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Picture Book Activity Blog w/ PBS Kids

The first step in managing our emotions is the ability to recognize and name them.  Picture books can be a great tool to help children build their emotional self-awareness, especially when they have a caring adult who will talk with them about what they are reading.  When considering which books to read to explore different emotions, there is an important thing to keep in mind. In a study completed by the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto, it was found that picture books that feature human characters, rather than anthropomorphized ones, help children develop empathy.  That is not to say that books featuring animal characters do not help children, they are just not as effective in building these skills as those featuring human characters.  New to the library are several picture books that explore emotions that feature human characters.  

My Zoo: A Book of Feelings

by David Griswold

illustrated by Eliza Reisfeld

My Zoo: A Book of Feelings helps readers identify the emotions they are feeling and be present with them. From angry lions to calm sloths and sad pandas to happy puppies, everyone has a zoo of emotions inside. This clever and colorful picture book invites kids to look inside themselves and get to know their own lion, tiger, bear, sloth, zebra, turtle, and dog and just how wonderfully captivating and instructive those emotions and feelings can be.

Learn about animal behavior and how they communicate their emotions in this Let’s Learn clip from PBS.  Next listen to this song Revealing Emotions from Sesame Street that puts a face to all the emotions that we feel. And finally dive into the  All About Emotions resource kit from PBS kids including an emotion wheel, and various games.

Try, Try Again

by Adam Ciccio

illustrated by Azize Tekines

Doing something for the first time is hard; especially learning to ride a bike.  The fear of falling and the resulting injuries when you do are nearly enough to scare you out of trying again.  But with just a little courage and determination, we learn that to do anything well, you need to try again!  This familiar story of falling down and getting back up is perfect for brave go-getters who may be just learning to ride a bike of their own.  

If you want to learn more about bicycles, what a bike mechanic does, how to change a tire, and take bikes out for a ride check out this video segment from KidVision.

Then listen to this song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that helps remind kids that practicing difficult tasks helps you get better.  A similar song from Sesame Street offers strategies for succeeding at difficult tasks. 

Sometimes I Grumblesquinch

by Rachel Vale

illustrated by Hyewon Yum

This title masterfully explores the pressure children often feel to be perfect all the time and helps them realize that it’s okay to share frustrating, and at times, not-so-nice thoughts and seek comfort from adults to help them manage those feelings. It explores key social emotional skills that kids need to navigate complicated feelings and shares an important lesson: that there’s room for ALL of our feelings, even the scary ones.

By using stories and videos showing familiar PBS KIDS characters working through their own mad feelings, you can provide strategies that children can build on as they grow and learn and develop the self-control needed to handle frustrating situations appropriately. Check out this collection of resources from PBS Learning Media

Colbie Caillat and Common team up with Elmo to exercise the belly breathing strategy for keeping calm in this tune from Sesame Street.


This Joy!

by Shelley Johannes

In this poetic and buoyant story from author-illustrator Shelley Johannes, a young child tries to measure the size of her joy and the depth of her gratitude as she embraces the beauty of the day. Reveling in simple wonders with unbridled enthusiasm, This Joy! celebrates living with arms wide open—because today is a gift!

Try this activity from Camp TV, with composer and New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist Angélica Negrón who shows us how to create a joyful musical pattern using your voice and your body.

Next, discover the joy of spending time with amigos, or friends with this Spanish melody, or a sweet song about the joys of spending time outdoors, both from Sesame Street.

Finally, write your own song about people you love and things that bring you joy with help from this Camp TV video from the New Victory Theater.

That’s My Sweater!

by Jessika von Innerebner

Olivia doesn’t want to give up her favorite sweater. But as Olivia grows, her sweater stays the same size, and eventually it’s given to her little brother. The message is gentle but clear: Growing up often means growing pains, physical and emotional. Watching Olivia struggle shows young readers that it’s OK to be frustrated, angry, and even sad while growing up and moving on.

After reading this story, listen to this song about sibling rivalry. Siblings may fight, but without them, it would be only you, and that would be lonely!

In this storytime video from Let’s Learn, Amaris Melendez reads Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats, about a boy who is upset when his parents paint his old baby furniture pink for his new little sister.

There will be times in life when everyone needs to share. By having caring adults around who can help young children learn that sharing is one way to build friendships, children can learn that sharing with friends is more fun than keeping things just for themselves.

This set of resources, focuses on how you can help children work on developing the social skill of sharing.


Youth Services Librarian at Mead Public Library