Social-emotional learning and the development of social skills are trending in education right now. And for good reason! Children need to learn social skills, or how to act in our society. They also need to learn how to deal with their emotions when things inevitably do not go the way they hope.
The Importance of Social Skills
Since developing social skills for children is so important, many parents, teachers, and authors are eager to help. But where do you start? Follow our comprehensive list of social skills books that cover issues like bullying, fitting in, manners, problem-solving, talking too much, listening to directions, and many more.
Picture Books for All Ages
Once upon a time, picture books were geared towards only young children. In recent years, however, they have grown in popularity among children of all ages, and even with teenagers and adults! We begin our comprehensive social skills book list with picture books:
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A young girl and her dog assistant set out to make the most “magnificent thing.” When it does not turn out how she had hoped, she quits. Her assistant suggests that they take a walk. As they do, it becomes clear what she needs to do to succeed!
- What Would Danny Do? by Ganit and Adir Levy
Young Danny is a real-life superhero in training, learning about his most important superpower: the ability to choose. In this book, you decide how Danny’s school day will end by making those choices for him.
- My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook
Louis has a lot of important thoughts that he wants to share. So he always interrupts! This book takes an empathetic approach to the unpleasant habit of interrupting and helps teach children how to manage their thoughts without interrupting.
- What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick
This charming book examines the world by contemplating what would happen if everybody broke the rules. What if everyone three their trash on the ground? Or spoke during storytime? Explore what a mess the world would be if everyone just did what they wanted all of the time.
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
This gentle read illustrates how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and enable them to thrive.
- Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
Did you know that cakes can be rude? This deliciously entertaining book follows one not-so-sweet cake who does not have manners and will learn some big lessons. Read this book for some sweet lessons on saying thank you or why it’s good to listen to your parents. Turns out, it’s a piece of cake!
- Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
Meet Mr. Rabbit and his new neighbors…the otters! Mr. Rabbit is very concerned because he does not know anything about otters. This charming read examines how to treat others than are not like you. Will they be able to get along?
- The Mindful Dragon by Steve Herman
This cute story teaches your child, or “dragon,” how to live in the present. It teaches about mindfulness, peace, and focus.
- Llama Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney
Llama is back again, but this time with a sharing drama! Llama must learn to share with his new neighbor Nelly Gnu, but it is not going to be easy. He struggles to decide what to share at first but learns a big lesson in how much fun playing can be when two people can join in the fun!
- David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon
David is always getting in trouble but never apologizes for his behavior. After a while, he learns that it’s okay to say sorry, and it can even make you feel better! Be entertained by this funny, light-hearted read about a mischievous but tender-hearted little boy.
Anxious ninja is just that: anxious. He experiences difficult emotions that paralyze him, until one day when his friend gives him tips on how to handle his anxiety. Life can be difficult sometimes. Make it less so by reading this funny book about how to deal with the things that make you anxious.
- The Worst Day of My Life Ever! by Julia Cook
Meet RJ. He has a lot of problems. Whether they are with his mother, his teachers, the school principal, or his friends, he learns a valuable lesson about listening and paying attention to directions.
- Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Gerald is careful and does not smile often, while Piggie is inattentive and smiley. What will happen when these two encounter an ice-cream conundrum?
- Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne Jones
Lacey Walker loves, loves, loves to talk. All-day. And even all night! But when Lacey loses her voice, she learns how much she has missed out on by not listening!
- The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
Mean Jean was the recess queen. No one dared challenge her at recess unless they wanted to get pushed around. That is until a new kid started at school. Don’t miss out on this clever book about conflict resolution.
- Louise and Andie The Art of Friendship by Kelly Light
Louise loves art, and so does her new neighbor, a creative and off-beat girl named Andie. But living the same thing does not always mean that you see artist-eye-to-artist-eye about it. Can they overcome their creative differences in this book about overcoming hurdles in friendship?
- Making Friends is an Art by Julia Cook
Brown is just like other pencils, and if he can learn friendship skills from them, he will also make friends. This sweet book focuses on relationship-building skills for children.
