Every parent and child enjoys the special moments connecting over a favorite book. Children often ask for the same title to be read over and over, delighting in each page as if it was the first time hearing the tale. Parenting experts and psychologists agree that this practice is important for family bonding and for learning hidden messages within the tales of childhood literature. Haley Goldberg, LMFT and owner of The Heart of Connection, suggest that parents need to supplement their well-known children books with books that contain emotional support and teach social and emotional skills.

Children need intentional support for social-emotional development, such as friendship skills, empathy, impulse control, problem-solving, and gratitude. Such books offer the support to cope with a range of challenges like dealing with conflict, a new sibling, sibling rivalry, moving, deployment, divorce, and death. Parents report that the books which address these often difficult topics help to alleviate stress, provide vocabulary for children to use, and offer direct solutions for children.

Books that focus on emotional skills are written explicitly about feelings/behaviors, they build emotional vocabulary, and in some cases provide information about behavioral expectations in a non-threatening way. We often only think of teaching common emotions like happy, sad mad, etc, but there are many other feelings words that children should learn to express, such as disappointed, lonely, confused, angry, and impatient.

An easy and fun way to be more intentional about supporting social-emotional development is to enhance your child’s library with the following social and emotional learning books:

  • The Hundred Dresses
  • Crow Boy
  • Rule
  • Yesterday I had the Blues
  • Wonder
  • Mouse was Mad
  • I Miss Franklin P. Shuckles
  • Crazy Hair Day

Understanding emotions is a critical part of healthy child development. It is up to adults to teach children to understand and deal with their emotions in appropriate ways. Integrating books with messages that teach these skills is just as fun and meaningful as reading our favorite and timeless classics.