Seeing Through Others' Eyes: Teaching Social Awareness with Picture Books About Perspective
These picture books about perspective and social awareness help children recognise and think critically about diverse perspectives through vivid illustrations and memorable characters. Stories about perspective illustrate why social awareness is important and delve into complexities like diversity and social justice. They show children the importance of embracing different viewpoints and respecting everyone.
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Social and Emotional Learning: Social Awareness
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes social awareness as “the ability to take the perspective of and empathise with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.”
Social awareness helps children cope with new situations and increases their well-being. It allows them to recognise how their emotions and behaviour influence their interactions, recognise the mood of others and consider different perspectives.
The benefits of being socially aware include increased:
- Self-reflection of actions and goals.
- Empathy through perspective-taking.
- Responsibility for personal actions and consequences.
- Self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Academic and personal achievements.
- Use of strategies to avoid or negotiate negative situations or behaviour.
Why Read Picture Books about Perspective and Social Awareness?
As children grow, their worldviews expand, and they develop a broader understanding of different people and cultures. Picture books can be a powerful tool for teaching kids about social awareness and perspective-taking—an invaluable life skill for our interconnected world.
Picture books bout perspective and social awareness illustrate different examples of how characters deal with dilemmas empathically and focus on respecting and considering the views of others.
You will see characters in these stories about perspective:
- Showing respect for others.
- Maintaining relationships by using appropriate strategies to deal with unexpected situations.
- Taking on board and empathising with the perspectives of others.
- Understanding the views of others influences social interactions.
- Analysing social situations to recognise the emotions of others.
- Understanding how their mood and behaviour affect social interactions.
Benefits of Reading Picture Books About Perspective and Social Awareness
Reading stories about perspective in the classroom has several benefits:
Develops social-emotional skills: Picture books about perspective and social awareness can help students develop social-emotional skills such as empathy, kindness, and compassion. Students can build stronger relationships and become more socially aware by understanding and appreciating others.
Promotes diversity and inclusivity: Stories about perspective often highlight diversity and inclusivity, introducing students to different cultures, traditions, and ways of life. This helps students become more open-minded and accepting of others.
Fosters critical thinking: Picture books about perspective and social awareness help students develop critical thinking skills by encouraging them to question and analyse societal norms, power structures, and social issues.
Provides teachable moments: Picture books about perspective provide teachable moments for teachers to discuss important topics such as social justice, inequality, and human rights.
Builds literacy skills: Reading stories about perspective in the classroom can help students develop literacy skills such as reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking.
Questions to Pair with Picture Books about Perspective and Social Awareness
- When [character] had difficulties, how did they overcome this? What did they learn?
- [Character] could have handled the situation better. What could they have done differently?
- [Character] went through a lot of changes. How well did they adapt to these changes? Could they have done anything differently?
- Why was it important that [character] listened to those around them before taking action?
- Why was it important that [character] reflected on their actions?
- How would the story have changed if [character] had/had not controlled their emotions?
- Was [character] willing to change their mind as the events progressed? What difference would it have made?
- How would it have helped [character] if s/he was more open-minded?
- Why was it important [character] was open-minded?
- Did [character] think about how their actions affected other characters?
- How could [character] have understood the feelings of [character] more sympathetically?
- How could [character & character] have better dealt with their differences/conflict?
- What other strategies could [character] have used to deal with their situation?
- Did [character] take on board the opinions of others? Would it have made a difference?
- How would showing empathy have helped [character]?
Picture Books about Perspective-Taking and Social Awareness
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
All Are Welcome sets the tone of acceptance on the first day of school and sends a powerful message that every student, regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, and background, is welcome in your classroom.
Reading All Are Welcome fosters discussions around the importance of inclusion, empathy, being oneself, acceptance, and nurturing a sense of community and belonging.
I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli
I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu takes us to southern Africa, introducing us to the philosophy of ubuntu – the belief that we are all interconnected, and these connections give us purpose. A kind act towards others is an act of kindness to ourselves, just as harming others hurts us too.
This book can serve as a reminder that our actions have a ripple effect on the world around us, making it great for discussions about kindness, empathy, community, compassion and unity.
The Bad Seed by Jory John
A sunflower seed believes he's bad due to the negative comments he overhears about himself. He decides to change his ways and make an effort to become better. He doesn't change overnight but commits to taking it one day at a time.
The Bad Seed introduces discussions on a growth mindset, self-management, self-awareness, and social awareness, emphasising that effort and determination make change possible.
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, she's embarrassed and upset. Her friend, the narrator, wants to help her feel better but is unsure how. The book emphasises that being kind is not always easy; even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact.
Be Kind promotes conversations around empathy, relationship skills, and the importance of kindness in everyday interactions, and our actions can create a ripple effect of positivity in our communities.
Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman
Change Sings: A Children's Anthem tells the empowering story of a young girl and a diverse group of children who come together to influence change in their community. They realize that their words and actions, big or small, can make a significant difference and inspire others to follow their lead.
The book teaches your students that age is no barrier to making a difference and that their unique voices can bring about positive changes in the world.
The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo
When Saida, a new girl from Morocco, arrives in class, her silence is misunderstood for a loss of words. But as her classmate learns about Saida's native language, Arabic, they embark on a journey of cultural understanding and friendship.
The Day Saida Arrived explores the experiences of immigration and adjusting to new environments, the importance of communication and language exchange, open-mindedness in embracing different cultures, empathy and respect in fostering inclusivity.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
This is the first of two picture books about perspective by Jacqueline Woodson. The Day You Begin sheds light on the importance of sharing our personal stories, expressing that we all sometimes feel like outsiders. Yet, it's this courage to be ourselves that truly connects us.
Integrate this book into your curriculum to facilitate discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem.
A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko
Mini and her mom find a stray dog in yellow shoes. Mini brings it home, naming it ‘Shoe Dog'. Realizing the dog's owners must be anxious, they search for them. Finding the owners, Mini is saddened to return Shoe Dog but understands it's necessary. Her mom then takes her to an animal shelter to adopt another dog.
A Dog Wearing Shoes fosters conversations about empathy and responsibility and encourages children to consider the feelings of others, even when it's hard.