TeachingBooks in Action

See how others are using TeachingBooks! Discover tips for integrating TeachingBooks resources into your classrooms and libraries. Written by the TeachingBooks professional development team with guest contributions from users like you!

Social Emotional Learning with TeachingBooks

Conversations that support Social Emotional Learning (SEL) invite students to cultivate empathy for themselves and others. Identifying and understanding emotions, behaviors, and differences can help students build a sense of community within their classrooms, schools, and beyond. The resources below can be used to guide SEL conversations at different grade levels.


Discuss Emotion

Support student reflection on the emotions they may experience by using examples from authors and books.

  • Bravery: Listen to the Meet-the-Author Recording for Ping by Ani Castillo to think about overcoming self-consciousness. (PK-5)
  • Confidence: Use the Meet-the-Author Recording for The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold to consider how self-acceptance can lead to confidence. (4-8)
  • Anger: Discuss “how human it is to be angry as a child” after listening to the Long Way Down Meet-the-Author Recording with Jason Reynolds. Reflect on what can provoke anger and the different forms it can take. (7-12)
  • Joy: Watch the complete book reading of My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith and generate a list of small things in life that bring about joy. (PK-2)
  • Grief and Loss: Ponder the role of storytelling in managing grief after listening to Tae Keller’s Meet-the-Author Recording for When You Trap a Tiger. Whose stories do you want to remember, and how might you do that? (4-8)

Model Behaviors

Consider what behaviors drive positive communities and, in conflict, can make situations bigger or smaller.

  • Explore the significance of friendship with the extension activities in the teacher’s guide for El Deafo by CeCe Bell. (1-8)
  • Address how the main character reacts to bullying with question four in the educator’s guide for The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor. (4-8)
  • Spark discussion about the importance of kindness in how we treat one another with the book trailer (starting at 00:39) for Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. (PK-5)
  • Develop awareness of ways to achieve peace with these discussion questions for What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky.
    (PK-5)

Celebrate Differences

Honor diversity and celebrate differences to increase empathy for both familiar and unfamiliar lived experiences.

  • Cultural Experiences:
    • Draw on the themes of immigration, race, belonging, and making connections across perceived differences with this Meet-the-Author Recording for How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana. (7-12)
    • Explore how cultural traditions form, evolve, and play a role in who we are with Kevin Noble Maillard’s Meet-the-Author Recording for Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. (PK-2)
    • Use our Cultural Representation Reflection to encourage cultural analysis for the books you’re teaching.
  • Languages:
    • Reflect on the complexity of language acquisition with Thanhhà Lại’s Meet-the-Author Recording for Butterfly Yellow. (Fast-forward to 2:30 to listen to Lại speak specifically about learning English.) (7-12)
    • Listen to the Author Name Pronunciations for Phuoc Thi Minh Tran, Susan Tan, and Kekla Magoon to think about how language shapes our personal stories. 
    • In the Meet-the-Author Recording for Song for a Whale, Lynne Kelly addresses what can happen when someone tries to communicate and nobody else can hear them. Discuss the ways you can make sure to hear others. (4-8)
  • Gender Identity:
    • Explore texts from the Embracing Gender Identities list from the Association for Library Service to Children.
    • Reflect on transgender identity and talk about allyship with this lesson plan for Kyle Lukoff’s Too Bright to See. (4-12)
    • Understand an author’s perspective on the importance of representation with Alex Gino’s Meet-the-Author Recording for Melissa. (4-8)

TeachingBooks offers many more resources to support Social Emotional Learning. We invite you to browse our booklists, awards, and subjects for relevant texts, and to visit our SEL Standards Support page and our Teaching Ideas for SEL for additional prompts. You can also access our Ready-to-Use Writing Ideas for SEL here.

What’s working for you?

We’d love to hear how you’re using TeachingBooks resources in your classrooms and libraries!  Leave your ideas in a comment below!

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