By Zenobia Jackson
September 15, 2017
Many books coach parents and educators on how to teach children social skills such as empathy, manners, and sharing. But an even better way to introduce these concepts to children is through children’s literature. There are many books that expose children to the social skills they need as they grow and develop. Some books explicitly teach various skills while others weave the skill into a creative story with characters. Concepts such as kindness, respect, justice, charity and more are addressed.
Why are books that promote social emotional wellness important? They help children identify feelings that they may have a hard time expressing or understanding. They also help children understand the world around them and provide guidance and security as they learn to navigate relationships. Here are a few we recommend:
Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud helps children see how their actions impact others. The book explains emotional wellness by comparing it to an invisible bucket that everyone has. Students are encouraged to be bucket fillers by doing and saying kind things to others. Conversely they are discouraged from being bucket dippers when they say and do hurtful things.
In the popular book Enemy Pie by Eric Munson, a young boy learns to make friends with a new kid in the neighborhood who he doesn’t like. The lesson is that we often make judgements about people without really knowing them.
Dav Pikey’s award-winning The Paperboy is about a boy and his dog who have a paper route. It’s a simple book about responsibility and hard work. The main character gets up early on Saturday morning, gets on his bike, and delivers papers in his neighborhood.
My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook is a story told by Louis. Louis tells readers about how hard it is keep quiet. He calls his mouth a volcano because it “erupts” when he feels like he has to say something. When Louis has to do a presentation at school, he is interrupted by other students and gets a taste of his own medicine. He learns how it feels when others have mouths that are volcanoes!
Literature that provides children with opportunities to learn more about themselves, their emotions, and relationships are a must-have for a classroom or home library. I like to think of them as self-help books for kids!