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10 SEL Must-Have Books for the Classroom

Back to School, Books

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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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Book Review – Coding Capers

Books

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Coding Capers – Luci and the Missing Robot by Angela Cleveland and Tamara Zentic is the perfect book to use to introduce coding to your class. In this story, Luci’s computer class has been given the challenge to find the teachers missing robot, reprogram it, and bring it back to class. The winning team will each get their own robot. To find the missing robot, the kids have to use clues that focus on coding vocabulary and have to use perseverance to keep going.

I used this book as a way to introduce coding to my class. Coding is a great skill for students of all ages to work on and this book is the perfect introduction. It’s also a great book about growth mindset. The kids could have given up when they were unable to find the robot or reprogram it, but they persevered and kept going. My students also love this book because it had robots in it – and who doesn’t love robots?

To grab this book for your class, click HERE.

To check out more books check out NCYI’s site below…

National Center for Youth Institute

Book Review – I’m Stretched

Books

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

I’m Stretched by Julia Cook is about a girl who feels stressed trying to tackle all of the things on her plate (homework, school projects, soccer tryouts). This is a feeling that I know many children (and adults) can identify with. Her mom ends up giving her some suggestions to handle her stress so she’s feels less stretched. 

This book is relatable to both kids and adults. We all feel extremely stretched at some point in our lives and the strategies shared are great strategies to use to help handle some of that stress.

I shared this book with my class during Morning Meeting and we had a great discussion. We talked through some of the different strategies to help manage stress and even practiced a few!

To grab this book for your class, click HERE.

To check out more books by Julia Cook – check out her site and NCYI’s site below…

Julia Cook Books Online

National Center for Youth Institute

Books for the First Week of School

Back to School, Books

Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

So, I love picture books and I especially love picture books that serve multiple purposes. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite books to use during the first few weeks of school.  These books can also be found on my Amazon List – Back to School Books.

First Day of School Books:

I always start the first day of school every year with the book First Day Jitters.  It’s a cute book that gets some of those nerves and jitters out of the way.  I also like that it shows that teachers are nervous too.

PIctures of Back to School Books - FIrst Day Jitters, The Night Before First Grade, First Grade Jitters, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum

Be Kind Books:

Teaching social skills and life lessons are extremely important during the first week. These books are great for talking about being kind and respectful to one another.

Picture of books - Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Peanut Butter & Cupcake, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, Thelma the Unicorn, Hooway for Wodney Wat

Classroom Management:

The first few weeks of school are full of learning about classroom expectations and procedures. I love using the books below to discuss some of those topics.  These books are also good to bring up throughout the school year if an issue arises.

Picture of books - I've Won, Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, The Boy Who Wouldn't Share, Tattle Tongue

Growth Mindset:

Growth Mindset is such a valuable skill for kids to learn. I love using these books to talk about it in kid friendly ways.  It’s important for kids to know that it’s ok to make mistakes and that they won’t be perfect at everything on the first go – and these books do a great job of explaining that.

Picture books - The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, The Most Magnificent Thing, ish

Those are some of my favorites. What are your favorite back to school books? Comment below…

New Book Study

Book Clubs, Books, Literacy Stations
I’m so excited to have my next book study up on TPT.  This book was one of my favorites from this year. I teach 2nd grade and this AR level is 4.8 so it is high, but many of my students were ready for the challenge. I picked this book specifically for one student who really loved reading historical fiction and non-fiction.  He enjoyed this series and I thought this would be a great book to create a book study on. 

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My next book study, now up on TPT is for I Survived – The Great Chicago Fire, 1871.  In this book study, you’ll find questions for each of the 15 chapters along with an answer key.  Some questions are more direct while others offer room for students to dig a little deeper – make predictions, infer, etc.  Check it out on TPT here.

 

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Book Club/Book Study – Cam Jansen – Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones

Book Clubs, Books
One of my favorite things to do during literacy stations when I’m pulling small groups is to have a few partnerships or groups working on book clubs.  Book clubs are special (but not anything that takes a ton of extra prep for the teacher).  Kids love book clubs because they get some independence and they get to read and discuss a book like an actual book club. 
 
In my first and second grade classrooms, I’ve used book clubs for the higher readers that had mastered the phonics skills needed at that time or were quite a bit ahead on the phonics front from the rest of the class.  The reason I did this was because the other kiddos weren’t really ready for their own chapter book and the kiddos struggling with phonics or fluency really needed group time with me working on that the whole 15 minutes or so.  So, for the kids that were ready to move on from the phonics and fluency – that’s where these comprehension book clubs came in.
 
I’ve done them with partnerships or groups of 4 working on a book. I would not do more than 4- too many little people in a group to try to get a long and get the work done with.
 
During small group time, I would pull back the kids working on say Cam Jansen.  We’d discuss the chapter they read the day before with their partners and also go over the questions and answers. Then, I would assign the next chapter of reading and the next group of questions.  The good thing about this is that the check-in only lasts a few minutes. Then, the kids are working independently on their chapter and questions. While they’re working independently, I’m able to pull groups that need more time to cover missing skills.
 
You might be asking yourself, where does she get the questions.  Well, often I make them up.  I go through the book and come up with 3-4 questions per chapter. Then, I put together a little packet/booklet of all of them for the kiddos to work on as they go.  See my example below that is now in my TPT store.
 
 
 
Book Study for Cam Jansen - The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones
 
 
Title Page
 
Character Circle Maps

 
Chapter Question Examples

 
Answer Key

 
 
Be sure to check out my first book club packet on TPT – Cam Jansen – The Mystery of the Dinosaur
 
Do you use book clubs? How do you use them in your classroom? Comment below – I always love to get new ideas and see how other are doing things in their classroom.
 
 
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New Favorite Kid’s Books!

Books, Common Core, Reading
I came across these books on Pinterest and recently bought them for my unit on Point of View and Comparing and Contrasting Fairy Tales and had to share them!  I loved them and so did the kids! These authors did a wonderful job of updating fairy tales.  These books work great for the RL2.6 and RL2.9 standard, but they are also just great to have in the classroom.  I highly recommend purchasing them for your classroom library.  I purchased the three below and they also have a few more – one for Snow White, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk.  I’ll be adding those to my Amazon cart ASAP!
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What are some of your favorite new kid’s books?  Share in the comments below…