Explore the ultimate list of social emotional learning books that will help you build resilient kids and address behavior issues. Below is my FULL collection of exciting and fun books that teach essential emotional and social life skills for your child’s success.
As a former teacher turned homeschool mama, I have always been passionate about helping kids develop important social and emotional skills.
With all my teaching and parenting experience, I’ve found that this step is the most important to a student’s success and sadly often gets overlooked in formal education systems.
So, it’s up to us parents and teachers to get the job done!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading these SEL read alouds with my son and I truly hope that they prove to be valuable resources for you and your children as well.
Table of Contents
What Is Social Emotional Learning?
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process of acquiring and applying knowledge, attitudes, and skills that are necessary for recognizing and managing emotions, developing positive relationships, and making responsible decisions.
Essentially, it involves teaching children how to understand and regulate their own emotions, as well as how to interact positively with others. SEL is an important aspect of a child’s development, as it can help them succeed academically, professionally, and personally. By developing strong social and emotional skills, children can learn to cope with stress, build resilience, and establish healthy relationships.
With this in mind, I’ve written a series of blog posts with book lists that teach important social emotional skills such as friendship, kindness, growth mindset and a lot more (see list below).
To make it easier for you, I’ve compiled each post with my favorite book recommendations into this ultimate list in this post.
Although the books below are organized according to age-appropriate social and emotional skills, most of these books and character traits can be learned at ANY age.
So it is definitely worth taking a look at the full list no matter your child’s age!
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The Best social emotional learning books For Kids
Social Emotional Books for Toddlers
The books below are great used as read alouds for children of any age but we do want to begin introducing these emotional and social skills as toddlers.
Toddlers are just starting to get their cute (and in my toddler’s case, strong) personalities around this time. How can we help our tots identify their emotions and begin socializing in healthy ways?
Through books! Here is where I recommend you start.
Kindness Books For Kids
I believe it is never too early to start talking about kindness with your children and students. The kindness read alouds below have stellar examples of how to be kind to others and will bring out the kindness in your children.
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- Listening With My Heart by Gabi Garcia
- One Good Deed by Terri Fields
- Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
- The Girl And The Bicycle by Mark Pett
- Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds
- Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
- A Sick Day For Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
- Stick And Stone by Beth Ferry
- Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
- Kindness Is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego
- Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
- Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
- Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Read the full post, Kindness Books For Kids, here!
Children’s Books About Sharing
As parents and caregivers, we have all seen just how hard it is for toddlers to share with others. At this developmental age, their life is centered around their own perspectives but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t begin to learn this important skill.
Read these children’s books on sharing with your young kiddos to help you teach them how to share.
- “The Rainbow Fish” By Marcus Pfister
- “Share, Big Bear, Share!” By Maureen Wright
- “Sharing Ninja” By Mary Nhin
- “Friends Ask First!” By Alexandra Cassel
- “It’s Mine!” By Leo Lionni
- “The Caring Me I Want To Be” By Mary DiPalermo
- “The Magic Of Sharing” By Ruben Lora And Ksenia Startseva-Lora
- “The Jelly Donut Difference” By Maria Dismondy
- “The Squirrels Who Squabbled” By Rachel Bright
Read the full post, Children’s Books About Sharing, here!
Social Emotional Books for Preschoolers
The preschool age is one of my favorite ages because they say and do the cutest things!
They are beginning to start friendships, becoming more aware of themselves and their emotions, as well as getting a little… mischievous.
How do we address these new skills and habits? Start with the list of preschool books about feelings below!
Books About Friendship For Kids
Friendships are an important part of a child’s life. This is a list of books on making friends, to be a good friend, how to choose wise friends, and books about best friends.
- “A Friend Like You” By Frank Murphy
- “How To Grow A Friend” By Sara Gillingham
- “Best Friends” By Margery Cuyler
- “Will You Be Friends With Me?” By Kathleen Long Bostrom
- “We’re Better Together” By Eileen Spinelli
- “Boy And Bot” By Amy Dyckman
- “A Sick Day For Amos McGee” By Philip C. Stead
- “Enemy Pie” By Derek Munson
- “How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends?” By Jane Yolen
- “Can We Be Friends?” By Erica Sirotich
- “That’s What Friends Are For” By Valeri Gorbachev
Read the full post, Books About Friendship for Kids, here!
Books About Tattling
Awe tattling, we’ve all been there at one point but at some point, we need to learn the difference between tattling vs. telling/reporting. Tackle this social skill in lighthearted and fun ways with your child with the books below!
