Stories that Foster Emotional Development in 11-13 Year Olds

Is your child a perfectionist, insecure, or feels left out? Use these books to help battle the volatile feelings in your preteen.

By Michelle Anthony, PhD



Stories that Foster Emotional Development in 11-13 Year Olds

There's a book for every emotion your preteen is going through:

  • Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein: Using text, haiku and illustrations made of collage, a small cat comes to understand the meaning of her name. Along the way, your child will also discover simple beauty in ordinary, imperfect things. 
  • Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? and Other Disaster Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Your child will relate to these heightened “disasters” (e.g., eating the worm in an apple, death of a pet, stage fright, first day of school, camp, blowing a key play in a game, etc.). Use this as a springboard to talk about your child’s worries, fears, and insecurities, as well as to talk about ways to be empathetic to others.
  • Painted Words/Spoken Memories by Aliki: This story is about being new at school without knowing English and needing to adjust to a different world. Help your child relate to this child, either by direct experience, or by identifying times he has felt ostracized or left out. 
  • One by Kathryn Otoshi: Wonderfully simple story about the importance of each of us. Can your child jump from the text about numbers to the more abstract moral it espouses? Her other books are just as wonderful!
  • Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers Edition) by Greg Mortenson, Sarah Thomson (Adapted by), and David Oliver Reline is an inspirational tale about how kindness from strangers can transform lives.
  • The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald: Photographer Wendy Ewald took photos of what students identified as their best features and they wrote poems describing why. This part made them unique and special. Invite your child to do the same!
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draining is a funny tale where the story is told in alternating chapters by the two characters describing their changing point of view. Use this book to talk with your child about character and voice. 
  • ish by Peter Reynolds: Getting it right is not the goal. Thinking “ish-ish-Ly” is!
  • I’m Here by Peter Reynolds is a great book for kids who feel alone. 
Life Experiences & Values
Age 13
Age 12
Age 11
Middle School
Social and Emotional Development