Top 5 Books for Your SEMH Library

Updated: Aug 2

Being a child can be really difficult sometimes. You're exploring new worlds and concepts every day, and learning more about yourself as an individual as you do! Children may come across differences between themselves and other children that really confuse them, and children may be bullied for appearing different from their peers.


The classroom can be the ideal environment for children to learn the foundations of good mental well-being and understanding of complex emotions, and a simple way to start this journey is through books! These books allow the emotional centres of the brain to express deep and complex emotions . They will be especially useful for a range of children and young people with SEND. The story format of each books  encourages emotional expression , and facilitates resolution to emotional issues that children with Autism , for example, do not find easy to decode.


Here are my Top 5 books that tackle different emotional or social challenges that pupils come across, and how they can overcome these difficulties and understand the emotions involved.


"Jabari Jumps" by Gaia Cornwall


In a sweet tale of overcoming your fears, debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall captures a moment at the swimming pool between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can't help but root for. Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board.


He's finished his swimming lessons and passed his swimming

test, and he's a great jumper, so he's not scared at all. Looks easy, says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back.


"The Invisible Boy" by Trudy Ludwig


Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party...until, that is, a new kid comes to class.


From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource. 


"Those Shoes" by Maribeth Boelts


All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing.


Though Jeremy's grandma says they don't have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren't much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has -- warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend -- are worth more than the things he wants.


"Pass It On" by Sophy Henn


A joyful and uplifting picture book about finding happiness in the smallest of things - great for reading with EYFS or KS1 classes about the importance of spreading joy!








"Too Shy for Show and Tell" by Beth Bracken


Sam is a quiet little boy, and no one knows very much about him. But when it is Show and Tell day at school, Sam has to tell the whole class all about his favourite thing and it is not nearly as scary as he thought. A charming picture book perfect for reading out loud. Just right for readers aged 3+ and children about to start school.




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