Picture Books about Self-Management and Self-Control
These picture books on self-management illustrate characters regulating their emotions, thoughts and behaviours and working towards personal and academic goals.
Social and Emotional Learning: Self-Management
Self-Management is one of five social and emotional learning components. The other components are self-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes self-management as “the ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.”
Self-management helps students recognise how different situations influence their behaviour, emotions and judgments. This recognition help children to respond in constructive ways and regulate their emotions in challenging situations. Those who self-manage themselves show:
- Improved confidence and self-esteem.
- Increased motivation and enthusiasm.
- Increased ability to set and achieve goals.
- Improved study skills and academic performance.
- Pride and confidence in achievements.
- Understanding that meeting goals and challenges is not always easy.
Why Read Picture Books on Self Management?
Picture books on self-management show your students book characters prepared to self-manage, be self-motivated, organised, and show perseverance. The characteristics, which will exhibit in different ways depending on age and experiences, include:
- Managing and controlling emotions, thoughts, and behaviour in different situations.
- Understanding why they feel the way they do.
- Using appropriate strategies for impulse control and regulating emotions.
- Promoting perseverance in personal and academic life.
- Using stress management techniques, such as mindfulness.
- Motivating themselves to persevere in overcoming challenges.
- Understanding they need time and motivation to accomplish goals and challenges.
- Understanding that failure or mistakes are a chance to learn and improve.
- Setting goals, both personal and academic, and working towards them.
- Assessing where they are at and creating new targets.
- Developing organisational skills and sticking to routines.
Questions to use with Picture Books on Self-Management
- What strategies do you use to self-manage your emotions or behaviour?
- What makes it difficult for you (or others) to self-manage?
- How could self-management have a positive impact on your life?
- How can you help others manage their behaviour or emotions?
- Why do you think [character] struggled to control their emotions?
- If [character] had managed their emotions/behaviour, what would the outcome have been?
- What could [character] do to manage their feelings/behaviour?
- Why was it important that [character] persevered during [task/event]?
- What strategies could [character] have used to manage their stress?
- Was it appropriate for [character] to get angry? What would have been a better strategy?
- Why do you think [character] got so angry/jealous/upset?
- What would be a good strategy to help [character] deal with their emotions?
- What could [character] learn from their mistakes?
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Picture Books about Self-Management and Self-Control
Again! by Emily Gravett
This is the first of two picture books on self-management by Emily Gravett. A dragon wants his bedtime story again and again. When his mother falls asleep during the fourth reading, the dragon cannot control his emotions and burns a hole through the back of the book!
Promotes manners, self-management and emotions.
Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt
A bug is sucked into a vacuum bag as it flies around a house. It goes through the five stages of grief as it tries to come to terms with its situation. Helps children understand the different emotions involved in unexpected and disappointing events.
Read to discuss self-management, overcoming adversity, acceptance, self-reflection and different perspectives.
Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill
Gus doesn’t listen to adults, and after being told not to lean back in his chair, he falls and cracks his head. Out of the crack escapes memories of his mother. He realises he has been locking away his emotions about his mother’s death.
Read to discuss memories, grief, fears, self-reflection, love, and self-management.
Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook
Isabella uses her booming voice whenever she can, earning her the nickname Decibella. Her teacher helps her know when and how to use a softer, quieter voice with practice and patience.
Promotes discussions on self-management and self-awareness.
The Dog Who Found Sorrow by Rūta Briede
A black dog helps children understand negative emotions and thoughts. No matter how sad or angry we are, we can find happiness.
This translated book promotes discussions on self-management, loneliness, empathy, depression, and dealing with negative thoughts and feelings.
Eat Pete! by Michael Rex
A monster visits Pete with plans to eat him. But Pete is thrilled to have someone to play with and keeps the monster busy. Will he ever get to eat Pete?
Promotes discussions on friendship and self-management.
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker
Help children cope when they are feeling overwhelmed by reading about how Superheroes manage their emotions when they are having a bad day.
Fergal is Fuming by Robert Starling
Fergal the dragon can’t keep friends because of his short temper, particularly when he doesn’t get his own way. He notices others have effective strategies to calm down, and he finds his own way to cool down.
This book reinforces self-management, a growth mindset and balance.
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
This is the first of two picture books on self-management by Mark Pett. A girl wants to buy a new bike but doesn't have enough money. She helps her elderly neighbour by doing yard work and developing a new friendship. When she has enough money, she rushes to the shop to buy the bike, but to her dismay, it has gone.
This wordless book shows how the girl's hard work and perseverance are rewarded.
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett
This is the second of two picture books on self-management by Mark Pett. Beatrice Bottomwell has never, ever made a mistake. Until she makes one huge mistake in front of everyone. Will Beatrice realise it is okay to make mistakes and have more fun at the same time?
Reinforces themes of perfectionism, a growth mindset and balanced life.
