How Social Emotional Learning Promotes Better Mental Health

Apr 29, 2024 by Alexa Bigwarfe, in News & updates

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a growing area of focus in schools around the country, and it’s becoming widely accepted that environments that foster SEL lead to better mental health and even physical health outcomes, per the CDC. SEL consists of five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. A focus on developing these five skills can help improve academic performance, create a positive, emotionally safe environment, and help children develop better interpersonal skills, that also promotes positive mental health.

Parents agree! In a survey conducted by the CDC on this topic, “nearly 9 in 10 parents believed that skills developed through social, emotional, and behavioral learning programs, like respect, cooperation, perseverance, and empathy, should be taught in schools.” Source:

Children learn many concepts through good stories, and SEL is a growing theme in books. We’re proud at Purple Butterfly Press to publish books that have lessons around coping skills and social emotional learning themes, with compelling characters and captivating storylines. It is our hope that the books we’re publishing will teach important life lessons, foster empathy, encourage kindness, and help children develop key skills for handling whatever situation they encounter.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’ve got some tips on using children’s books to help your children learn the skills they need to feel safer, communicate better, and navigate challenging situations.

5 Things Parents and Teachers Can Do to Foster Social and Emotional Development and Better Mental Health

Curate a Diverse Collection: Stock your classroom or home library with a diverse range of children's books that explore themes such as emotions, empathy, resilience, mindfulness, and self-care. Seek out titles that reflect the experiences and identities of all children, ensuring inclusivity and representation. Our Ralphy’s Rules Series is a great addition to help with SEL and feelings. 


Facilitate Open Discussions: After reading a book together, create a safe and supportive space for children to share their thoughts, feelings, and reflections. Encourage open-ended questions that promote critical thinking and empathy. Our book Hi, It’s Me! I have ADHD is an incredible story that lets kids know the diagnosis doesn't define them. It communicates they can find peace knowing they are not alone in what they are going through and encourages a better understanding of others.
Model Healthy Coping Strategies: Use characters in stories as role models for coping with challenges, managing emotions, and seeking support. Emphasize the significance of reaching out to trusted adults or friends when feeling overwhelmed. A Big Change for Daisy follows  Daisy as she learns coping skills that help her adjust to a big change in her life. 

Integrate SEL into Curriculum: Infuse SEL principles into various subjects and activities throughout the school day. Incorporate storytelling, role-playing, and collaborative projects that promote teamwork, communication, and empathy. Create opportunities for children to practice self-awareness, self-regulation skills, and now to make positive choices, in real-life scenarios. Children’s picture books often feature challenges children must overcome, and how they do this in a positive way.
Empower Children's Voices: Encourage children to express themselves creatively through writing, art, or storytelling. Provide platforms for them to share their own stories, perspectives, and experiences. Helping children to be kind to themselves and others is the theme of The Kindness Machine, and kindness is another important skill when learning how to express ourselves..

Be sure to check out our books for more tools, resources, and activity guides for promoting social emotional learning development in your children or classrooms.