5 Ways Children's Books Enhance SEL Development – Cardinal Rule Press
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5 Ways Children's Books Enhance SEL Development

Social-emotional learning, or SEL, is a type of learning that promotes the understanding and application of social and emotional skills, attitudes, and behaviors. SEL teaches children about teamwork, respect, empathy, consequences, self-control, and much more.

Children’s books, whether read at home or in the classroom, are a fun and engaging way to support social-emotional learning because ...

Children’s books give kids the language to articulate their feelings. Reading a children’s book about how to deal with difficult emotions, like our book, The Heavy Bag, which details Enid’s journey with the new and heavy feeling of grief, gives children the vocabulary to describe how they are feeling and shows them how to communicate with those around them effectively. These types of books show children that they aren’t alone and that other kids feel the same way as they do. These books also allow children to understand and accept how they feel, supporting their communication, emotional identification, and self-awareness skills.

Children’s books help develop problem-solving skills. Reading a book in which a character feels better after overcoming obstacles can help kids develop their own problem-solving skills. These kinds of books also help children develop analytical, responsible decision-making, and interpersonal skills. 

Children’s books introduce readers to different perspectives and help them develop social awareness skills. Introducing children to a wide variety of people and cultures through books allows them to indirectly experience what the character is going through, helping them relate to and care for those around them who are different. Books about differing perspectives allow children to understand another experience, making them aware that their experience isn’t everyone else's. These kinds of books help develop children’s open-mindedness, compassion, and social awareness skills.

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Children’s books help kids develop empathy and relationship skills. Reading books allows children to draw parallels between themselves and the characters in the story, and as children start to care for and think about their favorite characters, they develop empathy. Reading books can show children the displays of respect and care for others that should be present in any relationship, whether between friends or classmates, setting a good example for readers to follow. Showing positive examples of friendship, cooperation, and inclusivity teaches children what it means to be a part of a supportive community and why it’s important. 

Children’s books help improve concentration and patience. When children read or are being read to, they are developing their ability to concentrate and their patience, two crucial listening skills. help children learn how to give others their full attention, how to engage in meaningful conversations, and how to do well in both their academic and social lives. Reading also teaches delayed gratification; a child has to wait to find out what happens, and reading rewards a child’s sustained focus because they can’t indulge in every distraction if they want to finish a book. 

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Ella Shauman has recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature. She loves to travel, try new restaurants, and spend time with family and friends in her free time.

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