- The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo
This heartwarming story is both visually stunning and thought-provoking. Zot lives atop a hill in a world with no color. From his perch, he gazes at Earth, with brilliant, sparkling color and seems to be a very happy place.
- Whole Body Listening Larry at Home! 2nd Edition by Elizabeth Sautter
This sweet and charming book explores and expands on the whole body listening technique created by Susanne Poulette Truesdale. Help your child or students learn to be better listeners using this creative technique.
- Train Your Dragon to Be Kind by Steve Herman
This cute read teaches children the importance of being caring, kind, giving, and thoughtful.
- Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
Life is not always perfect. It’s full of smears, tears, rips, and smudges! Sometimes mistakes are the best opportunities to make something beautiful. This book teaches kids the life lesson that parents want their children to learn: it is okay to make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes are the best things that can happen in life!
- Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnavas
In order to make friends, Jessica brings a present to school in her cardboard box. This book examines important issues such as the value of self-worth and acceptance.
- The Juicebox Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
The kids at Pete’s new school do not let bullies be bullies. They do something about it! When he begins to act badly, they teach him about “The Promise.” Will Pete shed his bullying ways?
- But It’s Not My Fault by Julia Cook
Noodle has a habit of blaming others for being irresponsible. When he didn’t finish his homework or remember to turn in his library book, he blamed those around him. Luckily, he turns it all around by learning not to blame others and take responsibility for his actions.
- I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! by Julia Cook
Meet RJ, a kid whose least favorite word is “no.” He is constantly trying to convince those around him to turn “No” into “Maybe” or “Later” or “We’ll see.” This humorous book helps readers understand the importance of accepting “No” for an answer and how to disagree appropriately.
- Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt
Frank is honest. He tells the truth, all the time, to everyone. While honesty is the best policy, Frank learns the value of being tactful. Being truthful, but not too truthful.
Non-Fiction Social Skills Books for Kids:
- Social Skills for Kids: Over 75 Fun Games and Activities for Building Better Relationships, Problem Solving & Improving Communication by Janine Halloran
Help your children understand practice social skills and learn how to play in the real world with this book that outlines step-by-step plans for how to play. It also offers alternatives for each different activity and questions to debrief afterward.
- Social Rules for Kids: The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to Succeed by Susan Diamond
Some parents feel unsure of what to say and do to help their children learn how to act in social situations. This book can help open that door of communication between children and parents by acknowledging 100 different social rules for home, school, and the public community.
Social Skills Books for Kids from 8-13 Years Old:
- Dude, That’s Rude! (Get Some Manners) by Pamela Espeland
Some kids need manners! This book is full of cartoons and easy-to-read text to help teach kids about manners in all sorts of different situations in a fun way.
- A Smart Girl’s Guide: Friendship Troubles (Revised): Dealing with Fights, Being Left Out & the Whole Popularity Thing by Patti Criswell
Friendships are important. But they can also be difficult. This guide will help girls navigate the pitfall of interpersonal relationships, such as backstabbing and triangles. It includes practical tips, quizzes, and stories from real girls that have experienced these problems but are still friends!
Intense emotions and strong feelings are a part of every pre-teen’s life. Some children feel confused because they feel both happy and sad at the same time. Or, they feel angry and envious but have a hard time deciphering the two emotions. This practical guide can help kids understand what to do when their emotions feel like too much.
Social Skills Books for Teens:
- Smile and Succeed for Teens by Kirt Manecke
This book is a quick and easy guide to help teens understand critical skills for success in the workplace. It also offers support for teens and young adults with autism or different special needs to get and keep a job.
This book won an iParenting Media Award for its stunning visual representations. It appeals to the visual strengths of kids on the autism spectrum, helping demonstrate how to act in various social situations.
Helping develop social skills in children is very important. You can further support children’s social skills by encouraging them to go outdoors and explore and play with others. Check out the creative series Elliot’s Adventures, written to help stimulate children’s minds and a love for the outdoors!