Books on Big Feelings and Emotions

Experiencing big emotions can be difficult for everyone especially children when they don’t understand them. Books are an excellent way to help kids not only identify their feelings, but also learn how to manage them. Developing a strong emotional foundation at an early age can help give children the tools to foster self-confidence, healthy relationships, and academic achievement.

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BOARD BOOKS

Peek-A-Mood by Giuliano Ferri, 2021

(Ages 0 and up)

This adorable interactive board book invites children to guess how an animal is feeling based on their facial expressions. Each answer is revealed by lifting a flap. A mirror in the back also lets them see what each emotion looks like on their face.  

 

Little Cat Hide-and-Seek Emotions: A Playful Primer to Learn About Your Feelings by Audrey Bouquet; illustrated by Fabien Öckto Lambert, 2022

(Ages 2 and up)

After being presented with a myriad of cats expressing different emotions on each page, children are challenged to match the featured emotion with the corresponding cat. Each page also has a follow up question relating the emotion to the child such as “What makes you happy?” This is an excellent way to get young children talking about feelings. Even my seven-year-old loves it!

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FEELINGS OVERVIEW

Feel Your Feelings by Scott Stoll; illustrated by Sara E. Williams, 2022

(Ages 2 and up)

This playful book empowers kids to act out, understand, and embrace all their different feelings by making a face representing each emotion. With its colorful illustrations and interactive elements, this is an excellent read aloud for young children. The book is further enhanced by an informative author’s note.

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The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions by Anna Llenas, 2018

(Ages 2 and up)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The Color Monster is an amazing read aloud that uses bright, vivid illustrations and poignant text to describe various emotions. “This is happiness. It shines yellow like the sun and twinkles like the stars. When you’re happy, you laugh and jump and dance and play! You want to share your happiness with everyone.” With a range of applications, this book is perfect for parents, teachers, and counselors to help children sort their feelings.

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   I’m A Feel-O-Saur by Lezlie Evans; illustrated by Kate Chappell, 2021

(Ages 2 and up)

Rollicking rhymes follow a diverse group of children dressed as dinosaurs as they display a myriad of emotions ranging from happy to shy to bored to angry. Beyond being ridiculously adorable, what makes this book a real standout is that it provides tips on ways to handle each emotion. The engaging characters reassure children that they will feel different moods throughout the day and whatever their disposition, it is okay.

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You Have Feelings All the Time by Deborah Farmer Kris; illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, 2022

(Ages 3 and up)

I really like how this book reinforces that we have feelings all day long and sometimes they are even mixed together or can change form one minute to the next. With its charming illustrations, flowing rhymes, and helpful note to caregivers, this book is an excellent read aloud for little ones.

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My Zoo: A Book of Feelings by David Griswold; illustrated by Eliza Reisfeld, 2022

(Ages 3 and up)

A young girl compares her numerous feelings to animals in this cheerful story. Our family particularly enjoyed the amusing illustrations.

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Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold; illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, 2021

(Ages 3 and up)

All Are Welcome is one of my favorite school-themed read alouds, so I was thrilled to see a companion book tackling emotions. Though the rhyming text is simple, this book presents a wide array of complex emotions and is the perfect conversation starter for working through collaborations and friendships. The inclusive illustrations feature a diverse group of children who are excited to play, but find a pile of junk standing in the way of a tree they want to climb. They initially argue over what to do with the garbage, but by talking, apologizing, and taking the time to see others’ point of view, they learn to work together and have fun.

With themes of conflict resolution, resilience, and navigating a variety of emotions this is a must-have for most classroom and home libraries.

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The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! by Mo Willems, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

The iconic Pigeon is back and he is experiencing a roller coaster of emotions as he prepares for his first actual roller coaster! As always, this overly dramatic bird is a hoot to read about while also pointing out the different feelings he experiences throughout this humorous story.

