As we head into a new school year, we want to share some sweet stories with you to help little readers continue to cope with masks and isolation. Read on to check out four touching picture books featuring important SEL themes of friendship, kindness, independence, self-esteem, and more. The perfect additions to your spring SEL collections, read these adorable tales with stubborn little ones, young kids learning to make new friends, and bookworms who could use an extra smile.

Shelter for Sadness

A Shelter for Sadness
by Anne Booth
illustrated by David Litchfield

A small boy creates a shelter for his sadness where he can visit it whenever he needs to, and the two of them can cry, talk, or just sit. The boy knows that one day his sadness may come out of the shelter, and together they will look out at the world and see how beautiful it is. In this timely consideration of sadness and mental health, Anne Booth offers a beautiful depiction of how children (and everyone) must care for their emotions and give attention to their grief on a regular basis. Stunning illustrations by David Litchfield bring the beautiful concept and manifestation of sadness to life.

Pre-order A Shelter for Sadness for your SEL collection today at Barnes & NobleBookshop.orgAmazon, or IndieBound!


by Richard Jones

Poor Perdu is all alone as he journeys from the countryside to the city in search of a home. The city is a big place when you are very small, but is it possible that someone is searching for a friend like Perdu? In his debut as both author and illustrator, Richard Jones (The Snow Lion and Paper Planes) delivers a warmhearted and poignant story about loneliness, kindness, friendship, and finding a forever family. Classically gorgeous illustrations will have readers returning to its pages again and again.

Add Perdu to your SEL collection today at Barnes & Noble,, Amazon, or IndieBound!

Smile Shop

The Smile Shop
by Satoshi Kitamura

A small boy has saved all his pocket money and visits the market with high expectations. When disaster strikes and he loses his money, he feels very devastated. But wait, what’s that? A Smile Shop? He could really do with a smile. What will happen if he goes in? Featuring charming, classic illustrations reminiscent of Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola, Satoshi Kitamura’s (Hat TricksThe Smile Shop celebrates the value of human connection and offers an absorbing setting for readers to explore themes of independence, self-worth, and the effect of a smile shared between people.

Add The Smile Shop to your SEL collection today at Barnes & NobleBookshop.orgAmazon, or IndieBound!

No Said Rabbit

No! Said Rabbit
by Marjoke Henrichs

Rabbit is happy doing his own thing, and he doesn’t want to listen to anyone else. Or so he thinks. Then, Mom makes a suggestion he simply can’t resist! Debut author-illustrator Marjoke Henrichs delivers a laugh-out-loud tale with Rabbit embodying every strong-willed child. Adult readers will recognize and empathize with parenting moments throughout, and a warm and loving twist at the end celebrates the joy of coming together again after a very contrary day. Perfect for bedtime reads with your own stubborn little ones.

Add No! Said Rabbit to your SEL collection today at Barnes & NobleBookshop.orgAmazon, or IndieBound!

Best Friend In Whole World

Best Friend in the Whole World
by Sandra Salsbury

Roland lives a quiet life alone in the forest, but sometimes he feels rather lonely. When he finds the perfect companion in Milton, he is overjoyed. But clues start popping up in the woods, suggesting someone else might be missing their best pine cone friend, and Roland must decide if it’s worth leaving someone else in their loneliness to keep Milton in his life. In this sweet and moving picture book about loneliness, friendship, and compassion, debut author-illustrator Sandra Salsbury celebrates the transformative power of connection and the painful melancholy of loss. Endearingly classic illustrations bring a charming forest world to life.

Add Best Friend in the Whole World to your SEL collection today at Barnes & NobleBookshop.orgAmazon, or IndieBound!