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Open Circle Releases Top 25 Children's Books That Connect to Social and Emotional Learning

Related: non-fiction, children

For 25 years, the Open Circle Program at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), has been helping teachers to, in turn, help elementary school children acquire the skills they need to build and maintain positive relationships. Teachers often turn to children's literature to deepen students' understanding of themselves and others. To mark its 25th anniversary, Open Circle has released a list of "Top 25" children's books that connect to social and emotional learning (SEL).

The featured literature sheds light on issues children face in school, on the playgrounds, and at home - friendship, inclusion, empathy, and understanding differences. Open Circle educators identified titles that stand out as being especially authentic and memorable, books such as The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes; Crow Boy by Taro Yashima; Yesterday I Had the Blues by Saxton Freeman; Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall; and Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg.

"Books can illustrate what an actual emotion looks like and then links that emotion to a word like 'sad', 'bad', or 'happy' with illustrations or actual photographs," said Peg Sawyer, B.S.Ed., trainer and coach at Open Circle. "[For example,] a book related to responsible decision making gives children the opportunity to talk about what the behaviors are that help them develop relationships, and conversely, what are the behaviors that get in the way of the relationship."

The books on the anniversary list are geared towards grade levels K-5, and cover a range of several key developmental skills for children, such as self-awareness, self-management, empathy, dealing with conflict, and problem-solving.

Open Circle is a leading provider of evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum and professional development for Kindergarten through Grade 5. Since its inception in 1987, Open Circle has reached over two million children and trained more than 13,000 educators. Open Circle is currently used in over 300 schools in more than 100 urban, suburban and rural communities across the United States. Open Circle is a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.

The Wellesley Centers for Women is one of the largest gender-focused research-and-action organizations in the world. Scholars at the Centers conduct social science research and evaluation, develop theory and publications, and implement training and action programs on issues that put women's lives and women's concerns at the center. Since 1974, WCW's work has generated changes in attitudes, practices, and public policy.


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