- “A Bad Case Of Tattle Tongue” By Julia Cook
- “The Great Math Tattle Battle” By Anne Bowen
- “A Tattle-Tell Tale” By Kathryn Cole
- “Miles Mchale Tattletale” By Christianne C. Jones
- “Don’t Squeal Unless It’s A Big Deal” By Jeanie Franz Ransom
- “Diamond Rattle Loves To Tattle” By Ashley Bartley
- “Armadillo Tattletale” By Helen Ketteman
Read the full post, Books About Tattling, here!
Emotion Books for Kindergarteners
The social skills are vamping up for these kindergarteners! Learn social emotional skills from the book lists below to help them navigate through these changes and challenges.
Children’s Books About Self-Esteem
Having a healthy self-esteem is important for children and adults of all ages. Start teaching your children to love themselves early with these inspiring books for self-esteem.
- “A Bad Case Of Stripes” By David Shannon
- “I Like Myself” By Karen Beaumont
- “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon” By Patty Lovell
- “Giraffes Can’t Dance” By Giles Andreae
- “A Little SPOT Of Confidence” By Diane Alber
- “I Am Enough” By Grace Byers
- “Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun” By Maria Dismondy
- “The Day You Begin” By Jacqueline Woodso
- “Brontorina” By James Howe
- “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” By Emily Winfield Martin
- “The Dot” By Peter H. Reynolds
- “The OK Book” By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
- “The Lion Inside” By Rachel Bright
- “Chrysanthemum” By Kevin Henkes
- “A Hat For Mrs. Goldman” By Michelle Edwards
- “Leo The Late Bloomer” By Robert Kraus
- “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” By Mark Pett And Gary Rubinstein
Read the full post, Children’s Books About Self-Esteem, here!
Children’s Books About Anger
This is one of the strong emotions that is sometimes difficult to navigate and deal with as parents and teachers. Try using the books about anger for kids below to teach important coping, calming, and emotional sorting skills.
- “Soda Pop Head” By Julia Cook
- “When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry…” By Molly Bang
- “Was So Mad” By Mercer Mayer
- “Roaring Mad Riley” By Allison Szczecinski
- “A Little Spot Of Frustration” By Diane Alber
- “The Sour Grape” By Jory John And Pete Oswald
- “When I Feel Angry” By Cornelia Maude Spelman
- “Ravi’s Roar” By Tom Percival
- “My Monster And Me” By Hussain Nadiya
- “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” By Judith Viorst
- “Everyone Feels Angry Sometimes” By Dr. Daniela Owen
- “How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad?” By Jane Yolen
- “I Choose To Calm My Anger” By Dagmar Geisler
Read the full post, Children’s Books About Anger, here!
Growth Mindset Books For Kids
Believe it or not, a growth mindset is a concept that I didn’t become aware of until I was in college learning to become a teacher! But this emotional skill is something that I wished I had learned from a very early age.
Help your children and students see life and their challenges with these fantastic growth mindset picture books.
- “I Can’t Do That, YET: Growth Mindset” By Esther Pia Cordova
- “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” By JoAnn Deak Ph.D
- “The Magical Yet” By Angela DiTerlizzi
- “The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do” By Ashley Spires
- “A Thousand No’s” By DJ Corchin
- “Your Thoughts Matter” By Esther Pia Cordova
- “Growth Mindset Ninja” By Mary Nhin
- “A World Without Failures” By Esther Pia Cordova
- “No Excuses!” By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
- “The Koala Who Could” By Bright Rachel
- “My Strong Mind” By Niels Van Hove
- “Just A Thought” By Jason Gruhl
- “Little Bears Can Do Big Things” By Esther Pia Cordova
Read the full post, Growth Mindset Books For Kids, here!
Best SEL Books for Elementary Students
These cute books are perfect for elementary students learning to take a step above the fundamental social emotional skills. These important social emotional skills with the book lists below.
Books About Empathy For Kids
Help your children see life through another’s perspective and how to show others love with these books on compassion!
- “Hey, Little Ant” By Hannah Hoose And Phillip Hoose
- “You, Me And Empathy” By Jayneen Sanders
- “The Invisible Boy” By Trudy Ludwig
- “The Cool Bean” By Jory John
- “A Hat For Mrs. Goldman” By Michelle Edwards
- “I Talk Like A River” By Jordan Scott
- “Ivan: The Remarkable True Story Of The Shopping Mall Gorilla” By Katherine Applegate
- “Otis And The Scarecrow” By Loren Long
- “A Little Spot Of Empathy” By Diane Alber
- “The Someone New” By Jill Twiss
- “We’re All Wonders” By R.J. Palacio
- “I Am Love: A Book Of Compassion” By: Susan Verde
- “The Rabbit Listened” By Cori Doerrfeld
Read the full post, Books About Empathy For Kids, here!