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Rainbow Hands by Mamta Nainy; illustrated by Jo Loring-Fisher, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

Gorgeous illustrations follow a boy who paints his nails  the color of his various moods. Not only is this a lovely story about emotions, it is also a great conversation starter on self-expression.

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The Happy Book by Andy Rash, 2019

(Ages 4 and up)

Surrounded by sunshine and flowers, Camper and his best friend Clam could not be happier. Clam bakes a cake to celebrate their friendship, but becomes sad when Camper eats the entire thing. Soon the friends travel through a range of emotions represented by different “books”.

Rich colors, clever details, and humorous dialogue make this book an engaging read aloud that children will ask for again and again. While comical, there is also a valuable lesson of sharing one’s feelings with others in an honest and constructive manner.

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ANGER

Allie All Along by Sarah Lynne Reul, 2018

(Ages 3 and up)

When a girl’s crayon breaks, she transforms into an angry monster. Her patient brother introduces several strategies to reduce his sister’s anger. With each coping tactic, including squeezing a stuffed animal and pretending to blow out birthday candles, Allie becomes calmer.

The stages of Allie’s anger are represented with different colors giving children a visual representation of her changing emotions. The text also appears big and bold providing children with a plethora of language to describe their own feelings. This book has tons of kid appeal and is a wonderful tool for social emotional learning.

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Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer, 2016

(Ages 2 and up)

We’ve all had bad days. Penguin is having an exceptionally terrible one for no real reason in particular. It isn’t until he finally slips into a nice bath, enjoys a hot chocolate, and cozies up into his bed that he begins to feel better. This delightful tale reassures readers that bad moods don’t last forever and brighter days are right around the corner.

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When Miles Got Mad by Samantha Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller, 2013

(Ages 3 and up)

When Miles’ little brother accidentally breaks one of his favorite toys, he gets angry. His cheeks burn, his hands curl into fists, and he screams at his brother. After his little brother leaves the room crying, Miles catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He is no longer Miles, but a large red monster symbolizing what Miles feels like when he is mad. The Monster gives several suggestions to help him calm down. As Miles begins to talk about his anger, the monster becomes smaller and smaller and Miles feels better. He realizes that the broken toy was an accident and he invites his brother to help him fix it.

Arguing over a toy is a typical scenario that many children face and this book is sure to resonate with many.

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The Ugly Place by Laura Deal; illustrated by Emma Pedersen, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

An angry boy walks the Arctic coastline immersing himself in the ugliest place he can find to reflect his dark mood. When he closes his eyes, however, he slows his breathing and takes in the sounds that surround him. He begins to feel calmer and notice gleams of beauty all around him.

He realizes that he is in control of his emotions and “even in the ugliest conditions we can make something beautiful together.”

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Angry Me by Sandra V. Feder; illustrated by Jomepour Bell, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

Anger is one of our most raw emotions that children, especially, struggle with. Using eye-catching art, this relatable story follows a young girl as she wrestles with emotions ranging from annoyance to rage during a variety of common occurrences. As she reflects back on each scenario, she identifies ways to work through her anger while also realizing it is a feeling that won’t last forever.

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Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival, 2020

(Ages 4 and up)

Ravi is the youngest and smallest in his family. After a day of finishing last in every race, not being able to reach the monkey bars, and missing out on ice cream, he becomes furious and transforms into an angry tiger. His irate alter ego yells and stomps until Ravi flops on a bench feeling more sad than mad. Apologies are made and Ravi feels like himself once again.

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Sweep by Louise Greig; illustrated by Julia Sarda, 2019

(Ages 4 and up)

When Ed accidentally trips over a broom, he becomes swept away by his bad mood. The gorgeous art and simple text present a fitting metaphor for emotions. Feeling irritated, Ed sweeps a pile of leaves that grows larger and larger as his bad mood over takes him. Soon his grouchiness represented as a mountain of leaves is affecting everyone around him. With the changing of the wind, however, he gains new perspective and is able to finally lift his mood and reconsider his actions the next time he begins to feel grumpy.

