Talking to young children about feelings can be difficult, especially when trying to go beyond the basics of happy and sad. While we all experience feelings and emotions, sometimes children don’t have the words to express these concepts. But children’s books about feelings help to open up the discussion and explain why and how we feel. Books about emotions for kids have multiplied over the years, and below are some of the best books about feelings for kids that will have you laughing and help you discuss emotions with your child.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
This book has been a classic for decades, and it’s one of my kids’ favorites. Meet Alexander, the youngest of three boys, who seemingly has the worst day of his boyhood life. From not getting a prize in his breakfast cereal to the shoe store being all out of the style he wants to having to eat lima beans for dinner and watch kissing on TV, all Alexander wants to do is ditch his family and move to Australia. But as his mom wisely tells him before he goes to bed that night, “. . . some days are like that. Even in Australia.” Alexander is a humorous book about feelings for kids that will have your kids both laughing out loud and sympathizing with what happens to Alexander throughout his day. It’s the perfect way to open up discussion about sadness, disappointment, and frustration.
My Friend Is Sad
Mo Willems is an excellent children’s author (his work on Sesame Street won Emmys), and his Elephant and Piggie books are our family’s favorite series of his. Gerald, a down-to-earth elephant, is sad in this book, and his friend, Piggie tries to cheer him up. The humor comes when Piggie keeps dressing up in crazy costumes to make Gerald smile, but all Gerald wants is to see his friend Piggie, and he doesn’t realize that the characters that keep coming by are simply Piggie in disguise. The illustrations are wonderful, showing even the youngest children just what the characters are feeling, and this book will open up a great discussion about what happy and sad feel like and look like when we experience them.
Meet David, an active preschooler who’s always getting into trouble, and whose mother is constantly saying, “No, David!” These two words are actually the majority of the text in the entire book, with the illustrations telling the rest of the story. Yet young children will relate to David right away, as they can describe to you what he’s doing, why he shouldn’t be doing it, and what he and his mother are both feeling about it. This type of book, which is light on text, is perfect for young, non-readers, because they can use interpretation to talk to you about all sorts of emotions, from happy to sad to frustrated, scared, and loved.
It’s Okay To Be Different
Through colorful illustrations and general silliness, Todd Parr encourages kids that no matter what they look like or prefer to eat or do, it’s okay-there’s room for all of us in the world. While this children’s book doesn’t directly address feelings, it’s a wonderful way to open up discussion about feeling sad, left out, or the desire to be included. Talking to young children about why it’s okay to not be like everyone else is an invaluable lesson to impart at a young age, and can do a lot to build up a child’s self esteem.