Using Books to teach social skills is a great way to introduce and practice social skills with students in special education classes. By talking about social skills as it relates to the characters in the book, it helps students be more open in the discussion because it takes the focus off of them. Here are 10 books that are great for targeting social skills in the classroom.
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Choose your own social skills books
The What Should Danny Do book series is a must-have! The choose your own format allows students to see what would happen if you make the right choice and the wrong choice. It’s almost like living out a contingency map. The stories and problems are very relatable to students making them ideal for improving social skills at home and school. The series has also expanded to What Should Darla Do? Highly recommend!
Books for coping skills & emotions
B Is For Breathe is one of my most favorite books about coping skills. There are so many ways to use this book. You can incorporate the alphabet since it lists a different coping strategy for each letter, you could try different strategies out and compare which helped more, you could make graphs about which strategy is used by more/fewer people, etc. It’s a great way to talk about how there isn’t just one strategy that works for everyone.
When teaching about emotions, I like to use these two books.
- The Color Monster- A Story About Emotions: I really like how this book highlights that sometimes you have more than one feeling or emotion going on. It talks about how having so many emotions swirling around together can be confusing. As a follow-up to this book, we make a mindfulness bottle.
- My Magic Bottle Of Emotions Pop! is another great book for working on social skills and emotions. This book talks about the different types of emotions and what they might look like when that is how you are feeling. As a follow-up to this book, we make a mindfulness bottle with lots of different colored glitter.
To make the mindfulness bottle, we pour colored water into an empty plastic bottle. We add glitter and a little bit of clear hair gel. Then, just duct tape or hot glue the cap on. Using our mindfulness bottles, we talk about how we can feel confused or jumbled up when our emotions are all over the place. Shake the bottle up to create a visual of how it feels. Then we watch the bottle until all of the glitter and swirling has settled. We talk about how much calmer our bottles are and relate it to how our bodies feel when we are calm. After this lesson, keep the bottles in the classroom to help students calm themselves whenever they need them.
Julia Cook books for social skills
Julia Cook has a lot of different books that target social skills. She is great at adding in real-life situations and visuals to help students really understand the social skill or problem. Here are my 4 favorite Julia Cook books:
- My Mouth Is A Volcano is great for talking about calling out and how conversational skills.
- I have Ants In My Pants can be used for so many skills. We use it to talk about sensory needs, how our actions affect others, and idioms. Highly recommend this book!
- Personal Space Camp is a must-have for special education classes! This book talks about body awareness, social skills, and language concepts. This is a great book to follow up with standing inside hula-hoops to talk to each other to help students realize how close or far away they should be from others.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Drop is a book that targets life and social skills. This book is all about liking everything to be the same and having a hard time dealing with change. The ability to handle change… even good changes… can be very challenging for our students. This is a great book for targeting the concept of change.
Using books to teach and reinforce social skills is a great way to take the focus off of the child while still addressing the skill. Once we’ve talked about the social skills, we then focus on putting them into practice and highlighting them. Read the blog post, Build Social Skill & Class Morale, to see how we celebrate when students use social skills appropriately.