Best Books for Social Skills

Social skills are important for meeting new people, making friends, and maintaining positive relationships with friends and family.

Books are a great way to help children learn skills that will support their social development including understanding their own and other people’s emotions, inferencing and predicting, and taking turns and sharing. For more information on social skills and why they’re important head to our previous blog on this topic.


Labelling Emotions

Books are a wonderful tool to help children understand the emotions of others. Label the character’s emotions in books and explain why the character might be feeling that way using “think alouds”

(e.g. “I think that Monkey is feeling worried, because he has lost his mum”).

Link these emotions to events in the child’s life when they may have felt the same way. It is also helpful to draw your child’s attention to the character’s expression and explain how you know the character is feeling a particular emotion (e.g. “I can tell he is surprised because his eyes are big and wide, and his eyebrows are raised like this”). Look for books that have clear illustrations of character emotions.

Some of our favourites are:

  • “Monkey Puzzle” by Julia Donalson
  • “The Very Brave Bear” by Nick Bland
  • “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae


Inferencing and Predicting

Inferencing and predicting skills are essential for conversations and social interactions.

They allow us to understand information that is not explicitly stated, and predict the actions and motivations of others.

Books are the perfect mode to practice inferencing and predicting skills.

Ask predicting questions such as “what do you think will happen next”, and justification questions such as “why do you think the [character] did [action]?”.

Encourage your child to guess before you provide them with your answer to the question. Books with a clear narrative structure and problem are great for inferencing and predicting.

Some examples are:

  • “Alan’s Big Scary Teeth” by Jarvis
  • “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson
  • “Puddle Pug” by Kim Norman   


Turn taking

It’s important for children to learn to take their turn in a conversation, wait for their turn in conversations and activities, and listen when others are talking. Turn any book you’re reading into a conversation with your child by taking turns to talk about the pictures, and asking and answering each other’s questions.

If you are looking for specific books with a turn-taking or sharing theme,

Here are some ideas: 

  • “My Mouth is a Volcano!” by Julia Cook
  • “Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker” by Christianne C. Jones  
  • “Rulers of the Playground” by Joseph Kuefler


For more book titles visit Book Share Time and search for books that suit your child’s age and the skill area you would like to work on. Our friends at Little Birdie Books also have a great selection of book boxes that contain picture books and fun activities to support learning..


If you have any concerns regarding your child’s social skills, please contact our experienced team of child speech pathologists and occupational therapists for further support. Cooee will be running Social Skills groups in the July holidays, which will teach conversational skills, turn taking and negotiating and the ability to take on other’s ideas. Contact us today on 3265 4495 for more information or book online.