Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Book Club Recommendations

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Book Club Recommendations
The Editorial Team August 7, 2020

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From as early as the 1600s, book clubs have been a way for people to connect, reflect, and grow together. Book clubs have spanned mail-order businesses, bookstores, libraries, TV shows (thank you, Oprah!), and online forums. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million book club members in the United States alone. 

As you look forward to a fall fraught with many unknowns and plenty of uncertainty, consider creating a book club with your colleagues, whether in person or online, to bolster your own understanding and development of social and emotional learning principles (you can learn more about SEL from This list of recently published books focused on the research behind and implementation of SEL, which will benefit your entire classroom community — including you as a professional, as well as your students and their families.

  • Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators by Elena Aguilar (2018)
    • Elena Aguilar tries to tackle the high attrition rate of educators (70% in the first five years) by providing a four-part framework to combat the stress and burnout of teaching. Her step-by-step framework encourages teachers to find balance emotionally, physically, and mentally so that both students and teachers can strive for resiliency together. 
  • Start with the Heart: Igniting Hope in Schools Through Social and Emotional Learning by Michelle Trujillo (2019)
    • In order to build a positive school culture, former high school principal and Nevada′s 2016 Innovative Educator of the Year, Michelle Trujillo, encourages educators to assess their own SEL aptitude to better instill a foundation of trust and connection within a school community. Trujillo provides concrete strategies for both students and teachers to make SEL a “way of being.”
  • Better than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey (2015)
    • This classroom management book outlines a collaborative blueprint for teachers and students to work together on in order to build a classroom climate of respect. With an introduction to (or refresher of) restorative practices in schools, readers then have context for establishing and implementing their own conflict resolution strategies that promote cooperation and relationship-building to build a more supportive classroom environment. Better Than Carrots or Sticks supports creating culturally responsive, equity-focused and inclusive learning spaces.  
  • The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: Building Resilience with Compassionate Teaching by Patricia Jennings (2018)
    • Most educators are unprepared, nevermind ill-equipped, to support the half of their students who have faced chronic stress, violence, or trauma. In three parts, Jennings, an Associate Professor of Education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, reviews the signs and effects of trauma, provides trauma-sensitive practices, and underscores the connections of mindfulness and resilience all with the goal of nurturing more compassionate classrooms. Jennings’s cross-discipline approach will empower educators to guide their most vulnerable students towards success.

In addition to the aforementioned books, you can learn about more tactics and informational reading by visiting our reading the resources we’ve collected about social-emotional learning and creating trauma-sensitive classrooms:

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