15 Must-Have Social-Emotional Books for the Classroom

These social-emotional books will help teach students the importance of perseverance, truth-telling, and more.

15 Must Have Social Emotional Books

Elementary school is a time for tremendous academic, as well as, personal growth. And we care about reading, writing, math, and the sciences.  We really do!

But, for some of us, we care more about helping our little people become caring, considerate, confident citizens of the world.

Here are fifteen books that you can share with your students that will help them develop the skills as a human being that will enrich their foundation for all other growth.

1. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller

A delightfully illustrated tale, demonstrated by the Otter family,  of the importance of following the Golden Rule!

Do Unto Otters - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

2. Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins


A hilarious story about manners that sweetly reminds us all that even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways.

Rude Cakes - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

3. Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry


A whimsically illustrated story that illustrates the power of friends sticking together.

Stick and Stone - 15 Must Have Social Emotional Books

4. The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf


A charming tale that teaches young readers that when we all work together, the results are much more colorful and interesting.

The Crayon Box That Talked - 15 Must-Have Social-Emotional Books

5. The Invisible Boy by Tracy Ludwig


A heart-warming story about a boy that nobody ever seems to notice or think to include..until a new kid arrives in class and he finds a way to shine.

The Invisible Boy - 15 Must Have Social Emotional Books

6. My Mouth Is a Volcano by Julia Cook

An entertaining story that addresses the universal challenge of teaching children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.

My Mouth Is a Volcano - 15 Must-Have Social-Emotional Books


7. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

A compelling tale with charming illustrations that serves up a sweet lesson about the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.

Enemy Pie - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

8. Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a BIG Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom

A highly entertaining story that teaches young readers when to “”squeal”” on important issues and when to try to work it out alone.

Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

9. Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones

Lacey Walker loves to talk. She talks all day, and sometimes all night. But when she loses her voice, Lacey learns the importance of listening.

Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker - 15 Must Have Social Emotional Books


10. Too Shy for Show and Tell by Beth Bracken

Sam is a quiet little boy who hates show-and-tell. Just thinking about it gives him a stomach ache. He must find a way to conquer his fear of show-and-tell.

Too Shy for Show and Tell - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books


11. Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman

When things don’t go Roger’s way, he becomes very difficult. However, he thinks he has found a solution to being such a crabby pants.

Crabby Pants - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

12. You Get What You Get by Julie Gassman

Melvin throws enormous fits when he doesn’t get his own way. He must figure out how to deal with disappointment. After all, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!


13. Lying Up a Storm by Julia Cook

A colorful story that helps young readers understand not only the consequences of telling a lie, but also how one lie can often lead to many more. And although lying can be a normal and sometimes healthy response, telling the truth is always the best way to go.

Lying Up a Storm - 15 Social Emotional Books

14. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick

A delightful tale that shows what the consequences would be if everybody engaged in thoughtless behavior- the world would be a mess!

What If Everybody Did That - 15 Must Have Social Emotional Books

15. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

A charming story about persevering when we are frustrated and stuck.

The Most Magnificent Thing - 15 Must-Have Social Emotional Books

Use this 4-step process to help reinforce the character trait featured in each story:

  1. DESCRIBE: Talk with your students, and have them talk with one another, about what they think the main point of the story was.  What character trait did the story define? How do you know? Why is it important? Can you make a connection to the story from your own life?  Make a poster together, or have the students write or draw in their journals about this character trait.

  2. DEMONSTRATE: Have a few students act out what the character trait looks like, feels like. Role playing different ways student can  demonstrate this character trait will help reinforce the behavior.

  3. PRACTICE: Plan activities where each child has to take a turn to practice the featured character trait.

  4. PROMOTE: Promote, support, and encourage children as they initiate and engage in behavior that demonstrates the character trait. Catch them being kind, flexible, honest, confident, etc.!

  15 Must Have Social-Emotional Books

Elizabeth Mulvahill

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a Writer/ Editor for WeAreTeachers and a certified Elementary Teacher.

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