Transforming Read Across America into Social-Emotional Learning through Colors and Picture Books

For Read Across America Week, the central focus is literacy. Our school traditionally recognizes the works of Dr. Seuss during this week. However, we wanted to make a connection with this year’s school theme, “Together We Are a Masterpiece,” and tie it to our social-emotional learning goal for Read Across America Week, especially in light of the pandemic and mental health crises we are now experiencing. School librarians and guidance counselors joined forces to find a simple and fun way to motivate children to read while connecting literacy and emotions. Specific colors are associated with emotions. For example, red represents love, anger, and embarrassment. Simple picture books provide a way for students to relate to characters, and students can identify their emotions and possibly learn how to cope with their emotion in a variety of settings.

Colors of Emotions and Picture Books

For the week of Read Across America, a variety of social-emotional books were made available to staff and students. For Lovely Monday, students wore red and enjoyed The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin, Henry Holton Takes the Ice by Sandra Bradley, and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires: perfect examples to show emotions of love, anger, and embarrassment. The color of blue filled the hallways on Tranquil Tuesday while students appreciated I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, and My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor. These particular picture books highlighted the emotions of calmness, sadness, and shyness. Warm Wednesday showed students the emotions of friendliness and jealousy with the works of The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill, Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Cheerful Thursday brought the color yellow and the emotions of happiness, caution, and cowardice through Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont. Fearless Friday brought about the color purple and emotions of courage, fear, and pride. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream by Crystal Hubbard, and A Kissing Hand for Chester Racoon by Audrey Penn were relished by the students.

The Impact of Read Across America Week on Staff and Students

The staff was very excited for the change to Read Across America Week. Of all the years, this year in particular needed the change due to COVID-19. The theme of social-emotional learning had a stronger impact on the students. Since Read Across America Week, the picture book section of the school library has increased in circulation. Students are requesting more picture books with relatable characters. In discussions, students shared their interests in social-emotional learning picture books and how they connected with their emotions through the book.

Picture Book Titles for Social-Emotional Learning

Beaumont, Karen, and David Catrow. 2004. I Like Myself! Orlando: Harcourt.

Bradley, Sandra, and Sara Palacios. 2015. Henry Holton Takes the Ice. New York: Dial Books.

Cornwall, Gaia. 2017. Jabari Jumps. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

de la Peña, Matt, and Christian Robinson. 2015. Last Stop on Market Street. New York: G.P. Putnam Sons.

Godin, Thelma Lynne, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. The Hula Hoopin’ Queen. New York: Lee & Low Books Inc.

Henkes, Kevin. 1996. Chrysanthemum. New York: Mulberry Books.

Hubbard, Crystal, and Randy DuBurke. 2005. Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream. New York: Lee & Low Books.

Ludwig, Trudy, and Patrice Barton. 2013. The Invisible Boy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Munson, Derek, and Tara Calahan King. 2000. Enemy Pie. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

O’Neill, Alexis, and Laura Huliska-Beith. 2002. The Recess Queen. New York: Scholastic.

Ortner, Nick, Alison Taylor, and Michelle Polizzi. 2018. My Magic Breath: Finding Calm through Mindful Breathing. New York: Harper.

Penn, Audrey, and Barbara Gibson. 2014. A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon. Tanglewood Pub.

Spires, Ashley, and Yasemin Uçar. 2014. The Most Magnificent Thing. Toronto, Ontario: Kids Can Press.

Verde, Susan, and Peter H. Reynolds. 2017. I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Author: Jennifer Barber and Susan Bridges

Jennifer Barber is a Media Specialist at West View Elementary School. Susan Bridges is a Media Specialist at West View Elementary School.



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

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