Are you overwhelmed by the amount of amazing Counseling books out there? Well, you are in luck! Check out this list of the best books for elementary school counselors. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn.
Books are great to use as a part of counseling lessons, and it's even better when you follow the book up with an activity! Below you will find a companion activity to use for each book (including 6 freebies!). For more activities that cover a variety of topics, check out the Counseling Bundle with 10 activities.
Are you a new counselor? Check out this blog post on 5 things I wish I knew as a new School Counselor and my list of Must have items for your School Counseling office. Here is a list of some of the best books for elementary school counselors out there that I use to help teach each topic to students.
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Book about the School Counselor
Anita is so excited for the school year to start – and to share her summer with Mrs. Joyce, who gives the best high fives. As Mrs. Joyce greets students on the first day of school, students ask her many questions about her job. School counselors, she explains, help students with a range of issues they may be facing, like family hardships, friendships, and anxiety. She teaches students about confidentiality and how she can help them feel safe at school.
Book about Emotions
The Color Monster wakes up one morning feeling confused. His feelings seem to be all over the place. He feels lots of different emotions all at the same time. A little girl uses colors to show the Color Monster what each of his feelings means. As the Color Monster learns to interpret and sort through his emotions, he gains self-awareness. He also begins to feel peace. The Color Monster learns to associate colors with each of his different feelings.
Pair with this resource: Emotions Monsters
More books about Emotions: Children's books about Emotions
Books about Stress
The story is about Zoey, who recently had a traumatic experience with an unsafe parent. This resulted in her and her mom moving and no longer seeing her dad. On top of all that change, Zoey has a substitute teacher today because her teacher just had a baby. This is too much change for Zoey, and she starts to worry.
Her mom talks to her explaining that “When we don’t know what to expect, worry wants us to imagine with fear.” She gives her a bookmark that reads “Imagine with hope” to help remind her that good things might happen. Zoey then meets her substitute teacher, who explains to her that she also carries around a worry “book” in her backpack too. She visits her School Counselor (this is my favorite part of course) and talks about: Being brave and having courage, Getting rid of the shame, Checking the facts (an emotion regulation skill from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), Both/and Concept (there is room for multiple truths and not just a single, right answer or way of doing something)
Zoey’s worries are still there but she remembers she has her bookmarks that tell her to “be brave and courageous” so she can face anything that comes her way.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Stress Management Poster
Books about Positive Thoughts
Preston is having a rough day because of some negative thoughts. He thinks he is horrible at soccer when he’s at P.E. and then he makes a kick and misses the goal. In class, he thinks he’s not good at math during a quiz and is unable to finish because of these negative thoughts. Preston starts thinking about his thoughts and realizes every time he thought he couldn’t do something, he ended up struggling with it. My thoughts affected my feelings, and my feelings affected my actions.
Preston thought maybe he was not actually bad at these things, but his thoughts lead him to be bad at them. The next day, the teacher explains a new activity and Preston starts to feel nervous about it. He says to himself “I am smart, and I can do hard things.” He ends up doing great. Preston learns that by changing his thoughts, he can change the outcome of his day.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Positive Thinking Lesson
More books on Positive Thinking: Children's books about Positive Thinking
Books about Grief
Little Tree is sad because his father was chopped down and is now gone. He must learn how to deal with his big feelings. Supported by his friends and family, Little Tree learns grief is like a snowflake; everyone grieves differently, and that’s okay. Little Tree begins to cope and heal from his father’s death by recognizing what is truly important in life and knowing that his memories of his father will forever be there. His father will not be forgotten because he is a part of Little Tree.
Books about Tattling
Josh is often called “Josh the Tattler” because he tattles too much. It often makes other classmates not want to be around him. His mom tells him he better stop tattling or he will get tattle tongue. Josh does not want to get tattle tongue, so the next day at school when he overhears someone planning to bully a classmate later, he does not tell anyone. That night, he wakes up to see his tongue is long, yellow, and covered in purple spots. On top of that, its itchy and scratchy. He has a bad case of Tattle Tongue!
He’s confused because he did not tattle, but the Tattle Prince visits him and explains that that would not have been tattling, it would have been giving a warning because someone was in danger. The tattle prince explains the rules of tattling: #1: Be a danger ranger. #2: Be a problem solver. #3: Now or Later? #4: Mind your own beeswax. With practice, Josh learns the difference between tattling and telling. He also loses the tattle tongue.
Books about Feelings
This book is about a boy whose feelings are so big that they radiate from his face and go down to his chest. The boy cries when he hears loud noises and bursts with joy when hearing a funny joke. He feels other people’s emotions as his own. He tries to cope with these big feelings by stuffing them down. With some help, the boy begins to learn that his big, big feelings are actually amazing and can be celebrated instead of hidden away. His special gift can also be helpful in making friends!
Pair with this resource: Color the Feelings
Books about Social Skills
Meet David, the little boy in the story who is having a bad day and his big sister, Lily, who teaches him all about the skills she uses to cope. Lily goes through each coping skill with her brother: Name your feeling to begin the healing. Be like a horse, take deep breaths. Think like a lion, Recall your unique strengths. Repeat self-affirmations. Excersize, play, and try your best to be brave like a Dolphin. Jiggle, wiggle, and giggle like a jellyfish. Grab a snack like a Koala, get cozy and rest. Stop like a sloth, slow down and stretch, Just like a cat, relax and practice self-care, Laugh like a chimp, talk, share and be kind. Lily teaches her brother to think positive thoughts and remember tomorrow will be a fresh start.
Pair with this resource: Social Skills Group Counseling Curriculum
Books about Divorce
When a young boy’s parents divorce, he thinks it’s because of the chocolate pudding he and his brother smeared all over the wall. If only he had brought a spoon! His mom explains that he is not the cause of his parents divorce, that sometimes things just happen, and that's OK.
Pair with this resource: Divorce Group Counseling Curriculum
Books about Bullying
Jamie and Lyla become great friends on the first day of sixth grade. Lyla makes the cheerleading team, and the “popular girls” invite her to join them. Lyla realizes that Jamie is left behind. She sees them teasing Jamie and other classmates on Facebook, and she knows that being a part of their friend group isn’t for her. The popular girls don’t stop easily though and are now out for revenge.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Bullying Toolbox
More books on Bullying: Children's books about Bullying
Books about Kindness
One day at school, Chloe meets her new classmate, Maya. Maya arrives at school with ragged clothing. No one wants to play with Maya, and her classmates keep their distance. They laugh at her clothes, her shoes, and her food. When Maya brings small toys to school, no one plays with her. Sadly, Maya’s classmates start calling her “Never New” because “everything she has comes from a secondhand store.”
When Maya doesn’t show up to school for several days, their teacher gives them a kindness lesson that changes the students’ minds - and hearts.
Pair with this resource: Kind words
More books on Kindness: Children's books about Kindness
Books about Empathy
When Emily’s sister teaches her about the meaning of empathy, Emily begins helping others around her. She helps her dad get ready for work. When she sees a girl who falls on the playground, she helps her up. She asks how her teacher is doing. When Emily decides to act with compassion and empathy, her entire mindset changes, creating a ripple effect of kindness around her.
Pair with this resource: Walk in my Sneakers
More books on Empathy: Children's books about Empathy
Books about Career Exploration
Career Day by Anne Rockwell
It's Career Day in Mrs. Madoff's class. The class learns about different job professions that people have. They have a visitor who is a construction worker, an author, a veterinarian, and more. This book is a great into for kids to start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.
Pair with this resource: Career Town
Books about Behavior
This story is about a boy who chooses to make poor choices such as being rude in a restaurant, speaking out of turn, and littering. Everyone the boy meets asks him, “What if everybody did that?”. Hearing this question over and over again makes the boy start to think about what really would happen if everyone chose to do things like he was, and he realizes that he has been wrong. The story ends on a positive note as he comes home and hugs his mom while thinking “What if everybody did that?” and decides that the world would be a better place if everyone made that decision.
Pair with this resource: Behavior Toolbox
Books about Growth Mindset
Enna and her father sit down to read a book, her father asks her to read the first page and she says she can’t do it. Enna then has a dream and she is visited by her future self. Her future self is a computer programmer and Enna can hardly believe it because she can’t do any programming now, but her future self tells her “You can’t do that YET.” She then meets other potential future selves, and realizes that all she needs to be able to read that book is a little time to get it right.
More books on Growth Mindset: Children's books about Growth Mindset
Books about Mindfulness
Breathe like a bear is a collection of mindfulness exercises using kid friendly animal and nature themes. It starts off explaining we all feel hyper and need help calming down sometimes. The exercises it teaches are meant to help you feel calm and peaceful, so you can be make better choices and stay focused. The book is divided into five sections Be Calm, Focus, Imagine, Make Some Energy, and Relax. It goes through different breathing and visualization exercises all in a kid friendly way.
Pair with this resource: Character Education: Mindfulness
More books on Mindfulness: Children's books about Mindfulness
Books about Separation Anxiety
The main character Bunny is having a rough day. He has small problems and big problems happen and they cause worry and fear. As he experiences these problems and emotions, the author reminds him that everything will be ok. "Whatever happens, love will stay. Hold the ones you love today. Everything will be ok." The PERFECT books for kids, especially when dealing with life changes, starting school, or missing their parents
Books about Testing Anxiety
BB does not like tests! She thinks they stand for Terrible Every Single Time….but her teacher helps her see that it can stand for Think Each Situation Through! She does this by teaching her 12 test taking strategies to help her stay calm and focused for her test.
These are the strategies discussed in the book: Tell yourself you can do well. Don’t cram, spread out your studying. When you study, draw a picture of what you are learning inside your head. Exercise every day, it's good for your brain. Get a good nights sleep. Stay relaxed. Read the directions carefully. Skim the test so you know how long it is first. Write down the important stuff you need to memorize at the top or side of your test paper. Do the easy questions first to build your confidence. Cross out answers that don’t make sense. Check a random five. Check more if you have time.
Books about Worrying
The main character of this book personifies her worry as a monster who lives in her mind. The monster, Worry, tells her she cannot do things, that people will not like her, and that she should not try new things. The main character finally talks to Worry and realizes that she will never not be scared unless she stops listening to him. She decides that she is finished listening to Worry but has to courageously stand up to him when he tries to creep back into her mind with messages that he has told her for a long time.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Calm my Worry
More books on Anxiety: Children's books about Anxiety
Books about Self-esteem
Thelma the Unicorn is about an ordinary pony who wishes with all her heart to be a Unicorn. After pretending to be something she was not, Thelma realizes that she was happier as her ordinary, sparkle-free self. Let’s face it, kids love Unicorns! That automatically gets them interested in the story. Plus Thelma is very relatable to kids, who always want to be someone else. I love that Thelma realizes she is amazing just the way she is and does not have to be someone else.
Pair with this resource: Unique Unicorn
More books on Self-esteem: Children's books about self-esteem.
Books about Perseverance
Kids get so many messages about how they should be, it can be overwhelming. When this happens, it’s important to listen to that quiet voice inside and use it as a guide. Some of the voices the book goes through are: I can do hard things, I can be a friend to myself, I can ask for help, I can feel all my feelings, I can believe in myself, I can try again, I can understand different points of view, I can practice peace, and more. It reiterates “I’m ready for the hard things I have to do, and please remember, so are you!”
Pair with this resource: Character Education: Perseverance
More books on Perseverance: Children's books about perseverance.
Books about Safety
The story is about a girl who learns to say NO. She learns to say no to things that she is uncomfortable with, things she is not interested in or does not have time for. The little girl says no to her own negative thoughts, and to herself when she feels like quitting. She learns to say no to keep herself safe, to those who invade her personal space, and no to peer pressure. She can say no to hate: "I can use my words, if someone looks down on me for the color of my skin or the makeup of my family. I can say, NO! There is no room here for hate, injustice, unkindness, or fear."
Pair with this resource: Feed the friends: Healthy and Safe Choices
Books about Diversity & Inclusion
“The umbrella loves to gather people in,” describes Amy June Bates. One by one, people gather under a smiling, red umbrella. The big umbrella has room for everyone. When more people join, the umbrella literally gets bigger and bigger to shelter people from the storm. This mighty umbrella has an important message to share: there is always room for kindness.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Diversity Matters
More books on Inclusion: Children's books about inclusion.
