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Recommended Children's Literature

Children’s literature provides both mirrors and windows1 for readers. Some books are mirrors, reflecting children’s experiences, feelings, and cultures. Other books are windows, giving children an opportunity to see the world through others’ eyes. Reading books that reflect our diverse population enhances children’s social and emotional development, especially the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others.


Black history isn’t just for February

Hidden Figures sm

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Black history is celebrated in February but shouldn’t it be taught all year long?

American history is one that has been shaped by the experiences and contributions of people of many cultural backgrounds. At Open Circle, we work hard to develop lists of quality multicultural children’s literature that create both mirrors and windows1 for each child. We recommend using these books to supplement your social and emotional learning instruction with students. Books offer a wonderful opportunity to examine how emotions and experiences impact the lives of individuals, groups of people and an entire country.

Check out our list of recommended children’s books that highlight some of the stories of black people. These books give children a more personal perspective on history through writing and illustrations that engage both hearts and minds.

Download the Children’s Literature related Black History Flyer


Children's Literature that address the Core Compentencies of Social and Emotional Learning

The following is a summary of recommended children's literature that address the Core Competencies of Social and Emotional Learning. For a more comprehensive list download Open Circle's Children's Literature List (PDF).

Open Circle also curates a list of children's books connected to mindfulness.



Recognizing & naming your emotions; having confidence and optimism

Crown Ode to the Fresh CutThe Colors of Us, by Karen Katz
Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes
How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods, by Saxton Freymann
In My Family/En mi familia, by Carmen Lomas Garza
Mama’s Sari’s, by Pooja Makhijani
My Cold Plum, Lemon Pie, Bluesy Mood, by Tameka Fryer Brown
The Three Names of Me, by Mary Cummings
Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto



Managing emotions and behaviors; working toward personal goals

Jabari JumpsBig Red Lollipop, by Rhuksana Khan
Grump, Groan, Growl, by Bell Hooks
Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall
My Name is María Isabel
, by Alma Flor Ada (Chapter book)
Serafina’s Promise, by Ann E. Burg (Novel in verse)
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, by Rachel Vail
Twist: Yoga Poems, by Janet Wong
Upside Down Boy/El niño de cabeza, by Juan Felipe Herrara


Social Awareness

Ability to take perspective of and empathize with others

I am New HereHalmoni’s Picnic, by Sook Nyul Choi
I am New Here, by Ann Sibley O’Brien
I Lost My Tooth in Africa, by Penda Diakité
My Name is Yoon, by Helen Recorvits
Nadia’s Hands, by Karen English
Rain School, by James Rumford
Suki’s Kimono, by Chieri Uekagi
The Ugly Vegetables, by Grace Lin


Relationship Skills

Building & maintaining positive relationships

Make Way for Dyamonde DanielDanitra Brown Leaves Town, by Nikki Grimes
Four Feet, Two Sandals, by Karen Williams
Grandfather Counts, by Andrea Cheng
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, by Nikki Grimes
Margaret and Margarita/Margarita y Margaret
, by Lynn Reiser
Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco
Sumi’s First Day of School Ever, by Soyung Pak
Yo! Yes?, by Chris Raschka


Responsible Decision-Making

Making decisions considering the well-being of self and others

The One Day HouseHarvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by Kathleen Krull
Hello Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly
King for a Day
, by Rhuksana Khan
Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice, by Sylvia Rosa-Casanova
My Heart Will Not Sit Down, by Mara Rockcliff
The One Day House, by Julia Durango
, by Christopher Myers
Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate



Read more recommended children's literature lists.

1 Style, Emily. "Curriculum as Window and Mirror," Listening for All Voices, Oak Knoll School monograph. Summit, NJ, 1988.

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