Graduate Research Papers


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Open Access Graduate Research Paper


The purpose of this qualitative content analysis is to examine quality literature focused on anxiety as a mental health concern for middle grade readers and to identify which books should be promoted widely for students and recommended to teachers to support an SEL approach to the curriculum. The analysis of 10 middle grade books (Appendix A) using a book analysis tool (Appendix B) based on previous research completed by Wickham (2018) and Monaghan (2016) and as consistent with CASEL 5 identified four definitive themes in all 10 books. The four themes discovered were:

1) Books Have a Wide Range of Cognitive and/or Somatic Symptoms that Make them Relatable to Readers

2) Books Show that Younger Characters More Commonly Have Parental Relationships and Older Books Include a Close Friend

3) Access to Professional Therapy to Cope with Anxiety Is Prevalent but not Didactic in All Books

4) Initial Realistic Portrayal of Anxiety Shows Forward Motion in Decision Making that Portray Hope for Better Days

The 10 texts are diverse in age and experiences of the protagonist. The characters within the books experienced various anxiety symptoms (both cognitive and somatic), prompted by a range of circumstances relating to the protagonist or someone close to them. Secondary characters acknowledged the protagonist’s anxiety in various ways and those characters had various impacts upon the protagonist’s anxiety, relationships, decision-making skills and forward motion of life. Given these insights and consistency with the CASEL 5, all 10 books could be recommended to teachers, by teacher librarians, for an SEL curriculum and as relatable texts for students. Table 1 summarizes SEL details in each book, and Table 2 shows the researcher’s book recommendations ranked in order of those that are most prevalent for each CASEL 5 component.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

First Advisor

Karla Krueger, EdD

Object Description

1 PDF file (46 pages)



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