Social and Emotional Learning roundup

By Tom Czech

With Spring rolling in and the weather warming up, we better start discussing social and emotional learning before the kids (safely, of course) fill the playgrounds back up! How can we, as adults, show the youth around us the importance of friendship, kindness, and acceptance? These themes are fundamental to our daily interactions and it’s up to us to make sure that the children in our lives understand how to navigate the nuances of human interaction.

In this post, I outline our already released titles as well as some upcoming titles that fit the social emotional mold. Included are fiction, nonfiction, picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles that all aim to make the world better, and make us better as individuals; and they’re all so much fun!

No Way, They Were Gay? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

“History” sounds really official. Like it’s all fact. Like it’s definitely what happened. But that’s not necessarily true.

Join author Lee Wind for this fascinating journey through primary sources—poetry, memoir, news clippings, and images of ancient artwork—to explore the hidden (and often surprising) Queer lives and loves of two dozen historical figures.

At Full Speed (The Wolf in Underpants series) by Wilfrid Lupano

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

It’s race day in the forest—but someone has ruined the posters for the big event! When other animals ask the Wolf to investigate, he discovers a chickadee with a chip on its shoulder. After learning why the little bird feels left out, the Wolf hatches a plan to launch it to victory . . . A plan that just might involve the Wolf’s trademark striped undies.

In the third tale of the Wolf in Underpants, Wilfrid Lupano and Mayana Itoiz present another laugh-out-loud lesson in finding common ground.

When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

Three well-known leaders in their fields — award-winning dog photographer Jesse Freidin, adolescent HIV+ specialist Dr. Robert Garofalo, and LGBTQ advocate and journalist Zach Stafford — offer a refreshing, beautiful, and unique portrait of HIV infused with a deep message of hope.

Each extraordinary profile shows the power of the incredible bonds between humans and their canine companions, whether that means combating loneliness and stigma, discovering the importance of unconditional love, overcoming addiction, or simply having a best friend in a time of need.

Bully for You (Dead Max Comix series) by Dana Sullivan

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Middle school can be a survival of “fitting-in,” at best. In Dead Max Comix, Derrick discovers that his secrets aren’t really unusual. This series offers a light-hearted touch at accepting yourself and finding your own “pack.”

#MeToo and You: Everything You Need to Know About Consent, Boundaries, and More by Halley Bondy

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

#MeToo and You includes essential terminology, from consent to assault, from just plain yes to just plain no. Author Halley Bondy explores the nuances of emotions, comfort, and discomfort in sexually charged and emotionally abusive situations. Detailed scenarios, both real and hypothetical, provide valuable examples of what’s acceptable and what is not, along with tools to help everyone treat others appropriately and to stand up for themselves and their peers.

Elmer and the Lost Treasure (Elmer series) by David McKee

  • Interest Level: PreK – Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

Elmer, Wilbur, and a brave troop of elephants set out on a quest to find the famous Lost Treasure of the jungle. When they stumble across a beautiful forgotten temple, Elmer’s friends rush inside, eager to find the Lost Treasure before them, but Elmer appears to have stopped searching . . .

A new Elmer tale from master storyteller David McKee that delivers just as much pathos as the very first.

The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G.D. Falksen

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Sixteen-year-old Kitty Granger has always known that others consider her peculiar. She hates noise and crowds, tends to fixate on patterns, and often feels acutely aware of her surroundings even as she struggles to interpret the behavior of people around her.

As a working-class girl in London’s East End, she’s spent her whole life learning to hide these traits. Until the day when she notices the mysterious man on the bus and finds herself following him, driven to know why he seems so out of place…only to accidentally uncover the location of a Russian spy ring.

Coming in the Fall of this year…

Issues in Action series (Read Woke ™ Books) by Cicely Lewis and Elliot Smith

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Examine hard topics facing our society—from gun violence to immigration. Learn how problems developed and hear from underrepresented persons involved in these struggles. Reflection questions help readers challenge their perspectives, while an activism toolkit and a Read Woke reading list empower readers to make a difference.

Read Woke™ Books are created in partnership with Cicely Lewis, the Read Woke librarian. Inspired by a belief that knowledge is power, Read Woke Books seek to challenge social norms, give voice to the voiceless, provide information about groups that have been disenfranchised, disrupt the status quo, and share perspectives from underrepresented or oppressed groups.

Thank you so much for reading! We hope these titles can help you round out your social and emotional learning book collections. Take care, stay safe, and enjoy the weather!

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