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35 Books to Teach Emotions

August 16, 2021 by Christopher Olson




Have you ever had that one student who just seemed angry about everything?  Or the one that just cries at the drop of a hat?  Let’s start bringing in some books about various emotions and start the dialogue on teaching kids how to deal with some of them.  

Identifying emotions is important at a young age. Children should be taught the language and the opportunity to label their feelings.  This will help with coping skills as well as general well-being.  We also need to express to our students that feeling different emotions are healthy and typical!  It is definitely OKAY to be feeling upset right now, but here is what we can do to feel better.  Or, it is OKAY to be angry, but let’s try “____” to cope and get past the anger.  

Emotions are a very abstract concept to teach.  Emotions can be different for everyone!  To start you off on the right foot here are 35 different books to help teach emotions.  The first section includes general emotions overall, then I include a few books under 5 different emotions!  Number 30  is my absolute favorite one on this list, followed by numbers 1, 20, and 22. 

BOOKS ON EMOTIONS

1 ~ The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions by Anna Llenas

There is a reason this text is number one on this list.  Children and adults alike will relate to the title character, Color Monster.  One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed-up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result.

2 ~ The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

The Feelings Book vibrantly illustrates the wide range of moods we all experience. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to discuss their multitude of feelings in a kid-friendly, accessible format, told through bold, bright colors and silly scenes.

Emotions Book 3 ~ Listening To My Body by Gabi Garcia

I am all about including mindfulness activities within my classroom. I HAD to include a “mindfulness” book somewhere in this list because it pairs so well with emotions.  Listening to my Body is an engaging and interactive book that guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them.

Listening to My Body helps children develop a sensations vocabulary so that they can express what they are experiencing.  This text includes kid-friendly mindfulness activities woven throughout the book to reinforce the teachings.  If you are looking for additional mindfulness activities to do in the classroom check out Teaching Trailblazers with Chris from ETTC: Mindfulness and Movement with Carolyn.

4 ~ A Little Spot of Feelings: Emotion Detective by Diane Alber

This book helps children not only recognize feelings in themselves but in others too!  A Little Spot of Feelings is a story about a little Scribble Spot that is an Emotion Detective. He teaches you all about different emotions and facial expressions so you know how to name your feelings. He also shows specific examples of children describing how they are feeling. Targeted to young children, this book will inspire kids to discuss and name their multitude of feelings in a kid-friendly way.

5 ~  A Little Spot of Emotions by Diane Alber

If you are a fan of Number 4, then you will definitely be interested in this Box Set!  Each title is sold separately, but if you are like me, you are always looking for a good deal!  What better way than a packaged bundle?  This box set includes 8 Emotion Books:

A Little Spot of Anger
A Little Spot of Anxiety
A Little Spot of Happiness
A Little Spot of Sadness
A Little Spot of Love
A Little Spot of Confidence
A Little Peaceful Spot
A Little Scribble Spot

Emotions Book 6 ~ The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Feelings are neither good nor bad, they simply are. Kids need words to name their feelings, just as they need words to name all things in their world. The Way I Feel uses strong, colorful, and expressive images which go along with simple verses to help children connect the word to the emotion.

7 ~ The Boy With Big Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee

The Boy with Big, Big Feelings is relatable for any child, but especially for children experiencing anxiety and extreme emotions.  Meet a boy with feelings so big that they glow from his cheeks, spill out of his eyes, and jump up and down on his chest. When a loud truck drives by, he cries. When he hears a joke, he bursts with joy. When his loved ones are having a hard day, he feels their emotions as if they were his own. The boy tries to cope by stuffing down his feelings, but with a little help and artistic inspiration, the boy realizes his feelings are something to be celebrated.

8 ~ Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold

In their bestselling picture book All Are WelcomeAlexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman celebrate kindness, inclusivity, and diversity. Now with Big Feelings, they help children navigate the emotional challenges they face in their daily lives.  What should we do when things don’t go to plan? We may feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed, but by talking it through, compromising, and seeing another point of view, we can start fresh, begin anew.

Emotions Book 9 ~ In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

Happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness . . . our hearts can feel so many feelings! Some make us feel as light as a balloon, others as heavy as an elephant. In My Heart explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside, with language that is lyrical but also direct to empower readers to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.

10 ~ A Box of Butterflies by Jo Rook

What do you do for your students when they don’t understand something?  You teach them!  That is exactly what Ruby does when her robot doesn’t understand.  When Ruby asks Robot if he loved the story as much as she did, he tells her that he doesn’t know what love is. If it’s not something he can see, then what could it be?

