Teaching kids about emotions is one of the most important jobs that parents have. But it’s also one of the most difficult!
We all experience strong emotions, and toddlers are no exception. However, toddlers can struggle to understand big emotions, and can very easily become overwhelmed. This often leads to frustration, anxiety, stress and even challenging behavior.
The difficulty is this- emotions are abstract! They’re invisible. We can’t see or touch them, and they can be incredibly complex. This makes them a difficult topic to teach.
Emotions have a physical impact on us- they make us feel ‘funny’ or strange. They can even give the sense of a loss of control. This is what makes emotions so hard for kids to deal with! They can’t identify the emotion and as a result they find it difficult to process.
BOOKS THAT DEAL WITH EMOTIONS FOR KIDS
Thankfully, lots of books are designed for teaching kids about emotions in a way that is easy for them to understand. This makes books about emotions a fantastic parenting resource!
The books on this list are brilliant at teaching kids about emotions using analogies, fun characters and simple language. And, even better, many of them also teach kids what they can do about tricky emotions.
These books are also an amazing opportunity to open up conversations with your kids about emotions, and to relate it back to what’s going on in their life and how they’re feeling. You can adapt this conversation so it’s at the right level for your child- it’s never too early to start having conversations like this!
It might be complex emotions around friendships, siblings, grief, or even early jealousy, sadness and anxiety.
This books will help to give your child the ’emotional vocabulary’ they need to label the emotions they are feeling. Even just being able to label an emotion starts to give control back to your child, and is the first step to processing and dealing with the emotion in a healthy way.
Ultimately, these books can be a tool to help your child engage more mindfully, self-regulate, and develop emotional resilience.
All of these are steps to building your child’s ’emotional literacy.’ Emotional literacy is a protective factor for your child. Poor emotional literacy is linked to early dropout from school and engagement with youth justice.
Using books as a parenting tool:
- These books can be a teaching tool for kids about emotions by helping them to know the names of emotions and to be able to identify what they are feeling.
- It can also be a springboard for conversations about dealing with emotions in real life.
- You can use these books to give your child strategies and ‘internal scripts’ for managing emotions.
- These books can build your child’s ’emotional literacy’ which is a major predictor of success in life- both academically and socially.
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11 GREAT BOOKS FOR TEACHING KIDS ABOUT EMOTIONS
1. TODAY I FEEL SILLY: AND OTHER MOODS THAT MAKE MY DAY
Age Range: 4-8 years
Today I Feel Silly follows a bouncy protagonist as she explores her moods and how they change from day to day. This book will help your child to understand moods such as silly, cranky, excited or sad, and that emotions are a normal part of life!
2. THE WAY I FEEL
Age Range: 2-8
The Way I Feel teaches kids that feelings are a part of life. This book supports kids to have the words to name name their feelings. Being able to label feelings is the first step to understanding them, and being able to process emotions. This book uses simple verse to teach emotions. This book is useful for kids aged 2-8 and is particularly well suited for children with autism.
3. MY MANY COLORED DAYS
Age Range: 3+
Packed with large-scale vibrant paintings, My Many Colored Days is a classic Dr. Seuss book that looks at the wide range of emotions we feel. This is the kind of book that adults will appreciate, too! This book starts the conversation about emotions, and is a wonderful way for parents to talk with children about their feelings.
4. IN MY HEART
Age Range: 2-4 years
In My Heart delves into a range of emotions (happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness) and, importantly, how they make us feel inside! Some make us feel as light as a balloon, others as heavy as an elephant. This book will empower toddlers to be able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions. The illustrations and design of this book are stunning, even including a die-cut heart that extends through each spread. In My Heart is part of the The Growing Hearts series that celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, from conquering fears and expressing feelings to welcoming a new sibling.
5. HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY?
Age Range: 3-8
How Are You Feeling Today helps children to understand that we all experience emotions, and that emotions are totally normal. However, this book also shows that we can learn what to do with them! This book provides children with several straightforward, entertaining and appropriate interactive ideas to help them deal with a selection of significant emotions. This is a great dip-in book where children can choose a feeling that relates to them and then turn to the page that provides child-friendly strategies for dealing with that feeling.
6. THE COLOR MONSTER: A STORY ABOUT EMOTIONS
Age Range: 4-8 years
The Color Monster is an international bestselling book that helps young children to identify emotions and feel more in control. One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through colour. As this monster learns to sort and define his mixed up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result. This book teaches about the concepts of colour and social-emotional growth in a simple, friendly way.
7. FEELINGS- INSIDE MY HEART AND IN MY HEAD
Age Range: 3-7 years
Explore the world of emotions with this stunning peek-through book. Lyrical text and enchanting illustrations bring each emotion to life to help children understand the universal and unique nature of feelings. The language is rhyming and a little more advanced. Although the stated age range is 3-7, I wouldn’t recommend this book for toddlers but for aged 5 and above.
8. LISTENING TO MY BODY
Age Range: 8-12 years
Listening to My Body is a guide to helping kids understand the connection between their sensations and feelings so that they can get better at figuring out what they need. This engaging and interactive book guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them. From wiggly and squirmy to rested and still, Listening to My Body helps children develop a sensations vocabulary so that they can express what they are experiencing. Easy, kid-friendly mindfulness activities are woven throughout to reinforce the teachings.
This book is a wonderful tool for parents, counsellors and teachers. There are also free resources that accompany this book- they can be found at http://bit.ly/gabigarciabooks.
9. THE HUGE BAG OF WORRIES
Age Range: 2+
The Huge Book of Worries is a reassuring picture book encouraging children to open up about their fears and anxieties to help manage their feelings. It’s the perfect book to soothe worries during stressful times.
Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are with her all the time – at school, at home, when she is watching TV and even in the bathroom! Jenny decides they have to go, but who will help her get rid of them? This story is a funny and reassuring look at dealing with worries and anxiety, to be used as a spring board into important conversations with your child.
10. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WORRY TOO MUCH
Age Range: 6-12
Worry Too Much is an engaging and easy to follow kid’s guide to overcoming anxiety. It’s packed with child friendly suggestions and activities to manage worry.
Written by a psychologist, it guides children and parents through the cognitive-behavioural techniques most often used in the treatment of anxiety. Lively metaphors and humorous illustrations make the concepts and strategies easy to understand, while clear how-to steps and prompts to draw and write help children to master new skills related to reducing anxiety. This interactive self-help book is the complete resource for educating, motivating, and empowering kids to overcoming their overgrown worries.
It isn’t for everyone, but if your child struggles with worry and anxiety, then try this book!
11. THE INVISIBLE STRING
Age Range: 4-8 years
The Invisible String is the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief in a way that children can understand and visualize. It’s a heart-warming picture book that explores questions about the intangible yet unbreakable connections between us, and opens up deeper conversations about love.
Recommended and adopted by bereavement support groups, hospice centres, foster care and social service agencies, military library services, church groups, and educators, The Invisible String offers a very simple approach to overcoming loneliness, separation, or loss with an imaginative twist that children easily understand and embrace.
There’s a reason this book is a best-seller!
AND THAT’S IT!
I hope you find some inspiration and help in these kids’ books for teaching kids about emotions. It might seem like a small thing, but supporting your child to develop emotional literacy is one of the most important things you can do for them as a parent.
Remember that it’s never too early to start talking about emotions!
You might also enjoy:
- 9 Smart Strategies for Dealing With Tantrums in Toddlers
- 3 Key Strategies for Dealing with Tantrums in School Aged Kids
- How to Praise Your Child So They Succeed in Life
- 11 Powerful Kids’ Books for Teaching a Growth Mindset
- 11 Incredible Children’s Books That Teach Positive Behaviour
Thanks for reading! What’s your favorite book for teaching emotions to kids? Comment and let me know.
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