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Picture Books to Help Strengthen Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills

What is SEL? Social & Emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children learn how to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The following is a list of picture books perfect for strengthening your child’s social and emotional skills.
DianeYouth Services Librarian

The Grumpy Pirate by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig

Grumpy Gus is one pirate that complains about everything, even about seeking treasure, an attitude that annoys his fellow pirates–so the Pirate Queen gives Gus an equally grumpy parrot in hopes that it will teach Gus a lesson and make him change his grumpy ways.

How Big Is Your Brave? by Ruth Soukup

Zippy the rabbit dreams of traveling to outer space one day, but fears she may fail to keep up if she goes to space camp with bigger, smarter-looking creatures.

It Is Not Perfect by Anna Kang

Two fuzzy creatures happily put the finishing touches on their sandcastle when each of them thinks of something that would make it even better. As they work to incorporate each new change, their tiny sandcastle becomes an over-the-top palace … but is it really perfect?

It’s Not My Fault! by Jory John

A boy steadfastly blames everything from messy homework to his dirty face on various, inanimate objects until they visit his dreams, telling him that he must take responsibility for his own mistakes.

Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima

Determined to build “the biggest, fanciest, most excellent sandcastle” to impress her sister, Jules is foiled again and again by the ocean.

The Starkeeper by Faith Pray

In a dark, rainy, lonely world a girl’s wish brings a star to earth, but its light fades until her acts of kindness make the star spark and flame.

Tad by Benji Davies

Tad is the smallest tadpole in the whole, wide pond. That makes it hard for her to do big things like follow her “tadsiblings” who swim to other parts of the pond when they outgrow the nest. All her brothers and sisters leave poor Tad by her lonesome. Then, Big Blub shows up! He’s not only bigger than Tad, but he is also kind of mean. Swimming at her own pace, Tad soon learns how to be bigger than her fears.

The Three Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath: A Fairy Tale to Help You Feel Better by Susan Verde

In this twist on the classic fairy tale, a wolf who lost his huff and puff consults with three yogis to help him find his breath. “Once upon a time there lived a wolf who lost his huff and his puff. It was a BIG, BAD problem! One morning, the wolf came upon a peaceful little yogi doing sun salutations. The wolf wanted to huff and puff and blow her house down, instead the yogi suggested, “Let’s meditate on that!” Soon the wolf met a second yogi, and then a third. He may have lost his huff and puff — but with the help of three new yogi friends, can the wolf find his breath?”

Unstoppable by Adam Rex

When a bird and crab team up to combine the advantages of flight and claws, it gives them an idea: why not expand the team to include other animals who have special traits in order to rescue their lake from development. Together, they find they are unstoppable!

Ways to Welcome by Linda Ashman

When everyone knows they’re welcome, the world is a better place―and you might just make a new friend. Easy-to-read, rhyming text shows how to give a friendly welcome at school, in the neighborhood, or at home.

Weasel Is Worried by Ciara Gavin

When Weasel is caught in a storm, he builds a fortress in which to hide. Then he meets Mole, who loves to play in the wind and splash in the rain. Can Weasel learn to overcome his fears and find joy in all types of weather?

What’s the Matter, Marlo? by Andrew Arnold

Marlo and Coco are best friends. They do everything together―they read together, laugh together, and play games together. But one day, when Coco asks Marlo to play, he doesn’t answer. Instead, he turns away ignoring Coco, until he’s lost in his anger. Coco is worried about her friend, but then she remembers she can always find Marlo.

The World Needs More Purple People by Kristin Bell

What is a purple person? Well, purple people bring their family, friends, and communities together, and they speak up for what’s right. They are kind and hardworking, and they love to laugh! A purple person is an everyday superhero! How do you become one? That’s the fun part! Penny Purple will lead you through the steps.

Kat and Juju by Kataneh Vahdani 

Kat likes doing things her very own way, but sometimes she doubts herself. So when a bird named Juju arrives, Kat hopes he’ll be the best friend she’s always wanted. He’s outgoing and silly and doesn’t worry about what others think—the opposite of who she is. Bit by bit, with Juju’s help, Kat discovers her strength, and how to have a friend and be one—while still being true to herself.

Little Book of Kindness by Francecsco Pirrone

It’s easy to be kind. Offer a smile. Say thank you. Lend a helping hand. You’ll see that when you are kind, others are kind too.

A Little Space for Me by Jennifer Gray Olson

Sometimes, when it’s too loud, too crowded, too messy, too smelly, or for no reason at all, you might need a little bit of space to feel like yourself again.

Lulu the One and Only by Lynnette Mawhinney

Lulu gets help from her brother, Zane, to respond to other people’s confusion about her racial identity by using a “power phrase” to declare who she is.

A Perfect Day by Sarah S. Brannen

The sky is blue, the sun is warm, the breeze is cool–it’s a perfect day for Seagull, perched on a rock in the sea. That is, until crabby Crab comes along and points out all of the day’s flaws! There’s a cloud in the sky, a smelly boat in the distance, and the rock that they’re sitting on is covered in barnacles.

You Are Special by Sam Loman

Kiki looks in the mirror. She thinks her fur is boring. Then Kiki has an idea. She uses pencils, ink, and paint to make herself colorful. Will her friends think she is special now?