Ruby describes emotions to her Robot. She teaches him what each feels like and when she feels them.  With colorful metaphors and vibrant imagery, A Box of Butterflies takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and emotional reflection, identifying not just love, but jealousy, anger, worry, and a host of other emotions.

THE EMOTION: HAPPY

11 ~ 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

Hula hoops, double scoops, to swimming pools!  This endearing tribute to 100 everyday things worth celebrating. Readers young and old will get lost in the loving details of each illustration, and the warmth of the simple pleasures that surround us all. Don’t forget after reading this text to have students identify and list the things that make them happy!

Emotions Book 12 ~ Happy: A Beginner’s Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards

Are you looking for a great text to not only help with explaining happiness but also ties into your poetry unit?  You will definitely want to check out this book!  Happy gently encourages young readers to explore their emotions and the beautiful world around them. This poetic journey to a place of happiness and calm will inspire and empower your child to enjoy the practice of mindfulness.

13 ~ My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.  This beautiful board book serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

14 ~ The Jar of Happiness by Alissa Burrows

Is there a recipe for happiness? Meg certainly thinks so. She collects all the necessary ingredients in a jar, which she uses to cheer up her friends and family when they’re feeling low. But what happens when her special jar mysteriously disappears? Will Meg feel sad forevermore, or will she find other ways to be happy?

Emotions Book 15 ~ The Happy Owls by Celestino Piatti

Why are these owls so happy? That’s just what the chickens, ducks, and geese want to know. But when they send a peacock over to find out why they’re incredulous at the reply. How could anyone be happy simply to see the rain and sunshine? What could be so joyful about the flowers and butterflies?

BOOKS ON SADNESS

16 ~ When Sadness Comes to Call by Eva Eland

When Sadness arrives, try not to be afraid: give it a name, listen to it, and spend some time together. Maybe all it wants is to know that it’s welcome. This beautiful debut by author-illustrator talent Eva Eland takes a poignant but uplifting look at dealing with sadness.

17 ~ I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black

Everyone feels sad sometimes—even flamingos.  When Flamingo announces he’s feeling down, the little girl and Potato try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work.  Flamingo learns that he will not always feel this way. And his friends learn that sometimes being a friend means you don’t have to cheer someone up.  You just have to stick by your pal no matter how they feel.  Even if they’re a potato.

Emotions Book 18 ~Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Anne Miranda

Glad, sad, silly, mad – monsters have all kinds of different feelings! In this innovative die-cut book, you’ll try on funny masks as you walk through the wide range of moods all little monsters (and kids!) experience.

19 ~ When Sadness Is at Your Door by Eva Eland

Remember earlier when I said that it is OKAY to feel upset, but here is what we can do to feel better?  That is what Eva Eland did with her book When Sadness Is at Your Door.  She approaches this feeling as if it is a visitor. She gives it a shape and a face and encourages the reader to give it a name, all of which helps to demystify it and distinguish it from ourselves. She suggests activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, and going outside for a walk.

20 ~ Little Unicorn is Sad by Aurelie Chien Chow Chine

A little unicorn’s rainbow-colored mane shifts to a single color when he’s feeling a particularly strong emotion. It seems like a storm comes over him when he’s sad, and his mane turns deep blue. But when he repeats a breathing exercise, the clouds clear, and his rainbow returns–and if he ever feels sad again, he’ll know just what to do.

BOOKS ON THE EMOTION: ANGRY

Emotions Book 21 ~ When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

Everybody gets angry sometimes. For children, anger can be very upsetting. Parents, teachers, and children can talk about it. People do lots of different things when they get angry. In this Caldecott Honor book, students will see what Sophie does when she gets angry.

22 ~ Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang

Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it–how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They have lots of suggestions for how to make him feel better. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy?

23 ~ Crabby Pants by Julie Gassman

Roger gets crabby. A LOT! He is crabby about running out of his favorite food, not being able to go to the zoo, and missing his favorite TV shows. Sometimes he ends up in the naughty chair. Can Roger figure out how to stop being such a crabby pants? This humorous and lighthearted picture book delivers an important message about growing up and managing feelings.

Emotions Book 24 ~ When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman

Everyone feels angry sometimes, but there are always ways to feel better! Join a bunny rabbit and her family as she learns to manage angry feelings. With a focus on identifying the causes of an emotional reaction, and coming up with ways to start feeling calm and happy again, this book explains simple strategies to help kids understand and take care of their emotions.

