10 Ways You Can Support Grieving Children at School

By Korie Leigh, Ph.D., author of What Does Grief Feel Like? 

In your classroom, you have a grieving student. In fact, you probably have more than one. By 18, one in every 12 children will have experienced the death of a parent or sibling.

When you include the losses of other family members like grandparents, aunts, uncles, community members like classmates, or even teachers, you can see just how common the experience of childhood grief is. In any given elementary classroom across the United States, you can find at least two to three students that have experienced the death of someone they love.

As an educator, you can support the grief experience of your students.  Teachers who intentionally provide support by listening and responding with empathy can be a positive force. Below are ten ways to support grieving children in your classroom or your school.

10 Ways You Can Support Grieving Children at School

1. Talk with your students using open-ended questions and statements.

Instead of saying, “I know how you feel,” try, “Can you tell me more about what this has been like for you?” or instead of saying, “You must be feeling so sad,” try, “Can you tell me what you are feeling right now?”

2. Grief impacts the way students learn. 

Grief affects many parts of the brain, including the ability to focus and concentrate. Short-term memory is impacted. You may notice students zoning out or unable to retain new information. This is a normal part of the grief experience.

3. Grief is a lifelong developmental process for children.

A loss that occurs when a child is three will be re-grieved as they continue to grow and develop. When that same child reaches the age of seven, they may, for the first time, really understand the finality of their loss.

In my own practice, this very thing happened. A seven-year-old was making Father’s Day gifts in class, and his dad died when he was three. During that class, it was the first time he realized his dad was never coming home and to die means to die forever.

Developmentally this makes sense as this child was entering a new stage of cognitive development and forming the ability to navigate abstract concepts with more mastery.

4. Listen more, talk less.

As adults, we like to fill space with our words. Yet, sometimes what children need is for the adults in their life to just listen. Not ask questions, not probe with inquiries, simply sit with them, play with them, and really listen to what they are saying with their words, their behaviors, and their emotions.

5. Grieving students may feel different from their peers.

Educators can strengthen grieving students’ social connectedness with their peers to reduce isolation and encourage emotional expression. However, there is a delicate balance to walk. On the one hand, you know that grieving students have unique needs. On the other, these same students don’t want to be singled out for this difference.

Instead of excluding these students from experiences, such as excusing them from making Mother’s Day cards if their mom dies. Try to invite them to make a card in honor or memory of their mom or ask what the student wants to make. That student still has a mom but is now navigating life as a child without a living mother.

6. Make space for the class to learn about grief.

Use literature and children’s books to support learning about and expressing grief. Many well-written psychotherapeutic books can help you find the words to talk about such challenging topics.

7. Your grief is not your student’s grief.

Since grief is a normal experience, we have all had our own losses and our own unique grief experiences. It’s important to remember that a child’s grief experience is unique to them. Some may cry, some may not. Some may want to talk about it, others may not. When supporting grieving students, it’s helpful to recognize that how grief feels to you isn’t necessarily how grief feels for your student. Do your best to meet your students where they are and validate their grief experience.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there are no stages or end point to the grief process.

8. Develop a code or sign for overwhelm.

Grieving students will have times during the day when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. To prepare for these times, create a sign, signal, or something that you can see that tells you the student is having a hard time.

One client I worked with decided that her sign would be to put her hair in a ponytail because she always wore it down. When the teacher saw this sign, they would tell the student they could go to the counselor’s office or opt out of doing work at that time.

9. Be flexible and gentle . . . with yourself.

You’ll make mistakes. It’s normal. If you realize you may have said or done something that you feel may not have supported your grieving students, you can always talk with them about it. Or, if that is not appropriate, you can learn from those experiences and work towards changing the way you engage with topics of death and grief.

10. Grief is a normal part of loss.

As an educator, you are uniquely positioned to use teachable moments as touchpoints for lifelong social-emotional capacity. The way you approach and hold experiences of death and grief will inform the way your students cope with grief and loss.

This means that you, as the adult, must learn where your own struggles and challenges are with talking about such emotional topics. Children will pick up on subtle emotional cues; if you’re uncomfortable or nervous, they will feel that.

