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Books and Movies to Use With Children When Thinking About Positive Psychology

Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning
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Books matter.

I know you know this. But as adults, we have an opportunity to put books in kids' hands that change their minds about themselves, their minds, their emotions, and their futures.

The stories inside our head shape our reality, and the stories we read help shape those stories. As the research of positive psychologists Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Carol Dweck, Edward Deci, and Richard Ryan illustrate, how we think about the events of our lives affect stress levels, feelings of control and competency, and positive feelings about ourselves and others. The story we tell ourselves matter. We can fill kids with stories about understanding and accepting emotions and finding new strategies when faced with obstacles.

Talking about, naming, accepting, and discussing strategies for dealing with emotions helps kids navigate their world. These works give children of different ages ways to talk about their feelings.

A book for young children, When Sophie Gets Angry, explains an anger trigger for a young girl and the strategy she uses to calm down, opening up conversation with your youngster on how to cool down.:



 The movie Inside Out helps, not only, name emotions but urges us all to deal with all of our emotions, even the ones that aren’t fun.:


For older children, The Giver science fiction novel, explores the personal and societal cost of trying to prevent negative emotions. :



Carol Dweck’s growth mindset has almost become jargon in education circles, but stressing growth and finding new strategies can empower children.

With younger children, likable protagonists who learn about themselves when they let go of what was supposed to happen, like in The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, and learn new strategies to overcome obstacles, like The Most Magnificent Thing, help them discover that they can choose how their brain grows by what they practice, like in Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: biking, reading, interacting with friends or all of the above :


For older children, it can help to explain that their brain is changing as fast as their bodies, like in The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain.:


I would love to hear more suggestions as well. Please comment below with other children’s media that help use the big ideas of positive psychology with K-12. I can't wait to see what everyone else suggests reading!

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Amy parents, writes, teaches, and enjoys the redwoods in Humboldt County, California. She teaches senior English and researches and writes about positive psychology research's implications for education. @AmyKConley
  • Guest
    Paul Turner II Monday, 14 March 2016

    This is an inspiring topic to bring up Amy. I am happy that positive image of females are explored and honored with great text.

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Guest Friday, 15 February 2019