Top 13 Award-Winning Books for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills

We live in a multicultural and multilingual world. Today’s schools have students from all different backgrounds coming together for a common purpose.

More than ever, teachers and educators must bridge the gaps between students, providing them with the strong foundation they need for life-long learning.

Social & emotional learning gives children the tools they need to understand and manage their emotions. It shows them a constructive way to display empathy, set goals, and establish rewarding relationships. According to a 2014 meta-analysis, students that learn SEL score 11 percentile points higher on achievement tests.

Some of the benefits of SEL include:

SEL helps students now and in the future. Students can apply their insights about perspectives and self-management to their schoolwork and daily lives. These skills make it easier for them to make consistently sound decisions. One of the best ways to teach SEL is with social-emotional learning books.

Further reading: Discover Positive Action’s Curriculum for SEL

Must-Read SEL Books

Books transport us to worlds outside our own. They provide a glimpse into other people's experiences, whether we explore them through fiction or non-fiction narratives. Books are the literary version of walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

There are plenty of fantastic books available if you want to talk to your students or kids about emotions and social-emotional topics. We've narrowed down our list to 13 must-read social-emotional learning books. These include:

  1. The Dark by Lemony Snicket – The author of A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the story of Laszlo, a boy afraid of the dark, and how he overcomes his fear.

  2. The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken – We all make mistakes. Corinna Luyken uses them to show readers that life’s unexpected accidents can be a source of inspiration and delight.

  3. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead – This debut book follows Amos McGee, who goes to the zoo every day. When Amos is too sick to go, his animal friends decide to come to him instead.

  4. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig – Being the new kid in school is tough. Brian feels unnoticed and unappreciated until he makes a new friend named Justin.

  5. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña – This award-winning book explores our differences through stunning illustrations and colorful prose.

  6. My Very Own Space by Pippa Goodhart – A charming read with vibrant illustrations, My Very Own Space teaches us that it’s okay to want some personal room.

  7. Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau – Argyle Fox wants to play outside, but the wind keeps ruining his fun. The setback forces him to think creatively en route to newfound playtime.

  8. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson – Emmanuel grew up in Ghana with a deformed leg. It didn’t stop him from playing soccer, riding bikes, or other acts of perseverance.

  9. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray – Follow the true story of Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci and her quest to earn an Olympic gold medal and a place in the record books.

  10. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson – Ordinary Mary's one good deed causes a chain reaction of positivity worldwide, showing us the importance of daily kindness.

  11. Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein – Amelia’s smile is a small act of kindness that eventually finds its way back to her and then some.

  12. Pass It On by Sophy Henn – Discover the joy that comes from sharing as our protagonists pass on delight and happiness to the people around them.

  13. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst – This best-selling book explores the invisible strings that connect us to the most important people in our lives.

Learn, Grow, Repeat

Reading is only the first step in a child’s social-emotional development. Positive Action provides engaging and informative literature for students K through 12 to continue their SEL journey. That includes manuals, posters, and kits that make the process fun and educational.

These resources don’t just help kids. They provide teachers and educators the materials and guidance they need to maintain a protective classroom. One of our most popular kits is about conflict resolution, a topic that applies whether you’re in elementary school or work at a Fortune 500 company.

According to a CPP Inc) study, 60% of employees do not receive conflict management training. It leaves these individuals ill-equipped to handle complex and contested problems at home and work. In comparison, 95% of people who do receive training say that it helps them navigate interpersonal conflicts.

At Positive Action, our Conflict Resolution Kit helps students of all ages recognize, address, and resolve conflicts. The kit provides various lesson plans that children can use to work through different scenarios. It also has a Positive Action calendar, a teacher’s guide, a problem-solving checklist, and more.

Join Positive Action

Join the countless success stories across the country of organizations and schools benefiting from our kits. In Pennsylvania, we have already seen improvements in the climate at the Boys & Girls Club, while Pineview Elementary School in Tallahassee, TN, transformed its comprehensive assessments tests from an F to an A.

Positive Action makes it easier for students, teachers, and families to achieve educational and personal goals. We provide instructions and kits that help us feel good about ourselves and pass that goodness on to others. These simple lessons instill the values and attitudes necessary to be a contributing member of society.

Positive Action offers students of all ages the tools they need for healthy, positive, and rewarding lives. Feel free to reach out to us via our contact us page if you have any questions or comments.

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