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What is Social-Emotional Learning and Why Are Teachers Using It? 

What is social-emotional learning (SEL) and why is it important? Explore these Bookshare books that model SEL behaviors like resilience, kindness, courage, and overcoming obstacles, and learn some positive phrases that encourage a growth mindset.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is taking a higher priority in classrooms across the country. It is defined as the collection of skills necessary to get along with others and function successfully in a classroom and life. These valuable life skills include recognizing and managing emotions, being a good friend, controlling impulses, communicating effectively, and cooperating with others. These skills are especially important as students head back to school in the coming weeks.

According to research cited by Edutopia, SEL instruction can have a positive impact on students’ academic performance. Teachers can create a healthy school culture by helping students develop skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions. 

Books that Teach a Growth Mindset and Model SEL Behaviors 

We Are Teachers recently shared a list of books that teach a growth mindset. Bookshare has many of the books on the list – a few are highlighted below. Read them aloud at home or in school, let the characters model the positive behaviors, and use the stories as a springboard for discussion. 

Emanuel’s Dream – A true story about a disabled boy in Ghana who spreads his powerful message: disability is not inability.  

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? – This book encourages positive behavior as children see how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love 

Jabari Jumps – Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost ready to overcome his fears and make a giant splash. 

Drum Dream Girl – How one girl’s courage broke a taboo and changed music on her island forever 

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle – Learning how to ride a bike involves falling, getting up, falling again, and finally “by luck, grace, and determination” ride a bicycle!  

Rosie Revere, Engineer – Rosie dreamed of becoming a great engineer, but she was afraid of failure until her great-great-aunt Rosie the Riveter showed her that you can only truly fail if you quit. 

When Sophie Thinks She Can’t – Sophie feels upset and inadequate when she can’t solve a math puzzle. With help from her teacher, Sophie and her classmates learn new techniques. 

Eight Positive Phrases that Nurture Growth Mindset 

Also from We Are Teachers are eight positive phrases students can use to foster resilience and overcome failure. Parents and teachers can model and reinforce the new vocabulary.  

How can I improve? I’m no good at this. 
Let me try a different way. I give up. 
Mistakes are part of learning. I failed. 
Have I done my best work? I’m all done. 
Learning takes time. This is too hard. 
How can we learn from one another? He/she is smarter than me. 
I like a challenge. I’ll stick with what I know. 
My effort and attitude are everything. My abilities determine everything. 

The dual strategy of educators and parents teaching social-emotional competencies and Bookshare books with characters that model desired behaviors is an effective way to help children develop empathy and become more self-aware and confident. 

Not a member of Bookshare? Bookshare makes reading easier. People with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers can customize their experience to suit their learning style and find virtually any book they need for school, work, or the joy of reading. Learn more and sign up today

One Comment

  1. Jennifer

    What a useful article and great reminders for tangible things we can say and think to help kids build and retain a growth mindset, especially when things are tough.

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