Teaching social skills in the classroom is important because it helps promote positive behavior in the classroom. This helps classroom management which in turn helps academic success. It also teaches students how to build positive relationships with peers, which is a lifelong skill to benefit their overall mental health. This is why it is so critical to teach to kids. I use children’s books about social skills as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn.
I often cover social skills in my lessons, I use this Social Skills Curriculum that covers making/keeping friends, I messages, manners, conflict resolution, and more. I also use this superhero-themed Social-emotional learning curriculum for some of my upper grades who love anything superhero. Looking for more ideas on how to teach social skills in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about social skills out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: I can use an I Statement by Jenelle French
A short summary of the book: Using “I statements” is one of the most common strategies I use to teach kids conflict resolution skills. This book is such a great way to open up a discussion about using I messages. Meet Gabby, the little girl in the story who teaches us all about using I statements and how to be a problem solver. She encounters common kid conflict situations like a toy being taken from her, being called a mean name, and someone cutting in front of her in line. She uses the I statement: I feel (say how you feel) when you (describe what caused your feeling). Please (tell what you would like to happen). She discovers the more she uses the “I statement” the more her confidence grows and the more comfortable she is telling other kids how she feels.
Why I like the book: The illustrations in this are beautiful and I love the message of getting kids to be problem solvers and better communicators. This is a total must-have for parents, counselors, and teachers alike.
The moral of the story: Using I statements can help solve conflicts.
Topics covered: Social Skills; I messages; Communication; Conflict Resolution; Problem Solving
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I can use an I statement on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: I Can’t Believe You Said That! by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: RJ always says what he thinks. He thinks that he is being truthful and giving feedback to others, but he doesn’t consider how his words sound or may make others feel. His parents help him learn to evaluate different social situations and think about better ways to speak to others. RJ also learns that sometimes it is best not to speak at all. This story is the seventh of Julia Cook’s BEST ME I Can Be! Series.
Why I like the book: This story helps adults teach children about using social filters. It is helpful for all children to be reminded that there is power in their words, but this story is especially helpful for those who sometimes say things that hurt or embarrass others without realizing it.
The moral of the story: How you speak to others really makes a difference.
Topics covered: Social Skills; Thoughtfulness; Honesty; Adult Support; Apologizing; Positivity
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I can’t believe you said that! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler
A short summary of the book: Jonah decides that he will rule the playground and creates rules for his classmates to play in “King Jonah’s Kingdom”. Everyone goes along with Jonah’s plan except for Lennox. Lennox wants to be “Queen Lennox” and also rule the playground. Jonah and Lennox claim different sides of the playground as their own kingdoms. Soon, everyone else leaves the playground, and they both recognize that the playground is no fun without their friends. Jonah and Lennox create an apology plan, and their friends choose to return to play.
Why I like the book: This is a great book to read to a classroom at the beginning of the school year. The cute illustrations make it easy for young children to follow along as they relate to the different roles of leaders and followers and see that working together is more fun.
The moral of the story: The way we treat others matters!
Topics covered: Sharing; Friendship; Kindness; Flexibility; Apologizing; Positive Behavior
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Rulers of the Playground on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: Isabella can’t understand why everyone calls her ‘Decibella.’ When Isabella’s teacher pulls her aside, she gives her advice that helps Isabella change her voice volume. Her teacher explains that there are five ‘Voice Volumes.’ With her voice volume roadmap, Isabella begins to understand where and when to use different voice volumes.
Why I like the book: With fun pictures and dialogue, Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice is an excellent resource to introduce volume levels in your class. The ‘Five Voice Volumes’ are easy to remember and point back to in your class. This book would be perfect for grades 3-5.
The moral of the story: There are different occasions for when to use different voice volumes.
Topics covered: Classroom Management; Talking
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Decibella and her 6-inch voice on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne Jones
A short summary of the book: Lacey is quite the talker. Although everyone asks her to stop talking, she cannot stop. One morning, Lacey wakes up to find that she has lost her voice. Suddenly, she has time to listen to her friends, read more books, and spend time with her brother watching a movie. Lacey learns a lesson that stays with her long after her voice returns.
Why I like the book: We can all think of a chatterbox – or two – in our classes. This lighthearted book explores the good that comes from just listening. In a responsive classroom, listening is essential for students to learn, work together, and be friends.
The moral of the story: You can learn better when you listen.
Topics covered: Listening
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: You will be my Friend! by Peter Brown
A short summary of the book: Lucy is determined to make a new friend. With a forest full of critters, how hard could it be for a friendly bear like herself? Despite her kindness and generosity, Lucy struggles to find a new friend. She feels like she can’t do anything right. “Doesn’t anyone want to be my friend?” Lucy exclaims. Just when she is about to give up, Lucy’s determination pays off in a heartwarming way.
