Teaching Critical SEL Skills Using Picture Books

(Grades PreK-3) / Flex Course

PDI Course Number: 123T02 / UCSD Course Number: EDUC40360


Course Description

Does the prospect of finding a way to incorporate the teaching of critical social-emotional issues send you into a quandary? Do you have a deep love for using authentic children’s literature in your current teaching practices? If so, look no further! Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process for learning essential life skills such as decision making, problem solving, effective communication, empathy, perseverance, and coping, just to name a few. Teachers are searching for the most effective ways to introduce and teach appropriate social-emotional skills in the classroom as they relate to common classroom issues, some of which can be quite sensitive, and which almost always are beyond their control. This online course provides the perfect approach by using high-quality picture books to deal with a variety of SEL issues from separation anxiety, kindness, and tattling, to poverty and homelessness, divorce, anger management, childhood health and obesity, teasing and bullying, and others. Teachers will be provided with thorough background information on each topic as well as the implications for the classroom environment and teaching. Then, each topic shares three authentic children’s books, together with lessons for each title. The course introduces lesson plans for forty-seven picture books. An additional list of picture books is shared for every single social-emotional topic presented in the course, as well as links to additional resources, as applicable. By the end of this course, teachers will feel more confident and successful in their quest to embed the teaching of social-emotional skills into their own teaching practices. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units (50 hours of training) from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"The content of the course was very appropriate for my grade and level that I teach. I enjoyed that each area of the course was paired with multiple picture books and a variety of activities to teach the idea. I now want to go buy many of the books presented in this course!!!" - Mary Reich

Enrollment Options

Course Only

Only $127 with the discount

Course with Credit from UCSD Extension

Only $323 with the discount

This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units or 5 quarter units of graduate-level credit from UC San Diego.

You have up to one year from the date you are enrolled to complete a flex course.


Print our customized course approval form to share with your school district.



Required Resource Book

This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List



UCSD Course Number: EDUC40360
Unit One
  • An Introduction to Social-Emotional Learning
  • Setting Up the Classroom to Foster SEL
  • Developing Social and Emotional Skills through Literature
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1
Unit Two
  • Poverty and Homelessness
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Divorce
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2
Unit Three
  • Childhood Health and Obesity
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Encouraging Individuality
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3
Unit Four
  • Teasing and Bullying
  • Anger Management
  • Making Good Choices
  • Test #4
Unit Five
  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Sharing
  • Test #5
Unit Six
  • Tattling
  • Embracing Diversity
  • Friendship
  • Assignment #4: Create lessons that integrate literature with social-emotional skills
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)


Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

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