Monday, December 8, 2014

Books to Teach Social Skills

The Importance of Building Social Understanding

Developing social skills is a critical part of child development. However, it can be complicated to explain to students the importance and relevance of different behavior modifications in an engaging, meaningful way. As a classroom teacher, I often relied heavily on creative books to help set the stage and open a dialogue with students about behavior and behavior management. The following are a sampling of books that tackle multiple social areas that can be hard to explain to students. In my classroom, I always read social development stories in a whole class setting, and then engaged in a teacher directed discussion about the lesson behind each tale. Furthermore, having a framework of a story can be beneficial as a reference when giving students directives about the behaviors. For example, the story Decibella and her 6-inch Voice introduces a five-point voice scale to students, so often when I wanted to temper the vocal volume of student I would ask them where their voice was on the Decibella scale, and follow that prompt up with where it should be. It was a strong tool in helping manage the classroom environment, while also promoting behavioral self-monitoring in my students.

Book Recommendations
Skill taught: Understanding and Expressing Emotions

Grades: Preschool through Third Grade

Summary: An excellent book, with beautiful illustrations to teach students about complex emotions such as pride, fear, pain, curiosity, anger and disappointment. The story also gives students a way to articulate the emotions they are feeling, and an understanding how one might act when feeling a particular way. The text uses bias-free language and vocabulary to give students a framework to express their feelings.

Skill taught: Behavior Management

Grades: Preschool through Fifth Grade

Summary: An accompaniment to The Way I Feel, this book explains and details character traits such as compassion, curiosity, capability and bravery. The story uses beautiful illustrations and verse to describe behavior in different contexts and how different types of children act differently. Furthermore, the text defines new vocabulary describing behavior in a judgment-free way, and gives students a new wealth of language to describe their own actions. 

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
Skill taught: Managing thoughts and words without interrupting

Grades: Preschool and up

Summary: An award winning book created to teach children about controlling their thoughts and expressing their ideas at an appropriate time. The book is written in friendly, witty verse that is accompanied by beautifully illustrated imagery. The story provides teachers, parents and interventionists a fun way to teach students to listen to others and wait their turn to speak. 

Decibella and her 6-inch Voice by Julia Cook and Anita De Falla
Skill taught: Listening and Communication

Grades: Kindergarten through third grade

Summary: A colorfully illustrated and thoughtfully written story about a girl who learns to use and her adjust her voice to communicate with confidence. This story teacher students about the five voice volumes, and how one must adjust their levels for different settings. The story uses humor to teach students effective communication techniques, and also provides a section of tips for parents and teachers. 

Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman

Skill taught: Respecting personal Space

Grades: Preschool and up

Summary: An exceptional book that uses humor to teach children about respecting and maintaining personal space in a way that is witty and engaging.

Grades: Kindergarten and up

Summary: A great team building book that uses humor to teach students the value of working together and sharing their resources. This book is part of Ms. Cook’s Best Me I Can Be! collection, which includes many other titles that are also worth exploring. The additional titles cover topics such as peer pressure, making friends, asking for help and receiving feedback.

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