social-emotional learning

5 Steps for Using Stories to Help Kids Navigate their World

 //  Aug 12, 2020

5 Steps for Using Stories to Help Kids Navigate their World

Karen Baicker is the Executive Director of the Yale Child Study Center–Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience, as well as Publisher for Family and Community Engagement (FACE) at Scholastic. In this blog post, she covers how parents and educators can utilize stories to help kids navigate their world.

Kids are incredibly observant. In a time of so much uncertainty and change, they are asking critical and important questions about their world. How can parents and educators help them address their curiosities, confusions, and concerns in ways that promote understanding and empathy? Stories are powerful resources for helping kids of all ages understand themselves as well as the world around them.

Finding the just-right story can provide more than age-appropriate information. It can help access emotions, prompt discussions, and provoke critical thinking. As seen in the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™, 74% of children agree that reading fiction and nonfiction is a way to help them understand the world, and over half of kids (53%) agree that a book has helped them through a difficult time.

For 100 years, Scholastic has been helping kids, families, and educators navigate the world through story. Today, we are continuing our tradition of meeting parents and teachers where and when they are seeking guidance with @ScholasticBookshelf, a new, first-of-its-kind resource to inspire conversation and open dialogues with children, using stories that enrich their lives well beyond the page. @ScholasticBookshelf is free and accessible to all parents and teachers to help them answer kids’ most pressing life questions through carefully chosen stories.

The Scholastic Bookshelf leverages the power of story to help children broaden their minds, challenge their imaginations, and define their own path. Parents and educators now have access to over 60 beloved Scholastic story excerpts from books and Classroom Magazine articles that can help them navigate a wide range of questions from their children. You will find stories selected to address questions about anxiety, bullying, empathy, teamwork, civil rights, government, and the current, pressing challenges of racism and illness.

By putting high-quality, relevant texts in a child’s hands, you’re taking a big step in helping them address today’s key issues. What you do next is also critical in helping a child use literacy to build resilience. Here are five tips for facilitating conversation and growth through stories, whether with your own children at home, or with students:

  1. Share the story. No matter how old children are, sharing the experience of the story is always appropriate. You can read the story together, or separately and then discuss.
  2. Ask open-ended questions that invite children into freewheeling discussion. The point in this context is not to assess recall or reading skills, but to let them access and express emotions. Make sure to encourage them to ask you questions in return.
  3. The shortest path is not always a straight line. In fact, the power of story often comes precisely from its side-step of an issue that’s otherwise too raw for children to discuss directly. Talking about characters who’ve experienced similar emotions under different circumstances is frequently the best way to get to the heart of a matter.
  4. Read on. Reading is the ultimate rabbit hole! Ask children, what’s next? The Scholastic Bookshelf provides opportunities to keep reading and learning through more magazine articles and stories.
  5. Stories are just a starting point. For social emotional and mental health topics, you may also want to tap professional resources such as mental health professionals, community organizations, and counseling groups for support.

Stories are a powerful way to help kids learn about the world and themselves, and the conversations that follow are key in helping kids foster the resilience needed to succeed in learning and in life. Especially in a time when we are all facing uncertainty, inviting stories into our lives can help us find meaning, comfort, and understanding.


To explore the Scholastic Bookshelf, visit: @ScholasticBookshelf 

To learn more about how literacy can help kids build resilience, visit the website of the Yale Child Study Center–Scholastic Collaborative for Child & Family Resilience: