PlayDrMom’s favorite children’s books on SOCIAL SKILLS

There are SO many great children’s books out there … and so many of them can be used to teach children how to treat others with care and concern, to be a better friend, and to help them navigate a variety of social situations.

Here are a few of my favorite books that I use to help children learn social skills, divided into sub-catergories:


  • Baloney (Henry P.), by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith … a wonderful tale about a little alien that has quite a creative way of reporting events.
  • The Wolf Who Cried Boy, by Bob Hartman … a fun spin on the timeless lesson of what happens when people think of you as a liar.
  • The Fish Who Cried Wolf , by Julia Donaldson – A little fish has quite the imagination and comes up with some great stories of why he’s late … and then he has a real adventure of his own.


  • Simon’s Hook, by Karen Gedig Burnett … This is my favorite book about bullying.  I read and recommend it to both the identified bully and kids that have been bullied.  It’s a great way for kids to learn not to “get hooked” by other’s comments.  Simple activities can also be done after the book is read to practice skills on how to cope with bullies.
  • The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’Neill … No one wants to stand up to “Mean Jean” until a new girl takes the risk.  This one is also great for kids that are the bully or being bullied.
  • Bootsie Barker Bites, by Barbara Bottner … Tells a story of being able to stand up for yourself against a bully.
  • Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes … It can be REALLY hard to wait your turn sometimes.  It’s also easy to do mean things when you are upset
  • Words are Not for Hurting, by Elizabeth Verdick … A great board book for younger readers about the importance of not using words to hurt others. (She also wrote Hands are Not for Hitting, Teeth are Not for Biting, and Feet are Not for Kicking … all wonderful books for young children about self-control).

Being a Good Friend

  • The Brand New Kid, by Katie Couric …  Being the “new kid” or adjusting to the “new kid” can be tricky.  Here’s a story about how taking a risk is part of being a good friend.
  • Ruby the Copycat, by Peggy Rathmann … Another book about being the “new kid”, but this one also talks about being a copycat …how it feels to be copied and the importance of being yourself.
  • Knuffle Bunny Too, by Mo Willems … A story about how 2 unlikely classmates became friends over the mistaken identity of 2 Knuffle Bunnys.  Sometimes having things in common can actually make it harder at the beginning of a friendship.
  • Have you Filled a Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud … Asks are you a bucket filler … or dipper?  A great way for kids to visualize whether or not their actions help create friendships or are hurtful to others.
  • A Pig Is Moving In!, by Claudia Fries … A great book about how making assumptions about people before you know them can cause a lot of confusion.
  • It’s Okay to be Different, by Todd Parr … In order to be socially appropriate and a good friend, it’s important to understand that others may be different than us in a variety of ways.  This book is excellent for opening this discussion.
  • Hooper Humperdink …? Not Him!, by Dr. Seuss … Another great book that encourages discussion about being left out … or leaving another person out on the fun.
  • Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes … How picking on someone for being different in any way can hurt their feelings.
  • Chester’s Way, by Kevin Henkes … It can be hard to include a new friend … especially when you are always used to doing it a certain way.  A great story about how Chester, Wilson, and Lilly became friends.
  • I’m Terrific, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat … A story about a little bear finding his way to be himself and be a good friend.
  • The Gift of Nothing, by Patrick McDonnell … The best gift we can give someone is just simply being there for them.
  • Friends to the End: for kids, by Bradley Trevor Grieve … A beautiful photography booked illustrated with pictures of animals about the true value of friendship.
  • Duck! Rabbit!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal … Sometimes people have different perspectives on things, but it doesn’t mean either of them are wrong.
  • Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson … The friendly witch makes “room on the broom” for some friends and in the end the teamwork really pays off!
  • The Spiffiest Giant in Town, Julia Donaldson – A giant gets all dressed up and ends up giving away his spiffy clothes to help out those along the way … in return he ends up returning to the clothes he started in and being very appreciated.  This book is great for LOTS of reasons … sharing, the importance of relationships/helping others over material belongings, making wise choices, being yourself, and thanking others who help you.


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Laura Hutchison

Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.

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  1. Susan Case

    Great list! I also like “That’s What a Friend Is” by P. K. Hallinan. He has written and illustration almost 100 children’s books. I think they all rhyme and they have a great messages for children. But very happy to have your list.

  2. What Do We Do All Day?

    What a useful list! I’m pinning this to TCB, thanks for linking up to The Children’s Bookshelf!

  3. Julie

    Great information! I would love for you to add it to my weekly Mom’s Library Link-Up along with any other of your amazing posts.

    Thanks and be blessed,

  4. Renee C.

    What a fantastic list of books. I remember a few years ago, my daughter’s teacher read Have you Filled a Bucket Today? to the class and then had some print outs and activities to go along with it. I really love that book. It seems to resonate with the kids.

    I wanted to invite you to link in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop with this fabulous post. Here’s the link:

    Cheers! 🙂

  5. Laura

    Thanks for the reminder, Renee! Just linked it up now!

  6. Laura

    Thanks, Julie! I just linked up the post right now!

  7. Diane Estrella

    Great list of books to peruse through. Thanks for the great line-up! :O)

  8. Jackie@My Little Bookcase

    Wow, there are so many books that explore this topic. I take my hat off to you for starting a list. It looks great.

  9. Christa Fairbrother

    Thanks for the list. Some of these are new to me so we’ll check them out. We also like the classics by Munro Leaf – Manners Can be Fun and How to Behave and Why. The kids always giggle through these which is great because who would think Manners Can be Fun?

  10. Laura

    Thanks, Christa! I’ll have to check those out!

  11. Jaymie Shook

    Thanks so much for linking this post into the Kid Lit Blog Hop! This is a fantastic list. Max and I have read “How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids” and really loved it. He loved that there were blocks and doggies involved 🙂 We’ll definitely look into the others on your list. These skills are definitely ones I want him to develop.

  12. Carrie

    What a great list!! Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

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