March 10, 2022
March 11 is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Day, and All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) is joining others around the globe to celebrate and promote the importance of SEL.
According to CASEL, SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to:
- develop healthy identities (self-awareness),
- manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals (self-management),
- feel and show empathy for others (social awareness),
- establish and maintain supportive relationships (relationship skills), and
- make responsible and caring decisions (responsible decision-making).
Research indicates that SEL can improve children’s social and emotional skills, attitudes, relationships, and academic performance and helps build positive classroom and school climates. It also aids in decreasing students’ anxiety and behavior problems and provides long term improvements in students’ skills, attitudes, prosocial behavior and academic performance.
Children’s literacy skills and SEL growth can be supported and nurtured through meaningful books that help children learn valuable skills about themselves, others and their communities. These kinds of books help children learn that they are not alone in whatever struggle they are facing, develop coping skills for the future, feel empowered, and develop empathy for others.
ACR GCD Begin with Books innovators, who began creating and adapting books just as the COVID-19 pandemic began, are intentionally curating content in underserved languages that include SEL concepts for young learners in some of the world’s most fragile contexts, such as Somalia, Papua New Guinea, Mali and Malawi.
ACR GCD innovators have created and adapted dozens of titles addressing the pandemic into the underserved languages of the regions they were serving. Hazel Large, SIL LEAD’s local project manager at the time, wrote Aminata and the Red Spiky Ball, an original story from the point of view of a child trying to understand the pandemic. With ACR GCD funding, SIL LEAD translated, illustrated, translated and worked with partners in Mali to record audio narration in Soninke, Mamara (Senoufo) and French before publishing the story on Bloom Library in multiple languages. Because all books created under the Begin with Books prize are free and open source, the team was able to also adapt multiple versions specifically illustrated for Asian contexts.
ACR GCD innovators also translated My Hero is You, a critically acclaimed story by Helen Patuck that explores the fears children experience around the COVID-19 pandemic, into eight additional underserved languages for children in PNG, Malawi, Nepal and Laos (read the story in English, Yao, Tok Pisin and multiple other languages).
Below are a few more books that incorporate meaningful use of SEL concepts:
- Little Mr. Einstein, a story about a boy with a disability who has a knack for invention and won’t stop until his dream to build one comes true, incorporates themes around developing healthy identities (read in English and Arabic)
- Kate Has No Friends, about a girl who finds a loyal friend in a baby spider she rescues, incorporates themes around establishing and maintaining healthy relationships (read in English or Arabic)
- This is How My Face Glows, about a little girl discovering the many beautiful things in nature that glow–including herself, also incorporates themes around the power of kindness and words (read in English, Kwaio or Arabic)
- Annabelle and the Wishing Hill, about a girl who makes a wish and takes the steps to make it come true, incorporates themes around making responsible and caring decisions (read in English or Arabic)
- Hands that Save Lives, a sign language storybook about a deaf boy in the Philippines exploring themes around managing emotions, collective goals and responsible decision-making related to the COVID-19 pandemic (available in Filipino Sign Language, Fijian Sign Language, and Somali Sign Language with English and Somali captions)
- Why is Uranus Sad?, a story about an astronaut who notices that Uranus is feeling sad and helps him remember what makes him special, incorporates themes around feeling and showing empathy for others (read in English or Arabic)
These and other titles are available for free use, adaptation and translation on a number of online libraries, including the Global Digital Library, Bloom Library and Asafeer. Explore more digital libraries by accessing our online collection. If you are a writer or publisher, we also encourage you to explore a variety of open source and free tools to help you write, translate and publish accessible books for children. You can access more solutions and tools on the solutions hub of our website.
On SEL Day, take the opportunity to be part of the solution in ensuring every child has access to books in languages they use and understand that also help them develop their emotional intelligence and strengthen their social relationships. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Raise awareness on social media. Need a post? Share ours on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!
- Read and share the accessible books listed above.
- If you’re an educator, learn more about accessible edTech for children with disabilities.
- Sign up for our eNewsletter to get the latest news and edTech innovations to increase reading outcomes for marginalized children in low-resource contexts.
Be part of the solution to get all children reading!