Social and Emotional Picture Books for Face-to-Face Learning

Two masks are featured next to a title. One mask has a smile, while the other has a frown. The title in the image says Social and Emotional Picture Books for Face-to-Face Learning

How are you feeling about starting the new school year in a face-to-face environment? Anxious? Worried? You are not alone. Your learning community is probably feeling the same way. So, how do we help everyone feel more comfortable? Start by looking at the “School Librarian Role in Pandemic Learning Conditions” by AASL. The first row pinpoints the role of the school librarian in a face-to-face teaching environment. Notice how social and emotional needs are addressed for the entire learning community.

Picture books can offer relevant lessons in social and emotional learning. Below are a list of books with lesson ideas that might help everyone feel better.

What If…? Then We…: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Possibilities

Sometimes our brains get caught up in creating stories about things that might happen in the future. We find ourselves ruminating about outcomes that may not even happen. Instead of fretting, we could try imagining a scenario that helps us feel better. In the book What If…? Then We... by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Fred Koehler, two polar bear friends create solutions for different possibilities. All scenarios are short; just like the title promises. This is my favorite short possibility:

What if something really big and really scary happened?”

Then we would whistle and hold hands until it wasn’t as big or as scary.”

This book inspires readers to turn their worries into a story. Challenge learners to create their own “What if…? Then I…” scenarios. They can write and illustrate a short possibility using paper or an electronic platform. The solution can be real or imagined. This strategy may help learners take control over their worrisome feelings.

Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader

Are you looking for a fun way to show learners how to stay 6 feet apart from each other? Try reading Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne C. Jones and Cale Atkinson. In this story, we first see how Harry, a hippo, gets too close to everyone he meets. He eventually learns a cute rhyme that helps him keep a respectable distance from people. After reading the story, ask learners why we need to stay 6 feet apart from each other. Then brainstorm other ways to help each other maintain a safe distance.

The Don’t Worry Book

How do you handle worrisome feelings? Author Todd Parr gives us great tips in his book The Don’t Worry Book. Readers will love the bold colors and simple shapes that illustrate a meaningful story. Click here to watch Parr read his book. He does a great job connecting with his virtual viewers. After watching the video, discuss strategies to help learners work through their worries. Personalize the lesson by sharing a tip you use to manage feelings. Invite learners to share their strategies for letting go of worrisome thoughts and feelings. Create a chart and post it for all to see in times of need.

I’m Worried

If you are looking for a book about staying present and appreciating the here and now, read I’m Worried by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. This story will help readers realize that worrying about the future is a waste of time. It’s more fun to enjoy the people and opportunities that are right in front of us. Click here to watch Black read the story and Ohi illustrate the flamingo in the story. Viewers will learn from Ohi how to enjoy the process of making mistakes rather than worrying about being perfect.

Lesson Idea: Invite learners to practice mindful breathing by watching this fun video: “Kids Meditation: Square Breathing (Focus & Calm)” by MyLife.

The Thank You Book

When we find ourselves full of feelings that make the world seem bleak, we can add light to the day by giving thanks. In The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray and Stephanie Graegin, readers will realize the wonderful things life has to offer. The story feels like a meditative walk through an ordinary day. After reading, invite learners to make a “thank you” list. Learners will list things, people, or events that make them feel good. They can put the list in their pocket. When learners start to worry about something, they can take a few deep breathes, relax their muscles, and read their list to remind them about the good things in life.

The Rabbit Listened

Wondering how to help learners work through strong feelings? Try sitting with them and just listening. Click here to watch author/illustrator Cori Doerrfeld read her book The Rabbit Listened. After watching, invite learners to discuss why listening to a distressed friend is helpful. Challenge learners to try acting like the rabbit when someone is upset. Notice what happens. Does it help? Why or why not? Share at the next class meeting.

Why the Face?

What clues do we use to tell how others feel? Sometimes, we rely on facial expressions. In the story Why the Face by Jean Jullienne, readers will have fun guessing why the characters are making faces. After reading, ask learners what clues they use to tell how someone feels when they are wearing a mask. Discuss why it is important to consider other people’s feelings.

Now it’s your turn. What books are you reading to support learners during the pandemic? Please share in the comment box below! 


Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Skillshare Teacher:

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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1 reply

  1. This is a fantastic list!

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