My 3 Favorite, Fantastic Books For Emotions and Perspective Taking

Need some help working on emotions and social skills with your students? My last posts shared some tips and some amazing links for free information to use with a slant toward older or more skilled students. For me, that happened to be my emotionally disturbed students, who lack the emotion vocabulary needed for interactions with their peers, especially in terms of conflicts and problem solving.

This week is for sharing some of my favorite books and resources for younger or more limited students. In my case, this is my students who are on the autism spectrum. Unlike the students from last week, who initiate interactions with their peers, but then misinterpret social cues and get into conflicts, this week’s post is geared more towards students who have limited interactions with their peers or who interact without ever realizing that everyone else does not have the same interests that they do.

Vocabulary- The Basics
Still start with emotion vocabulary. See the last post here if you’d like some great links for the vocabulary resources. Choose your vocabulary targets to expand their language ability for thinking about and expressing their feelings, with activities based on the students’ ages and cognitive skills, and keeping in mind what problems they are showing in their school interactions.  Make sure they can use more than the 4 basic emotions and that they express degrees of emotion!

3 fantastic Go-To books for students with autism!
Literacy- Apply the Vocabulary with Skill Practice

After students can use the new words expressively and identify the basic emotion group, try using stories! Using literacy activities is good practice, especially for a caseload of limited readers, and good stories provide a context for understanding emotions and situations in a way that vocabulary drills won't. 

Perhaps most important of all, applying the new vocabulary in discussion of story plots helps students to understand that people have different perspectives. What made the story character feel angry may make your student feel sad.

No, David, NO! by David Shannon is an all time favorite for young children. David's antics are always getting him into trouble while he is just trying to have fun.

The simple plot and pictures are great for eliciting sentences in a story retell while the situations lend themselves to discussing cause-effect and why mom does not see things the way that David does.



A Bad Case of Stripes, also by David Shannon, is another one of my go - to books.  On the surface, the plot is seemingly a straight forward story abut a girl who has back to school nerves. The pictures in the books can engender a lot of discussion about facial expressions as Camilla develops a bad case of stripes after deciding to avoid her favorite food, lima beans. The underlying perspectives behind the plot about what motivated Camilla in her decision making were difficult for my upper elementary and lower middle school students to understand.

Dear Mrs. LaRue, by Mark Teague, is another elementary level paperback that worked well for these grades. I have to admit that the first time I read it, I wasn't sure that a letter style book could keep my students interested, but I was proven wrong! The illustrations in black and white versus color were of great interest, helping my students to compare the perspectives of Ike the dog to his owner, Mrs. LaRue. The vocabulary used and length of the letters were great for expanding the language and listening skills for the students in the group without social goals. Even better, there are so many free activities to be found online!

More Books for Teaching Emotion Vocabulary
You can get more ideas for books to use at these links:

The website has both a book list and teaching resource guides!

This link has the names of books sorted by the emotion it teaches, especially useful for targeting specific vocabulary.

This PDF gives ideas for how to use books to teach about emotions.

One of my favorite purchased resources for stories that directly teach emotion vocabulary is Focus on Feelings from Attainment Company. The stories feature older people, focus on specific vocabulary targets and review them in later stories, use real photos and are short enough to maintain my students attention!  

Do you have a favorite that I missed?
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