Teachers, administrators, and key team members like counselors and school psychologists can harness the power of reading to teach critical social-emotional skills to students in innovative ways:
Does your school have an advisory program? Select one book and make it the basis for discussion over several weeks of advisory. Does your school have a pattern of incidents such as bullying, cyberbullying, or social exclusion?
Partner across the curricula with Language Arts and Health. Use class time to read and discuss titles that explore health and wellness themes, such as And We Call It Love (teen dating violence), Little Pills (addiction), Manning Up (eating disorder; steroids), and Clear Cut (self-harm). Students can also research the issues presented in the novels.
Create a tolerance and diversity program at your school. Select four diverse titles to engage with and host Literature Circles. Every student in the grade selects or is assigned to one title. Students read and discuss their selections by title. During the last Literature Circle, create small groups with students reporting on all the titles. Repeat the entire project the following semester, allowing students to select another book.
Create a buddy program between junior high students or first-year students and juniors or seniors. Students can read a book together that explores the pressures of high school and discuss healthy coping strategies.