Mini SEL Classroom Libraries

Thursday, January 26, 2017
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Picture of our Social, Emotional Learning Classroom libraries.

Last spring, I applied for and was awarded a grant within the district whose parameters were basically that it have to do with bullying and/or SEL. Being a bibliophile, I jumped at the chance to get more books in the classrooms. I wrote the grant for getting a mini-SEL library for each classroom with books specific to the issues I see each grade level face most commonly/pervasively.

After we got the books (and oooed and ahhed over them extensively), we ordered some of our favorite book boxes for them, and consulted with our literacy coach. Our hope was that by including some standards-based discussion questions and writing prompts, we could garner additional investment from our teachers for the books usage. Then started the task of compiling (and sometimes creating) short extension activities for each book.

The end result was this:

Picture of our 3rd grade SEL books with their accompanying extension activites
Each box included a handout with both standards based and counselor created discussion questions and a handout briefly explaining activities the teachers could use to reinforce the books' lessons, as well as any accompanying materials (task cards, master copy of worksheet, etc.

Classroom SEL library book examples of standard based and counselor based discussion question.Classroom SEL library book examples of standard based and counselor based discussion question

We introduced these to the teachers very early in the mixed responses. A handful of teachers were excited, a handful were frustrated (our daily classroom's schedule is maxed out and anything that appears "extra" is stressful for the teachers), and most were apathetic. While we were hoping for lots of joy, we also recognize that everything new has a learning curve, both for us and for the teachers. When we first started doing regular classroom lessons, we had push back, and now they're usually jazzed for us to come in. Things take time to build, and a strong culture of SEL (and incorporating SEL into literacy!) is just in the growing and building stages still.

That said...about three or four months since introducing them...and we've gotten some GREAT feedback! The activities don't seem to be being used, so in the future we won't put time into them, but the books have been a huge hit. Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade in particular have been big fans.

Curious as to what books we selected for each grade?

Hands off, Harry book coverTattle Tongue book coverThe Recess Queen book cover

1st Grade
How Full is Your Bucket book cover
Clark the Shark book coverA Bug and a Wish book cover

2nd Grade
The Most Magnificent Thing book cover
Teamwork Isn't My Thing, and I Don't Like to Share! book CoverBeing Frank book cover

3rd Grade
But It's Not My Fault book cover
The Juice box Bully book coverThe Invisible Boy book cover

4th Grade
Just Kidding book cover
Coasting Casey book coverSimon's Hook book cover

Interested in learning more about discussion questions or extension activities for a specific book? Email me or comment here. It may be a bit much to put here in a post but I'm happy to share everything I've got the rights to share.


  1. I would love to learn more about the discussion questions and activities! I can think of at least a few teachers who would be into this, and I think it's a great idea overall.

    1. Hey Nancy! Give me your email and let me know which books in particular you're interested in and I'll share what we came up with!

  2. Hi Sara, sorry it took me so long to respond! I'm just seeing this now. My email is nancymwang at me dot com. I would love the activities for: Recess Queen, Clark the Shark, the Most Magnificent Thing, the Invisible Boy, and Simon's Hook? I know that's a lot so if you can only do a few I totally understand. Thanks so much!

  3. Thank you so much! These all look so good and I've already used a couple with one class in particular. I think I found you through a FB group for school counselors - I have loved following your blog since then!

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  5. Grif - my school only goes up to 4th so I'm not a 5th/6th expert, but I would say all of Trudy Ludwig's would be a great fit for those levels, as would many of Patricia Polacco's books.


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