Now, more than ever, we must help children learn crucial social and emotional skills so they can become kind citizens and equipped to cope with life’s challenges. Social skills books for kids are a useful tool to help teach social skills and tackle social-emotional issues. That’s why we gathered 50 (yes, 50!) social skills books for kids that you can share to help children of any age develop empathy, talk about their feelings, and identify with others.

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Books About Managing Fear and Anxiety

1. There Might Be Lobsters  by Carolyn Crimi

Book cover for There Might Be Lobsters as an example of social skills books for kids

Lots of things at the beach scare Sukie. Lots. Because she is just a small dog, and the stairs are big and sandy, and the waves are big and whooshy, and the balls are big and beachy.

2. The What-Ifs by Emily Kilgore

Book cover for The Whatifs as an example of social skills books for kids

Scary “Whatifs” follow Cora everywhere, and it only gets worse as she prepares for her big piano recital. Her outlook changes when Stella challenges her to turn her bad Whatifs into good ones.

3. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Book cover for Jabari Jumps as an example of social skills books for kids

Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all.

4. The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

Book cover for The Camping Trip as an example of social skills books for kids

Ernestine is super excited to go camping for the first time with her aunt and cousin—until they reach the campsite, that is. Then everything feels scary, and she misses her dad.

5. Anita and the Dragons by Hanna Carmona

Book cover for Anita and the Dragons as an example of social skills books for kids

Fear of “dragons” almost overcomes Anita as she and her family prepare to emigrate from their home in the Dominican Republic. Her brother reminds her, “They aren’t real dragons. They’re just planes in the sky.”

Books about Risk-Taking

6. The Book of Mistakes  by Corinna Luyken

Book cover for The Book of Mistakes as an example of social skills books for kids

Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this book about the creative process and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration

7. Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka

Book cover for Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle

Learning to ride a bike is one of the most important milestones of childhood, and this book captures the emotional ups and downs of the experience.

8. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett

Book cover for The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

Meet Beatrice Bottomwell: a nine-year-old girl who has never (not once!) made a mistake.

9. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Book cover for The Dot

The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist.

Books about Friendship

10. Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Book cover for Rulers of the Playground

One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground. Everyone agreed to obey his rules to play in King Jonah’s kingdom … Everyone except for Lennox … because she wanted to rule the playground, too.

11. A Friend for Henry by Jennifer Bailey

Book cover for A Friend for Henry as an example of social skills books for kids

Henry, who has autism, eagerly wants a new friend. But many of his classmates aren’t quite the perfect fit he imagines. Then he builds blocks with Katie, and their tower is just right.

12. Daisy by Jessica Bailey

Book cover for Daisy as an example of social skills books for kids

Teasing makes Daisy feel terrible. She spends much of her time alone, collecting treasures—until she realizes someone else is adding to her treasure shelf.

13. The Invisible Boy  by Trudy Ludwig

Book cover for The Invisible Boy as an example of social skills books for kids

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party … until a new kid comes to class.

14. Stick and Stone  by Beth Ferry

Book cover for Stick and Stone

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor?

Books About Identity

15. I’m a Girl! by Yasmeen Ismail

Book cover for I'm a Girl!

Meet a little girl who’s spontaneous, fast, and strong and loves winning. Sometimes she’s mistaken for a boy, but she definitely isn’t one!

16. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Book cover for Last Stop on Market Street

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town?

17. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Book cover for Those Shoes

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that is much too small.

18. Home is In Between by Mitali Perkins

Book cover for Home is In Between as an example of social skills books for kids

If you’re looking for social skills books for kids related to code-switching—navigating multiple cultures—Shanti is a positive role model for students. When she and her family move to the United States from India, the world inside her home and the larger community feel very different.

19.My Very Own Space by Pippa Goodhart

Book cover for My Very Own Space

A little rabbit is trying to read his book in peace, but there’s so much going on around him! Maybe he needs some space just for himself …

20. My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart

Book cover for My Shadow is Pink as an example of social skills books for kids

This child’s family is sure his shadow is blue, but it’s not—it’s pink. And the shadow loves dresses, and dancing, and it definitely wants to be seen as it really is.

21. Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho

Book cover for Eyes That Kiss in the Corners as an example of social skills books for kids

This young girl is intensely proud of her “eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” She also loves that her sister, mother, and grandmother all share the same special feature.

22. Millie Fierce by Jane Manning

Book Cover for Millie Fierce

Millie is quiet, sweet, and mild. But the kids at school don’t listen to her.

Books about Overcoming Challenges

23. The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Book cover for The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read as an example of social skills books for kids

Mary Walker was born a slave and persevered through challenges her entire life. At age 114, she finally fulfilled her lifelong dream of learning to read. She’s an inspiration for us all.

24. Argyle Fox  by Marie Letourneau

Book cover for Argyle Fox

Argyle Fox, with his signature style, wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: Woosh!

25. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah  by Laurie Ann Thompson

Book cover for Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah’s inspiring true story is nothing short of remarkable. Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams.

26. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still by Karlin Gray

Book cover for Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

Nadia Comaneci was a feisty and fearless little girl who went from climbing trees in the forests of Romania to swinging into history at the 1976 Olympic Games, where she received an unprecedented seven perfect scores in gymnastics.

27. Life  by Cynthia Rylant

Book cover for Life as an example of social skills books for kids

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle.

Books about Kindness

28. The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

Book cover for The Smile Shop as an example of social skills books for kids

Disappointment washes over a small boy when he drops the money he’s saved down the drain. A stranger in a photography studio chooses to make an unexpectedly kind gesture.

