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Key Takeaways:

  • Introducing SEL literature to your child’s daily learning experiences can make them better readers and more in-tune with their abilities.
  • There are many SEL books available that highlight important skills like communication, problem-solving, and managing emotions.

Read-aloud books are a fun and simple way to interest kids in new topics. Introducing social-emotional learning books into your child’s daily routine can improve literacy and develop vital skills like emotional management and problem-solving [*].

In addition, reading social-emotional books can make children more academically successful, as they create more positive learning environments and increase student motivation [*].

Whether your child is learning to read or already engrossed in a handful of their favorite picture books, don’t miss out on these SEL books for kids!

Social-Emotional Learning Books for Kids

Are you shopping for the best books for social-emotional learning? Discover the most enjoyable reads here!

The Invisible Boy

1. The Invisible Boy - Patrice Barton

The Invisible Boy is a testament to how small acts of kindness can make children feel acknowledged and included. This poignant story highlights opportunities for quieter kids to find their stride and shine.

Price: $10.49 on Amazon, $16.99 on Barnes and Noble

Julian is a Mermaid

2. Julian is a Mermaid - Jessica Love

Julian, inspired by three spectacularly dressed women on the subway, is determined to design a fabulous mermaid costume. But what will his abuela think? This beautifully illustrated picture book outlines a relatable journey of self-love.

Price: $8.99 on Amazon, $8.99 on Barnes and Noble

The Story of Ferdinand

3. The Story of Ferdinand - Munro Leaf

Ferdinand is a classic character who has inspired young readers for decades. Unlike other bulls, Ferdinand doesn’t want to fight—he prefers to smell the flowers under his favorite cork tree. The book delivers an enchanting table about celebrating diversity.

Price: $4.99 on Amazon, $7.99 on Barnes and Noble

Peter O’Meter

4. Peter O’Meter - Tricia Fuglestad

Peter O’Meter, just like humans, is a robot that can feel happy, touchy, cranky, and unhinged. Readers can help Peter identify his feelings through the Quiver app, which brings the book’s quirky illustrations to life!

Price: $14.00 on Amazon, $14.00 on Barnes and Noble

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants

5. Don’t Think About Purple Elephants - Susanne Merritt

Some kids are overcome by their worries, just like Sophie as she goes about her day. This humorous book takes a gentle approach to anxiety and provides whimsical tips on easing overwhelming worries.

Price: $4.79 on Amazon, $12.99 on Barnes and Noble

Fish in a Tree

6. Fish in a Tree - Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Children with dyslexia often hide that they have it, just like Ally in this book. Author Hunt does an excellent job of reminding children with dyslexia that their condition does not define them, offering a much-needed boost of confidence.

Price: $7.19 on Amazon, $8.99 on Barnes and Noble

The Name Jar

7. The Name Jar - Yangsook Choi

In The Name Jar, Unhei embodies the difficulties of being the new kid at school. In addition, she has to navigate the struggle of her classmates pronouncing her name correctly. This sweet and awe-inspiring book underscores the importance of identity and finding the courage to be yourself.

Price: $7.10 on Amazon, $8.99 on Barnes and Noble

The Rainbow Fish

8. The Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister

Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish has long been a staple on many bookshelves for a reason—it sends a beautiful message about the value of friendships and sharing. This award-winning story is accompanied by eye-catching and sparkling illustrations children will love.

Price: $11.39 on Amazon, $9.95 on Barnes and Noble

We’re All Wonders

9. We’re All Wonders - RJ Palacio

In We’re All Wonders, Auggie embodies every child’s desire to fit in and stand out. This book has taught over 15 million readers the value of empathy and kindness and has become a favorite gift for baby showers, birthdays, and graduations.

Price: $8.85 on Amazon, $18.99 on Barnes and Noble

Breathing Makes it Better

10. Breathing Makes it Better - Christopher Willard and Wendy O'Leary

Many underestimate the power of breathing to reduce stress and calm down. In this book, children will undergo simple calming cues to manage powerful emotions like anger and anxiety.

You can use this adorably illustrated book alongside our Square Breathing poster.

Price: $13.59 on Amazon, $14.95 on Barnes and Noble

My Day Is Ruined!

11. My Day Is Ruined!: A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking - Bryan Smith

Kids can often be inflexible, especially when their environments change. In this book, author Bryan Smith aims to impart lessons on flexible thinking. Readers follow the story of Braden, who struggles with managing the stress of a seemingly ruined day.

Price: $11.95 on Amazon, $11.95 on Barnes and Noble

The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon

12. The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon - Matthew Burgess

It isn’t uncommon to fall into a slump, but what happens when you can’t get out of it? The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon follows a sister trying to cheer up her grumpy brother and underscores why emotional regulation matters.

Price: $18.99 on Amazon, $18.99 on Barnes and Noble


13. Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum loves her name—it’s unique and beautiful, but not everyone feels the same. This picture book tells an honest story about self-esteem and self-acceptance, injecting bits of humor and wit throughout.

Price: $14.89 on Amazon, $9.99 on Barnes and Noble

Millie Fierce

14. Millie Fierce - Jane Manning

If your child struggles to stand up for themselves, let Millie Fierce lead by example. In this book, readers learn that all actions have consequences and that you can be firm about your values without being mean.

Price: $17.99 on Amazon, $17.99 on Barnes and Noble

Enemy Pie

15. Enemy Pie - Derek Munsen

When Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood and became enemy number one, everything went downhill. But what if enemies can become friends? Enemy Pie teaches readers kindness, compassion, and patience.

Price: $10.99 on Amazon, $16.99 on Barnes and Noble

The Bottom Line

Reading the best SEL books can make your child’s learning experiences more enjoyable and memorable. By playing to their interests with books they like, they’ll be more motivated to improve their skills.

If you’re looking for supplementary material for your child’s SEL activities, incorporate our social skills worksheets into their daily routine!


  1. Santos R., Fettig A., Shaffer L. “Helping Families Connect Early Literacy with Social-Emotional Development.” Young Children, 2012.
  2. Alzahrani M, Alharbi M, Alodwani A. “The Effect of Social-Emotional Competence on Children’s Academic Achievement and Behavioral Development.” International Education Studies, 2019.

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