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SEL Summer Reading Recs

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little kid. Growing up in a coastal town north of Barcelona, I have wonderful memories of spending hours reading during the warm summer days and nights. Fiction, poetry, mystery, short stories… you name it! With every book, there was a new experience, a new world waiting to be discovered. As an adult, summer continues to be a time when I am able to recreate those joyful moments and step away from the daily routines to get lost in a book. Summer, here I come!

In addition to the positive emotions that reading generates, recent research studies have found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Reading fiction has been found to improve the readers’ ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes, developing empathy, and flex the imagination muscle. So, this summer you can enjoy reading your favorite author while, at the same time, increase your empathy!

Do you need suggestions? If you haven’t finalized your summer reading list, here are some recommendations for great SEL related books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Non-fiction

  • Emotions, Learning, and the Brain by Mary H. Immordino-Yang. If you want to understand why emotions matter for learning, this is your book! It explores the latest research in affective neuroscience and explicitly outlines the implications for education and the work we do in classrooms. I’ll be writing some posts based on this book in the next few weeks.
  • The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Communities that Transform Schools by Elena Aguilar. This book is on my summer list! Aguilar is a gifted coach and speaker with a deep understanding of how emotional intelligence plays a role in building effective teams. If you are leading any type of team, this book will be a great resource.
  • Growing Up Mindful by Christopher Willard. If you are looking for engaging mindfulness practices for your students or your own children, this is your book! The activities are simple and playful, and can be used at home, at school or in clinical settings.

Fiction/Essays

  • The Mysterious Life of The Heart edited by Sy Safransky. This is a collection of fifty personal essays, short stories and poems that originally appeared in The Sun (if you don’t know this magazine, check it out). The authors explore the enigma of love with stories about heartbreak, forgiveness and anger, fleeting crushes and lasting relationships.
  • The Inhabited Woman by Gioconda Belli. I read this book when I was in Nicaragua doing an internship for my teaching credential, and it had a great impact on me. It tells the story of a young woman who leaves her parents’ house to join a revolutionary movement against a violent dictator in Nicaragua. It is a story about injustice, passion and love.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. If you haven’t read this classic of the Russian literature, this summer might be the right time. A tragedy that illustrates the full range of human emotions, Anna Karenina is a married aristocrat that risks everything she has in pursuit of true love, which ultimately has fatal consequences.

Need more suggestions? If none of these books entice your curiosity, check out Goodreads. It offers suggestions for novels and non-fiction books you might enjoy based on your own ratings of books. There is a book for everybody! What SEL related books are you reading this summer? Please share in the comments below. Happy summer reading!

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