29. Because Amelia Smiled  by David Ezra Stein

Book cover for Because Amelia Smiled

Because Amelia smiles as she skips down the street, her neighbor Mrs. Higgins smiles too and decides to send a care package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico.

30. Pass It On  by Sophy Henn

Book cover for Pass It On

When you see something terrific, smile a smile and pass it on! If you chance upon a chuckle, hee hee hee and pass it on. Should you spot a thing of wonder, jump for joy and pass it on!

31. We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

Book cover for We're All Wonders

Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy. Choose Kind.

32. The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

Book Cover for The Invisible String

A story that teaches of the tie that really binds. The Invisible String reaches from heart to heart. Does everybody have an Invisible String? How far does it reach, anyway? Does it ever go away?

 Books about Grief

33. Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away by Meg Medina

Book cover for Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away

Equal parts affirming and hopeful, if you need social skills books for kids to help cope with a friend moving, this is the one. Daniela can’t believe Evelyn won’t live across the street anymore. But, focusing on cherished memories and keeping in touch helps her manage.

34. The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

Book cover for The Heart and the Bottle

There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play. But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around?

35. The Memory String by Eve Bunting

Book cover for The Memory String

Each button on Laura’s memory string represents a piece of her family history. The buttons Laura cherishes the most belonged to her mother—a button from her prom dress, a white one off her wedding dress, and a single small button from the nightgown she was wearing on the day she died.

36. Big Tree is Sick: A Story to Help Children Cope with the Serious Illness of a Loved One by Nathalie Slosse

Book cover for Big Tree is Sick

Snibbles and Big Tree are best friends! They have always hung out together, and Snibbles loves Big Tree very much. When Big Tree unexpectedly falls ill with woodworm, Snibbles is very upset and angry.

Books about Feelings

 37. Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold

Book cover for Big Feelings as an example of social skills books for kids

An energetic group of young friends has big plans for the day—until big, hard feelings get in the way. It’ll take talking about it and being flexible to get the day back on track.

38. When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry  by Molly Bang

Book cover for When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry

Everybody gets angry sometimes.

39. Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman

Book cover for Crabby Pants

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

40. The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Book cover for The Way I Feel as an example of social skills books for kids

Feelings are neither good nor bad; they simply are. Kids need words to name their feelings, just as they need words to name all things in their world.

41. The Shadow Elephant by Nadine Robert

Book cover for The Shadow Elephant as an example of social skills books for kids

Elephant feels really down. All his friends keep trying to distract him, but it turns out what he really needs is a friend to be with him and his hard feelings until they fade away. This is one of our new favorite social skills books for kids with a message that it’s okay to just sit with difficult emotions!

Books about Honesty

42. Lying Up a Storm by Julia Cook

Book cover for Lying Up a Storm as an example of social skills books for kids

A Storm is Brewing… Whenever Levi doesn’t like the truth, he kinda sorta makes up other stuff to say.

43. Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie  by Laura Rankin

Book cover for Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie

Ruthie loves little things-the smaller, the better. So when she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground one afternoon, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers.

44. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Book cover for I Want My Hat Back as an example of social skills books for kids

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no.

Books about Self-Control

45. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse  by Kevin Henkes

Book cover for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse as an example of social skills books for kids

Lilly loves everything about school, especially her cool teacher, Mr. Slinger. But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse and its treasures to school and can’t wait until sharing time, Mr. Slinger confiscates her prized possessions.

46. David Gets In Trouble by David Shannon

Book cover for David Gets in Trouble as an example of social skills books for kids

“When David gets in trouble, he always says . . . ‘NO! It’s not my fault! I didn’t mean to! It was an accident!'”

47. My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook

Book cover for My Mouth is a Volcano as an example of social skills books for kids

All of Louis’s thoughts are very important to him. In fact, his thoughts are so important to him that when he has something to say, his words begin to wiggle, and then they do the jiggle, then his tongue pushes all of his important words up against his teeth, and he erupts, or interrupts others.

47. YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND! by Peter Brown

Book cover for YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND as an example of social skills books for kids

Today is the day the exuberant Lucy is going to make a new friend! But she finds it’s harder than she had thought–she accidentally ruins the giraffe’s breakfast and is much too big for the frogs’ pond.

48. Clark the Shark  by Bruce Hale

Book cover for Clark the Shark as an example of social skills books for kids

Clark is a shark with zing, bang, and BOOM. He zooms into school, crashes through the classroom, and is rowdy at recess.

Books about Resiliency

49. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Book cover for Giraffes Can't Dance as an example of social skills books for kids

Gerald the tall giraffe would love to join in with the other animals at the Jungle Dance, but everyone knows that giraffes can’t dance . . . or can they?

50. Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña

Book cover for Milo Imagines the World as an example of social skills books for kids

Milo feels like a “shook-up soda” as he takes the subway to visit his mom, who is incarcerated. He copes with his feelings by imagining the lives of his fellow passengers—and imagines the time when his family will be together again.

Use this four-step process when reading these social skills books for kids to reinforce the skills featured:

  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 social skills did the story define? How do you know? Why are these skills 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 these social skills.

  2. Demonstrate: Have a few students act out what the social skills look like, feel like. Role playing different ways students can demonstrate these skills will help reinforce the behavior.

  3. Practice: Plan activities where each child has to take a turn to practice the featured social skills.

  4. Promote: Promote, support, and encourage children as they initiate and engage in behavior that demonstrates these social skills. Catch them being kind, flexible, honest, confident, etc.!

Looking for more social skills books for kids? Don’t miss:

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50 Children's Books for Teaching Social Skills