This book is a great springboard for a conversation to brainstorm coping mechanisms children can use when they become angry, so that they don’t get swept away by their own big emotions.

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FEAR AND ANXIETY

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival, 2019

(Ages 4 and up)

Ruby Finds a Worry stars a young, self-confident girl who becomes shaken when she discovers a worry. She tries to ignore it, but the more time that passes, the larger the worry grows until it becomes all-consuming. Ruby feels scared and alone until she meets someone else with a worry. By sharing their fears with each other, they find that they feel better and their worries become smaller and smaller and ultimately disappear.

Bright colors mixed with hues of gray capture Ruby’s feelings of anxiety and fear and ultimately her joy in shedding her burdens.

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Way Past Worried, 2020

(Ages 4 and up)

As he gets ready for a birthday party, Brock grows anxious that no one will talk to him or worse, the other kids will laugh at him. He cautiously enters the party discovering a new girl who is worried too. As a new friendship blossoms, their confidence grows and they bravely face the party together. Buy It Here

 

Hattie Harmony Worry Detective by Elizabeth Olsen and Robbie Arnett; illustrated by Marissa Valdez, 2022

(Ages 5 and up)

I have no doubt that this book will become a classic first-day-of-school read aloud. The cheerful story playfully reassures readers that they can overcome their fears by using a variety of strategies. Feline detective Hattie Harmony is ready to help any friend struggling with anxiety by teaching them how to use mindful movement, stress balls, breathing techniques, and affirmations. In a powerful scene, she even faces her own fear while climbing up a tall slide. The story is enhanced further by a helpful author’s note discussing each strategy used in the story.

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Olivia Wrapped in Vines by Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve; illustrated by Sandra Dumais

(Ages 5 and up)

Whenever Oliva becomes anxious, she feels as though vines are creeping up her body and suffocating her. Luckily, her teacher helps her overcome her worry by using breathing exercises, focusing on something in her control, and visualizing chopping down the vines. These techniques could also be used to help calm nerves before a big test!

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Avocado Feels a Pit Worried by Brenda S. Miles; illustrated by Monika Filipina, 2022

Avi is an avocado with a giant pit in his stomach that causes him to worry about everything. When he meets a new friend, however, she shows him how to turn his negative “what if” thoughts into positive ones. As Avi tries more things, he gains more confidence and becomes much happier.

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SADNESS

When Sadness Is At Your Door by Eva Eland, 2019

(Ages 4 and up)

Sadness is one of those complex emotions that can be scary and overwhelming, especially for children. Books like When Sadness Is At Your Door , however, can help children better comprehend and cope with this challenging feeling.

In this standout picture book, sadness is personified as a blue bloblike creature. The way it makes children feel is brilliantly demonstrated using simple illustrations paired with sparse text. The book encourages children to partake in quiet activities like drawing or listening to music when sad.  One of the main take-aways from the book is that it is okay to welcome sadness and that it may disappear as unexpectedly as it arrived.

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Way Past Sad, 2021

When a boy discovers that his best friend, Sanj, is moving, he feels sad. After spending time alone, cuddling with his mom, playing with other friends, and drawing, he begins to feel better and he learns that sadness is not permanent.  Buy It Here

 

JEALOUSY

   Way Past Jealous, 2021

Jealous that her classmates and teacher like Debby’s drawing better than hers, Yaz allows this to ruin her day and strain her friendship with Debby. After sharing her frustration and regrets with her dad, Yaz feels better and finds a way to make amends. Buy It Here

 

Becoming Blue by Ellen Tarlow; illustrated by Julien Chung, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

Blue desperately wanted to be more like Red, but every time he tries to emulate her, he fails miserably. It is only when he embraces his Blueness that he discovers the amazing things he can do. Even better, now that he owns who he is, he and Red become friends who can do the most remarkable things together.

The bright pops of blue and red immediately draw the reader in while the simple text delivers the perfect amount of humor along with the clear message of embracing one’s uniqueness. This book is a true standout.

