Wild Mindfulness by Laura Larson is a wonderful book geared to teach children to experience mindful moments through guided imagery and breathing techniques. Wild Mindfulness is about a child who is going on a camping trip. On one beautifully illustrated page the child explains what they are doing in that moment and how they are excited to be mindful and on the net page, the reader has an opportunity to practice the mindfulness that the camper is experiencing. For example, the camper is roasting marshmallows by the fire. On the following page, the reader is instructed to take a deep breath in and let it out and imagine that you are by a roaring fire. Feel the warmth of the fire and watch how the flames dance. Smell the marshmallows roast and pay attention to all the little things that are happening as you are sitting by the fire outside in nature. The camper experiences sleeping under the stars, watching fireflies, roasting marshmallows, hiking, and fishing through the story and the reader gets to experience the mindful moments that take place during those activities. Not only are there guided breaks for mindful moments throughout the story, but there is a page of activities that focus on creating mindful moments located at the back of the book. Young readers can grow their self-regulation skills by learning some of the guided techniques within the pages of Wild Mindfulness.
The Choices I Make by Michael Gordon is a story geared to help kids manage anger. The Choices I Make is about Josh, a little boy who becomes frustrated and angry when his sister Emily is found playing with the toy Josh wanted. Josh becomes enraged and shouts at Emily. Josh’s father explains to Josh that next time count back from 10 and use kind words instead. Throughout the story, Josh encounters several situations that make him angry or frustrated and he weighs the option of acting on his feelings or counting down from 10. Josh decides to try the counting coping mechanism and realizes that he feels better inside and that he prevented other people from feeling hurt by the way he would have acted when angry. The Choices I Make is a great story to use in a classroom because it addresses children’s’ emotions an anger, how to make good choices, every choice has a consequence, decision making, learning how to behave and adapt to change, and how to show kindness. Young readers need to learn how to manage their emotions to advance their personal growth. The Choices I Make is a great book to provides students with the basic emotion managment skills.
I Choose to Try Again by Elizabeth Estrada is a story about perseverance and diligence. Kiara experiences failures and just wants to give up because it is just too hard until her friend Whitney explains that she shouldn’t give up. I Choose to Try Again is told from Kiara’s point of view. Kiara learns that instead of giving up or avoiding situations, she can learn from her mistakes, make improvements, and try again. For examples when Kiara tries out for the basketball team and does not make it, instead of giving up she practices harder so she can achieve her goal next year. Throughout the story, Kiara shows what it looks like to persevere and she always says, “I choose to try again.” Readers can use the messages in this story to reflect on their own lives and times when they may have given up. Kiara teaches the lessons of perseverence, rewards of practice, and not giving up which are all essential to a yound reader's personal growth.
In addition to these three books being wonderful tools for an SEL lesson, all three can promote a sense of being a successful reader. Each book has specific vocabulary that can be taught and reviewed prior to the reading. A young reader who understands the words on the pages they are reading can feel accomplished. Also, each book is approriate for a class read aloud and exstensive conversation. Because the characters in all three books are experiencing basic human emotions, children can relate easily to the books. This can allow them to feel like a successful reader because they understand the material, even if they are being read to.
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