Social stories are books intended to allow kids to connect with characters who are dealing with life events or social issues that they may be going through themselves. Their purpose is to show the reader healthy ways to view the situation or to deal with what is happening to them, whether it is a life event or a bad habit they need to break. These books can be a very valuable resource to parents and teachers and the kiddos in their lives, but if I’m 100% honest, social stories are not typically my favorite. Why? Many of these stories get very heavy-handed with the lesson the child should take away while leaving the story fairly predictable and unappealing to most kids. They just haven’t made for very good or entertaining reads and it sometimes stops the child from really sticking with the story until the very end.
Show of hands from other parents, teachers, and librarians who have experienced this? I know I am not alone. The sad thing is that so often the messages contained in these books are messages kids really do need to hear! They need to know they aren’t the only child who is afraid of the dark, who has been hurt by divorce, who is trying to understand what it is to be biracial in our culture, or who has been abused, or even has trouble being a good friend to their peers. So what are we to do?
As luck (and current trends) would have it, there have been some truly great social stories that have come out in the last few years. They are not your typical social stories. In fact, they are often disguised as really fun yet clever picture books that kids want to read. They are books that may even get a laugh, and better yet, a conversation going.
Some we have absolutely loved in the last few years have been Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins, Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt, Fred Stays with Me by Nancy Coffelt, Two Nests by Laurence Anholt, Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett, Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt, One Family by George Shannon, and Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter. For other great book suggestions like these, stop in and visit us at the children’s desk!