Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention

Our book club aims to suggest reading materials for different age groups to parents and children. The selection of books in our book club resonates with our research which focuses on aggression, social-emotional development, and peer and friendship relationships.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi ... up to 9


Unhei arrives in America afraid and lonely. Her initial experiences of school include bullying and lack of acceptance by her peers. She becomes unsure of who she should be in this new place and chooses to relinquish her name. On the path to finding a new name and with the kindness of a few friends Unhei realizes her name and herself are exactly whom she wants to be. This book emphasizes acceptance and how to display empathy and welcome to new peers.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne ... up to 12


When two families meet in the park an unsuspected friendship sparks. Perspective taking and empathy for the characters is transferred to the reader as the story is retold from each of the characters individual stances. As the story progresses the power of the meeting for the two children becomes evident. This story shows how acts of friendship can have substantial impacts in the lives of others beyond what we may understand when looking at the world from just our eyes.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

Book Club

Our Community:

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger ... up to 6


This book is a much needed lesson on the power of words. The bull through his unkind words pushes away all friends until he is finally confronted for being a bully. Upon realization of the impact his words have had the bull makes positive changes to become a better friend.

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems ... up to 8


This book depicts true friendship through kind gestures and empathy. Acknowledgement of one another’s state of emotions and the different ways we can be caring to one another are depicted through Pig’s nurturing acts to improve Elephant’s mood.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

By Carol McCloud ... up to 9


This book addresses how prosocial gestures can help “fill the buckets” of our peers, neighbors, family, and friends. Excellent depictions of the impact compassionate gestures can have for the happiness of others as well as how negative behaviors which are selfish or disrespectful can hurt those we care about. The book encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and care on a daily basis.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  By Carol McCloud
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister ... up to 8


The Rainbow Fish must find his way regarding how to belong and be accepted amongst the other fish of the sea. Vanity and lack of remorse for his callous behaviors has caused him to be excluded by his peers. This book shows the impact of selfish and selfless acts on those whom we care about. It also displays what kind of behaviors are respectful and not respectful. The story promotes prosocial behavior through sharing and empathy towards others.

Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House

by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood ... up to 9


Clancy finds himself lonely and uncomfortable following his family’s move. Millie reaches out to him with friendship and changes his perspectives. The story depicts the capacity of friendship to overcome life’s changes. The story is a genuine reminder of how the acceptance and compassion of another has immense power to strengthen us.

Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood
Ish by Peter H Reynolds

Ish by Peter H Reynolds ... up to 9


Ramon loves to draw. However his self esteem and joy is diminished by harsh criticism from his brother. Just as Ramon decides to give up drawing for ever his sister provides him a valuable lesson regarding the value of his work. Self esteem as a product of one’s individualism as well as feeling comfortable in one’s own skin are demonstrated by Ramon’s new perspective on art and life.

Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay ... up to 7


Caramba is struggling with his incapacity to fly “like all the other cats”. He deliberates what is wrong with him, why he is not like everyone else, and what he cannot seem to achieve. He increasingly feels excluded and insecure, but then he has a perspective changing event which shows his efficacy in a realm all of his own. He realizes this form of achievement feels even better then fitting in with the crowd.

Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay
The Bad Mood by Moritz Petz

The Bad Mood by Moritz Petz ... up to 6


Badgers bad mood becomes contagious amongst his friends. How will he repair the damage he has caused by his unkind acts? This story displays how our moods and behaviors can affect others. It also shows how to avoid hurtful behavior and how to repair damaged friendships.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss ... up to 12


Beautiful imagery accompanies poetic descriptions of the many feelings we can have. This book can become an expressive venue for children on how to connect with their inner states as well as a possible tool for conveying and explaining such to others.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose ... up to 9


Will the boy squish the ant? This story is a quirky take on how to treat others and show compassion. This book shows how to acquire empathy both for the ecology which surrounds us but also for one another. It is a useful tool for helping children with perspective taking and reflective thinking before actions.

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting ... up to 12


This book describes the unfortunate circumstances of a boy and his father as they survive while living at the airport. This book is an empathetic look into the life of those who are homeless. Family and friendship bonds keep this boy’s dreams alive. His optimism holds a powerful message to children on the value of loved ones and the strength of perseverance.

David’s Father by Robert Munsch ... up to 9


David’s family is getting weirder by the moment! However, can Julie look past fears and prejudices and develop a relationship with David and his family? This story is a witty and funny take on acceptance and understanding of one another’s differences. The story shows how Julie reevaluates her preconceptions which were clouding her judgments and comes to understand the real meaning of friendship and whom to become friends with.

David’s Father by Robert Munsch



University of Toronto Mississauga