Understanding and communicating feelings can be challenging for young children. They don’t always have the words to express the feelings they are experiencing. You can help them learn how to express themselves by modeling appropriate ways to express your own feelings, describing how and why people feel the way they do in certain situations, and complimenting children when they use their words to describe their feelings. Reading picture books about characters going through different feelings, and discussing them is a fun way to help children to understand their own feelings as they relate to the characters. You can point to the characters’ facial expressions and ask what they are likely feeling and why, as well as ask the child if they have ever felt that way before. Learning to recognize and manage feelings is an important skill for children to learn. It will help them to build strong relationships and guide them in making good choices for themselves. There are many children’s books with characters experiencing different feelings. I have some recommendations below that are available from our children’s library.
How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann
This is a really fun book that uses fruits and vegetables with faces carved into them as delightful illustrations. Each face has a different facial expression to go along with simple rhyming text that covers many different feelings and asks the reader how they feel in different situations. Have your child answer the rhyming prompts, and have them look at the facial expressions of the characters and try to describe what they think the characters are feeling.
Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival
After a series of frustrating and relatable experiences, Ravi becomes furious and turns into a tiger! He unleashes his temper to get what he wants. But after a while, he sees how his behavior affects others and pushes them away. This is a great, visually stimulating story to use to start a discussion with children about healthy ways to manage anger and frustration.
The Rough Patch by Brian Lies
This book is about loss and grief. Evan loves his dog and does everything with him. But then sadly, he dies. Evan feels sadness, and then anger. He tears apart his beautiful garden and lets the weeds take over. He likes the sad and ugly garden that reflects his feelings, but one day something new shows up that leads him back out into the world. There is hope growing from his rough patch. This is a wonderfully illustrated and somewhat simple story that works well for talking about feelings of loss, grief, and healing.
Little Unicorn is Scared by Aurélie Chien Chow Chine
Little unicorn has a magical mane that changes colors depending on how he is feeling. Today his mane is green because he is feeling worried. He knows that soon he will have to go to bed, and he is scared to fall asleep in the dark! He is able to calm his fear by doing a breathing exercise. This story will prompt readers to talk about what makes them feel scared, and provides an opportunity to discuss strategies to use to help calm those fears. Give the breathing technique in this book a try!
Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings by Heather Hawk Feinberg
Metaphors for weather are used in this book to describe how feelings of sadness and anger are like storms. They are natural and normal, and they can bring in big storms or a light drizzle. Crying, like a rainstorm, is refreshing. Expressive illustrations guide readers through the descriptive metaphors that eloquently explain the need to feel our feelings and to safely express them. This book also includes some suggested mindfulness activities to further explore feelings.
All Kinds of Feelings by Judith Heneghan
All kinds of feelings are presented in this book. Feeling proud, embarrassed, confused, impatient, unsure, angry, and more are included. Different events are presented with some showing how our feelings can change throughout the event, while others show multiple people and how they each have a different feeling during an event. Appealing illustrations with simple, straightforward text provide wonderful examples of feelings that will help readers to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others as well.
You Make Me Happy by Smriti Prasadam-Halls
My final recommendation leaves us on a happy note! This is an enjoyable, uplifting, rhyming story describing all of the happy feelings that come from a friendship between a fox and a porcupine. Sweet and bold illustrations add to the sentiment of this book. Be sure to talk to your young readers about what makes them happy!