What Does Wellbeing Look Like in Children’s Books?

In our newest post, Lee & Low’s Senior Literacy Manager, Katie Potter, offers suggestions for using diverse books to instill students’ wellbeing at various grade levels, beginning with preschool.

Children’s wellbeing is critical to their academic, emotional, and social development. Ensuring that all children have access to adequate care and support are essential aspects to promoting wellbeing. Skills like empathy, cultivating and maintaining positive relationships, recognizing and managing emotions, problem solving, perseverance, and taking on others’ perspectives have always and will always be crucial to kids’ wellbeing and ultimate success.

Books are wonderful ways for children to connect to characters and demonstrate ways people can regulate emotions, uplift their families, friends, and communities, and promote wellbeing. Children can examine and learn from characters’ actions and experiences and relate them to their own. When kids see both themselves and others in diverse books, it reinforces their sense of self-worth, inner confidence and wellbeing in the world.

Check out the following titles to learn more about books that feature wellbeing:

Independent Reading

My Body By Elena Castro, Barbara M. Flores, Eddie Hernández

Join a young boy as he names and counts some of his body parts.

Also available in Spanish!

Everybody Wears Braids Written and illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes

A celebration of the many different ways a multiracial group of seven friends braid their hair.

Also available in Spanish!

Bimbim Bap for Dinner Written and photographed by Laura E. Williams

Follow along as a young boy and his mother make a bibim bap for the whole family to enjoy.

Also available in Spanish!

Best Friends By Tina Athaide, Photographed by Maria Victoria Torrey

Join two best friends, an Asian Indian boy and girl, as they spend an active day outdoors running, climbing, sliding, and more.

Also available in Spanish!

The Talent Show (Confetti Kids #11)
By Samantha Thornhill, Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez

“A familiar, easy-to-read story for Spanish-language collections in need of school-based stories.” — School Library Journal

Also available in Spanish!

Read Alouds

Juna and Appa By Jane Park, Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino

“Not only is this picture book filled with fascinating natural wonders to engage young animal lovers, this riveting, endearing, and honest story can help nurture a sense of common humanity and compassion in children.” — Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., Parenting Director, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

All Around Us & Por todo nuestro alrededor By Xelena González, Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia

“This warm, gentle story that celebrates family, culture, community and the connectedness of all things . . .All Around Us is a quiet, beautiful story, and is highly recommended.” — Beverly Slapin, De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children

King for a Day By Rukhsana Khan, Illustrated by Christiane Krömer

⭐ “Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event. . . This story soars.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

I Can Be . . . Me! By Lesléa Newman, Illustrated by Maya Gonzalez

A joyful picture book centering nonbinary young people and celebrating children’s freedom to express themselves through play from beloved creators Lesléa Newman and Maya Gonzalez.

Benji, the Bad Day and Me & Benyi, un mal día y yo By Sally Pla, Illustrated by Ken Min

“Pla selects a common theme, the power of familial love to overcome adversity, and deftly moves the challenges of autism to a supporting detail rather than a distracting focus in this simple picture book . . . An ordinary story is given a spark of life by the inclusion of an empathetic little brother with autism.” — Kirkus Reviews

For more resources on wellbeing and promoting student wellbeing, see the following organizations for more information:

“Moving From Grief to Wellness in Schools”  from The Greater Good Science Center
“What contributes to students’ well-being at school?”  from PISA
Well-Being Concepts from the CDC

For an even more extensive list of wellbeing titles or to build out a wellbeing collection for your school or library, please contact Katie Potter, Senior Literacy Manager, at kpotter@leeandlow.com for more information.

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