Dealing with Big Feelings: New Books for Kids
Social emotional learning (SEL) is a key component of a child’s education and well being. Emotional intelligence can help them identify their emotions and build empathy with others. It can also help a child’s mental health to realize that the many emotions they experience are healthy and normal. Below are wonderful picture books that teach children about identifying and dealing with big feelings.
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Dealing with Big Feelings: New Books for Kids
Help develop your child’s emotional intelligence with these new picture books about dealing with big feelings!
ABC of Feelings is the perfect book to read with little ones who are just learning their alphabet at the same time as they are learning to identify their emotions. This catalog of feelings helps children identify the full range of emotions they might experience, and lets them know it is perfectly normal to experience them. I love how many of the illustrations are related to each other, creating mini-stories within the book. For example, U is for Unhappy shows a girl who is moving, while on the opposite page, V is for Vulnerable, we see the same little girl being vulnerable by hugging a friend while she is unhappy. Children are invited to identify with the diverse children in the illustrations, who finish the book by reminding young readers to be Zany – that is, uniquely themselves!
The Really Bird books center on a bird who received his nickname because whatever he feels, he *really really* feels! (Know any kids – or grownups – like that??) Through his friendship with Cat and Pup, Really Bird learns to negotiate with others and accommodate his feelings. For example, in I Really Want to Be FIRST! Really Bird finally gets his wish to be the leader in their game, but he soon learns that leading is more than just being the first in line. He must figure out a way to pick a game everyone will like, and help his friends when they need it.
In I Really Want a Bigger Piece! Really Bird and his friends must decide how to divide up a pie when they all really really want to eat. The conversations among the friends remind me of those among my children, as they argue about who got the bigger piece, and who gets the first turn with a toy. These books are a great way to help children identify their sometimes “extreme” feelings and think through how they can accommodate the feelings of others as well. Each book includes a series of open-ended questions at the end for further discussion.
My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood is a unique look at feelings, matching colors with emotions. For example, when Jamie is happy, his mood is purple, like cold plums and grape juice. But when he’s angry at his brothers, his mood turns gray, like a storm brewing inside. I LOVE that brown is identified with a positive emotion, like a big, strong tree that stands its ground. This book will help children think about their emotions in a new way and is sure to lead to some wonderful conversations and art projects! It also can help young readers to think through what situations stir up their emotions and finding ways of dealing with big feelings by noticing what helps them calm down.
Somewhere Right Now is a gorgeous book to help children work through their feelings on days when nothing seems to go right. Whether it’s anxiety from a big storm or sadness over the loss of a loved one, the book helps remind readers to think of the good in the world, and that somewhere something beautiful is happening. I love that while the parents in the book help the children
with this lesson, the children also help remind the parents.
In I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared, Bear pretends to be brave in front of his friend Rabbit, as they set off on an adventure (which to Bear seems very scary). At last, when asked to cross a rickety old bridge, Bear admits his fears to his friend and heads home. But when he hears that Rabbit is in danger (because that bridge was too rickety and old, after all), Bear finds his courage and races back to help. This silly book from comedian Seth Meyers is a sweet reminder of the importance of friendship and the real meaning of courage.
Out of a Jar is a lovely book about the importance of facing your feelings. Llewellyn tries to pack away his emotions in jars, so he doesn’t have to feel scared or lonely or embarrassed. Instead, he doesn’t feel much at all, even joy or excitement. Still, he thinks his system is working, until one day is hiding spot is so full of jars that there is no more room. When he tries to squeeze in one more jar of feelings, all of the jars crack, and Llewellyn’s hidden emotions burst out all at once. A wonderful way to help children think about their feelings and teach them not to be afraid of experiencing them – so they can let them go.
A Case of the Zaps is an adorable way to talk to kids about anxiety. The robot Pi is super excited about his class field trip, but then he starts worrying about everything that could go wrong. As worry starts to overtake him, he feels a ZAP! He tries to ignore it, but it begins to happen more and more. A great metaphor for anxiety that kids can understand easily. I love how Pi finally learns that anxiety is normal and that opening up to others will help him get the support he needs.