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Language- and Literacy-Driven Social-Emotional Learning Program

Voices Literature & Writing is a supplemental, social-emotional-learning, and character-education resource delivered through a unique, integrated language arts approach.


Six powerful themes anchor Voices Literature & Writing instruction. The content of these themes

  • engages students in learning in new ways.
  • connects social development, social and emotional learning (SEL), character education, language, and literacy to promote positive classroom climate and increase achievement.

Identity Awareness
Students discover their own unique personalities as they gain a strong foundation for developing healthy relationships.

Perspective Taking
Students develop empathy as they become aware that other points of view are valid and should be respected.

Conflict Resolution
Students learn new strategies for resolving differences and how to get along with others.

Family, Friends, and Community
Students learn about the nature of relationships with family and friends as they begin to understand the importance of helping and caring for others.

Social Awareness
Students learn to foster relationships and begin to understand the pitfalls of stereotyping and prejudice.

Students learn to value fairness and respect and learn that they need to contribute to society and practice good citizenship.

The six program themes and their content build across the grade levels with age-appropriate, grade-level themes, each given a unique name. Here is an example of how one program theme (Conflict Resolution) progresses from Kindergarten to Grade 6, with grade-level theme names and content:

View the full theme progression chart.


Voices Literature & Writing promotes these Common-Core-State-Standards-aligned goals that advance literacy and social development.

  1. Deep Comprehension
    Students learn to use rich vocabulary, academic language, perspective taking, and complex reasoning skills to deepen their comprehension of text.
  2. Critical Writing
    Students learn to use writing for a variety of real-life purposes, including the ability to critically analyze texts.
  3. Authentic Voice
    Students learn to use their voice and oral language skills for important purposes, including understanding their identities and resolving conflicts.
  4. 21st-Century Skills
    Students learn core social skills and character traits that help them communicate, collaborate, and resolve conflicts—creating a positive school climate today and preparing them for success in the workforce tomorrow.


  • provides all students equal access to appealing, relevant, and culturally responsive literature through the Teacher Read-Aloud.
  • invites active participation in focused listening, speaking, thinking, and writing activities that strengthen oral language, expand vocabulary, and deepen comprehension.
  • improves writing through minilessons that use models from the literature and build to a culminating, process-based writing project.
  • is manageable and flexible for teachers because of its clear organization and adaptable format.
  • will help you achieve the goals of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy.

About the Program's Authors

The Voices Literature & Writing authorship team consists of Catherine Snow, Robert L. Selman, Patrick C. Walker, Cynthia Tyson, Maria Carlo, Ernest Morrell, and Sonya Whitaker.

Voices Literature & Writing Program Materials and Resources

Each Voices Literature & Writing Theme Package contains literature, instructional resources, and assessment materials. Learn more about each components below and explore our digital sampler to review samples of components by grade level.

Zaner-Bloser Professional Development offers customizable courses that can be tailored to support the ongoing professional growth of teachers and enhance Voices Literature & Writing instruction. View courses.



Teacher Read-Alouds are the core of this program. These culturally diverse trade books provide equal access to shared content and are
the springboard for discussion and writing. In each theme, five books are included in Grades K—3, and three books are included in Grades

Read-Aloud CD contains complete audio recordings of each Teacher Read-Aloud that model fluent reading and allow individualized listening opportunities.


Instructional Resources

A Teacher Guide for each theme provides activities and instruction for the theme's Teacher Read-Alouds, writing minilessons, Correlation to the Common Core State Standards, and a Theme Poster.

Digital Resources for Voices Literature & Writing is easy-to-use and saves teachers time. Compatible with any interactive whiteboard brand (or for use with any computer projection system). Provides a fluid, intuitive user experience for teachers and students.

Teaching Masters includes a CD-ROM with printable resources for minilesson support, student partner activities, and school-to-home connections. A printed answer key is also included.

Theme Poster, included within the Teacher Guide, introduces the Central Question and provides a visual focal point for discussion of the Teacher Read-Aloud.



Assessment Handbook and CD-ROM, featuring ExamView®, provides comprehensive assessment resources. Includes:

  • Customizable ExamView® tests
  • Data management capabilities
  • Reteaching masters
  • Writing tests and more!



Take a Research-Based Approach to Social-Emotional Learning

In as little as 15–20 minutes per day, Voices Literature & Writing focuses on developing social skills in an academic setting. This program helps students and educators succeed, in part by capitalizing on the connection between social and academic outcomes.

