Kindergarten Booklist for Social and Emotional Learning

Maggie Hos-McGrane and Shamal Merchant
3 min read

Based on the original work of Maggie Hos-McGrane

As educators, we understand the importance of allocating time and space to focus on social and emotional learning in our classrooms. It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure that students are in-tune with their emotions, have the tools they need to communicate how they feel and understand important aspects of social and emotional learning to develop well-rounded personalities. However, a question we come across often during our conversations with teachers is how do we talk about emotions in a way that is authentic to young children. 

One proactive and impactful strategy to do this is through storytelling. Books can provide children in the Early Years with tools and vocabulary to identify pleasant and unpleasant feelings, and help us provide them with strategies to manage their emotions.

Our approach when creating this booklist

Go into the library, and you will most likely get overwhelmed by the thousands of children’s books available to you. We have simplified this search by putting together a list based on CASEL’s core competencies framework, and ensuring that we have a balance of genders, humans, and animals. 

We focussed on choosing books that promote the development of a healthy identity, building empathy, forming supportive relationships, and taking caring decisions. 

How you can use this booklist in your classroom

Since many kindergarten children cannot yet read, the books have been chosen for their use as read-alouds. Read-alouds are important for early learners as they not only engage them but also aid in the development of vocabulary and comprehension. Children who are read to frequently are usually keen to become readers themselves.

How to make your read-aloud sessions engaging

  • Make your characters and story come alive – Use different voices for different characters, and add changes in your narration pace, volume, pitch, and tone.
  • Connect and reflect – Pause and ask students to make connections to what they hear, reflect on what they liked about the story, make inferences, and so on. 
  • Make predictions – Engage your students by asking them to predict what might happen next in the story. This will develop their listening and speaking skills and help them make connections to personal experiences. 
  • Record expressive read-alouds – Record an interactive read-aloud on Toddle’s Workbook. After the read-aloud, pose a question to your students through the audio feature, asking them to record their answers. Students can send their responses to you through the audio recording feature. Beyond asking for audio responses, you can also encourage your young learners to draw pictures or showcase their understanding using Toddle’s Workbook. Giving students opportunities to express themselves in diverse ways can help them reflect effectively.
  • Reading at school and beyond – Families can support young learners in identifying and managing emotions while developing a healthy sense of self by reading to them at home. 

Empowering students to identify and manage their emotions is an important aspect of social and emotional learning. Books and storytelling captivate the interest of young readers and support them to understand and express their emotions. We hope the recommended readings are enjoyable and will help your students experience a safe and healthy learning environment at school and beyond.

