Why We Center Social and Emotional Learning

At the heart of Reading with Relevance is a deep belief that how students feel about themselves and their lives directly impacts their ability to engage with school and succeed academically. Young people desperately need tools to express and manage their feelings, develop self-confidence, analyze and respond to the social injustices they see in their communities, and cope with the challenges they face. 

Our solution: leverage diverse, culturally-affirming literature filled with relevant social justice themes to inspire youth to engage with reading, accelerate their academic achievement, and develop life-changing social and emotional skills.

External Validation for Our Approach to Social and Emotional Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the leading authority in the advancement of SEL in education. Their focus on empirical evidence and district collaboration has made it the trusted source for educational administrators and policymakers seeking guidance on effectively advancing social and emotional learning in their K–12 students. CASEL has been reviewing SEL programs for over a decade, through an increasingly rigorous selection process.

We are honored to share that Reading with Relevance has been approved by CASEL as one of their few academically-integrated SEL programs — certifying the curriculum as a well-designed, evidence-based social and emotional learning program ready for broad dissemination to schools across the United States. 

CASEL’s program certification follows intensive analysis of Reading with Relevance — including the program’s outcomes, curricular materials, and implementation supports — to determine that the program met their rigorous quality and evidence criteria.  Their thorough review found that Reading with Relevance is:

  • a well-designed program that provides schools with a systematic classroom-based model promoting the development of a student’s social and emotional competence
  • offers high-quality professional development and implementation support to ensure that schools are equipped to effectively implement the program
  • has carefully conducted research evaluations that document positive impacts on student behavior and academic performance

As a CASEL certified program, Reading with Relevance is included in the CASEL Program Guide, a resource to support school districts with guidance in selecting the right SEL program for their students. 

See What CASEL Says About Reading with Relevance>>

Social and Emotional Learning, Defined

“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.

~CASEL, What is SEL?

Listen to a community youth advocate, who draws the link between social/emotional learning, positive school climate, connection to school, and academic success.

The Five Social & Emotional Learning Competencies

Understanding one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. 

Managing one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.

Social Awareness:
Understanding the perspectives of and empathizing with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.

Relationship Skills:
Establishing and maintaining healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. 

Responsible Decision-Making:
Making caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.

Explore a few of our favorite empathy-building texts:

A New Vision: Transformative SEL

CASEL is currently working on research around a specific form of SEL implementation that concentrates on transforming inequitable settings and systems, and promoting justice-oriented civic engagement — they are calling this emergent work Transformative SEL.

“Transformative SEL (TSEL) is a process whereby young people and adults build strong, respectful, and lasting, relationships that facilitate co-learning to critically examine root causes of inequity, and to develop collaborative solutions that lead to personal, community, and societal well-being. This form of SEL is aimed at redistributing power to promote social justice through increased engagement in school and civic life. It emphasizes the development of identity, agency, belonging, curiosity, and collaborative problem solving.”

~CASEL, Transformative SEL as a Lever for Equity & Social Justice

In CASEL’s early research, they have identified 3 Transformative SEL Principles for uniting SEL and social justice teaching. We’re proud that Reading with Relevance translates these principles into empowering reading experiences!

Center Students’ Lived Experiences & Identities in Their Learning

Use Discussion to Validate Student Experiences of Oppression

Encourage Students to Use Their Voices for Social Justice

Explore a few of our favorite transformative titles: