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Welcome to another installment of #MomsReading! In this series, we discuss books and activities that parents and care providers can use to build a child’s social and emotional development. The rest of the posts in the series can be found here.

Social-emotional skills support the success of children in school and in life! For more info on what social-emotional skills are, check out our first blog post.

There are endless possibilities for books to read though, but below are some of our top picks that will help build your child’s emotional and cognitive skills this Summer. Share any favorites on Facebook and Twitter using the #MomsReading hashtag and let us know what books your family is enjoying!

Relationship Skills

Read This! Read How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? and explore what it means to hang out and play with friends. After reading, discuss with your child what they do for fun with friends and how they play nice.  

Do This! One of best ways to foster friendship is through kindness! Smitten with First has an adorable donut themed activity called Sprinkle Kindness (see below).  On the sprinkles, have your child write down different acts of kindness they have done for others.  On the bottom of the page, your child can explain further how their act of kindness helped a friend or family member.   Donuts aren't your thing? No problem there! You can make multiple variations of this activity. Try creating a flower bouquet and writing on the petals, or a yummy veggie basket and write on the individual vegetables!

Do This! Brainstorm with your child a list of what it means to be a friend.  On a poster board, write “Good friends…” and then put actions such as “remember birthdays” and “have fun with one another”.  Every time your child completes one of the actions listed, praise them for being a great friend!


Read This! Read The Feelings Book to discuss with your child about different moods and emotions that pop up throughout the day.  On each page, discuss the feeling with your child and ask them if they have ever felt that emotion.  

Do This! To go along with the Feelings Book, author Todd Parr made Feelings Flashcards!  Each card shows two opposite feelings, one on each side, with words and pictures your child can relate to. The whole family will be able to learn what it means to feel silly and serious, calm and nervous, brave and scared, and more. Don’t own the flashcard set? You can make your own! Draw, or print these amazing cards from Children 101, different depictions of emotions on the back of index cards with the mood name on the front.  Have your child point out which emotion is which.  

Do This! Create a feelings center in your home or care center! Whether it is in a play room or in a corner, this safe space will allow your child to explore their feelings. Chelsey of Buggy and Buddy suggests placing a kid-friendly mirror on the ground, so your child can look at themselves.  Place your child’s favorite toys, coloring books, stories about feelings, and more in the feelings center.  Also leave a blank notebook where your child can doodle about their feelings.

Social Awareness

Read This! Read Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combina, a bilingual story about a young Peruvian-Scottish-American girl who loves polka dots and stripes and peanut butter and jelly burritos. While others try to put Marisol in a box, she defies all stereotypes.  Dr. Lynne Kenney says that “emphasizing that everyone is different and we are all special in our own ways enhances acceptance and tolerance among children.” So after reading, talk to your child about how Marisol was treated by her classmates because of her identity and mismatched favorites.

Do This!  Escape from the heat wave with a fun yet impactful movie!  Watch Zootopia, a movie about a rookie bunny cop and a con artist fox who must work together to uncover a conspiracy in their city.  At its main core, Zootopia is about fighting biases and stereotypes.  After watching the movie, define with your child what the words bias and stereotype mean.  Discuss what biases and stereotypes popped up in the movie and how they affected the main characters and plot.  Enza’s Bargains has some fantastic vocabulary and worksheet printouts that would be helpful for older children.  The key to this activity is to keep it at your child’s level and keep conversations open.   

Do This!  Teach your child to confront gender stereotypes from a young age! Teaching Tolerance recommends that when faced with a gender stereotype or teasing, children should answer “There's no such thing as boys' or girls' _____." A great way to incorporate this is by modeling it for your child.  

Self Management

Read This! Read All by Myself, the story about Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter and all the things he can do for himself! Your child will relate to the accomplished feeling that Little Critter has after he successfully does his tasks throughout the day, such as tying his shoes, coloring a picture, or riding his bike.  As you read, discuss with your child what activities they do throughout the day to get ready and stay organized.  Follow up by asking them what activities they are still trying to learn/succeed at.  

Do This! From the previous discussion, make a goal chart. Kid Pointz has some templates that you can print for free (see below) or create one yourself using posterboard and markers!  Have your child come up with a list of goals they would like to accomplish over the summer and place them on the chart.  Each time they work towards their goal(s), place a fun sticker on the chart.  This will let them keep track of their successes and motivate them to work hard to reach their end goal!

Do This! As your child grows, they can have a lot going on in their heads: from trying to control their emotions and impulses to reaching their goals to getting organized.  A fun way to help your child de-stress and regroup their thoughts is to collage!  Draw a silhouette or use a template like this or this.  Have your child draw, cut out images, or write words describing all the things going on in their brain.  This can be from daily tasks, such as brushing their teeth, to feelings, such as silly.  Once complete, talk with your child how they can manage all of these things going on at once.

Responsible Decision Making

Read This! Read May I Please Have a Cookie? and follow the adventure of Alfie and his favorite cookies! While reading the story, ask your child how Alfie handled his cookie situation.  Help your child identify Alfie’s problem and how he ends up resolving it. Then ask your child to identify ways they can ask for things they want.

Do This! To help your child identify different types of problems, create a problem chart! You can either use one like this or make your own with a poster board! Explain to your child different types of problems, such as a forgetting their blanket versus what to do in a fire, and how each type warrants a different response.  After a problem occurs and is settled, reference the problem chart to evaluate your child’s response and what how they should respond in the future.

Do This! Another option is to play the “What Would You Do?” game.  You can create awesome flashcards like Pathways 2 Success did or you could make up scenarios on the spot.  Read a sample problem to your child and ask them what they would do in that situation.  If your child excels at this, mix it up by giving them a problem and a solution and ask them to evaluate how it was solved.  

What are you reading with your kids? Any summer fun activities? Remember to share with us on Facebook or Twitter using the #MomsReading hashtag!



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