25 ~ Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival

Ravi never minded being the smallest in his family. Until one day, his short arms can’t reach the monkey bars, he can’t find anyone during hide-and-seek, AND he’s too little to ride the big slide. Ravi is so mad — so furious — that he can’t control his temper anymore . . . and he turns into a ferocious, roaring TIGER!

Tigers can do anything they want! But who wants to play with a growling, wild tiger who won’t share or behave? Ravi is about to discover something very important about voicing his feelings. While we all get angry sometimes, Ravi’s Roar shows some good ways to channel those emotions to avoid hurting family and friends.

THE EMOTION: PROUD

26 ~ Thelma The Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Thelma is an ordinary pony who just wishes with all her heart to be a unicorn!  Thelma dreams of being a glamorous unicorn. Then in a rare pink and glitter-filled moment of fate, Thelma’s wish comes true. She rises to instant international stardom, but at an unexpected cost. After a while, Thelma realizes that she was happier as her ordinary, sparkle-free self. So she ditches her horn, scrubs off her sparkles, and returns home, where her best friend is waiting for her with a hug.

Emotions Book 27 ~ When I Feel Good About Myself by Cornelia Maude Spelman

I feel good about myself. Somebody loves me just as I am. I don’t have to look like anyone else, be the same size, or do the same things. It’s fine to be me. This book offers children positive and upbeat examples about being themselves. The author portrays a very young guinea pig and friends feeling good about themselves through common situations readers will relate to. Together, the text and art will foster self-esteem and independence.

28 ~ Happy Dreamer by Peter Reynolds

Discover a universally poignant celebration of the colorful spectrum of what it means to dream and the many ways to find happiness! While the world tells us to sit still, to follow the rules, and to color inside the lines, Happy Dreamer celebrates all those moments in between when the mind and spirit soar and we are free to become our own true dreamer! This empowering picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter, and while life will have ups and downs, he enlists readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big!

29 ~ Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

“Be who you are! Be proud of where you’re from. Be a different color. Speak your language. Wear everything you need to be you.”
Who better than Todd Parr to remind kids that their unique traits are what makes them so special? With his signature silly and accessible style, Parr encourages readers to embrace all their unique qualities.

Emotions Book 30 ~ Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his Abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes? — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

BOOKS ON SHY

31 ~ Too Shy for Show and Tell by Beth Bracken

Sam is a quiet little boy who hates show-and-tell. Just thinking about it makes his stomach hurt. Sam must find a way to conquer his fear and make the most of his turn at show-and-tell. This picture book is great for teaching children about emotions and challenges.

32 ~ Feeling Shy by Kay Barnham

This picture book story explores what it feels like to be shy using everyday scenes and situations that children might be familiar with – perfect for children who might be feeling shy themselves. This book shows different reasons why young people might become shy, illustrates scenarios of them behaving shyly and gives advice on how to become more confident and less shy. Ideal for home or classroom, this book contains notes for parents and teachers with suggestions of ways to help children deal with this feeling.

Emotions Book 33 ~Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap

Crunch is a lovely and quiet brontosaurus who has hidden in some shrubbery and is rather shy. He would like to play, but it will require some gentle coaxing from you! If you are patient and encouraging, you will find yourself with a new friend!  This picture book is a warm, funny example of friendship and how to engage with someone new, who is perhaps a bit different from you.

34 ~ Buster, the Very Shy Dog by Lisze Bechtold

Two stories in one book!  Join Buster the very shy dog as he discovers his self-worth and self-confidence in a house full of more outgoing canine and feline characters. In the first story, a wary Buster reaches out to befriend a girl who seems sad and lonely at a birthday party. In the second, Buster, insecure about his inability to catch a ball, uncovers a winning talent all his own!

35 ~ Little Miss Shy by Roger Hargraves

Do you remember the Mr. Men and Little Miss books when we were younger?  Guess what? I am including one on this list!  Little Miss Shy gets an invitation to Mr. Funny’s party, but she immediately goes into hiding!  Will she make it to the party on time?

 

Dealing with emotions, coping skills and teamwork fit into most areas and subjects across your program day.  It is important to take the time to discuss, model, and practice these skills.  Once you do, you will most likely spend less time with the management of behaviors and high emotions because the students could be able to cope themselves!   What are some texts on this list that you are thinking about including within your next lesson?   Let us know in the comments below!

Written by – Christopher Olson

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