Children’s Books With Social Lessons

The Where I Can Be Me® team is particularly excited about the fact that today is International Children’s Book Day! Children’s books are a great way to introduce kids to the joys of reading and language, but they can also instill some great lessons about social skills. Check out the list we’ve put together of our favorite children’s books and the social skills lessons they promote. For the most part, these books are classics that have remained popular for years, so it shouldn’t be too hard to track them down and get reading!

  • Green Eggs and Ham (by Dr. Seuss).
    • The Social Skills Lesson: Flexibility and open mindedness are the important social skills addressed in this book. Though the narrator becomes frustrated by his friend Sam’s repeated insistence that he try green eggs and ham, he eventually comes to realize that he actually likes green food. We’re not saying your child should go eating any suspect looking foods, but there is an important lesson to be learned from the narrator’s change of heart. Often, children who struggle socially are very rigid about their likes and dislikes, and may not be open to trying out ideas suggested by their friends. Like the narrator of this story, these children will likely benefit from exploring new ideas and interests. In addition to discovering new things that they like, they may find new ways to relate to their peers.
  • The Berenstain Bears and The Trouble With Friends (by Stan Berenstain)
    • The Social Skills Lesson: The importance of compromise in friendship is at the center of this book in the Berenstain Bears series. This importance is emphasized when Sister Bear refuses to play with her bossy neighbor until the neighbor changes her selfish, overbearing attitude. The resulting negotiation shows that bossing others around ruins the fun for other children. Friends are more likely to be drawn to someone who is willing to share and compromise, rather than someone who insists on having things their way all the time.
  • Charlotte’s Web (by E.B. White)
    • The Social Skills Lesson: Empathy and kindness are two big themes in this children’s novel. The story follows Wilbur the pig whose life is repeatedly saved by the creative thinking of a spider named Charlotte. Charlotte’s actions set a valuable example for children with social skills disorders, who often struggle with perspective taking. That is to say that they can’t sympathize with the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others. Charlotte’s decision to befriend and protect Wilbur–even though there is nothing in it for her–shows the important impact that being kind can have on the life of someone you care about.
  • Pinocchio: The Story of a Puppet (by Carlo Collodi)
    • The Social Skills Lesson: No question, this one is a cautionary tale about the dangers of being too trusting. While Pinocchio’s habit of lying is a memorable part of the movie version, the book focuses more on the lies told to Pinocchio by those who wish to take advantage of him. Pinocchio’s difficult journey through the story will likely hit home for many children who struggle socially. These children are often unable to determine when they’re being manipulated or mocked by others, which is why so many of them are susceptible to bullying. Make sure to point out to your child that many of Pinocchio’s hardships could have been avoided if he’d taken advice from people who cared about him, instead of being led astray by strangers.
  • Swimmy (by Leo Lionni)
    • The Social Skills Lesson:  The moral of the story is two-fold, with its emphases on team work and on individuality.  The story follows Swimmy, a fish who is able to escape danger due to unique qualities that set him apart from the other fish. In order to avoid future danger, he devises a plan for all the fish to work together as a team.  As it progresses, the story touches on important lessons for children who struggle socially. To achieve the best results in life you need to be willing to cooperate with others, and be part of a team. It also shows that sometimes the things that make you unique, are what make you a valuable part of that team!

We realize that there are plenty of great children’s books that aren’t included on this list. It’s our hope that the stories we’ve mentioned will serve as a starting point for you and your child as you search for entertaining ways to reinforce important social lessons. It is important to remember that you will need to explain the story, themes and events to your child. This will help your child understand what is happening and how it relates to his or her life.



Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More