Whoops! But It Wasn’t Me
Charlie has worked hard to make a rocket ship out of recycled materials and he asks Lola not to touch it, but when Lola is on her own she ends up breaking it. When Charlie finds out, Lola first of all denies any wrongdoing and blames her imaginary friend. Eventually, she owns up and says sorry. Charlie is happy she told the truth.
By Lauren Child
The Grizzy Bear Who Lost His Grrrrr!
For several years, Fred has won the Best Bear in the Wood award. However, the arrival of a new bear, Boris, and the loss of Fred’s champion GRRRRR put his title in jeopardy. Eventually, Boris admits he has stolen the roar because he was lonely.
By Rob Biddulph
The Busy Beaver
A busy beaver carelessly chomps off and nibbles trees until one day when he gets hit by one of the falling trees. He reflects on his behaviour to make positive changes and responsible choices. This book promotes responsibility and self-reflection.
By Nicholas Oldland
The Only Way is Badger
Badger thinks badgers are the best and expects everyone to be just like him. He soon learns a lesson in acceptance and that being the best is not always important. This story reinforces balance, responsible-decision making, and forgiveness.
By Stella J Jones
The Day The Crayons Quit
A boy receives letters from each of his crayons who complain they are either being used too much or not enough. He resolves the problem by making a drawing with all of them.
By Drew Daywalt
Hugless Douglas
Baby bear Douglas wakes up one day in need of a hug. He tries hugging lots of things and discovers that not a lot of creatures want to hug a bear. The book teaches children that they need to tell an adult if something goes wrong. Eventually, Douglas gets a hug from his mother.
By David Melling
The Old Egg
All the birds except Duck have an egg. However, Duck finds a beautiful egg of his own and he is delighted to adopt it. Despite the negativity from the other birds, Duck loves and cares for the egg. Everyone is in for a surprise when all the eggs hatch.
By Emily Gravett
Meesha Makes Friends
Meesha finds it hard to make friends, struggling with what to say or when to say the right things. This is a warm and affectionate story that helps readers navigate through social situations and learn to make friends.
By Tom Percival
It’s Hard to Be Five
It's really hard to be five! This is a story about the struggles of self-control and doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. With self-discipline and responsibility, life can be less difficult for a five year old!
By Jamie Lee Curtis
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
When Lilly brings her purple plastic purse to school it creates a distraction for everyone. Things get even worse when Lilly’s favourite teacher Mr Slinger, takes away her favourite purple purse. This book is an opportunity to learn how to regulate one’s emotions and manage anger.
By Kevin Henkes
Waiting Is Not Easy!
Piggie has a surprise for his friend Gerald, but it is very difficult for Gerald to wait for that surprise. Through a simple yet enjoyable story, this book conveys an impactful message on learning to wait patiently.
By Mo Willems
Ping Pong Pig
Ping Pong Pig is so busy learning to fly that he keeps making a huge mess! All the animals then help Ping Pong Pig accomplish his goal by giving him a trampoline. This story gives readers a valuable lesson on how personal goals can sometimes be achieved collectively with the help of others.
By Caroline Jayne Church
Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry
Martha the otter refuses to apologise, but she comes to realise that there are consequences associated with both positive and negative behaviour.
By Samantha Berger
Tiger, Tiger, Is It True?
The little tiger feels sad and that his world is falling apart, but a wise turtle asks him four questions and he comes to realise that his problems are caused by his thoughts. He learns that when he questions his thoughts, life can be wonderful again.
By Byron Katie and Hans Wilhelm
The Feel Good Book
It feels good to think about all the things that make you feel good. With bright colours and positive messages, this book encourages children to recognise and think about what makes them happy and enjoy life!
By Todd Parr
Red: A Crayon's Story
Red the crayon has a bright red label, but eventually discovers that he is, in fact, blue. A remarkable story about self-acceptance, courage, and being true to oneself.
By Michael Hall
Rulers of the Playground
A funny, relatable story about sharing, friendship, kindness, and rules! A great choice for the beginning of the school year.
By Joseph Kuefler
Stellaluna, a young fruit bat, falls into a nest of baby sparrows and has to learn how to behave like a bird in order to be accepted. When she later meets other bats she understands why she feels so different. Stellaluna shares her experiences with her sparrow friends and has to rescue them because they cannot fly at night. After this, they decide that while they are different, they are still friends and family.
By Janell Cannon
Feathers And Fools
Two flocks of birds did not respect each other’s differences and ended up going to war until there were no birds left. Luckily two eggs remained, and when the baby swan and baby peacock hatched out they realised how similar they were and became friends.
By Mem Fox
Change Sings
A young girl realises that she has the power to bring about positive change in her community and change the world for the better. No matter how big or small our words and actions are, we can inspire others to make a difference.
By Amanda Gorman

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Maggie Hos-McGrane
Maggie Hos-McGrane
Maggie has been an educator for over 30 years, 25 of these in international schools in Europe and Asia. She has taught students from age 3 to 18 in the IB PYP, MYP and DP programmes. Maggie has presented at international conferences including ISTE, Learning2, ECIS, AASSA and EARCOS, in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. She is passionate about the power of coaching to transform teaching and learning in schools. Maggie is a Google Innovator and has published several books about digital citizenship and technology integration as well as a recent book about coaching your colleagues in school. Maggie’s blog, Tech Transformation, has been read by over a million educators worldwide. In 2012 Maggie was recognized as one of the 365 heroes of education by Anthony Salcito, the Vice-President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft.
Shamal Merchant
Shamal Merchant
Shamal is the Learning and Engagement Manager at Toddle. In her current role, she works closely with educators from around the world to create meaningful professional development resources for the PYP community. She has taught in the IB PYP for 5 years and is passionate about language arts and engagement strategies.
Disclaimer: Toddle’s resources seek to encourage sharing of perspectives and innovative ideas for classroom teaching & learning. They are not intended to be replacements for official guides and publications. Views and opinions expressed by the authors of these resources are personal and should not be construed as official guidance. Please seek assistance from your school’s coordinator and/or refer to your school's or district's official documents before implementing ideas and strategies shared within these resources in your classroom.