As we enter the back-to-school season, many educators are gearing up for the return of students. This time of the year can be very exciting, as well as nerve-wracking, for educators and students alike. This is, in part, because the last several school years have been so different from what a school year normally feels like.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing frequency of natural disasters and climate change, acts of violence and tensions in communities, and countless other factors have left many of us feeling uneasy and stressed. This has led to an increased need for SEL resources. According to CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), “The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of isolation, stress, loss, and more among young people, adults, families, and communities. Social and emotional learning (SEL) offers a powerful means to support one another during these challenging times as our communities work to address the impact of the pandemic on students’ learning and development. Now, more than ever, we understand how important it is to demonstrate empathy and resilience, build relationships across distance, and call upon our collective resolve to strengthen our schools and our communities.”1
Having a wide variety of SEL books available to students can allow them to find titles that speak to them as individuals and help them with issues they may be facing, whether it be making friends, coping with stress, finding confidence, feeling a sense of identity, or fostering understanding of a situation in which they may find themselves or a loved one. The information and stories within these titles can speak to students in a way that other approaches may not. Specific characters, viewpoints, or messages may resonate with them for years to come. These titles can also help break down barriers and facilitate conversations which may not have been possible otherwise.
Many SEL titles have been published over the last several years which can help educators and students approach the multitude of sensitive subjects under the SEL umbrella. I have curated a list of titles below which take a unique approach to covering SEL topics including bullying, determination, perseverance, feelings and emotions, friendship, problem solving, identity and self-awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision making, self-management, anxiety, mindfulness, social awareness, teamwork and more. The list is organized in order by interest level from Pre-K to Grade 12.
In my ten years as a classroom teacher, I learned just how important it is to make positive connections with students and to make the classroom a place of safety. I hope that you will find titles here which will speak to your students in a meaningful way and help provide you with the means to start conversations that have a positive impact.
- GRUMPY PANTS by MESSER, CLAIRE
- I AM A PEACEFUL GOLDFISH by CHAIM, SHOSHANA
- FAR APART, CLOSE IN HEART: BEING A FAMILY WHEN A LOVED ONE IS INCARCERATED by BIRTHA, BECKY
- I AM QUIET: A STORY FOR THE INTROVERT IN ALL OF US by POWERS, ANDIE
- SKATER CIELO by KATSTALLER, RACHEL
- AMY WU AND THE WARM WELCOME by ZHANG, KAT
- SULWE by NYONG’O, LUPITA
- LISTEN by SNYDER, GABI
- A WALK IN THE WORDS by TALBOTT, HUDSON
- NIGEL AND THE MOON by EADY, ANTWAN
- TOMATOES IN MY LUNCHBOX by MANOLI, COSTANTIA
- WHY NOT YOU? by CIARA
- HOME FOR A WHILE by KERSTEIN, LAUREN
- SATURDAY AT THE FOOD PANTRY by O’NEILL, DIANE
- OLIVIA WRAPPED IN VINES by NEPVEU-VILLENEUVE, MAUDE
- ABDUL’S STORY by THOMPKINS-BIGELOW, JAMILAH
- THE ASTRONOMICALLY GRAND PLAN by NEAL, RIE
- JO JO MAKOONS: THE USED-TO-BE BEST FRIEND by QUIGLEY, DAWN
- PLANET OMAR: ACCIDENTAL TROUBLE MAGNET by MIAN, ZANIB
- WE COULD BE HEROES by FINNEGAN, MARGARET
- MAYA AND THE ROBOT by EWING, EVE L
- RICK by GINO, ALEX
- LOVE, LOVE by CHANG, VICTORIA
- STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME by REYNOLDS, JASON
- THE SECRET BATTLE OF EVAN PAO by SHANG, WENDY WAN-LONG
- R. SILVER WRITES HER WORLD by DASSORI, MELISSA
- YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE! by BURNS, ELLEN FLANAGAN
- ANA ON THE EDGE by SASS, A J
- THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT by BARON, CHRIS
- SIMON B. RHYMIN’ by REED, DWAYNE
- THE KATE IN BETWEEN by SWINARSKI, CLAIRE
- FIFTY-FOUR THINGS WRONG WITH GWENDOLYN ROGERS by CARTER, CAELA
- SMALLER SISTER by WILLIS, MAGGIE EDKINS
- STUCK by SWENDER, JENNIFER
- TEN THOUSAND TRIES by MAKECHNIE, AMY
- TURTLE BOY by WOLKENSTEIN, M EVAN
- SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS by LEVY, JOANNE
- CHIRP by MESSNER, KATE
- THE BRAVE by BIRD, JAMES
- STARFISH by FIPPS, LISA
- SOUL LANTERNS by KUZKI, SHAW
- PLAYING THE CARDS YOU’RE DEALT by JOHNSON, VARIAN
- A KIND OF SPARK by MCNICOLL, ELLE
- MIGHTY INSIDE by FRAZIER, SUNDEE T
- OMAR RISING by SAEED, AISHA
- THE EDGE OF ANYTHING by CARPENTER, NORA SHALAWAY
- PUNCHING THE AIR by ZOBOI, IBI
- AN EMOTION OF GREAT DELIGHT by MAFI, TAHEREH
- THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT by TURK, MARIKO
- THE NAME SHE GAVE ME by CULLEY, BETTY
If you don’t see the titles that speak to you and your students here, remember that Mackin is a partner to educators. We always take a highly customized approach to every project and every need. If you are looking for specific SEL topic titles, please feel free to reach out to Classroom Services by calling us here at Mackin or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mackin also has Title Lists and Tags which allow you to browse by specific SEL topics and you can even request a custom list by filling out our Resource Development form.
1“Covid 19 and Remote Learning.” CASEL, January 19, 2022. https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/how-does-sel-support-your-priorities/covid-19-and-remote-learning/.