I recently wrote a post about helping children manage big emotions (you can read that post here). In that post I talked about how reading books to your children is a great way to help children learn about emotions and appropriate ways to express them. Like I said before, children sometimes have a difficult time managing emotions because they don’t understand emotions, and, therefore, don’t know how to express them. So, now I will tell you about 10 books to help kids manage emotions.
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Books are great because they get on the child’s level and shows them about emotions instead of just trying to explain them. You can also read books over and over to children and they never get tired of them. Repetition is the key to learning for children.
For those of you who haven’t read my blog before, I am a behavioral therapist in a preschool with my masters in social work. I work with 3-5-year-olds who often have a difficulty expressing their emotions and books are what I use most often to help them. So, now I’m going to share some of my favorite books for teaching children about emotions and how I use them.
Questions to Ask While Reading
Instead of just reading the story and hope that they are picking up the message I want to get across, I always make sure I’m asking questions. I don’t always ask every question or always in the same way but I have a basic set of questions that I pick from. They also don’t always know the answer, even if we have read the book many times and they have answered the questions many times. I try to stay patient and help them answer the questions again and again until they get it (all kids learn at different paces and some will take a lot longer than others).
How does the character feel?
How would you feel if this happened to you?
Is the character making good choices?
What should the character do to calm down?
Can you show the character how to calm down?
What are some consequences the character might face?
What could the character do better next time?
Books to Help Kids Manage Emotions
- Llama Llama by Anna Dewdney – This series of books are by far my favorite for helping with emotions. Llama Llama has some sort of emotional meltdown in every book, learns a valuable lesson, and is able to try again. Llama learns how to deal with anger, missing mama, being bullied, being scared, how to share, and even Christmas stress.
- How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad by Jane Yolen – This one has different Dinosaurs making bad choices while angry. At the end, though, it tells how the dinosaurs can count to ten and take a deep breath to calm down. Then it shows how the dinosaurs make better choices.
- The Way I Feel by Janan Cain – This book is very simple. It has a different emotion on each page and tells why the character feels that way. It is a really good one to start out with to see how much your child understands.
- When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman and Nancy Cote – This one starts off by giving different situations that make the character feel angry. Then it tells a little bit about how your body feels when you are angry. It gives several different ways that you can use to calm down, which is great because every child is different, so what works for one child won’t necessarily work for another. The book then summarizes everything it already talked about.
- Finn Throws a Fit by David Elliot – I have not read Finn Throws a Fit but from the description it should be a great one. Finn ends up throwing a tantrum because of something small, and it shows how it effects, not only Finn, but his family as well.
- When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang – I also have not read this one, but it’s one I would love to get. It talks about Sophie’s coping mechanism, climbing a tree in her back yard. It also sounds great because Sophie has a red aura when she is angry and a yellow aura when she is calm.
<li>Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst – This classic is great for helping children learn that we all have bad days and helps parents teach kids how to deal with them appropriately.
- Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel – This series of books is about a cat who makes very bad choices when things don’t go her way in different situations and how to apologize for those things.
- Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberly and Anne Miranda – This one is fun because it has a mask for every emotion that you or the child can wear that will help them learn what facial expressions look like.
- Frog is Sad by Max Velthuijs – I have not read this, one but I like the concept. Frog is sad and he doesn’t know why. His friends try to make him feel better and eventually end up making him laugh. Children often have no idea why they feel the way they do but It helps for them to learn ways to feel better even if they don’t know what is wrong.
Bonus Way to Learn About Emotions
Inside Out – I know there is a lot of talk about limiting media time with children, and I get that. But let’s be honest, sometimes to keep our sanity, we have to use some technology. So, I love it when the shows are not only entertaining, but educational. Inside out is a wonderful movie for teaching about emotions. I love that Riley learns that it is ok and beneficial to feel sadness. All emotions are vital for our health and well-being; we just have to learn to deal with them productively.
I hope this list helps you as you teach your little ones how to deal with their emotions. There are so many good ones out there that I couldn’t address them all, but a lot of these are ones I use in my job. I have not included any about dealing with grief and loss as that is something I haven’t really had to deal with in the kids I work with, but there are a lot of good books out there to help you if your child is dealing with grief and loss.
What are your favorite emotions books?