Why I like the book: This engaging read-aloud, complete with funny conversations, will make your students laugh, smile, and feel connected to Lucy. You Will Be My Friend encourages students to consider the perspective of someone who is trying to find a new friend. This book is also perfect for students who get easily frustrated – and for whom a responsive classroom is essential. Students will learn that determination and persistence go a long way when finding a new friend.
The moral of the story: Although it may feel frustrating trying to make new friends, don’t give up. There is always someone who will appreciate who you are and be your friend
Topics covered: Friendship; Determination
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): You will be my friend! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: My Sister’s Super Skills by Lauren Mosback
A short summary of the book: 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. Exercise, 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.
Why I like the book: I am a total sucker for beautiful illustrations in a book and this book has gorgeous ones. I find it keeps kids more engaged. I love that the Author used a big sister to talk about these skills instead of a typical parent or teacher. I think kids will think it’s cooler to learn it from another kid instead of an adult. Using animals to teach coping skills was pure genius. I can see students really getting into each animal and maybe picking their favorite one that they will use. That would be a fun follow-up activity to this book. This is a total must-have for your classroom or counseling library. I am SO happy to add it to mine.
The moral of the story: Coping skills can help you get through your day.
Topics covered: Social skills; Coping Skills; Self-affirmations; Positive Thinking
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): My Sister’s Super Skills on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Dude, That’s Rude! by Pamela Espeland
A short summary of the book: Do your students need a crash course in manners? Dude, That’s Rude! is an encyclopedia of manners for young children. The book covers many topics that children may struggle with in school: appropriate language, responsibility, and interactions with adults.
Why I like the book: Dude, That’s Rude! contains a wealth of information to teach young children about manners. With simple, straightforward language, Dude, That’s Rude! equips students with etiquette rules that will help them thrive in a social setting, especially in a responsive classroom.
The moral of the story: Manners are important social skills that will help you succeed in the classroom, at home, and in your community.
Topics covered: Manners; Etiquette
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Dude, that’s Rude! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Me First by Helen Lester
A short summary of the book: Pinkerton must be first everywhere he goes – in the classroom, in the lunch line, and on the playground. When Pinkerton’s ‘Pig Scout’ group goes on a field trip, he meets a surprising character who teaches him an important lesson about why first is not always best.
Why I like the book: Helen Lester’s loveable character is the perfect conversation starter for students who struggle with self-control. Early educators will find this read-aloud helpful for the beginning of the year, when young students often struggle with sharing. Me First! is an excellent companion to a behavior management plan, allowing teachers to highlight Pinkerton’s behavior as a gentle reminder for students.
The moral of the story: First is not always best.
Topics covered: Self-control; Selfishness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Me First on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Sorry, I Forgot to Ask! by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: RJ is having an amazing day. He walked home with his friend instead of riding the bus, used his dad’s computer, and ate the cake his mom made. But when his mom finds out, she can’t believe RJ’s behavior. “Sorry, I forgot to ask!” says RJ. His mom and dad teach RJ about the importance of asking for permission and apologizing with sincerity.
Why I like the book: Asking for permission and apologizing are valuable lessons that Sorry, I Forgot to Ask! covers with ease. We’ve all been in RJ’s shoes before. This book would lend itself well to classroom discussions and writing reflection activities for both lower and upper grades.
The moral of the story: Inform your parents and trusted adults before you do something. When you need to apologize, apologize with sincerity and explain your new plan.
Topics covered: Apologizing; Asking for Permission
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Sorry, I forgot to ask! on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Short summary of the book: Papa is reading Chicken’s favorite stories to help Chicken fall asleep. Although Papa hopes that storytime will be relaxing, Chicken can’t help but interrupt everytime Papa gets to the ending. Exasperated, Papa comes up with a new plan.
Why I like the book: Witnessing the heartwarming relationship between Chicken and Papa is one of the best parts of this book. Laugh-out-loud funny with a heartwarming moral, Interrupting Chicken helps students understand the importance of not interrupting. This book would be an excellent way to introduce rules for story time in your classroom.
The moral of the story: Interrupting can be difficult for both you and those around you, and you may miss out on important information if you interrupt.
Topics covered: Interrupting; Self-control
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Interrupting Chicken on Amazon
Resources about Social Skills
Pair your favorite children’s books about social skills with these activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Social Skills Curriculum resource that includes everything you need to teach kids social skills. For more ideas on teaching social-emotional learning, check out this blog post by clicking here.
For my upper grades, this Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum is my go-to resource. It covers social awareness, self-awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, and self-management. This resource is an easy print-and-go or digital learning tool to pair with children’s books about social skills.
Find Books on Different Topics
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