Resources for educators

Korie Leigh author photo With training as a child life specialist and grief counselor, Dr. Korie Leigh has spent over 16 years specializing in working with children and families experiencing grief and loss. As an associate professor and program director, she teaches graduate courses on child development, death, dying, and bereavement. Dr. Leigh obtained her Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology, where she wrote her dissertation on the lived experiences of bereaved parents. She also holds an M.A. in public health and grief counseling and a B.A. in child development. She speaks and presents at national and regional conferences on issues of grief, loss, and coping. Dr. Leigh lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Korie Leigh is the author of What Does Grief Feel Like?:
What Does Grief Feel Like? book cover

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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4 Ideas for Practicing Mindfulness with Children

By Lynn Rummel, author of I Remember My Breath

4 Ideas for Practicing Mindfulness with ChildrenThink about the last time you smelled a flower. You probably looked at it first, held it to your nose, closed your eyes, and inhaled its sweet scent. For that split second, when the sense of smell was the only sense your brain was processing, you were practicing mindfulness.

The term “mindfulness” has become more mainstream over the past decade; it’s on the bulletin board of a staff workroom, in a classroom lesson plan for the morning routine, on a magazine cover in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. But what exactly does it mean? Is it the same as meditation? Do we need special training or equipment to “do mindfulness”?

The fortunate answer to these questions is that mindfulness is a simple concept and is a human state of mind that already exists—just not often, for most of us. We are busy; we are tired; we are the experts of multitasking.

Practicing mindfulness is intentionally attending to one single sense at a time without judgment—that is, without thinking about whether you’re finding something to be a positive or a negative experience. You don’t need fancy cushions or music (or even flowers) to practice mindfulness. And once you find small ways to incorporate moments of mindfulness into your daily life, you can more easily help children do the same.

Here are some simple ways to practice mindfulness on your own or with children:

1. Listen to water

We’re used to looking at water, tasting it, and feeling it. But we don’t often focus on listening to it. Practice listening to water wherever you can, such as:

  • sitting in a parked car, waiting for the rain to stop before heading indoors
  • using a white noise machine or water sounds video for a few minutes before bedtime
  • lying on a blanket near the shore of the ocean or a stream

Intentionally choose to experience only the sense of hearing by closing your eyes and holding your body still.

2. Use your hands as sensory tools for daily activities

You can create sensory touch experiences by filling a bin with dry rice or beans, cotton balls, shaving cream, or sand. You can fully experience your sense of touch by closing your eyes and being silent for a minute or so while doing an activity like kneading dough or spreading mulch in your garden.

3. Use taste as a mindful experience

There’s a lot of information available about mindful eating, but for practicing mindfulness with our senses, you can use any type of food. Even candy! Leave the food on your tongue for a few extra seconds and fully take in the taste and texture while your eyes are closed.

4. Practice mindfulness of breath

The most basic way to practice mindfulness is through a brief awareness of breath exercise. With eyes closed, draw attention to the breath. You’re not changing it in any way nor narrating in your mind whether it’s good or bad, fast or slow.

If you find it difficult to keep your mind silent (I know I do!), you can picture a wave going up and down slowly, or you can say the words “in” and “out” in your mind along with your inhale and exhale. Gently bring your attention back to your breathing if your mind wanders to other thoughts. “What should I make for dinner?” creeps into mine often.

Creating a “mindfulness minute” as part of your kids’ daily routines can be as simple as incorporating one of the above ideas into morning get-ready-time or afternoon snack time or come-on-everybody-it’s-time-for-bedtime. Small moments like these give children (and us) the tools to handle stress when other events or situations become overwhelming.

Lynn Rummel author photoLynn Rummel is a licensed speech-language pathologist and certified professional school counselor. While working as an elementary school counselor for nine years, she taught mindfulness and breath awareness strategies to many of her students. Currently, Lynn operates a pediatric speech and language therapy private practice in South Florida, where she lives with her husband, two children, and pug. She specializes in articulation, literacy, and social and emotional skills. Children’s picture books are among her favorite therapy materials for all ages.

