#SELDay: The Power of a Read Aloud

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As the world often follows a more negative approach to life situations as they arise, it has opened my eyes to how I teach not only my students at school but also my own kids at home about how to navigate their social-emotional learning (SEL). Most of the time, it is easy and powerful to teach, model, and walk kids through as the situation is happening. But actually, you can help prepare kids to handle situations ahead of time through books being read aloud. Kids are often on their emotional baseline when being read to, so why not take advantage of a moment where a powerful dialogue can come after reading the story? 

International Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Day happens on the 2nd Friday in March. This day highlights the importance of teaching our kids to advocate for their emotional well-being. You may be thinking that your own child has no trauma or stress in their life and these types of conversations and books may not be relevant in their life or at least at this point in your life. But, as we know, many people around the world are silently living with a mental illness. You never know what someone might be struggling with, even if they are kids. 

Books are a great way to teach these lessons without expecting your kids or even students to have a conversation at that moment. If it sparks conversation, that’s even better! SEL books can contain various topics, so hopefully, the book suggestions below will help you bring these important books into your child’s life. Many of these books have a few social lessons being taught, so the conversation after reading could take a different direction. Either way, you are instilling the love of reading with your child, modeling how to handle tough life situations, and spending quality time with your littles. 

The goal is to have kids become more self-aware, be able to self-advocate, and be more confident as they handle life’s ups and downs. Trying this with my own kids has led to more conversations instead of yelling or physical altercations. Not that a wrestling match doesn’t break out occasionally; overall, they have learned to build a healthy relationship with one another. 


  • Henry Hyena, Why Won’t You Laugh
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry
  • Austin Plays Fair 
  • Strictly No Elephants
  • The World Needs More Purple People
  • Be Kind
  • Have you Filled a Bucket Today?
  • The Shoes
  • Invisible Boy
  • Try a Little Kindness


  • The Crayon Box that Talked
  • Big Umbrella
  • The Little Red Pen
  • Mine!
  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Up the Creek
  • Someone Builds the Dream
  • Our Class is a Family
  • Better Together
  • Unstoppable
  • Boxitects
  • The One Day House
  • Kamala & Mayas Big Idea
  • A Chair for my Mother
  • First Come the Zebra
  • That Fruit is Mine!
  • Goal!
  • The Squirrels who Squabbled


  • Jabari Jumps
  • Shelia the Brave
  • What is Everybody Did That?
  • What Do you Do with an Idea?
  • Dream Big Little Leader
  • The Lion Inside
  • Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun
  • Swimmy


  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • Waiting is Not Easy
  • My Mouth is a Volcano
  • Stick & Stone


  • That Thing Lou Couldn’t Do 
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance
  • The Boy Who Never Gave Up
  • Jabari Tries
  • You Can Do It
  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole
  • The Dot


  • Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen
  • Listening Ninja
  • Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker
  • Listen Buddy
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Big Feelings

  • The Boy with Big Feelings
  • I’m Okay to Feel
  • The Way I Feel
  • I am Enough

The best way for kids to learn about life’s biggest and smallest obstacles is in a safe environment when kids are on baseline to learn, ask questions, and reflect on those social situations. Literature is the perfect way to do this. There are so many things our little ones can’t do yet, but they just need the right tools to get them there. Make SEL Day the first of many days to incorporate these books into your child’s life.