The Good Egg by John Jory
A virtuous egg spends its time helping people out, whether it’s needed or wanted! One day The Good Egg cracks (literally) from the pressure of perfection. It takes a much-needed break where it learns to live a more balanced life.
Promotes acceptance, balance, well-being and self-management.
Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
Penguin is having a grumpy day and no one has no idea why. No matter what he does he can't shake his grumpiness off. What is a penguin to do?
Deals with themes of emotions, bad moods and self-management.
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox
Harriet has a series of naughty mishaps that tests her mother’s patience. But Harriet and her mum know that they love each other no matter what.
Promotes forgiveness, self-management and manners.
The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside
Jenny carries a ‘bag of worries' wherever she goes, but it ‘weighs her down'. She tries talking to her family and friends, but they have enough concerns of their own. An old lady helps her open her bag of worries and deal with them.
Promotes discussions on self-management, well-being, anxiety, worries, fears, and communication.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
A chicken begs her father to read a fairy tale book at bedtime. As he reads a new story, the excited chicken keeps interrupting. The tired father suggests she writes her own story. As she reads her story “Bedtime for Papa”, she is interrupted by his snoring.
Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup
Kindness Grows illustrates the consequences of our actions, positive and negative. Using a visual representation of a tree, one side of the page shows it flourishing through kindness. The other side shows how negative behaviour creates unhappiness and separation. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through kindness.
Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou is a poem about bravery and confronting our fears and finding the courage within. Told from a child’s perspective. Use to teach how words and art tell a story, fears, confronting challenges and self-management.
Little Beauty by Anthony Browne
A lonely gorilla learns sign language to communicate with his zookeepers. They bring him a tiny cat called Beauty and the two become inseparable. When the gorilla gets angry, his keepers threaten to separate the pair, until the kitten steps into the keep them together.
Use to discuss communication, friendships, kindness, loneliness and self-management.
The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar
Harpreet Singh expresses himself with colours, particularly through his patka, Sikh headwear. When he moves from California to a town with snow, Harpreet has trouble settling in. He only wears white so he can feel invisible. When he finds his first new friend, the colour returns.
Use to promote acceptance, kindness, courage and coping in new situations.
Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed
Eisha creates a shape out of clay in her mother's studio. The shape reminds Elisa of her dad, who recently passed away. She later drops and shatters the clay shape. Her mother helps her turn the pieces into a necklace so she can wear the memories of her dad.
Promotes discussions on bereavement, self-management, and self-expression.
My Father's Arms Are A Boat by Stein Erik Lunde
A grieving boy looks to his father for comfort. His father answers questions about when will his mother wake up. As they walk into a snowy night the father reassures his worried son as he holds him close.
Reinforces themes of bereavement, self-management, fears and resilience.
My Heart by Corinna Luyken
In this poetic book full of metaphors, a young girl describes how her feelings change day by day, and she gets to decide how she feels.
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain
A big, furry, yellow monster follows a little boy everywhere. It has an enormous impact on the boy, stopping him from doing so many things. One day, he confides in his grandma about his worries and the monster shrinks. The more he shares his fears, the smaller it gets, setting the boy free to live his life.
Promotes overcoming fears, seeking help, well-being and self-management.
Nerdy Birdy Tweets by Aaron Reynolds
Nerdy Birdy neglects her friend Vulture when her use of technology and social media takes over.
Reinforces themes of technology use, relationship skills, being well-balanced and self-management.
No David! by David Shannon
David is a boy who breaks the rules; flooding the bath, jumping on the bed, and breaking a vase. His mum repeatedly says “No!” until David apologises, and he gets his mother's forgiveness.
Promotes discussions on responsible decision-making, manners, love and forgiveness.
Never, Not Ever! by Beatrice Alemagna
While the other animals make their way to school, Pascaline refuses. “Never, not ever!” She shrieks so loudly her parents shrink to the size of peanuts. Pascaline tucks them under her wing and takes them to school. What initially seems like a fun idea turns into a nuisance. She returns to school the next day alone.
This translated book promotes discussions on being independent and self-management.
No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah O’Hora
Amelia and her imaginary friend, Nilson, do everything together. When Nilson's temper erupts Amelia helps him control his emotions, but when Nilson gets the last scoop of ice cream Amelia throws a fit. This time Nilson helps her calm down by sharing the ice cream.
Noni Says No by Heather Hartt-Sussman
Amelia and her imaginary friend, Nilson, do everything together. When Nilson's temper erupts, Amelia helps him control his emotions, but Amelia throws a fit when Nilson gets the last scoop of ice cream. This time Nilson helps her calm down by sharing the ice cream.
Oh No! George! by Chris Haughton
George may look innocent, but looks can be deceiving! He tries so hard to behave, but when Harry, his owner, leaves the house George encounters too many temptations to resist.
Reinforces themes of behaviour, self-management and respect.
