Social emotional learning or SEL (as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning a.k.a CASEL) is “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”   

Picture books are a powerful tool in a child’s social & emotional development.  Reading books together provides safe spaces in which to talk about big feelings and challenging topics.  Here are some SEL books available at your local library:


Leyla by Galia Bernstein

Leyla is a baby baboon in a family of nine doting aunties and twenty-three rambunctious cousins.  When the noise and chaos get to be too much she runs away and meets a friend that teaches her how to “do nothing”.  This lovely picture book teaches kids (and their grownups) how to be still and to see, hear, and feel one’s way into inner peace.

The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald

How does it feel to be the one “Good Egg” in a carton full of rotten ones?  For this Good Egg, it is very frustrating and stressful.  When he finally develops a crack, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery in which he wanders aimlessly, grows a beard, and learns what fills him up and makes him happy.  This clever, funny, and poignant book teaches the importance of self-care and learning to accept the imperfections in others and ourselves. Available as an eBook.

Michael Ian Black “I’m” Books—I’m Bored; I’m Worried; I’m Sad

Author Michael Ian Black and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi, perfectly portray the uncomfortable, yet inevitable, emotions we all feel—worry, sadness, and boredom—in this delightful and insightful series of books.  A little girl, a potato, and flamingo (strange as it may seem), help each other to work through: what it means to worry (and how not to); how feeling sad is okay and having friends who let you be sad is comforting; and finally, how boredom can be cured with a little bit of play and imagination.  Available as an eBook: I’m Bored

Outside In by Deborah Underwood

A reminder of our interconnectedness to the world outside and how nature is a part of our everyday lives.  Beautiful watercolor illustrations accompany the lyrical text.  Available as an eBook.

The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions by Anna Llenas

 A simple story about identifying emotions and how they can be expressed.   Great for young children to practice naming what they are feeling.

Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero

A lovely story about the dangers of bottling up feelings and how much better it is to feel them, hug them, and let them go.  An affirming story about identifying, accepting, and expressing feelings.


My Mixed Emotions: Help Your Kids Handle Their Feelings by Elinor Greenwood

An accessible look at identifying basic emotions including feeling happy, angry, fearful, and sad. Includes tips and activities that foster awareness, acceptance, and healthy expression of all feelings.  Includes an emotions dictionary and glossary of terms.

For more suggestions, visit

Also, check out The Conscious Child: Family Book Discussion Kits available to borrow from the Wailuku & Lahaina Libraries. For more information, visit