Picture Books for Developing Social/Emotional Growth
a book list by Anne M. Slanina, Ph.D., Author of The Adventures of Annie Mouse Bibliotherapy Series
Years ago, as a young mother, I realized that I did not properly prepare my toddler for his baby brother’s hospitalization and came to learn that he mistakenly believed that I had punished his brother for being “bad.” This was the result of my explanation, “your brother has to be in the hospital until he is better.” To my toddler, “better” was the opposite of “bad” and I had sent the baby away for crying too much! My once-happy toddler became fearful and angry. I realized then that I should have used picture books to help him understand what was about to happen to his brother, prior to the hospitalization of his brother. I have since made bibliotherapy, using books for working through difficult situations, my professional focus in order to assist parents and teachers with addressing challenging situations through literature. (For more information, see http://www.anniemousebooks.com.)
All children will experience adversity of one kind or another at some point in their lives. If they have been presented with literature that addresses a variety of difficulties prior to having a crisis, they will be better equipped to cope when the need arises. Social and emotional development of young children can be enhanced if we carefully choose the books we share with them and allow ample opportunity for them to ask questions and relate the situations to their own feelings. Following is a brief list of some of my personal favorites.
There is a picture book available for every situation imaginable — death, divorce, bullying, gay parents, etc. Whatever situation you are facing, you can find a picture book to break the ice and help with opening up communication about that topic. As a caregiver, you will gain valuable insight into what the children are thinking and feeling and can often avoid or get to the root of behavior problems in the process.
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About Anne M. Slanina, Ph.D.
Anne is an Associate Professor at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches Elementary/Early Childhood Education. She's the author of a series of bibliotherapy picture books: Annie Mouse Meets a New Friend, Annie Mouse Meets her Guardian Angel and The Adventures of Annnie Mouse: Baby Brother Goes to the Hospital, which can be found at www.anniemousebooks.com. In her spare time she is a dulcimer player and is a Route 66 enthusiast.
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