Lynn Rummel is the author of I Remember My Breath:
I Remember My Breath book cover

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2023 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Achieving Equity in Gifted Education

By Dina Brulles, Ph.D., Kimberly Lansdowne, Ph.D., and Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D., authors of Understanding and Using the Naglieri General Ability Tests: A Call for Equity in Gifted Education

Achieving Equity in Gifted EducationIncreasing diversity and achieving equity has long been a goal of gifted education advocates, but school administrators have struggled to do so. Our recent book Understanding and Using the Naglieri General Ability Tests: A Call for Equity in Gifted Education offers new, culture-sensitive methods for identifying these historically marginalized students.

In this blog, we share an enlightened approach and actionable advice schools can use to improve their ability to identify and support previously under-served students in gifted education. We hope to provide you with brief insights and ideas introducing identification, grouping, programming, and instructional approaches that allow children to develop their potential, become confident learners, and ultimately advance academically.

We focus on three aspects involved in this process:

  1. Identifying who is absent from gifted programs
  2. Using building norms to group students according to learning needs
  3. Enhancing teachers’ understanding of how to teach gifted learners

1. Identifying who is absent from gifted programs

Widely used tests that measure intellectual ability use verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative test questions. Despite their widespread use, traditional ability tests historically yield low scores for students of color.

A major reason many marginalized students routinely have lower scores is that traditional tests require verbal comprehension of directions, academic knowledge, or proficiency in the English language. The Naglieri Verbal, Nonverbal, and Quantitative tests are different in that a student can answer the test items regardless of the language they speak or their current levels of knowledge because the tests do not contain words but rather pictures. To answer the questions, students must rely on thinking skills.

Measuring thinking in a way that is not confounded by learned knowledge identifies students with high ability and draws teachers’ awareness to their potential.

To determine whether to switch to these new tests consider the following:

  • Does your gifted student population reflect the demographics of your school’s student population?
  • Does entrance into your gifted program require that students demonstrate high academic achievement?
  • Do the teachers in your school recognize students with high potential who are not achieving highly in the regular curriculum?

2. Using universal assessment and building norms to group students according to learning need

The key to equitable identification of all gifted learners is to use equitable tests, but equitable tests alone do not solve the problem if they’re not used properly. Universal assessment of all students in a grade level eliminates the problems associated with teacher and parent referrals, and building norms also help.

Many schools are now using local norms, or more specifically, building norms to determine which students would benefit most from advanced-level curriculum and instruction. Simply stated, using building norms means identifying students within one school (or grade level) that demonstrate higher ability than most others in that setting.

Using building norms can be helpful in developing more inclusive gifted services.  Building norms can be used on their own, or in addition to national norms.

When using building norms to identify which students would benefit most from advanced learning opportunities, schools can test all students in a certain grade level and then determine their own cut-off criteria. Some examples include:

  • Test all second graders in a school building and then identify which students score in the top ten percentile.
  • Test all third graders in a school and then rank order the students based on their test scores. Then select the top twenty students to include in the gifted services at that school building.
  • Test all first-grade students in the district and invite the top five percent to attend a specific school designated to serve students of high ability.

3. Enhancing teachers’ understanding of how to teach gifted learners

When we increase equity in our identification procedures, we must also develop inclusive gifted programming. Incorporating local norms, and relying on building norms specifically, allows for inclusive practices at the school level.

These practices raise awareness among teachers and staff that some very smart students may think and learn differently, regardless of their current levels of achievement or level of fluency with the English language. This approach encourages appropriate modifications to student grouping and instruction to occur.

When increasing diversity within your gifted program, consider the following approaches:

  • Use a strengths-based approach to instruction that builds on students’ background
  • Build cultural awareness using culturally responsive curriculum and instruction
  • Appeal to the ideas and interests of diverse gifts learners to foster engagement and increase motivation

Incorporating equitable ability tests and using local norms leads to inclusive programs. We can then use culturally responsive teaching methods that reflect changing mindsets of what “giftedness” looks like. This new system of identification practices recognizes each student’s potential to ensure that they receive an appropriate education.

We hope our book can serve as a helpful guide on the road to accomplishing this goal. We can do better, and we must!

