Heart-Mind Reading List: 20 Books for Back-to-School for Teens & Tweens


Back-to-school doesn't have to mean back to stress! Reading books that nurture Heart-Mind well-being can help ease children and youth's transition back into the classroom by strengthening the 5 Heart-Mind qualities

Download the Heart-Mind Reading List: 20 Chapter Books for Back-to-School here. 

A-Okay, by Jarad Greene normalizes back-to-school worries while nurturing Secure & Calm. This Was Our Pact, by Ryan Andrews fosters Compassionate & Kind through describing the unexpected "magic" of getting to know a new classmate. Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt explores Gets Along With Others from the perspective of a neuro-atypical girl learning to trust others and herself. Me and Banksy, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi tackles issues of hacking and classroom privacy through a Solves Problems Peacefully mystery. 

Connect with these compelling reads and many others through the Heart-Mind Reading List: 20 Books for Back-to-School for Teens and Tweens. The books on this list, which are suitable for grades 4-8, can teach social and emotional skills while also providing readers with engaging stories to whisk them away to new worlds. Each list has a coloured heart to indicate the Heart-Mind quality promoted in the story.

The following extension activities can help children and youth "fall" back into Heart-Mind well-being beyond the book shelf:

  • Take Compassionate & Kind off the page and into your community by joining the Little Free Library Action Book Club, which pairs reading with community service projects that create positive change.
  • Build practical self-regulation skills for Secure & Calm and Alert & Engaged with middle-schoolers through this informative video series from the Child Mind Institute. Invite children and youth to imagine which skills would help a character from one of the books on the list, and prompt them to consider why.
  • Invite young people to create art, inspired by their favourite book, to nurture creative thinking and strenghten Solves Problems Peacefully. 

Download the Heart-Mind Reading List: 20 Chapter Books for Back-to-School here



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  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.