The Joy of Picture Books!

Quarantined at home with young children? Wondering how can you continue to support their social and emotional development and reading/listening skills?

Apni Shala team brings to you a compilation of 11 picture-books that have helped us explore SEL for our students. In fact, we have used these resources for many adult learners in our training to reflect upon their own social and emotional competencies! So check this out:

1. Rubys worry, by Tom Percival: Ruby is being followed by a stranger named “Worry”. She realizes that Worry is not leaving until she meets a boy who has been followed by Worry and starts to talk about it. The book helps the reader explore how to manage worry, stress and/or anxiety when these emotions visit them. Here’s a good read-aloud video for you. 

For ideas on how to talk to children about this book you can read more here:

#SelfAwareness #SelfManagement 

2. Kali and the rat snake, by Zai Whitaker: Kali hates school and he has no friends. The children there find him strange as they are snake catchers. Kali is worried that the children would find him strange. This book helps us see how Kali sees himself in a new light and identify his strengths. Here’s a link for Read-out-loud.  

#SelfAwareness #SocialAwareness

3. Guthli has wings, by Kanak Shashi: Guthli is surprised when everyone says that he is a boy when he thinks he is a girl. In that simple question lies all the bewilderment that children like Guthli feel, who doesn’t seem to be like others what they know they are. The gentle, bold story about gender identity tells it like it is, reality echoed in the flatness of the vibrant cutout illustrations. To read the story, visit Guthli has wings.

#SelfAwareness #SocialAwareness, #RelationshipSkills

4. Fakruddin’s Fridge, by Meenu Thomas:  Little Fakruddin worries about everything and asks endless questions! One day, when his fridge stops working, Fakru is of course, frantic. Will Fakru find a simple solution or will he remain Frantic Fakru? This book talks about how we can find solutions even in difficult situations. To read the book, visit Fakruddin’s Fridge.

#SelfAwareness, #ResponsibleDecisionMaking, #RelationshipSkills

5. Perfectly Norman, by Tom Percival: Norman loves his new wings, but he’s worried about everyone will think. After all, they’re definitely NOT normal. Norman decides to cover them with a big coat, but hiding such a big part of his life makes him feel miserable. Can Norman find the courage to be himself? This book will help us explore the magic within us by believing in it. If you wish to listen to, visit Perfectly Norman.

#SelfAwareness, #ResponsibleDecisionMaking #Self Management #RelationshipSkills            

6. Something Else, by Kathryn Cave: This book tells the story of “something else” who is told he is ‘not like others’. The book explores the concepts of fitting in and how we cope with not fitting in, as well as how we can be friends to someone who is being excluded. This book talks about how everyone is different in their own way. To read this book, visit Something Else. You may also, listen to the audio version here: Something Else 

#Self Awareness, #SocialAwareness, #RelationshipSkills

7. Ish, by Peter Reynolds:  Ramon loves to draw until his brother criticizes his work. With the help of his younger sister, Marisol, he learns to see things in a different way. This book explores how we should believe in ourselves and continue to do things that we like. Here’s an audio version available for you, Ish.

#SelfAwareness, #SelfManagement, #RelationshipSkills

8. A Heart and The Bottle, by Oliver Jeffers: This book is about an inquisitive little girl, who is enchanted by the world around her, is shaken when she loses someone she loves. She retreats into herself and as she gets older, stops noticing the stars and the sea, which she had previously delighted in. She puts her heart away in a bottle, where it can never be hurt again. This book helps us find ourselves when in a difficult situation. Here’s YouTube read-aloud: A heart and the bottle. 

#SelfAwareness, #RelationshipSkills, #SocialAwareness

9. The Color Monster, by Anna Llenas: This book is about a color monster who wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. Visit The color monster, to listen to the book.

#Self Awareness #SelfManagement

10. I walk with Vanessa, by Kerascoët:  The story of one girl who inspires a community to stand up to bullying. The book explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. To listen to this book, visit I walk with Vanessa.

#SelfAwareness, #SocialAwareness, #RelationshipSkills

11. Sol, the Centipede, by Pallavi Raikar: And here’s a gift from our very own, Pallavi Raikar, Lead Teacher at Apni Shala’s Khoj Community School. In this book, Sol the centipede thinks he has no friends and feels too shy to make new friends. Will Sol be able to make friends or are there other ways of being? To read the book on Storyweaver, click here.

#SelfAwareness, #SocialAwareness, #RelationshipSkills

In addition to the above list, here some more SEL storybooks for you. Happy Reading to all our fellow SEL readers. 

Compiled by:

Krutika Khare, as Programme Facilitator with Apni Shala, facilitates Social Emotional Learning with students, educators and parents in a variety of settings. She also supports the organization’s communications and social media initiatives. Krutika holds a Bachelors’s in Psychology and also holds an advanced diploma in counseling. 

Amrita Nair is Apni Shala’s co-founder and Director of R&D and Advocacy. She holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy with facilitating HR, R&D, and Advocacy related decisions for the organization, you will find her reading and sharing some beautiful children’s books with the team, children and absolutely anyone who may show any interest. 

Join us on our SEL journey:

  • Loved reading this piece? Share your views and experiences in the comments section.
  • Share this blog with others.
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  • To support us to continue working with children in Mumbai’s municipal schools, please donate here.
  • Advocate for Social-Emotional Learning with parent and educational communities that you are part of. 


Storyweaver: To read more.

Tulika books: To read more.

Youtube: For more read aloud content.


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