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Social & Emotional Learning Through Literature

Great children’s and young adult literature, like other powerful art forms, enables young people to envision and emotionally connect to events and life experiences that may be the same or quite different than their own.  Stories about individuals who have been marginalized because of class, race, gender, family organization, nationality, immigration status, physical, social or mental disorders, gender identification and sexual orientation, for example, allow readers to tap into the universality of such characters, rather than viewing them as “the other.” In a world where national and global conversations about the human condition are often one-dimensional, we hope that the literature presented here will lead to conversations that build positive social interactions and change.

The books listed under each topic are from various editions of the Best Children’s Books of the Year produced by the Children’s Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education. Entries include title, author, publisher, copyright date and a brief plot summary. In most instances titles are in print, available for purchase or easily obtained through libraries.  

We provide two lists for each theme. One list suggests books for children eight and younger and the other suggests books for youngsters nine and older. 

Since we recognize the importance of feedback from users of our lists we invite you to email us at with your comments. We also invite suggestions for future topics.

Theme One: Accepting One Another, Fitting In, and Identity

Theme Two: Bullying and Teasing