The absolute best way for children to learn social skills is through practice. Young children needs lots of opportunities to play with other kids – older, younger and the same age. There will be some bumps as children make mistakes and refine their social strategies but, in general, the more opportunities children have to practise social skills, the more quickly they learn them.
Sometimes, children need a little bit of adult intervention to help them on their way. Snuggling up with a story can be a great way to talk through issues sensitively with young children and introduce new ideas. When it comes to social skills, there are some great books out there to help you raise your little one’s awareness of key issues like sharing, empathy, friendship and patience. Here are my recommendations for the best books to teach children social skills (for children aged 2-7yrs).
Mine! (by Emily Gravett)
This Bear and Hare story is deal for really young children – choose the board book version so they can read it again and again! There are not too many words on each page and the rhymes are perfect for children who are still learning to talk. Mine! has a simple message about sharing which will start your little one thinking about what sharing means and why we do it. Age 2-4yrs.
Stand In My Shoes (by Bob Sornson)
Stand In My Shoes: kids learning about empathy uses a simple story to explain what ’empathy’ means. Through the central character Emily, the story illustrates how being empathetic links to doing kind things for people. And how much people appreciate it when you do kind things for them. Both the idea and the language are too complex for very young children, but this book is a great conversation starter for children age 5yrs+ who need a little nudge towards thinking about others.
How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? (by Jane Yolen)
My dinosaur-obsessed boys loved the ‘How Do Dinosaurs…?’ series. The illustrations are wonderfully retro and the rhymes are well-crafted. The stories have a quirky humour that connects directly with children’s lives. Really easy for adults to bring alive when reading out loud! How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends has short simple messages about sharing and all the other basic do’s and don’ts of playing nicely. Age 2-5yrs.
I’ll Wait, Mr Panda (by Steve Antony)
If your child finds it hard to wait (as all children do!), then I’ll Wait, Mr Panda is the perfect book for you. Mr Panda is making a surprise but all the other animals get impatient. What will the surprise be and will the penguin get rewarded for his patience? A jolly good read as well as a lesson in the virtues of patience, this book is perfect for children aged 2-6yrs. (And the exasperated look on Mr Panda’s face makes me smile every time!).
Stick and Stone (by Beth Ferry)
Stick and Stone is a great book for talking to your child about friendship. How do you make friends? How do good friends treat each other? And what about kindness? There is a subtle anti-bullying message in this book which might be really helpful if you think your little one is stuck in a negative friendship. A good conversation starter, it’s not preachy, just a lovely story and very gentle. A great snuggly read before bed as well as a way of talking about serious issues. Ages 3-6yrs.
I hope you find this selection of books to teach children social skills useful. Please do comment below if you read them (or if you want to recommend alternatives!). And you might also want to take a look at this selection of Children’s books about shyness and Books for talking to children about emotions.
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This is not a sponsored post, I have chosen these books because I genuinely recommend them. However, it does contain affiliate links which means if you click through to Amazon and buy one of the books I will earn a small fee. For more info, see Disclosure Notice.