I've been working as an elementary school counselor since I obtained my Master's Degree in Education in 2005. When I first started as a counselor,I've made it my mission to find contemporary books that help address the many issues children currently have to deal with. I handpick all of my books and will only post books I actually use and truly make a difference in a child's life.
Author: Rachel Bright Illustrator: Jim Field From the Book Jacket: Sometimes a little change can open your world to BIG possibilities. Kevin the koala love every day to be the same, where it's snug and safe. But when change happens, will Kevin learn all the joys that come with trying something new. Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is a great resource for overcoming fear and worry when faced with a new challenge. Kevin is terrified that he is going to fall from the tree so he remains stuck and won't come down. But the tree actually ends up falling down thanks to a woodpecker. So Kevin actually does fall. And even though that was his fear - he realized he was JUST FINE and nothing bad happened to him. Sometimes kids get stuck in their thoughts and this is a good example of how even if a worry comes true - you can cope with it! Loved this one. A Link to This Book:
From the Book Jacket: James Otis knows what it's like not having much. Still, he just has to find a little bit of something to share with Sarah, whose family has lost everything in a fire. But what does he have that she would want? His beautiful sparkling rock? Naw, that wouldn't help - you can't ear a rock. His crayons? No way, even if only a few colors are missing. Then he remembers what Reverend Dennis said one Sunday - What is given from the heart reaches the heart - and it gets him to thinking... This is a heartfelt picture book about the power of kindness and the joy of giving by a master storyteller and a renowned artist.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: April is the month of giving at my school. When we ask students to bring in items for a food drive, it's important that we give them an understanding of why we are doing a community service project. Reading books about homelessness, hunger, and poverty has been a helpful resource to educate kids about issues others are facing. This is a new book to my shelf and it really reached everyone's hearts and helped enhance the spirit of giving that we were trying to achieve.
A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:
From the Book Jacket: The Little Green Girl is no ordinary plant. She dreams of exploring the world beyond her garden's walls. But branching out is hard to do... Especially when your gardener is rooted in his routine.
For her gardener, Mr. Aster, the prospect of deviating from his daily routine--let alone leaving his beloved home--is unimaginable. Try as she might, the Little Green Girl can't uproot herself and set off on her own. To realize her dream, she'll have to find a way to show Mr. Aster that it's possible to carry a bit of home with you wherever you go.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: Every year we teach the importance and value of having a growth mindset to our students. I thought this was a great story and example of fixed mindset versus growth mindset. The Little Green Girl is full of determination and perseverance. She wants to live out her dreams. But Mr. Aster seems to think that things should not change and there is no reason to need or want more in life. I really liked the concept that when we reach our goals we grow. If we stay in a fixed mindset we stay stagnant and don't truly blossom. If you are looking for a new resource to teach mindsets - this is a great story. A Link to This Book:
Author: Laura Dockrill Illustrator: Maria Karipidou
From the Book Jacket: What happens when a little cookie gets up on the wrong side of bed? Prepare to fall absolutely in love with this irresistible cookie, crumbly chocolate chips and all. OH NO! Barbra the cactus won’t stop playing her recorder, the yummy strawberry toothpaste has run out, and now – to top it all off – Cookie has to have his hair cut! Which all makes for one VERY ANGRY little cookie... But perhaps you, the reader, can find a way to turn his grumpy frown upside down?
Angry Cookie by Laura Dockrill - YouTube
Why It's On My Bookshelf: I love this book so much! Angry Cookie explains the many reasons that he's angry. But in the end he reveals he's actually upset because he feels like nobody listens to him. He also feels no one sticks around. But as he speaks to the reader he starts to feel better. It's a great story to teacher how important it is for kids to be listened to and it's OKAY to need people. And also a reminder to kids that sometimes when their friends are upset they simply need to listen. This will be a staple in my social emotional curriculum for managing emotions. A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:
From the Book Jacket: To celebrate Frank's birthday, Kate throws him a party with all her favorite things: lots of friends, dancing in circles, loud singing, and sparkly confetti everywhere. But best friends don't always have the same taste in parties. Frank prefers quiet, sun-drenched naps on his favorite rug. So he hides. Kate must find a way to bring Frank back to the party - on his own terms. A story that encourages empathy and the art of listening.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: This has been such a help with the students at my school who are learning about self-regulation and how their behavior impacts others. If you like to teach the zones of regulation this is an awesome book to add to your lessons. Let's Have a Dog Party is a teaches kids the importance of recognizing and understanding others emotions. Frank is completely overwhelmed by the energy and excitement of the children. One of the things the kids in the story are not immediately picking up on are the social cues that Frank is giving through his body language. Finally, a girl named Kate realizes she needs to take a gentle quieter approach to Frank to help him feel comfortable and safe. This was a really good teaching moment for a small group I am working with.
There are many different ways you can use this book with your students....self-regulation, personal space, zones of regulation, voice levels, empathy, and being a social thinker. I highly recommend this one. It's a great read with awesome illustrations to help teach these important social skills. A Link to This Book:
From the Book Jacket: When you live in The Happy Book, the world is full of daisies and sunshine and friendship cakes...until your best friend eats the whole cake and doesn't save you one bite. Moving from happiness to sadness and everything in between, Camper and Clam have a hard time finding their way back to happy. But maybe happy isn't the goal - being a good friend is about supporting each other and feeling all the feels together.