Book about Acceptance
In All Are Welcome, we visit a wonderful classroom community. We see children sharing their cultures, stories, and special talents. Children love spending time together. Best of all, students are excited to return the next day because school is a place where everyone can learn, play, and have fun. School is a place where everyone is accepted.
Pair with this resource: Character Education: Acceptance
More books on Acceptance: Children's books about acceptance.
Books about LGBTQ+ acceptance
Jamie has a lot of friends—a lot of friends with different kinds of families. Kate has two dads. Olivia has two moms. And Jade has her very own butler! But no matter what the families look like, the love they feel for each other is all the same.
Pair with this resource: FREEBIE Safe Space Posters
Book about Gender Stereotypes
This book helps break stereotypes around what boys and girls should be interested in and play with just because of their genders. Everyone says boys like football and girls wear pink, but why does it have to be this way? Throughout the book, children are encouraged to consider choosing what truly makes them happy and challenged to worry less about what others think they should do.
This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.
Books about Different Abilities
Meet Mimi, the school’s new student. She has many different interests and qualities. She also uses a walker to move. In Meeting Mimi, Mimi’s new classmates ask her questions about her different abilities. Students will learn more about children with different abilities and how we can welcome them to the school community.
Books about Trauma
Sherman the racoon witnesses something that deeply upsets him. That night he can't sleep because it made him sad and nervous. It is never revealed to the reader what he saw, so it can be used for a variety of situations that can cause PTSD. I love how it talks about the importance of talking about what happened and how we feel about it in order to cope.
Books about School Violence
At the Ant Hill School, the teacher wants to make sure her class is prepared for anything and everything! She teaches the students what they should do if a “dangerous someone” ever comes into the school. She teaches her class the A.L.I.C.E. Plan and discusses how they should act if they find themselves in a scary situation while at school.
Books about Impulse Control/ADHD
The choices you make have super powers, they can cause good things to happen or bad things. Like the book says, you are the captain of your own ship, you steer the wheel on this magic trip (love that!). The book goes through different choices you can make like being helpful, responsible, patient, confident, generous, calm, brave, forgiving, a good sport, gentle, friendly, honest, and fun. Each choice gives examples of how to make that choice. I choose to be patient, gives the example of taking your time, waiting your turn, and staying calm.
Pair with this resource: Forecast your Choices
More books on this topic: Children's books about Self-Control
Books about Perfectionism
Most people in town don’t know Beatrice Bottomwell’s name; they just know her as “The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes.” As she prepares for her perfect juggling act in the talent show, she accidentally makes an “almost mistake” on the school cooking team. That little “almost mistake” throws off her entire routine later that night. Beatrice and the crowd respond to the mistake in an unexpected way: by laughing. They learn that making a mistake, after all, isn’t so bad.
More books on Making mistakes: Children's books about making mistakes.
Books about Social Emotional Learning
I’m Happy-Sad Today follows a little girl who is learning how to understand her mixed-up feelings. She experiences emotions such as happy and sad, excited and nervous, and more. The author uses silly words such as “smappy” and “braverous” to describe the mixed-up feelings while giving examples of situations when the little girl felt these ways. The little girl is confused at first but learns that she does not have to choose just one emotion to feel at a time; she realizes that it is fine to experience all of her feelings at the same time.
Pair with this resource: SEL curriculum
Books about Friendship
Stick and Stone are both lonely. Pinecone begins to bully Stone, and Stick stands up to Pinecone. After this, Stick and Stone do not feel so alone. They begin to play and explore together. They realize the benefit of reaching out and making a new friend.
Pair with this resource: Build a Friend
More books on Friendship: Children's books about friendship.
Book about Incarcerated Parent
Sketch, a young rabbit, witnessed his father being arrested at their house in front of the neighbors and sentenced to six years in prison. Later, Sketch visits his dad in jail and he apologizes for breaking the law and Sketch struggles with that to say and how he is feeling.
Resources for School Counselors
If you're looking for activities to go with these books for elementary school counselors, look no further than these perfect curriculums for a School Counselor! Teach social emotional learning skills to help students with social skills, anger, self-esteem, divorce, and success skills.
You'll find both print and digital versions included. Counseling activities for your groups just got so. much easier and more fun! Just print, prep, and go!
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