New Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Stories for 2024

May is Mental Health Awareness month and with numerous end-of-school events, spring sports, and other various activities causing our family to feel more stress than normal, I appreciate this reminder to slow down and take care of our mental health.
 
It’s not always easy to talk about one’s feelings, but I love how Social Emotional Learning stories give children the tools and confidence to identify, discuss, and work through their big feelings.
 
This collection of new SEL books focuses on helping readers learn to manage and cope with complex feelings. I especially love the stories highlighting hope and finding a positive perspective.

 

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I Am a Thundercloud by Leah Moser, illustrated by Marie Hermansson, 2024

(Ages 3 and up)

Using a thunderstorm as a metaphor, a young boy describes how all-consuming his anger feels. He finally finds comfort through drawing, playing music, taking deep breaths, and talking through his feelings. The eye-catching artwork and clever use of onomatopoeia make this an excellent social emotional learning read aloud.

Buy It Here

 

Cranky by Phuc Tran, illustrated by Pete Oswald, 2024

(Ages 4 and up)

When a construction vehicle rolls out of bed feeling cranky, his grumpiness continues to grow throughout the day despite his friends’ attempts to lift his moodiness. Full of wordplay, this clever story is a great lesson in sympathy and working through tough feelings.

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Buffalo Fluffalo by Bess Kalb, illustrated by Erin Kraan, 2024

(Ages 3 and up)

“I’m the Buffalo Fluffalo, I heave and I huffalo. Leave me alone because I’ve had enuffalo!” Oh my goodness, this story is so much fun to read aloud. Rolling rhymes and charming illustrations follow a very angry buffalo who rebukes his friendly prairie companions. When a rainstorm drenches his fluff, he finds the value in true friendship.

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The Drama Llama by Rachel Morrisroe, illustrated by Ella Okstad, 2024

(Ages 4 and up)

When a young boy’s anxiety manifests into a llama, humorous hijinks ensue. After several comical mishaps, the boy finally talks with a trusted adult. As he shares his worries and fears, the llama shrinks and the boy learns to manage living with a llama.

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Everyday Brave by Colter Jackson, 2024

(Ages 4 and up)

With her imaginary lion, a young girl bravely takes on the world. When a classmate says the lion isn’t real, however, he disappears, leaving the girl to feel scared and alone. Realizing the world is more fun when you are brave, she finds her own inner-lion and the courage to face her fears.

Buy It Here

 

Finding Grateful by Dianne White, illustrated by Faith Pray, 2024

Our family is constantly rushing from one activity to another and I love how this book encourages readers to slow down and appreciate the small things around them. Through a young girl’s eyes, readers can witness the benefits of mindfulness and taking the time to find beauty all around us.

Buy It Here

 

There’s No Place Like Hope by Janet Lawler, illustrated by Tamisha Anthony, 2024

Uplifting rhymes describe the power of hope in this heartfelt book. Filled with delightfully inclusive illustrations, this reassuring read encourages readers to look for hope during difficult times.

Buy It Here

 

Silver Linings by Fiona Woodcock, 2023

(Ages 4 and up)

This is a must for kids who need a little help to look more on the bright side of things. While Pip often gets disappointed when something doesn’t go as planned, her best friend Parker is always there to lift her spirits and help see things with a different perspective. When Parker spills milk on his drawing, however, it’s Pip who extends a gesture of empathy that gets him out of his funk. This is a sweet friendship story filled with charming illustrations and an excellent lesson in empathy and resilience.

Buy It Here

 

There’s a Yeti in my Tummy by Meredith Rusu, illustrated by Martín Morón, 2023

(Ages 4 and up)

A young boy’s big emotions take the form of a giant yeti in this amusing story. Whenever he feels nervous or bored, the yeti acts out causing mayhem. His parents and teacher calm his inner yeti by directing his silliness in more constructive and loving ways.

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Lola and the Troll by Connie Schultz, illustrated by Sandy Rodriguez, 2024

(Ages 4 and up)

When a troll-like figure criticizes Lola each time she passes by, she tries to change herself to avoid the troll’s attention. Unfortunately, the only thing she accomplishes is losing herself in the process. With the guidance of her librarian, Lola finds the bravery to stand up to the troll only to discover it is a new boy looking for attention. In a powerful scene, Lola forgives the boy, inspires him to apologize, and teaches him how to be a real friend. There are a lot of impactful messages wrapped up in this moving story about being true to yourself and standing up for what is right.

Buy It Here

 

Way Past Mean by Hallee Adelman, illustrated by Karen Wall, 2024

(Ages 5 and up)

When two popular girls, Yaz and Keya, ask another young girl to exclude Nelly the new girl, she falls victim to the temptation of popularity. Before she knows it, she is saying mean things and excluding Nelly. When she sees the effect it has on Nelly, however, she apologizes and makes amends for her actions. This scenario is all too relatable and is an excellent lesson in choosing kindness over peer pressure.

Buy It Here

 

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