What is a social story?
Social stories are social learning tools to help children process and understand difficult experiences, such as a natural disaster. Originally developed by Carol Gray to help children with special needs, social stories have been expanded by early childhood educators to help children of children understand events in their lives at home, at school, or in the greater community.
The Social Story Center draws on research from education and child and adolescent development to write social stories in the form of illustrated e-books. They are designed to be read together by a child and an adult, such as a parent, relative or guardian, or educator.
Our books seek to support children's social-emotional development and help them process difficult events by doing the following.
- Reassuring the child about their safety.
- Redirecting the child's attention to the positive actions undertaken by others - experts, service workers, and everyday people alike.
- Empowering and engaging children in helping acts.
- Understanding why there may be changes to their everyday lives and routines.
In particular, we strive for our books to be able to help children better understand the situation and attend to positive acts (i.e., celebrating the "heroes", engaging in helping actions) while acknowledging uncertainty. This involves discussing the hard questions - such as the human impact of a natural disaster - in ways that are age-appropriate, and being honest when the answer is "I don't know." As educators and caregivers, we cannot always have all the "right answers" - but we can provide the children in our lives with the support that they need.
Our social stories are available for free download in multiple languages as a PDF e-book.
There are two editions of the book. The first, older version used open-source images from the website unsplash.com. The second, newer version uses illustrations provided by GLOPO JC Creation and Art Center.
(In Progress) Each of our social stories includes an attached lesson plan for parents and educators to use while discussing the social story with their children. In addition to providing guidance on best practices for using the social story, it also includes opportunities for follow-up activities to do with their children.
We have several animated videos following a parent and a child reading the book together. The animations are hosted on YouTube.
The audiobooks feature the read-along of a parent and a child reading the book together. Several languages of the audiobook are available on Youtube.
[In progress] Our goal is to be able to provide a customizable version of the book that allows parents and educators to add their children's name to the book. These will be made available via a downloadable Google Slides link that allows editing of certain parts of the text.
Share Your Story!
[In Progress] We hope that children will feel empowered to do something to support others after reading the social story, such as drawing pictures for doctors and other heroes or writing kind messages of support to others. Our goal is to create a submission system that allows children to share photos of their drawings and notes, and we will then share these messages with healthcare workers and local heroes.