Exploring Social Skills in Early Childhood

Since summer tends to be a fairly quiet time in the office here at Mackin, we try to use that time to focus on professional development opportunities. One of the opportunities I took advantage of this summer is attending EdWeb webinars, and it never failed that by the time the webinar was over, I was bursting with books I wanted to share on the topic. I hope Books in Bloom readers won’t mind if I share some of those recommendations here! 😉

gettingtotheheartOne of my favorite topics to learn more about is Early Childhood Education, and the webinar presented by Ellen Booth Church based on her new book Getting to the Heart of Learning: Social-Emotional Skills Across the Early Childhood Curriculum (9780876595800. May 2015. Professional.) was a fascinating look at the role that social-emotional skills play in academic success in the preschool and primary grades, emphasizing that kids learn through social interaction. I took away four main social-emotional skills that young children need to know to succeed academically, and I have book recommendations for each.

Kids need to:

  • wildfeelingsBe able to name their emotions. A strong vocabulary of emotions will make it easier for kids to talk about their feelings and empathize with others’ feelings. There are many, many books that share examples of one emotion or another, but I want to recommend Wild Feelings by David Milgrim, which uses humor to explore the idea that we all feel all sorts of feelings and that it’s normal to feel stubborn, small, lonely, etc. This is a book that will have kids laughing—and talking about their feelings.


  • whyareyouicecreamsummerFeel comfortable expressing curiosity. Kids are curious about everything, and we want to encourage their questions and curious observations! You can use picture books to model asking questions. Why Are You Doing That? by Elisa Amado features a curious boy learning about his community. Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis shows the main character’s intense curiosity for one very particular subject, and teachers might use this story as a fun way to introduce the idea of curiosity-driven research.


  • wecangetalongKnow how to be a friend. I have shared picture books about making friends before, but it is also important for kids to know some of the specific skills involved in being a friend, like listening, taking turns, and cooperating, because these are the same skills that will help them learn in the classroom. We Can Get Along by Lauren Murphy Payne is full of good information about conflict resolution, kindness, and other essential social skills for kids, and the back matter aimed at adults offers assistance for those who want to reinforce these skills in their classrooms.


  • plantakissberniceSee the joy in kindness. I like the way Ellen Booth Church put this because there are many books out there for kids about being kind, sharing, and helping, but “seeing the joy in kindness” is a little different. It makes me think of books like Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal in which kindness is spread from person to person or Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison, which shows how the simple act of sharing can turn a bad day into a good one.



Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison. 9780803739161. July 2015. Gr. Ps-1 – kindness, emotions

Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis. 9780545731614. May 2015. Gr. K-3 – curiosity

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. 9780061986758. 2012. Gr. Ps-3 – kindness

We Can Get Along: A Child’s Book of Choices by Lauren Murphy Payne. 9781631980497. Sept 2015. Gr. Ps-2 – friendship

Wild Feelings by David Milgrim. 9780805095876. August 2015. Gr. Ps-2 – emotions

Why Are You Doing That? By Elisa Amado. 9781554984534. 2014. Gr. Ps-2 – curiosity


Watch for another Edweb inspired post from me next month!


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