When students feel safe and respected by their peers, they are free to learn. And when content is relevant, they are inspired to discuss and write about it—maximizing learning potential (Wentzel, 1991; Selman, 2003a; Reyes et al., 2012). This is the research base on which Voices Literature & Writing is built.

"Research on a group of over 200 social- and emotional-learning programs established that participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement."
—Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, and Schellinger, 2011.


Two Strands, One Program

The integrated approach of Voices Literature & Writing is unique and powerful. No other social-emotional learning program teaches critical social skills thoroughly embedded in CCSS-based literacy content.

Research and Application

As Tracy Elizabeth and Robert Selman report in their white paper, The Role of Social Development in Elementary Curricula: Past, Present, and Future, educational researchers widely accept that "integrating social development into academic curricula is ideal for optimizing students' learning." But what do educators, the practitioners, have to say?

In A Conversation With School Administrators About Social-Emotional Learning, three superintendents (Sonya L. Whitaker, Ed.D., of Fairmont School District 89 in Illinois; Gale Reeves, M.S.Ed., of Community School District Five in New York, NY; and Eric Gordon, M.Ed., of Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio) and AASA Executive Director, Dan Domenech, Ph.D., discuss how social-emotional learning can proactively address bullying, promote a positive school climate, and positively impact academics.

Enhance Existing Initiatives with an Academic Approach

Voices Literature & Writing complements existing character-education and anti-bullying initiatives already in place in schools and districts. The program supports or aligns to other organizations’ approaches to SEL, including

  • the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Core Competencies.
  • the Character Education Partnership 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.
  • the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
  • the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) schoolwide interventions framework.

Learn more about these four approaches and how the Voices Literature & Writing program aligns to them >>



Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dynmicki, A. G., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.

Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., & Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom emotional climate, student engagement, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(3), 700–712.

Selman, R. L. (2003a). Teaching social awareness through reading. Education Week, 23(3), 30–36.

Wentzel, K. R. (1991). Social competence at school: Relations between social responsibility and academic achievement. Review of Educational Research, 61(1), 1–24.

Grade Teacher Guide Teaching Masters Theme Poster
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Educational News Articles, Research, and Other Relevant Resources


Mar 10
An independent study by the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center established that students using Voices Literature & Writing showed significant gains in interpersonal understanding and perspective taking, as well as gains in literacy development. The executive summary of the results describes the study’s parameters; the social development, oral language, and reading comprehension score improvements made by Voices Literature & Writing students; and participant teacher perceptions.
Oct 4
The Policy Brief reinforces the connection between social-emotional learning, bullying prevention, and academic achievement.
Sep 13
An Educator's Resource supplements "The Watsons Go to Birmingham," a film based on the award-winning novel.
Jul 10
The Educator's Resource based on the Zaner-Bloser Voices Curriculum will supplement Hallmark Channel’s film adaptation of The Watsons Go to Birmingham.
Apr 9
Beyond Bullying Summit white paper summarizes research on how social-emotional learning benefits schools and students.
Mar 18
Voices Literature & Writing systematically involves students in far-reaching themes and activities for character and social development that address the main goals and indicators of the Character Education Partnership’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.
Jan 25
Tracy Elizabeth, M.A.T., Ed.M., and Robert L. Selman, Ph.D., review educational policy shifts from the past 25 years that have influenced the teaching of social development in schools. The authors also discuss how to integrate teaching academic-content knowledge and social awareness in a way that supports the Common Core State Standards. This white paper has been reposted with permission from its publisher, Saperstein Associates.
Aug 13
View the Scope & Sequence for Voices Literature & Writing Grades K–6.
Aug 13
An overview of how the Voices Literature & Writing program aligns to CASEL's (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) five core groups of social and emotional core competencies.
Aug 13
Voices Literature & Writing can extend the Olweus program by improving classroom and school climate and creating positive interactions among students.
Aug 13
An overview of how Voices Literature & Writing's multicultural literature, curriculum resources, and professional development aligns to Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS).
Aug 13
A broad-based alignment demonstrating the strong connections between the Common Core State Standards and Voices Literature & Writing and Voices Leveled Library.
Aug 13
A brief overview of the research behind and efficacy of Voices Literature & Writing.
Aug 13
A white paper summarizing more than twenty years of Voices research, implementation, and efficacy.

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