The wonderful thing about Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is it isn’t content-specific; it can span all curriculum and grade levels. Knowing the five areas of CASEL’s Classroom SEL Framework helps decide where your strengths and weaknesses are as a teacher. Additionally, you can share these categories with your students and allow them to identify their strengths and weaknesses. 

The CASEL 5 competencies of SEL are:

  1. Self-Awareness: The ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.
  2. Self-Management: The ability to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.
  3. Responsible Decision-Making: The ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.
  4. Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.
  5. Social Awareness: The ability to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.

A few books that accommodate SEL are a part of Perfection Learning’s Social Emotional Learning Classroom Libraries Collection:


UnderPressureUnder Pressure: The Science of Stress

Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Marie-Ève Tremblay (Illustrator)

Under Pressure explores the science behind that sweaty, heart-racing, under-pressure feeling they sometimes get as they struggle to navigate their changing world. It covers the fight-or-flight reaction to sudden danger, how people cope with chronic stress, how trauma can affect the brain, the ways athletes put pressure to work, and the surprising treatments scientists have found for stress in everyday life. By examining how pressure affects the human body and different ways to manage it, this book allows middle graders to get a handle on what normal stress is and isn't—and how to deal with it either way. Because knowing the facts can make all the difference.



TeensGuideToSocialSkillsThe Teen's Guide to Social Skills: Practical Advice for Building Empathy, Self-Esteem, & Confidence

Kate Gladdin 

In social situations, it can be really confusing to figure out what to say or do—and when you're a teenager, it often feels impossible to get past the awkwardness. No matter why you struggle, you can build up your confidence with this guide to social skills for teens! With the help of real scenarios and easy-to-remember strategies, you'll learn to identify the causes of your social discomfort and improve how you deal with tricky situations. As you practice, you'll get better at handling emotions, reducing conflict, calming anxiety, and feeling comfortable





areuokAre u ok?: A Guide to Caring For Your Mental Health

Kati Morton, LMFT

Get answers to your most common questions about mental health and mental illness — including anxiety, depression, bipolar and eating disorders, and more.

Are u ok? walks readers through the most common questions about mental health and the process of getting help — from finding the best therapist to navigating harmful and toxic relationships and everything in between. In the same down-to-earth, friendly tone that makes her videos so popular, licensed marriage and family therapist and YouTube sensation Kati Morton clarifies and destigmatizes the struggles so many of us go through and encourages readers to reach out for help.




obsessedObsessed: A Memoir of My Life with OCD

Allison Britz

Until sophomore year of high school, fifteen-year-old Allison Britz lived a comfortable life in an idyllic town. She was a dedicated student with tons of extracurricular activities, friends, and loving parents at home.

But after awakening from a vivid nightmare in which she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she was convinced the dream had been a warning. Allison believed that she must do something to stop the cancer in her dream from becoming a reality.

Obsessed recounts a teen's debilitating struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder—and brings readers through every painful step as she finds her way to the other side—in this powerful and inspiring memoir.



TheStarsBeneathOurFeetThe Stars Beneath Our Feet

David Barclay Moore

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.
His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world. 



boyintheblacksuitThe Boy in the Black Suit

Jason Reynolds

Matt wears a black suit every day. Not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. Crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy stuff than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.




darkmatterThe Dark Matter of Mona Starr

Laura Lee Galledge

Sometimes, the world is too much for Mona Starr. She’s sweet, geeky, and creative, but it’s hard for her to make friends and connect with other people. She’s like a lot of sensitive teenagers—but in the hands of graphic novelist Laura Lee Gulledge, Mona’s struggle with depression takes on a vivid, concrete form. Mona calls it her Matter. The Matter gets everywhere, telling Mona she’s not good enough, and that everyone around her wishes she would go away. But through therapy, art, writing, and the persistence of a few good friends, Mona starts to understand her Matter, and how she—and readers—can turn their fears into strengths.





Sarah Moon

Sparrow has always had a difficult time making friends. She would always rather stay home on the weekends with her mother, an affluent IT executive at a Manhattan bank, reading, or watching the birds, than play with other kids. And that's made school a lonely experience for her. It's made LIFE a lonely experience.But when the one teacher who really understood her — Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, a woman who let her eat her lunch in the library office rather than hide in a bathroom stall, a woman who shared her passion for novels and knew just the ones she'd love — is killed in a freak car accident, Sparrow's world unravels and she's found on the roof of her school in an apparent suicide attempt.With the help of an insightful therapist, Sparrow finally reveals the truth of her inner life. And it's here that she discovers an outlet in rock & roll music...





  1. Provide students with the CASEL SEL Framework graphic like this: 


  1. Have students get into groups of five. Each student will take responsibility for one of the 5 CASEL Classroom Competencies in a jigsaw activity. Have them research their competency and take notes along the way. Make sure they understand they will need to share what they learned about their assigned competency with their group.  
  2. Once the allotted time is up (about 10 minutes or so), have students share the definitions of each competency and take notes on the ones they didn’t research. 
  3. Once students understand the five competencies, have them take notes independently about their strengths and weaknesses for each using this handout. 
  4. To close out the activity, have students set a goal to improve one of their weaknesses. They should describe specifically what about that competency is difficult for them and what steps they will take, or what support they need from the teacher to make that improvement. Alternatively, students could journal about their biggest strength, describing how it has a positive effect on their experience at school or personal lives. 

Engage all your students in independent reading through diverse, inclusive collections.


Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.