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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.


Summer Reading with SEL Connections

As you wrap up the school year stay connected to Open Circle's recommended social and emotional learning (SEL) literature. Throughout the summer we will be posting literature recommendations on Facebook and Twitter (be sure to follow and like our pages to keep receiving literature recommendations!). Feel free to share the message below with your student's parents and caregivers. Have a GREAT summer!


Jabari Jumps smIt's June and backpacks and lunch boxes sit empty by the door. School is over for the summer, but learning opportunities don’t have to stop. In order to prevent the loss of reading and other academic skills over the summer months, don’t put away the backpacks just yet! Fill them with books and make reading a regular part of your child’s summer routine. Open Circle recommends the following books that will engage hearts and minds and keep reading and social and emotional skills in top form.

Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall
With his dad’s support, Jabari finds the courage to take a daunting plunge!

Away smAway, by Emil Sher, Qin Ling (ill.)
A little girl has second thoughts about going away to summer camp.

Watch for more Open Circle summer reading recommendations via Facebook and Twitter.


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 Children's Literature related to the following topics:



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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