Dina Brulles, Ph.D.Dina Brulles, Ph.D., is a school administrator and the gifted-education director for Arizona’s Paradise Valley Unified School District. Recognized for her expertise in creating and supervising schoolwide cluster grouping, she also assists districts throughout the United States in developing gifted-education programs, including those districts serving culturally and linguistically diverse gifted students. She holds a Ph.D. in gifted education and an M.S. in curriculum and instruction and serves on the faculty of the Graduate College of Education at Arizona State University. Prior to becoming an administrator, Dina was an elementary classroom teacher, a bilingual teacher, an ESL teacher, and a gifted-cluster teacher. She lives in Peoria, Arizona.

Kimberly Lansdowne, Ph.D.Kimberly Lansdowne, Ph.D., is the founding executive director of the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, a secondary school for highly gifted students at Arizona State University (ASU). She received her doctorate at ASU and has a lengthy career in teaching and administration at universities, colleges, public and private schools. At ASU, she develops and teaches undergraduate and graduate level education classes on curriculum, instruction, testing, measurement, and special needs. Previously, Dr. Lansdowne was the director of gifted services at Scottsdale School District and now consults nationally with school districts on effective teaching strategies for gifted and talented students. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D.Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D., has held faculty appointments at Northern Arizona University, The Ohio State University, and George Mason University. He is currently a research professor at the University of Virginia, senior research scientist at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and emeritus professor of psychology at George Mason University. Dr. Naglieri has developed many tests used by psychologists and educators such as the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, the Cognitive Assessment System, Autism Spectrum Rating Scale, Devereux Student Strength Assessment, and Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory. He is widely known for his efforts to increase participation of traditionally underrepresented students in gifted education and remains an active presenter on related topics. Dr. Naglieri is committed to equitable and valid assessment though high-quality tests and rating scales and a continual effort to help professionals make positive differences in the lives of the students they evaluate. He lives near Washington, D.C.

Understanding and Using the Naglieri General Ability Tests book coverDina, Kimberly, and Jack are authors of Understanding and Using the Naglieri General Ability Tests: A Call for Equity in Gifted Education.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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The Social and Emotional Way to a Calmer Classroom

By Rayne Lacko, coauthor of Dream Up Now™: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery

The Social and Emotional Way to a Calmer ClassroomHave you ever had a student, or a small group of students, create a challenging environment? Perhaps this happens every once in a while, or maybe it’s a chronic issue. Young people who have something to say but who feel powerless or angry might express their feelings with destructive or disruptive behavior. When a student is mired in doubt, anxiety, or sadness, those feelings can show up in every area of their lives, including your classroom.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) activities can help young people change for the better, and the results can be profound for everyone in the group, helping you find your way toward a calmer classroom environment and greater student success. But SEL provides benefits beyond these; it can have a positive influence on you and your well-being too.

The key to successful social-emotional learning is creativity.

Troublesome emotions can make adolescents restless. But when a student engages in creative SEL and makes something—a reflective journal entry, a drawing, a playlist of songs, or a workable plan to prepare for a test—these emotions have a safe space for release. This release makes room for more positive feelings, leading to more positive interactions with you and their peers.

A useful SEL program can and should bring a sense of calm, relief, playfulness, and self-awareness to both you and your students. When educators immerse in emotional and self-reflective content with students, it supports them in reflecting on and improving their own social and emotional experiences. Engaging with emotional content can offer a more positive effect on the way you think, feel, and behave. Social and emotional learning—particularly when it invites you to create—can have a profound impact on your well-being both in and out of the classroom.

The Power of Peer Group Circles

The most powerful method for building mutual respect and understanding is establishing a peer group circle by inviting teens to leave their tables and chairs and gather in a circle. The circle establishes and nurtures insights and connections that can have a profound impact on every student in the group.

Peer group circles boost acknowledgment from peers and build a sense of community in your classroom. Among peers, the issues teens wrestle with are deeply empathized with by other teens, including conflicts with parents or social groups, issues of gender identity or body image, or stress around homework or time management. Even if a teen is experiencing extraordinary circumstances, adolescent emotions are relatable to other adolescents. But if these are not shared, a teen often believes they are the only one experiencing them.

