7 Picture Books to Teach Social Emotional Learning This Summer


Summer vacation is a great time to reinforce the social emotional learning done in school at home. Problem solving, community building and self-management are just a few SEL skills these picture books depict in a fun and engaging way. Check these books out to spark discussion and continue SEL development during summer break.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

All Wemberly can do all day is worry about everything, big or small. Friendship and empathy shows her relaxing, even a little bit is just fine.

SEL Competency: Self Management

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions, expressing emotions, managing emotions


The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Laszlo is scared of the dark, but the dark calls out to him to show that there is a light side to darkness. The dark never goes away but Laszlo’s fear does.

SEL Competency: Self Management

SEL Skill: Stress management, resilience


How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? By Margaret McNamara

Bigger does not always mean better. Charlie and his classmates work together to learn that what matters is on the inside. This book is a perfect opportunity to tie social emotional learning skills into a science or math lesson!

SEL Competency: Social Awareness

SEL Skill: Respect for differences, empathy


I’m New Here by Anne Sibley

Being the new kid in class is never easy, especially when you do not speak the same language as everyone else. I’m New Here follows three young immigrants who make the transition of schools and cultures with the help of their classmates and teachers.

SEL Competency: Social Awareness

SEL Skill: Empathy, diversity appreciation, respect


Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Jonah declares himself ruler of the playground and everyone reluctantly agrees. All but one that is because Lennox wants to be ruler too. The conflict pushes all their friends away forcing Lennox and Jonah to share the park and discover how to be kind to their friends.

SEL Competency: Relationship Skills

SEL Skill: Conflict resolution, teamwork, listening skills


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

Ruthie loves tiny objects, and the teeny camera she finds in the playground is no exception. She loves it so much she lies to her teacher and friend to keep it, but soon learns that a lie is not worth the weight on her shoulders.

SEL Competency: Self Management, Decision Making

SEL Skill: Impulse control, managing emotions, analyzing situations


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

In this story, based on Cuban drummer Millo Castro Zaldarriaga’s life, the Drum Dream Girl had a simple task: to play the drums with the rest of the men on the island. She overcomes the taboo against girls drumming, changing the course of music in Cuba forever.

SEL Competency: Decision Making, Social Awareness

SEL Skill: Solving problems, goal setting, leadership, empathy, respect for differences, diversity appreciation

Sign up for Move This World’s newsletter to stay up to date on social emotional learning.

Enter your email below!