Children’s Books On Gratitude
Before we can be truly happy, the first thing we need to feel is gratitude for what we have now. Help your children develop a habit of gratitude with these cute books about being thankful.
- “Thank You, Bees” by Toni Yuly
- “Bear Says Thanks” by Karma Wilson
- “Thankful” by Eileen Spinelli
- “Gratitude Jar” by Katrina Liu
- “Gracias Thanks” by Pat Mora
- “The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr
- “Grow Grateful” by Sage Foster-Lasser
- “Gratitude Is My Superpower” by Alicia Ortego
- “A Little Thankful Spot” by Diane Alber
- “The Secret of Saying Thanks” by Douglas Wood
- “Thank You, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco
- “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña
Read the full post, Children’s Books On Gratitude, here!
Children’s Books About Honesty
Honesty is a tricky lesson to teach. But with the help of good examples from stories, you can help your children visualize this concept in many beneficial ways.
Use these children’s books about lying and honesty to help your child understand what honesty is and how to practice it.
- “The Empty Pot” by Demi
- “The Berenstain Bears and the Truth” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- “Franklin Fibs” by Paulette Bourgeois
- “Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie” by Laura Rankin
- “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” by Diane deGroat
- “The Honest-to-Goodness Truth” by Patricia McKissack
- “Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It” by Michael Kaplan
- “A Big Fat Enormous Lie” by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
- “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by B. G. Hennessy
Read the full post, Children’s Books About Honesty, here!
SEL Books for Upper Elementary
Kids in upper elementary ages are ready to start going above and beyond with their social and emotional skills (if they’ve had practice with the skills above of course!). Now it’s time to dive into more complex social emotional learning books that talk about perseverance, self-regulation, and respect.
Children’s Books About Perseverance
Teach your children to keep going when things get hard with these fun stories about perseverance.
- “Whistle for Willie” by Ezra Jack Keats
- “I Won’t Give Up” by Daniel Kenney
- “The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires
- “After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)” by Dan Santat
- “I Choose to Try Again” by Elizabeth Estrada
- “Resilience” by Jayneen Sanders
- “Are You Working Hard or Hardly Working?” by Bryan Smith
Read the full post, Children’s Books About Perseverance, here!
Books About Self Discipline
Wondering why your child seems to have strong reactions to their emotions? Use these books on self discipline to teach your child strategies for self-regulation, self-control, and to navigate those big feelings.
- “What Should Danny Do?” by Adir Levy and Ganit Levy
- “Calm-Down Time” by Elizabeth Verdick
- “Little Monkey Calms Down” by Michael Dahl
- “My Mouth is a Volcano!” by Julia Cook
- “Clark the Shark” by Bruce Hale and Guy Francis
- “My Body Sends a Signal” by Natalia Maguire
- “I Can Do That: A Book on Self-Regulation” by Kayla J. W. Marnach
- “Too Much Glue” by Jason Lefebvre
- “The Emotions Book” by Liz Fletcher
- “The Color Monster” by Anna Llenas
Read the full post, Books About Self Discipline, here!
Books About Respect For Kids
Respect is a big concept that seems to be misunderstood and has been overlooked by many people in the world today. Teach your child to respect themselves and others with these inspiring children’s books on respect.
- “The Golden Rule” by Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatkowska
- “Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo
- “The Recess Queen” by Alexis O’Neill and Laura Huliska-Beith
- “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch
- “The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- “What If Everybody Did That?” by Ellen Javernick and Colleen Madden
- “A Little Respectful Dot” by Michelle Lowery Combs
- “The Way I Act” by Steve Metzger and Janan Cain
- “Baditude” by Julia Cook and Anita DuFalla
- “But Why Can’t I?” by Sue Graves and Desideria Guicciardini
- “Do Unto Otters” by Laurie Keller
- “The Best Me That I Can Be: Respect” by David Parker
- “The Juice Box Bully” by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
Read the full post, Books About Respect For Kids, here!
Conclusion: 147+ Social Emotional Learning Books To Build Emotional Intelligence
Social emotional learning is a crucial part of your child’s development. By reading social emotional learning books from this list with your child, you can help them develop into a resilient, empathetic, and successful individual.
Have you ever considered homeschooling your children? Teach these social emotional learning skills at home with homeschooling!
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Hi, I’m Tori! I’m the founder of homeschoolnewbie.com. I’m a former elementary school teacher turned homeschool mama who has a passion for home education! I have 10+ years of experience working with children in all kinds of educational settings. As a new homeschooling parent, my mission is to navigate the world of homeschooling and share with you the best home education practices. If you want to learn more about me, check out my about page. See you there!