15 Must Have Books for Elementary School Counselors

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Hello Confident Elementary Counselors!  Kate, Susan, and Vanessa here to share with you some of our favorite books for elementary school counselors. The three of us have teamed up to tell you about the books we love and also tell you a bit about ourselves. As elementary counselors, we know that books are an important tool to use in our programming. Children can easily connect to the characters in stories, which helps them begin to apply the message to their own life. Join us as we tell you more about ourselves and our favorite books for elementary school counselors!

Kate’s Must Have Books


Hi, I’m Kate! I am an elementary school counselor at a K-4 school near Toledo, Ohio. I am very fortunate to work at a school with diverse students, a supportive community, and a wonderful staff. When I am not at work, I enjoy blogging, creating resources for other counselors, traveling, and spending time with my family and cat children. If you would like to learn more about me, you can visit my blog, follow me on Instagram, or visit my TPT store.      

Before I became a school counselor, I spent 8 years as a classroom teacher where I developed a love for using children’s literature to help teach important messages to my students. As a counselor, I enjoy finding ways to incorporate picture books into my classroom lessons, small groups, and individual sessions. I also try to keep up with the field of counseling by spending time reading professional books about social emotional topics. Choosing my top 5 “must have” books was a challenge because there are SO many amazing books for kids. I choose each of the books below because of the way my students connect with the stories.

The Color Monster by Anna Llenas: You can never have enough books about feelings! The Color Monster is unique because it is a pop-up book that depicts a new feeling on each page. My K-2 students love looking at the pop-up pages as I talk about each feeling. The pop-ups are very detailed and unique, which helps to keep students engaged!

Double-Dip Feelings by Barbara Cain: This feelings book has a bit of a twist! On each page, the author describes a scenario and then explains two opposite feelings that can happen in the scenario. For example, a student may feel nervous AND excited on the first day of school. When I read this book to second and third graders, they always do a great job explaining how one situation may involve many feelings.  

One by Kathryn Otoshi: This is a perfect book for bullying awareness lessons.  It shows how ONE student can stand up and make a difference in others’ lives. My first and second grade students really connect with the message in One and they enjoy watching the story evolve.

Say Something by Peggy Moss: Looking for a great book about the power of speaking up instead of being a bystander? This is the one! Say Something has a powerful message that students connect with easily. This story always creates meaningful conversations when I read it in third and fourth grade.  

A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell: In this book, the main character is trying to write a story and it keeps getting messed up. The character experiences many emotions, such as confusion, anger, and sadness, but does not give up. My second and third graders get a kick out of this story because there is humor throughout the book! I enjoy using this book to introduce positive self-talk, but it could also be used for perseverance and making mistakes.

  Susan’s Must Have Books


Hello, I’m Susan from Counseling Wisdom. I counsel in a rural elementary school in southwest Missouri, near Springfield (Bass Pro, Brad Pitt, and Missouri State University-Go Bears)! I serve students in kindergarten through fourth grade. This fall, I will start my 30th year as an educator and my 21st as an elementary school counselor. I enjoy my students, have great teachers to work with, and a community that is very involved in the life of our school.

I love reading to children, as it provides a wealth of opportunities and experiences for them. Over the years, I have collected several favorites and have chosen a few books for elementary school counselors that I would like to share with you. When I am not wearing my counselor hat, I love to scrapbook, read mysteries, create resources for school counselors, and spend time with my grandson. I would love for you to visit and follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and my TPT store.

Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook: Who doesn’t love Julia Cook?! Get out the hula-hoop and let students experiment with the concept of personal space.

Zinnia and Dot by Lisa Campbell Ernst: Great story about two hens who have trouble getting along and when the weasel disrupts the chicken coop, things really get tough. This story is a great way to help students understand cooperation, teamwork, and sharing.

Don’t Pop Your Cork on Monday by Adolph Moser: This is a classic, written by a clinical psychologist who brings cognitive behavioral approaches to managing stress! Students will enjoy imitating the different ways we act like “animals” when reacting to stress.

Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman: A great way to help young students understand perseverance and growth mindset. Poor little Leo, all his fellow lightning bugs have found their light, but he has not yet!

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson: Did someone say pie?  Students will enjoy this engaging book about friendship. A great follow-up activity after reading is to have students create their own recipe for enemy pie. Check out this link for great FREE activities. http://www.ayearofmanyfirsts.com/2013/01/the-book-nook-enemy-pie/

  Vanessa’s Must Have Books


Hello! My name is Vanessa from School Counseling Confessions. This is my 15th year in education, 5 of which was as a teacher and the past 10 years I have been an Elementary School Counselor. I have spent most of my career in Rhode Island, however, my husband’s job had us transfer to Columbia, South Carolina this year. The population of students that I have the most experience with is children living in extreme poverty, students with incarcerated parents, and foster children.

Using books for counseling is a must. Through the years, I have collected a wide variety of books, but no matter how many books I have, there are some that I can always rely on to get the students engaged and thinking. Choosing my top five books for elementary school counselors was almost an impossible task, but here they are in no specific order:

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss: This book is absolutely perfect for any K-2 classroom. If you need a book to get students talking about emotions, this is it! It goes through them all in a fun, captivating way that young students are drawn to. When I read this book, my students are able to understand the feelings and express how they also have shared these same emotions all in the same day.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: Judith Viorst does an excellent job of describing how a day can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Students enjoy going through this book and dissecting each bad decision that Alexander makes. This book has led to MANY great discussions!

My Daddy is in Jail by Janet Bender: If you work with a population of students with incarcerated parents, this book is a must. It has discussions, small group guides, and what I love the most is that the pictures from the book are drawn by children. I have used this book numerous times in individual counseling and small groups.

The Dot by Peter Reynolds: I have yet to find a Peter Reynolds book that I don’t love, but The Dot is, by far, my favorite. I use the book in 4th and 5th grade classes as the first lesson in my School Counseling classroom lessons.  It is a simple book with a BIG message that my students always love.

I Said “No” by Zack and Kimberly King: Calling child services for sexual abuse is something that I wish I could say I have never done. Unfortunately, I have to call each year, and with the rate of my calls increasing, I knew I had to incorporate “Personal Body Safety” lessons with my students. This book is based on a true story about a little boy who went to a sleepover at a neighbor’s house and bad things happened to him. I love that this book talks about “Green Flag” and “Red Flag” people and what to do if it happens to you.    

I would love to hear your thoughts on the books I selected. Stop by and visit me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Instagram, School Counseling Confessions website and Pinterest.


What are your favorite books for elementary counseling?  Please add your favorites to the comments below!


15 must have books for elementary school counselors