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March is Reading Month! Top 10 Books with SEL Themes

March is National Reading Month and the perfect time to share books that encourage students to become caring and considerate citizens. Stories help students learn about other’s challenges and triumphs and to reflect on their own experiences.  These social-emotional stories encourage empathy, problem solving and perseverance:

Pedro’s Big Goal by Fran Manushkin
Pedro dreams of playing goalie for the next big soccer match. But he worries he’s too slow and too small. This book helps children think about goal-setting and to become mindful about achieving their goals. (early readers)

Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner
Full of wonderful photographs, this book helps children understand all that they have to be thankful for. People, places, and things can make us feel happy and they can also make us feel safe. (early readers)

Should Charlotte Share? By Rebecca Rissman
This book is a thoughtful discourse between two characters who face choices about sharing, helping, teasing and telling the truth.  It celebrates diversity and invites readers to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.  There is also a section entitled “What Would YOU Have Done?” that encourages children to think for themselves. (early readers)

Insults Aren’t Funny (What to Do About Verbal Bullying) by Amanda Doering
Casey the rabbit loves to play goalie on the soccer team. But when Casey fails to block a goal, Dana the squirrel begins calling Casey hurtful names. Young readers experience how Casey struggles with bullying, and they learn safe ways to make it stop.  (young readers)

An Extra-Ordinary Girl (Ellie Ultra) by Gina Bellisario
Ellie has super powers and has spent her whole life being home-schooled by her genius parents.  She is so excited to start going to elementary school and hang out with other kids.  Blending in becomes a struggle for Ellie, so young readers get to experience the ways she tries to fit in. (young readers)

Family Fix-It Plan (Sibling Split) by M.G. Higgins
A brother and sister discover their parents are separating. The brother makes the difficult decision to move away with his mother.  The inseparable siblings decide the best thing to do is to try to keep their parents together by creating a video montage of their family memories. (young readers)

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems
This is the third book in the Knuffle Bunny series and tells the story of Trixie leaving her precious stuffed bunny on an airplane.  The bunny is found by the airline and delivered to Trixie. However, on the way home a crying baby helps Trixie to make the decision to give up her Knuffle Bunny.  This beautifully told and illustrated story helps readers discover how sharing your possessions is just as satisfying as keeping them. (young readers or read-aloud)

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum is teased about her name on the first day of school. The story illustrates experiences of teasing, self-esteem, and discovery that there are others who experience challenges just like you and that accepting yourself is something we all need to learn to do. (young readers or read-aloud)

Ish by Peter Reynolds
Ramon loves to draw but when his brother makes a disparaging remark about one of his drawings, Ramon quits.  That is until his sister Marisol helps him see his drawings from her perspective. This is an amazing story of finding worth in your ideas and that not everything needs to be perfect – just “ish-ly.”  (young readers or read aloud)

Faith and the Dance Drama by Jen Jones
In this chapter book, Faith is happy to hear that a friend is going to ask her to attend a school dance until she discover he is going to ask another girl named Faith. The story then shares how Faith deals with her friends and “tween girl drama.” (intermediate readers)