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Books That Teach Kids About Feelings and Emotions

In a time of uncertainty, these children's books will help kids understand their emotions.

It’s been a spring filled with emotions, both for our kids and ourselves. As we begin to explore the changes summer will bring, check out these great picture books that help kids identify different emotions and understand what they are feeling inside.

Glad, Glad Bear!

by Kimberly Gee (Beach Lane Books, 2020)

A companion book to Mad, Mad Bear!, this story for young children shows how Bear feels very glad on the way to his first ballet class as he puts on his leggings, slippers, and tutu. But his feelings change to shy, unsure, and afraid when he arrives at the class. In the end, it’s dancing that makes Bear feel better.

Three Grumpy Trucks

by Todd Tarpley; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees (Little, Brown and Company, 2018)

Three toy trucks love digging and lifting at the playground. When their owners tell them that their engines are overheating and it’s time to go, the trucks keep asking for more time, until “they honked, they bonked, they threw a fit.” Young readers and parents will see the parallel to times when children don’t notice their elevated emotions until they reach a breaking point, through a humorous story written in verse.

The Happy Book

by Andy Rash (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2019)

This story begins with one happy camper and one happy clam in a sunny yellow world. But when they go through a “door” on the page, the book turns blue and sad, then red and angry, then green and scared, and the boy and the clam have a hard time finding their way back to happiness. In the end, the friends wind up in a place where all the emotions coexist together.

Fred’s Big Feelings

by Laura Renauld; illustrated by Brigette Barrager (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020)

Through the life story of children’s television host, Fred Rogers, the author shows how feelings—and the ability to identify and express them—can impact others and change lives. It was Fred’s big feelings as a boy that spurred him to teach children about feelings through his show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired from 1968 to 2001.

The Worry Box

by Suzanne Chiew; illustrated by Sean Julian (Tiger Tales, 2018)

Murray Bear is worried about visiting the waterfall with his sister Molly. “What if it’s too loud?” and “What if I get swept away?” he wonders. Molly tells Murray about her worry box: When she is worried, she writes down her concerns and places them inside the box. She helps Murray make his own box to take on his journey.

I’m Happy-Sad Today

by Lory Britain; illustrated by Matthew Rivera (Free Spirit Publishing, 2019)

Inspired by a conversation with her granddaughter, early childhood education expert Lory Britain wanted to write a book that validated kids’ mixed-together feelings, such as happy and sad, scared and brave, nervous and excited. The book gives kids researched-based strategies to help them cope with their challenging emotions, like talking to a grown-up or playing pretend with stuffed animals.

Allie All Along

by Sarah Lynne Reul (Sterling Children’s Books, 2018)

When Allie breaks a crayon, she turns into a monster—literally. Page by page, her patient older brother prompts her to stomp her feet, punch a pillow, and more until she becomes Allie again. The story will give young readers a concrete way to visualize their angry feelings.

Librarians and book experts also recommend:

Three Grumpy Trucks: Little, Brown and Company. Glad, Glad Bear! and Fred’s Big Feelings: Simon & Schuster. The Happy Book: Penguin Random House. The Worry Box: Tiger Tales. I’m Happy-Sad Today: Free Spirit Publishing. Allie All Along: Sterling Publishing.

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