• Susan Hefley

SEL: Start early

Books have the power to heal us, to transport us to other worlds but also to help us make sense of our world. This is especially true for our littlest ones. Recently my pediatrician said that we need to start building an emotional vocabulary for my little one. I nodded my head but was thinking "We've got this!" We have been reading and re-reading some great ones. Below is my list of favorite board book format SEL books.


The first ones that you will consider are actually several series of books: The Best Behavior series, the companion series Toddler Tools by Elizabeth Verdick and the Hello Genius series. If you can only pick one pick the Best Behavior books every time. I like that the Best Behavior books include diverse characters, strategies to try in kid language, suggestions for parents, and are written in a format that little ones will enjoy. I expected to love the bright shinny Hello Genius books, but was left disappointed. They are extremely short (even for a board book) and lack the message you would hope for. I actually hid "Mouse is Sorry" because it is so poorly written and is not helping me teach the concept. I would expect that toddlers would gravitate towards the Hello Genius books given the option, but at least my test subjects also make these their second choice.


Note: If you are a school librarian pickup Listening Time. I start EVERY storytime with this book for my K-1 crowd and it has been a big help.


A few others that should be first choices for your first SEL bookshelf include:

  • Duck and Goose How Are You Feeling? by Tad Hills

  • Quiet Time with Belle by Andrea Posner

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

  • Empowerment series by Stephen Krensky

  • Feelings Book by Todd Parr


There are not enough resources available that list SEL books. It isn't really a category on Amazon (though it should be). First Book has some GREAT resources but only for the books that they offer. I hope that you will find this website will become a great resource for future SEL book lists. There are many categories to cover: what would you like to see?














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© 2020 Susan Hefley.

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