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Almost Always Best Best Friends by Apryl Stott, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

The delicate dynamics of friendship are skillfully expressed in this charming story.

Poppy and her best friend Clementine do everything together, so naturally Poppy grows jealous when Clementine plays at Georgia’s house one day. I absolutely love how Poppy’s dad helps her process her envious feelings and role plays how to talk to her friend. When Poppy finally meets Georgia, she realizes it is even more fun to all be friends together.

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Boxitects by Kim Smith, 2020

(Ages 4 and up)

Meg is excited to attend maker school and further develop her impressive skills of building with boxes. When she meets Simone, a fellow boxitect, however, she becomes jealous of the new student and dismayed when they are forced to work as a team. After a failed experiment, the two engineers realize they both have valuable skills and can do better when working together.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Instructions on how to build a “Boxitect Tunnel” and “Boxitect Castle” are included in the back and inspired my children to build their own creations!

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HAPPINESS and MINDFULNESS

This Joy by Shelley Johannes, 2022

This book is pure sunshine! The happiness a little girl feels seems to jump off the pages as she tries to find the right way to celebrate the gloriously grateful feelings she has inside. The girl’s exuberance is contagious and readers will hopefully share in her realization that each day is a gift.

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Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen, 2019

Using each letter of the alphabet, a breathing exercise is introduced to help children calm their bodies and minds. The illustrations featuring a diverse group of children alongside various animals could not be cuter.

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B is for Breathe: The ABC’s of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings by Melissa Munro Boyd, 2019

This impactful book provides 26 strategies to manage tough feelings. From positive self-talk to listening to music and journaling, children will take away several strategies to calm down and live a more balanced life.

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STRESS

I’m Stretched by Julia Cook; illustrated by Stephanie Dehennin, 2019

(Ages 5 and up)

Stress is a part of life and if we can teach children at an early age how to manage it, hopefully they will learn how to create a balanced and healthy routine.

I’m Stretched  features a girl who is feeling pulled in a million directions by homework, sports, family, and friends. The upbeat rhymes provide several tips for coping with stress making this a helpful resource for both children and adults!

We can’t stop children from feeling the pressures of a fast-paced society, but we can aid them with tools to better manage the stressful feelings they may face.

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I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young, illustrated by Nneka Myers, 2020

(Ages 5 and up)

When Ayaan admits to his mother that he doesn’t feel smart and worries he doesn’t always know the answer in school, she teaches him three affirmations that give him the confidence to boldly face each new day. Our family was so inspired by this powerful story, we started saying the same affirmations to bolster my children’s self-assurance.

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EMBRACING BIG EMOTIONS

Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang; illustrated by Max Lang, 2018

(Ages 4 and up)

Jim Panzee is having a bad day. While all his friends want to cheer him up, he simply wants to stew in his grumpiness. In addition to the amusing jungle antics, this story is a SEL standout because it demonstrates the importance of embracing your feelings both good and bad .

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The Rhino Suit by Colter Jackson, 2022

(Ages 4 and up)

A sensitive young girl is overwhelmed by the sadness of the world and builds a rhino suit to keep out all of her deep feelings. She soon discovers, however, that her tough outer layer now prohibits her from experiencing good feelings as well as the hard ones. She sheds her thick skin and embraces her deep feelings while identifying ways she can make the world a better place.

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Kevin The Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows by Jessika von Innerebner, 2019

(Ages 4 and up)

While unicorns have the reputation of being exuberant magical creatures that spread joy to all around them, Kevin wakes up one morning feeling not quite his happy self. He encounters several misfortunes as his day progresses, but tries to plaster a smile on his face through each tribulation. When he can’t take any more, he melts down in a pile of despair until he meets other unicorns who are having a bad day too.

Colorful illustrations and comical details draw the reader in to this seemingly lighthearted story that has an important message of recognizing one’s own feelings and having the courage to express them. I’m so glad that there are entertaining and powerful stories like this that remind readers that no one is perfect and they shouldn’t have to be!

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