Talking about Social Skills through Books

By Chatto, Helen | Practically Primary, October 2011 | Go to article overview
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Talking about Social Skills through Books

Chatto, Helen, Practically Primary

As the principal of a rural school, 40 km from Darwin and the lover of books and stories, I take opportunities to read to students whenever I can. I read at school assemblies, I read to classes, over the PA and to individual or small groups for enjoyment and as part of our behaviour management process.

Books are used to assist in the development of social skills and to reinforce our school values. When reading to the whole school or classes I will model reading strategies with hand signals so the audience give a signal such as hand on heart when they make a self to text connection. This is pretty cool when reading to 370 kids and still feeling they are personally involved. It also gives me an opportunity to model good practice to parents and teachers in the audience.

Some of the texts I have used recently are:


My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook

This is a great story to help children who interrupt or call out a lot to think about how their behaviour affects others. In the book the child is advised to 'take the important words and push them into your teeth by your tongue, bite down hard and don't let them out. Then when it is your turn to talk, take a deep breath and breathe them back in your mouth.'

I read this one to the whole school knowing that after assembly I needed to speak to a group of girls who had been very unkind to each other. It set the scene perfectly for them to consider how their words had caused hurt and the sincere apologies came quickly.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

Molly stood just taller than her dog, had buck teeth, a voice like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor but her grandma told her to stand tall. When she goes to a new school and is bullied, she confidently shows her talents and soon becomes friends with the bully proving grandma right.


This is a great book to focus on resilience and how our reactions affect the behaviour of others. Our year 2/3/4 children have loved getting to know Molly Lou, they have enacted role plays and engaged in writer's craft using the text. This gave them the chance to think about characteristics that they may be teased about. They have then considered how they can reply showing they can stand tall and be proud of who they are.


Say Something by Peggy Moss

In this story a young girl notices other people being bullied or teased but does nothing until the bullies give her a hard time and she gets angry that no-one supports her. This leads her to the realisation that doing nothing contributes to the bullying. She then takes action when she notices someone sitting alone.

Children can think about teasing being uncool and the fact that they contribute to setting the tone of the school by their responses to situations.

Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig

This book is great for talking about teasing that is ok and part of normal relationships and unkind teasing that leaves someone feeling very upset and belittled. As we read it I ask students to think about how it feels when teasing makes us feel sad or threatened and what we can do so the bully does not get power from our reactions.

If Everybody Did by Jo Ann Stover

This book has comic style drawings with minimal text showing very funny drawings showing what would happen if everybody did silly things.

I use this book to help children understand why we have to conform to rules at school to keep everyone safe and happy.

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