Times bestseller All Are Welcome collaborated on another fantastic picture book, Big Feelings. This story helps young readers navigate and manage the emotional challenges they face in their daily lives.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9780399548710 A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott

This powerful story will inspire young children who find reading difficult. It beautifully illustrates both the challenges and rewards of being a non-mainstream learner.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9780399549083 Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

A little boy named Milo studies the people around him, imagining what their lives are like. But what if everyone’s life is different than he thinks? Milo learns that you really can’t know people just by looking at them.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9780525514121 Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes about children with differences and challenges who work together to build a community garden. The reader learns that those children’s differences can also make them interesting and powerful in unique ways. Sotomayor’s story encourages children to Just Ask when they encounter someone who is different from them, but they’re not sure why.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9780399545535 The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

This gorgeous picture book is the companion to The Day You Begin by Woodson and López. The Year We Learned to Fly lyrically shares the beauty and power of our minds to lift ourselves up in tough times and imagine a better world.
(Ages 5 – 8)

9781524739058 Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaître

One of the best things we can do for our children is to help them become emotionally resilient in difficult times. Come With Me shows how even little ones can have a positive impact in the face of intolerance and uncertainty.
(Ages 5 – 8)

yes yes Books by the Author: 9780593306376 Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton 9780593426401 Calling the Wind by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi 9781524771584 The Power of One by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Mike Curato 9780399557132 Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton 9780553509403 My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Abigail Marble 9781582464503 The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton 9780307931139 Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Beth Adams 9781582463803 Better Than You by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Adam Gustavson 9781582462585 Too Perfect by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Lisa Fields 9781582462400 Trouble Talk by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Mikela Prevost 9781582461731 Sorry! by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Maurie J. Manning 9781582461632 Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Adam Gustavson

The post Picture Books to Boost Social-Emotional Learning Skills appeared first on Brightly.

Picture Books to Boost Social-Emotional Learning Skills