Circle time is meaningful because it offers a level playing field to everyone, providing the opportunity to be heard and understood. Offering arts-based SEL activities designed specifically for teens gives young people a conversation prompt to share their personal experiences, stresses, hopes, and self-image. Some teens might spend hours ruminating on things that went “wrong” or were embarrassing or disappointing, but relief is possible when these thoughts are directed into SEL activities. By sharing their emotions-centered creations, teens can be authentically seen and understood. It’s also an opportunity to grow in self-understanding and to experience ways to make a positive impact on others.

Arts-based SEL activities can result in profound, positive transformation. Sometimes the most resistant student is sitting on what is to them the most significant, poignant art. When a teen explains the meaning behind their SEL activity, the rewards are many, including:

  • emotional release
  • being authentically heard
  • being valued for one’s true self
  • receiving appreciation and admiration

Positive classroom relationships and cooperation depend on trust. When a teen doesn’t know many—or any—other people who are going through what they are dealing with, it can lead to feelings of isolation. But peer circles are not meant to pinpoint only struggles. It’s equally as important to spend time focusing on good things that happen and helping teens build their lives to go the way they want. Your peer group circle chips away the isolation by celebrating each teen’s point of view, affirming their creativity, and offering a safe place to transform their feelings for success.

Providing ample time and space for students to talk and, just as important, for peers to respond helps establish trust and openness. Teens can empathize with the challenges of adolescence, help peers feel authentically heard and understood, and share practical insights that can only come from firsthand experience.

Change may be the only constant, but isn’t it time for change that decreases stress and trauma—for both young people and adults?

If you need something to change, your students likely need it to change too.

One in four students is experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms, and youth emergency psychiatric visits for depression, anxiety, and behavioral challenges increased by 28 percent in just four years, according to a recent US Surgeon General Advisory. By facilitating regular peer circles, you allow teens to listen to one another, offer support, and provide a safe environment to explore their feelings through SEL activities with the relief of knowing they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Including SEL in your classroom allows you and your students to witness positive change. By exchanging time wasted on emotional stress for creative social and emotional engagement, students learn coping skills and competencies, build resilience, and improve their relationships. Educators reinforce these skills as they teach them and benefit from a calmer, more cooperative learning environment.

You may worry that providing space for SEL to help teens manage their emotions takes time you just don’t have. Consider the time that emotionally charged misbehavior takes up during the school day. Dream Up Now can incrementally replace those incidents with calm, explorative creativity. Consider time taken up by student apathy, emotional distraction, or sadness. Imagine replacing it with playful, self-directed goal setting.

The new Dream Up Now Leader’s Guide is intended for educators, counselors, and other caring adults to support young people using Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery as a tool to work through fluctuating emotions, know themselves better, and create healthy and meaningful lives.

You can use this free guide to support teens working individually or in a small group. The guide provides background and need-to-know information about Dream Up Now and how it benefits students, offers suggestions for preparing to guide the activities, presents a template for conducting a group circle meeting, and discusses some key considerations for working with teens as they explore and share emotions.

The free guide includes a sample agenda, free printables, and an overview of all the emotion sets and activities. Best of all, it includes information to support you and your creativity too.

Engaging with creative SEL activities can help teens take control of sometimes wild emotions, and the result is a happier, more efficient, and joyful life. And those results are contagious.


Rayne LackoRayne Lacko is a Young Adult author and an advocate for the arts as a form of social and emotional well-being. A teen-writing mentor, she cohosts a youth creative workshop, an annual writing camp, and a teen arts showcase. Through her work, she inspires young people and their families to use creativity to stimulate positive change in their lives and communities. Rayne lives near Seattle, Washington, with her spouse and two boys (a pianist and a drummer), a noisy cat, and her canine best friend.

Dream Up NowRayne is the coauthor of Dream Up Now™: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Seeking Personally Relevant SEL Books for Children and Teens

by Deidra Purvis, acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing

Seeking Personally Relevant SEL Books for Children and TeensHello! My name is Deidra Purvis, and I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new acquisitions editor for children and teens at Free Spirit Publishing. I’m excited to share my journey to this role as acquisitions editor and the types of books I’m seeking.

Growing up, what I remember more than anything was my mother’s repeated wish for me and my two older brothers: she wanted us to be happy, healthy, and safe. She told us this nearly every day.

