Students Developing a More Specific Emotional Vocabulary through Picture Books

Students Developing a More Specific Emotional Vocabulary through Picture Books



Mary E. Horvath


Presentation: 11:45-12:00, Kennedy Union Boll Theatre



Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a relatively new set of standards in Ohio’s curriculum. They teach students to take care of themselves mentally, emotionally, and socially. SEL standards are essential for achievement not only in the classroom but in life as well because it teaches students how to manage relationships, be better decision-makers, and have a better sense of self, just to name a few. Because of its novelty, it is essential to find the best practices for teaching SEL to meet the needs of the students. Research has shown that the standard videos, activities, and take-home worksheets referenced in the curriculum are not engaging the students (Pysarenko, 2021, p. 639). Another avenue must be taken for students to truly learn from SEL, which prompted the idea of picture books. Teachers already use picture books throughout the school day to teach academic content, so why can’t it be done to teach Social-Emotional Learning as well? This study seeks to further understand the connection between children’s literature and emotional vocabulary, which is part of the Ohio Department of Education SEL standard, “Demonstrate an awareness of personal emotions” (ODE, p. 8, 2019). With 32 participants, the researcher interviewed students before and after an intervention with picture books to see if participants could apply the emotional vocabulary used during the read-alouds. After all the interviews, thematic coding was done with all the responses to see if children were able to apply deeper emotional vocabulary to hypothetical situations. The data shows growth in application which suggests that picture books can be used to teach emotional vocabulary. This is significant because helping students grow their emotional vocabulary will help them connect better to themselves, the people in their lives, and their experiences so they can live an overall better life.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Mary Catherine Sableski

Primary Advisor's Department

Teacher Education


Stander Symposium, School of Education and Health Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Scholarship; Critical Evaluation of Our Times

Students Developing a More Specific Emotional Vocabulary through Picture Books