At once funny and thoughtful, The Happy Book supports social emotional learning. It's a book to keep young readers company no matter how they're feeling!
Why It's On My Bookshelf: As a school counselor I have used a lot of different books to teach students how to regulate their feelings. The Happy Book is a great addition to my social emotional teaching curriculum. I specifically used this book to help kids learn more about the Zones of Regulation and how we can have many feelings throughout the day. Everything is going great between Camper and Clam until one of them gets their feelings hurt. From there they experience all sorts of different emotions. This was helpful to my students as they could connect to the conflict between the two characters - which was a misunderstanding. But more importantly how you can bounce right out of being happy into sadness or anger. At one point Camper feels scared that Clam no longer wants to be his friend. This is a social situation many kids can relate to. This book was a great fit for teaching the zones and also such a validating read for children to know it's okay to open up about your emotions -- eventually closure will come. A Link to This Book:
Author: Ganit and Adir Levy Illustrator: Mat Sadler
From the Book Jacket: Danny is a real-life superhero in training, learning about his most important super power of all "THE POWER TO CHOOSE." In this book, YOU decide how the story will end by making choices for Danny. You'll have a blast trying to reach all nine endings! Why It's On My Bookshelf: What Should Danny Do has been so popular this past year it has gone out of stock on Amazon a few times. I finally have a copy of my own! I have wanted to explore decision making with my students and this is just the book to help us. A line that is emphasized in the book is "THE POWER TO CHOOSE.' I love this so much. Although kids are going to make mistakes in their thought processes I like reinforcing the idea of helping children remember to take the time to think about the outcome of their choices. This is also a great story for teaching kids about responsibility. I think that goes hand in hand with decision making.
There are nine different stories in the book. When you reach an ending, you can start over and make different choices to see how his day changes. This is not a book you just read through. Children will learn best from it by reading multiple versions of the story picking both positive and negative choices for Danny.
From the Book Jacket: In Mommy's Khimar a young girl plays dress-up with her mother's head scarves, feeling her mother's love with each one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of a diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl's life.
Author: Hena Khan Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel
From the Book Jacket: Grandma's hijab under her chin. Auntie pins hers up with a whimsical brooch. Jenna puts a sun hat over hers when she hikes. Iman wears a sports hijab for tae kwon do. As a young girl observes the women in her life and how each covers her hair a different way, she dreams of the possibilities in her own future and how she might express her personality through her hijab. Under My Hijab provides a friendly introduction to hijabs for all readers, and celebrate the Muslim women and girls who choose to wear them.
Why They Are On My Bookshelf: Both of these books have provided an avenue for my daughter and I to talk about the diversity within her school. My daughter understands hijabs are not just about the way they are worn but the reasons for wearing them. I'm so grateful that picture books like this exist for children to access and to shine a light on why some Muslim women choose to wear them. I highly recommend these books as they are so IMPORTANT right now. I'm hoping to incorporate them in my school counseling lessons.
From the Book Jacket: You've likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?
As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps to the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink - everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.
From Katherine's early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who non only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've been using more and more biographies the past couple years when I'm teaching kids growth mindset. Counting on Katherine was a great story to share with the kids. Our students are really inspired by true stories and they learned a lot about the life of Katherine Johnson. This is about a woman who never gave up her dreams. If you loved the movie Hidden Figures - I highly recommend this book. You will learn even more about the obstacles she overcame and her DETERMINATION. A Link to This Book:
From the Book Jacket: Owen McPhee doesn't just like to talk, he LOVES to talk. He spends every waking minute chattering away at his teachers, his classmates, his parents, his dog, and even himself. But all that talking can get in the way of listening. And when Owen wakes up with a bad case of laryngitis, it gives him a much-needed opportunity to hear what others have to say. A lively picture book that captures the social dynamics of a busy classroom while delivering a gentle message about the importance of listening.
Author: Julia Cook Illustrator: Anita DuFalla
From the Book Jacket: Spunky, spirited Isabella is always shouting out her every thought, idea, and feeling. She loves using her loud voice so much, everyone calls her "Decibella!" But that's not a nickname to brag about. Isabella's so loud, she interrupts class and irritates others. She doesn't know how or when to use a softer, quieter voice until her teacher introduces the "five volumes" of voice. Learning how and when to use each voice is made a lot more fun when Isabella is told to practice by saying aloud the word. Why They Are On My Bookshelf: There are a few staples in my library I use for helping kids work on listening, raising their hand, and being respectful when others are talking. I'm pretty loyal to the ones that are currently in my rotation. I find we need to revisit being an active listener throughout the school year or sometimes daily so it's nice to add new books kids have not yet heard around this skill. They can get desensitized to the same language and stories we use. It's good to mix it up! I've been reading both Decibella and Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! the past month to do some reteaching and the kids LOVE them. Highly recommend! A Link to These Books: