While schools are focused on academic success, many lack the resources and instruction needed to help students grow in their social emotional learning. However, research has shown that social emotional learning not only helps students build character but also helps them achieve academic goals. Furthermore, studies have shown that bibliotherapy helps children learn social skills and how to apply them into their own lives. The goal of this study was to determine if Book in a Bag, a social skills bibliotherapy program, implemented over the course of an entire school year was perceived by teachers as an acceptable method to help students learn social emotional skills. The study used a single case study design in an elementary school with grades 1-6. The sample consisted of 19 teachers from grades 1-6. This study was completed using existing data from an elementary school that implemented Book in a Bag. The Book in a Bag lessons were taught by the teachers, volunteers, or substitutes in every class. Surveys and focus groups were conducted to assess the social validity and perceptions of the program amongst the teachers regarding whether or not it was an acceptable strategy to teach students social skills. As part of this mixed methods design, an analysis of the means and standard deviations was performed on the survey data as well a one-way ANOVA to assess any differences across grade levels. Furthermore, a thematic analysis was performed on the focus group data to interpret the teachers' responses. Results suggested that teachers found Book in a Bag an acceptable way to teach social skills and they found the social skills important for their students' social emotional learning. There was no significant difference across grade levels. In the focus group data, teachers reported that the lessons were easy to implement and helped their students gain a greater sense of awareness of the social skill steps. However, teachers in every grade level reported that some of the books did not connect very well to the social skill it was intended to teach and oftentimes there were not enough books for each of the classes. Moreover, this study suggests that bibliotherapy may be an effective and easy way to promote social emotional learning in the classroom. Future implementation of this program should aim to make sure the books match with the social skill and that there are enough materials to implement the program on a school-wide level. Future studies of this program should look at how Book in Bag affects changes in student behavior across the school year by performing observational studies, particularly on playgrounds and during free time to see if students are implementing the social skill steps taught in the lessons.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education

Date Submitted


Document Type





social emotional learning, social skills, elementary school, bibliotherapy, children's literature