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.
New publication from author Jacqueline Woodson: The Day You Begin
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson has created a poignant, yet heartening book offering a fresh perspective on the experiences and emotions connected to the first day of school. Woodson demonstrates empathy for children who feel different from their classmates and celebrates how those differences make our communities richer.
Woodson is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and a recipient of multiple children's literature awards.
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
The 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
Big 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
Ability to take perspective of and empathize with others
Halmoni’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
Building & maintaining positive relationships
Danitra 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
Making decisions considering the well-being of self and others
Harvesting 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
Wings, 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.