Are you looking for the best way to teach your children vital social and emotional skills? Books are a great tool for parents and a wonderful way to connect with your kids.
As a school psychologist I used bibliotherapy often. My students enjoyed reading together and they didn’t even realize they were learning empathy or turn taking! At the end of this post I share the secrets to creating a lasting change in your children’s behavior with books.
But first I want to share with you my favorite 20 books to introduce social emotional skills to your kids. The topics range from friendship, to handling negative emotions, to learning what anger feels like.
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Top 20 Social Emotional Books for Kids
# 1: Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day: One of my favorite books to teach kids about emotions. It covers a range of feelings and will help your children start to identify situations or times they may feel angry, sad, disappointed and joyful!
#2: When I Feel Scared: This is a great series for kids on all types of emotions (worry, sadness, anger, etc.). The author addresses the emotion and provides gentle suggestions on how to deal with the targeted emotion.
#3: My Mouth is a Volcano: Kids get excited and often want to share all about their day or favorite toy. They may go on and on with out realizing their listener has lost interest. This book is great for teaching self-control and for a child who has difficulty waiting for his or her turn to talk.
#4: Wemberly Worried: A great book for kid’s who are worried about going to school. It follows a mouse who worries about everything. By the end of the book she realizes school is fun and she shouldn’t wast time worrying! Everyone feels worried at different points in their lives so it’s important to address this emotion with kids who are struggling with it.
#5: Happy To Be Me!: I loved using this book as a school psychologist. It explains self-esteem to a child in simple terms and encourages children to love who they are.
#6: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon: At one point or another all kid’s will face criticism or teasing. This book gives a wonderful example of how to deal with negative comments from peers and teaches children to embrace their unique qualities.
#7: Jabari Jumps: A story of bravery and overcoming your fears. This book is perfect for the child who is slow to warm up to new experiences or scared to try something new.
#8: The Way I Act: A book detailing what it is like to behave in certain ways. You can also use it as a discussion tool for the consequences of different behaviors. A great addition to The Way I Feel!
#9: Angry Octopus: Not your traditional children’s book, but great for teaching the skill of deep breathing and muscle relaxation. As a school psychologist I used progressive muscle relaxation and found it to be very effective. This book is a good tool for parents who want to share this skill with their kids.
#10: The Most Magnificent Thing: A book that shares the message, it’s okay to make mistakes. A good read for a child who wants everything to be “perfect.”
#11: How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids: A great book to teach kids how their actions and how their words impact those around them. They can either fill or empty other people’s buckets each day.
#12: Chrysanthemum: A classic children’s book telling a story about teasing and acceptance. This book can teach children to love who they are even if they are different. Embrace the different!
#13: Sheila Rae, the Brave: A great book to start a conversation about bravery and how to overcome our fears.
#14: There Might be Lobsters: Overcome worries and fears with this adorable book. Your kids will love reading about Sukie’s experience at the beach.
#15: I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids: Teach your children to listen to their inner voice and trust their instincts.
#16: Listening to My Body: A book filled with kid-friendly mindfulness activities. This book teaches kids to listen to the signals of their bodies and help them identify feelings.
#17: I Am Enough: A beautiful book about learning to love yourself and being kind to others. I also love how the book features multicultural characters.
#18: What Should Danny Do? A fun series that demonstrates how our choices impact our days! Your kids will love this interactive book.
#19: A Chair for My Mother: This book doesn’t teach social and emotional skills specifically (like the other books listed) but this is a great story of family, hardworking and perseverance .
#20: The Invisible Boy: A wonderful book about making friends. Includes discussion questions at the end. This book is perfect for children who may experience shyness.
The BEST 20 Kid’s Books to Teach Vital Social Emotional Skills
Now for the the secret to success!
First, it’s not just about reading with your child. It’s about the conversation. Use these books as tools to open dialogue with your children. That’s one of the best ways to build emotional intelligence in our kids. Talk about how they feel! Not sure what emotional intelligence is? See this post on emotional intelligence: a guide for parents with young children.
After you read and during the book ask them questions like:
What was your biggest take away from the book?
How do you think ____ feels?
What would you do in that situation?
We’d love to hear from you!
Do you talk to your children about emotions and coping skills? What are your favorite books to introduce topics such as sharing or respecting others?
I will also be launching a parenting course in the next few months on raising happy, successful children with a focus on emotional intelligence. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss the information!