But like all children, I faced challenges in meeting those goals. Through my own experiences and those of family and friends, I became aware of many hard facts about life from an early age: alcoholism, body image issues, debt. But my mother’s mantra—to be happy, healthy, and safe—stuck with me.

In my search for happiness, I got a lot of things wrong, and I got a few things right. Because of the magical world of the internet and books, as a teenager, I started doing something none of my peers were doing in my small, rural, mostly white town in Ohio in the early 2000s: I started meditating. I also started pursuing happiness in other ways—riding my bicycle, writing, and gardening. So began my passion for social and emotional wellbeing.

Because of the lack of access and lack of representation, children and teens in rural areas, low-income households, BIPOC children, and those belonging to other underrepresented groups often aren’t able to see what’s possible. I didn’t have a lot of examples of career paths in front of me. I loved writing, so I became an 8th-grade English teacher.

Later, my life led me to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here, I found an organization where I could learn more deeply about meditation and mindfulness. I enrolled in an MFA program in creative writing, learned about the art of writing, and gained experience on an editorial board.

I also spent seven years as a personal book shopper, helping teachers and other education leaders find books for their classrooms—books that would help children and teens fall in love with reading. This is when I first heard books described as “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors,” as coined by Rudine Sims Bishop.

In my role curating custom book collections for teachers across the country, “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted every child and teenager to have access to high-quality, high-interest books that they would find personally relevant, and that would encourage empathy for and relationships with others.

Working with educators, I also saw a rise in the whole-child approach to teaching, leading to an increase in social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools. Thinking back to my own experience as an educator, I was brought tremendous joy when I saw my students grow as readers and writers. But my real dream for my students wasn’t for them to grow up to be the smartest, most talented humans; my dream for them was to discover their passions and grow up to do good things in the world, for themselves and for others.

During my time as a curator of classroom book collections, I received requests to curate book lists aligned with SEL programs—allowing me to build collections of both fiction and nonfiction trade books aligned with key skills and traits such as growth mindset, connectedness, mindfulness, determination, and creativity.

This was my favorite part of my job, and my passion for SEL grew. I now see it everywhere. When I think about the core content areas in school, I think about how SEL is the most important tool for success. Take science, for example. For a scientist to succeed, they need to appreciate and celebrate failure as a learning opportunity, and they need to have the determination and patience to keep going. They need a growth mindset.

When building these collections, I sought SEL books where students could personally relate to the character—see themselves represented—and have discussions about the character’s emotions, actions, and skills. As acquisitions editor for children and teens, these are the books I’m most excited to find.

Whether picked up by students or caregivers at a bookstore, the library, or school—my goal is to acquire books that will make our youth feel seen and provide them with the tools they need to face challenges.

My life has come full circle. I’ve been an educator, writer, bookseller, and a person with a passion for SEL. Now, as acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing, it’s all combined into one. I still have the important role of finding books children and teens will find personally relevant, meaningful, and helpful.

Only now, I’m one step closer to the source. I get to find books that need to be made available to children and teens but aren’t yet published.

And here’s what I’m looking for in children and teen books:

  • Authentic voices from underrepresented authors
  • Human characters
  • Books that are culturally relevant for today’s children and teens
  • High-interest and lyrically written pictures books about experiences children will find personally meaningful and that also align with an SEL skill or strategy
  • Fiction and nonfiction books portraying SEL skills applied to STEM
  • Books that portray important stories and explore the truths of pain and joy from historically underrepresented voices
  • Titles applying SEL to youth activism
  • Titles exploring appreciation for the environment
  • Books for kids and teens on mental health topics

I’m especially seeking manuscripts from authors of diverse representation; including race, ethnicity, culture, religion, social class, LGBTQ identities, ability, and physical differences.

Writers and fellow SEL enthusiasts, please follow me on Twitter @FSPacqauisitions. I look forward to reading your work!

For details about how to submit a book proposal to us, check out our submission guidelines on Submittable.

Deidra Purvis, the acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit PublishingDeidra Purvis is the acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing. She’s looking for new board books, picture books, and chapter books with an SEL focus. Follow her on Twitter @FSPacquisitions.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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