My husband is a pediatrician, so it’s no surprise that he asked me to come up with a list of picture books to help little kids deal with big emotions. I found some great ones that may help your kids learn how to process their feelings better. (And thanks to those of you who gave me book recommendations on Instagram when I was researching for this post!)
Picture Books for Dealing With Big Emotions
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is a beautiful book about empathy. I can’t tell you how much I love this book! Taylor is upset. One by one, animals come by and try to tell Taylor how to handle the situation. Get angry and shout says the bear. Talk about it says the chicken. Get revenge says the snake. But Taylor doesn’t want to do any of those things. Only when the rabbit comes and just listens is Taylor able to process big emotions.
The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell illustrated by Charles Santoso perfectly illustrates how sometimes big emotions feel uncontrollable to a child, almost like they have a life of their own. The Snurtch, a monster who follows Ruthie around, makes all kinds of mischief. And Ruthie takes the blame. But once she draws a picture of it, Ruthie is able to recognize the other kids have snurtches of their own. This book would make a great conversation starter about how emotions don’t always feel like they are in our control, but they can be tamed.
When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang was recommended to me by Sarah Mackenzie, and for good reason. It won a Caldecott Honor and the Charlotte Zolotow Award. When Sophie gets angry, she runs outside until, as she looks and listens to nature, she feels better. I’ve noticed my own five-year old react this way when upset. This book gives kids a method to cope with their sometimes overwhelming emotions. The illustrations are childlike and effectively represent Sophie’s emotional state. Other great books in this series for school age children include When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt and When Sophie Thinks She Can’t.
The Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney are great for helping kids deal with the big emotions that happen from every day situations. The books are sweet and rhyming and geared toward preschoolers. They deal with subjects like bedtime fears (Llama Llama Red Pajama), errand overwhelm (Llama Llama Mad At Mama), and sharing (Llama Llama Time to Share).
Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberly and Anne Miranda lets just try on different emotions. Each monster exhibits a different emotion. The following page invites the reader to try on a monster mask and tell what makes them glad or angry or sad. Behind the mask, the child tends to feel safe in expressing their feelings. The masks in this book are a brilliant way to discuss feelings with young kids. Also, the removable masks would be great to pull out when a kid is dealing with a particular troubling emotion.
The VERY Grumpy Day by Stella J. Jones illustrated by Alison Edgson shows how much our actions can effect other people’s emotions. Bear is having a grumpy day which trickles down to the other creatures through carelessness. But later, Bear passes on good will as well after Mouse cheers Bear up.
My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook illustrated by Carrie Hartman is about Louis, a kid who struggles with needed to talk. His words explode from his mouth like a volcano, even if someone else is already talking. Eventually, mom helps Louis find a strategy for keeping his words safe until it’s time to use them.
And Now For Something Completely Different…
The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket illustrated by Matthew Forsythe. This is the story of a stick and a bad mood as each get passed from person to person. You could spark some great conversations about how our moods effect other people with this fun book.