Over-Scheduled Andrew by Ashley Spires
Joining his school’s drama club inspires Andrew to join many other groups. As a result, he has to figure out how to balance all the different aspects of his life.
This book reinforces the themes of balance, time-management, self-management and organisation.
Parachute by Danny Parker
Toby has a great fear of heights and he always carries a bright orange parachute. When his cat gets stuck in a tree, Toby follows and uses the parachute to rescue it. The problem is that Toby is now stuck in the tree. Can he face his fears and get down?
Read to discuss self-management, facing our fears, courage and self-esteem.
The Pond by Nicola Davies
A young boy describes the loss of his father and how family members experience grief in different ways. They try to cope by rebuilding the pond he created when he was alive.
Reinforces themes of acceptance, bereavement, relationship skills and self-management.
Ravi's Roar by Tom Percival
This is the first of two picture books on self-management by Tom Percival. Ravi has a bad day. He can’t reach the monkey bars, can’t find anyone during hide and seek and is too small for the big slide. It all gets too much, and Ravi gets really mad. He turns onto a ferocious tiger and lashes out at everyone. After calming down, he feels bad and apologises.
Promotes discussions on anger, self-management, self-control, and patience.
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
This is the second of two picture books on self-management by Tom Percival. Ruby has a Worry. It wasn’t very big, but it stayed with her all day, so she stopped doing the things she loved. She finds discussing her worry makes it gets smaller until it was almost gone. Though the Worry appears every now and again Ruby knows how to get rid of them.
Read to discuss adaptability, self-awareness, self-management and self-esteem.
See You Soon by Mariame Kaba
Read about the impact on a child when her mother is incarcerated. Queenie lives with her Grandma Louise, and they ride the bus to visit mama in the county jail. She receives letters from her mother and savours every word until their next visit.
Promotes discussions on love, hope, self-management and anxiety.
A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth
A young boy creates a shelter for his sadness. It is a safe place where he can sit with his sadness and talk, cry or say nothing. Over time, the boy understands and accepts his emotion and finds strategies to live with his emotions. Anne Booth based this poetry book on the writings of Etty Hillesum, a Jewish woman and victim of the Holocaust.
Silence by Lemniscates
Encourage your students to take the time to listen and reflect on the world around them. Help them pay attention and develop their curiosity and self-management skills with mindfulness techniques.
Small Things by Mel Tregonning
A boy is full of worries and insecurities that slowly eat away his confidence and self-esteem. When he realises others have struggles of their own, he finds the courage to reach out for help.
This wordless book promotes discussions on self-management, anxiety, isolation, self-esteem, and social awareness.
Sweep by Louise Greig
Great piles of autumn leaves illustrate Ed’s growing bad mood. His mood affected the whole town, and he knew something had to change. After a large storm, the town looked brighter, and Ed finally notices his surroundings.
This book focuses on anxiety, balance, wellbeing, and reflection.
This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary
Sadie’s love of books drives her imagination, creativity, open-mindedness and self-awareness. With her imagination, Sadie is never lonely with her many friends, real and imaginary.
Tidy by Emily Gravett
This is the second of two picture books on self-management by Emily Gravett. Pete the Badger likes everything clean and neat. He takes this too far when he tidies up the forest by concreting it over. After realising the consequences of his actions, he sets out to rectify them.
Promotes self-management, cause & effect, responsible decision-making and reflection.
Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear
Kyo Maclear reimagines the relationship between the writer Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, an artist. One day Virginia Wolf woke up feeling wolfish. Her sister, Vanessa, comforts her by telling her about Bloomsbury, an imaginary world of flowers, birds and magic which Vanessa recreates on their bedroom walls.
Promotes discussions on compassion, imagination, well-being and self-management.
Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems
Gerald struggles to manage his patience and emotions when Piggie tells him she has a surprise he has to wait for. He waits, waits, and waits until all the waiting starts to drive him crazy. When the time comes for Piggie's surprise, Gerald realises some things are worth waiting for.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope Rex's first day of school doesn't quite go as planned when she eats her classmates. Unsurprisingly, the other children are scared of her. She finally learns a lesson that helps her understand how her classmates feel.
Promotes empathy, self-management and making friends.
Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland
A young child goes on a journey to discover where to find happiness. Sometimes it is near and other times far away. The child tries to chase, capture, and search for it and learns that you can always find it within when you feel like happiness has gone.
This translated book promotes discussions on self-awareness and self-management in the classroom.
Why Do I Feel Like This? by Shinsuke Yoshitake
As she walks home from school, a child has thoughts about anger and being sad. She wonders how to make these thoughts go away. She realises it is okay to feel unhappy. “We can dwell on bad feelings, run away from them, or decide to face them. It’s up to us to choose what to do.”
This translated book promotes discussions on self-management and dealing with negative thoughts and feelings.
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Students prepared to self-manage are self-motivated, organised and show perseverance. These are traits we would love to see in all our students. What picture books on self-management do you use with your students?