One of the most fun ways to help teach children about feelings — recognizing them, managing them, expressing them — is through stories. Yes, books are a great tool to help children learn about feelings (one of the many reasons we love books so much).
Here are a handful of our favorites that touch on emotions — ranging from love to anger, excitement, sadness, and all the rest — that emphasize:
- emotional awareness & literacy (what does it mean/look like/feel like to be “sad”?),
- emotional validity (it’s okay to feel how you feel; no feelings are “right” or “wrong”), and/or
- emotional regulation (strategies for calming, connecting, healthy expression, etc.).
Books to Read When Your Child Has All the Feels…
In My Heart, Jo Witek, illus. Christine Roussey
This adorable and bright picture book explains feelings in simple, imaginative language that really resonates with young children. Many parents love to read it daily to discuss feelings throughout the day and to pull it out during sticky moments as a sort of reference for littles to recognize how they are feeling. We love the whimsical illustrations and cut-out heart design.
Tiger Days, M.H. Clark, illus. Anna Hurley
Tiger Days associates different emotions with different animals and conveys the message that all feelings are valid and “okay” — children really get a kick out of using the animal descriptors to talk about and label their own feelings (i.e., “today I feel like a turtle”).
The Rabbit Listened, Cori Doerrfeld
When Taylor’s tower falls down, Taylor is flooded with big emotions. Animals parade through with suggestions for what Taylor should do to feel better — from getting angry to yelling to ruining someone else’s tower — but none of their ideas help. Only when the snuggly rabbit shows up and just… listens does Taylor begin to feel better. This book carries a lovely message of acceptance and independence.
My Mouth is a Volcano, Julia Cook, illus. Carrie Hartman
Louis has a tendency to interrupt, and here he learns about the value and skill of listening to what others have to say, too.
Love, Matt de la Pena, illustration. Loren Long
This book about life’s highs and lows covers some tough issues and cuts across class and race demographics — some say it’s a little heavy for young listeners, but it’s a beautiful book with a universal message about finding love in everyday places.
La Catrina: Emotions Emociones, Patty Rodriguez & Ariana Stein
This simple book with Day-of-the-Dead-inspired illustrations depicts emotions through facial expressions and pairs every feeling with its Spanish translation. A fun bilingual introduction to labeling emotions.
Love Is, Diane Adams, illus. Claire Keane
This story about what happens when a little girls finds a baby duck and proceeds to take care of it is SO sweet, and the pictures are just gorgeous. Watch out: it’s also a metaphorical story about motherhood that may or may not make you cry…
My Heart, Corinna Luyken
This poetic and artistic book is a quieter, gentle read with an empowering takeaway for children: “I get to decide.”
All About Feelings, Felicity Brooks
This fun and diverse book is like a kids’ encyclopedia on emotions — and we love it! It’s interactive, approachable, and quite comprehensive. Great for littles and older children alike.
The Invisible String, Patrice Karst, illus. Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
A beautifully written and illustrated picture book that’s perfect for helping young kids manage feelings about loss, uncertainty and loneliness — especially poignant as it pertains to the challenging times we’ve all recently endured. Note: Marissa’s kids’ pre-K teacher read this story aloud last year during virtual learning, and the message about missing one another, yet still being connected by “invisible strings” was beyond touching (point being: you may want to have a tissue ready as you read it).
A Little SPOT of Emotion Box Set, Diane Alber
This set includes little SPOT books on a range of different feelings (each book focuses on a different emotion, and one covers them all using color). Kids really “get” the imagery and each title incorporates usable language, calming strategies, and emotional validation.
The Color Monster, Anna Llenas
This fun book explores the emotional spectrum through the color wheel — and a cute monster! A kid favorite :).
Teach Your Dragon About Feelings, Steve Herman
This clever book puts young children in the driver seat as Drew sets out to teach his pet dragon about his feelings. This is a simple yet fun introduction to emotions that also normalizes feelings and offers some basic management strategies.
What are your favorite kids books about feelings and emotions? Let us know!