10 SEL Must-Have Books for the Classroom

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Blog Header for 10 SEL Must-Have Books for the Classroom with pictures of Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, My Mouth is a Volcano, and What Should Danny Do?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is such an important skill to be focusing on in the classroom. SEL helps build students up, provides them lifeskills they need to learn, helps them deal with emotions, learn coping skills, learn to work with others, and more! Books are a great way to bring SEL into the classroom! Below you will see my 10 Must-Have Social Emotional Learning Books for the Classroom!

Book #1 – What Should Danny Do? Series

Picture of the cover for the book What Should Danny Do? School Day

I absolutely love the What Should Do Danny series and the authors Adir and Ganit Levy. Their three books – What Should Danny Do?, What Should Danny Do? School Day, and What Should Darla Do? were favorites in my classroom this past year. Their books are set up like a choose your own adventure, but it’s all about your choices. Every day we have the power to choose – we can make a good choice or a bad choice. In their books, the characters Danny and Darla go through every day kid situations and come to problems where they then have to choose – are they going to make the positive or negative choice. Students/kids can pick which choice they think the character should make and that sends you off to the next page! This book promotes such a powerful message that we have the power to choose the choices we make. Such an important message to discuss in the classroom.

Book #2 – The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions

Picture of the cover for the book The Color Monster

The Color Monster by Anna Llenas is a great book to use when talking about emotions and feelings. In this story, the Color Monster wakes up feeling confused and is a mix of colors. The little girl in the story tries to help him separate out his emotions so he can process how he’s feeling. They go through each color and discuss how he’s feeling (red – angry, yellow- happy, blue-sad). As they go through each one, it discusses what the emotion feels like and how the Color Monster can handle it. Kids have big emotions like the Color Monster and it can often be hard for them to identify them and know how to process them. This book is great for opening up that conversation!

Book #3 – Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

Picture of the cover for the book Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker is a story that my students loved this year. First of all, it has superheroes – and most kids love superheroes! What I loved about it was that it tackled a common problem – having a bad day – and showed positive ways to handle it. While it does also show the silly negative ways superheroes can handle a bad day, it also discusses that it’s ok to feel your emotions. The book talks about acknowledging how they feel and then waiting for those emotions to pass. They say it’s ok to frown or be sad. All kids struggle with handling emotions and this story is a great way to discuss that in a positive, meaningful way.

Book #4 – What If Everybody Did That?

Picture of the cover for the book What If Everybody Did That?

Consequences can be hard thing for kids to understand. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick shows what consequences can happen if people break the rules. The question – what if everybody did that? – is a question that we’d ask in my classroom when we’d run into problems. What if everybody ran to the front of the line? What if everybody shouted out? This can cover multiple SEL situations in the classroom.

Book #5 – My Mouth is a Volcano!

Picture of the cover for the book My Mouth is a Volcano!

Oh, blurting out! This happens in every classroom, every year, with every age group! While this won’t fully solve your blurting out issues it does bring it to light in a fun way. In My Mouth is a Volcano!, written by Julia Cook, Louis is constantly interrupting people, shouting out, and unable to control his impulses. His mouth is like a volcano because it always erupts. As the story continues he learns techniques to help him control himself. I highly recommend Julia Cook books for your SEL learning. In addition to a great story that kids relate to, she also always offers strategies to help kids cope with the habit or behavior.

Book #6 – Our Class is a Family

Picture of the cover for the book Our Class is a Family

Our Class is a Family is a brand new book by my teacher friend Shannon Olsen. This story talks about how our classroom is also like a family. It shares many of the things that we do – being there for one another, celebrating differences, helping each other when we have a tough day. It’s a great story for the beginning of the year to help build classroom community.

Book #7 – The Invisible Boy

Picture of the cover for the book The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig is a touching story. It’s about a boy named Brian who feels invisible. He’s always left out of things, never invited to birthday parties, etc. Unfortunately we do have kids in our classes who feel this way. It breaks my heart, but it’s important for us to be aware and read books that can help them and help others make sure they do not feel invisible. This book can bring about powerful classroom discussions.

Book #8 – Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Picture of the cover for the book Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Marie Dismondy is a sweet story about a girl named Lucy. Lucy is dealing with a bully named Ralphie who is always making fun of her. Her grandpa tells her that she should always be proud of herself and stand up for herself. This story is a great story about teaching kids courage and how to stand up for themselves in a positive way.

Book #9 – It’s Hard to Be a Verb

Picture of the cover for the book It's Hard to Be a Verb

It’s Hard to Be a Verb by Julia Cook is great for students who have difficulty staying focused and with self-control. This book is about a boy named Louis who wants to move all…of…the…time. I’m sure we’ve all had students who remind us of Louis. In the story, his mom ends up teaching him some techniques and strategies to help himself stay calm and still. Strategies that are great for all kids to learn!

Book #10 – The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

Picture of the cover for the book - The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett is a great book for your overachievers and perfectionists. I might have been (and still am) one of these as a kid. In this book, Beatrice has never made a mistake in her life and she is known around town as the girl who never makes mistakes. She is perfect at school, at home, and everywhere she goes, but she starts to worry – what if she makes a mistake? Well then comes the talent show which leads to the first mistake of her life. She comes to realize that it’s ok to make mistakes and that you don’t have to be perfect. I can think of many students who also feel this way and would benefit from hearing this book.

Thank you for checking out my favorite books to support SEL in the classroom! I hope you’ll find these helpful to add to your classroom library!

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