Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in Story Time: Key Skills for Kindergarten Readiness is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.

Presenter: Jenn Carter, King County Library System (WA)

Track: Public Library

Abstract: After completing two months of online story time, I paused to ask for feedback from parents and educators.

When asked about kindergarten readiness in the COVID era, parents and educators again and again requested that the library emphasize Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in online story time. Skills like compassion, kindness, cooperation and perseverance are seen by educators as some of the most important skills we can be teaching young children. More than math and reading, SEL are the skills that will allow our children to succeed in the future.

Concurrently, the tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor brought to light a desperate need in our communities to work harder to teach essential SEL topics like: anti-racism, empathy and courage. I decided to pull up my old SEL curriculum and adapt these concepts to an online story time program for the Summer of 2020.

This nine week curriculum for Preschool Story Time was piloted in person in the Fall of 2019 and is now being adapted for online story times and possible take-home packets for Summer of 2020.

For each of the nine topics, I have three elements: librarian story time guide, one page reference sheet for parents with booklist; and an activity sheet with directions to a hands-on learning activity.


About the Presenter: Jenn Carter, MLIS, is the Children’s Librarian for the Carnation, Duvall and Skykomish Libraries in King County, WA. She has served the children and families of her community for over 15 years. Contact Jenn at

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Linda Klein
3 years ago

Hello Jenn! This is a fabulous project, and I want to replicate this at my library. Rather than reinvent the wheel, are you willing to share your activities and parent handouts?

Jenn Carter
Reply to  Linda Klein
3 years ago

Sure thing, Linda! I would be so flattered! Is there an email I could send things to?

Linda Klein
Reply to  Jenn Carter
3 years ago
You know us librarians – we borrow from each other!

3 years ago

Fabulous presentation, Jenn! Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience in this way. We are so lucky to have you at KCLS!

Hope Decker
3 years ago

I think if we do nothing else during this time, supporting the social emotional learning of the children in our communities is vital. I’m so glad you are doing this as kindergarten preparation. Thank you!

3 years ago

So awesome. I get goosebumps about how important this work is. You definitely went above and beyond to serve your community. I love how you engaged and listened to the community about what their needs were. That is so essential to include our community as a stakeholder in our services.

I work at an academic institution — I wonder if there is an adult or college-age version of this that could be developed. Everyone needs to work on SEL — especially now when there experiences we haven’t emotionally processed before. I also love being read to — could their be an adult story time of some sort? What do you think?

Jenn Carter
Reply to  Rick
3 years ago

Rick! I LOVE that idea! I agree completely. We focus too much on all levels of education on “building better workers” rather than “building better humans.” It seems that it could be aged up, easily.

I recently learned of the work of Citizen University’s Civic Saturday program: I was inspired by this program for adults and maybe this will strike a chord for you and your students, as well. “Civic Saturday is a civic analogue to a faith gathering. It gathers friends and strangers together to nurture a spirit of shared purpose. At the gathering we connect around the values and practices of being an active citizen, reckon with and reflect on our nation’s creed, and build relationships that create new civic traditions that are joyful and communal.”

3 years ago

I love that you include reference sheets for parents! It’s so important to give parents tools to continue these conversations at home.