Picture Book Round-Up: Social Emotional Learning

Welcome to my new feature! (New like the new blog, everything is new). In Picture Book Round-Up, I’ll introduce 3 to 5 books, potentially on a theme, probably based off what I grabbed off the new books cart. Hopefully there will be 1 to 2 books published in the last 6 months, 1 to 2 older favorites (rediscover them!), and perhaps 1 easy/picture book non-fiction. (I’m a huge proponent of non-fiction for emerging readers, but that is a story for another blog post.)

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, Dial Books, 2018
This is one of those books I grabbed off the new book cart and immediately wanted to find a child to give it to. When something sad happens, all the animals have a suggestion to help the child, but it is only the rabbit who can help. By simply listening, the rabbit allows the child to process through their emotions. It is a beautiful story about allowing children space to grieve. Perfect for a child who is processing their own feelings or comforting others. While most reviews cite this as a book for grieving children, I think it would work well for all kids.

My Very Own Space by Pippa Goodhart and Rebecca Crane, Flying Eye Books, 2017
A little rabbit wants a quiet space to read, but everyone around them is loud and busy. So they draw a line around themself and declare that no one can cross over it. For a while, they’re happy reading quietly and imagining, but soon they see the fun activities  happening and want to join in. There is a really great message here about balancing needing your own space and wanting to join in with group play. (Note: this is a gender neutral bunny – red sweater, no obvious gender markers, no pronouns, love it, let the bunny be who the child reading needs the bunny to be, and that is why I use “they” in the review.)

Ukaliq and Kalla Go Fishing by Nadia Mike; Illustrated by Amanda Sandland, Inhabit Media, 2016
Inhabit Media is one of my favorite publishers for Northern materials. They’re from Canada and produce gorgeous First Nations books with First Nations authors. They are one of the very few publishers I have a 100% trust relationship with. I will buy every single thing they produce. Alaska Natives are closely related to First Nations in Canada and these books speak to our populations as well.
While this book features animals instead of people, they have Native names and perform many traditional and modern subsistence activities. These two friends are very different. One is loud, one is quiet; one plans, one does not. And thus they run into trouble on a fishing trip. But they both learn from each other and learn to value each other’s attributes (okay mostly one learns to plan and be calmer). This story has shades of the ant and the grasshopper, but with less starving to death over the winter. Beautifully illustrated.

485288Non-fiction title: Understand and Care by Cheri J. Meiners, Free Spirit Publishing, 2003
SEL non-fiction can be kinda dull. We have all the Julia Cook books, but honestly I am not a big fan. When parents/teachers are specifically looking for a didactic book, I usually steer them toward something from Free Spirit Publishing. Meiners has this “learning to get along” series that is lovely. This particular volume teaches empathy. Simple text paired with colorful illustrations gives easy to understand suggestions for children. The last few pages are caregiver suggestions, both for talking points as you read the book and activities afterward.

Bonus list. This blog post has a TON of great suggestions for other social-emotional picture books.

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