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While most parents may think that learning letters and numbers is the end-all be-all of toddler development, I would beg to differ. Don’t get me wrong. Letters and numbers are important, but even more important in my personal opinion, is teaching children emotional awareness. Numbers and letters will come eventually, but the earlier I am able to teach my daughter how to give her feelings a name, the earlier she will be able to communicate her emotional needs. That’s a skill that will serve her for the rest of her life.
During my preschool teaching days, I accumulated quite a few favorites when it came to teaching children about emotions. Books are a great teaching tool and it’s never too early to start. Here are some great kids books about feelings, and while some may be a little advanced for the youngest toddlers, they are all books that your little one can start looking at now and grow into later.
Books can be the perfect tool for helping our children learn about their emotions. Here are 15 great books for teaching kids about their feelings.
1. Grumpy Bird
A story about a little bird who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Luckily he has some friends who are there to help him shake his case of the grumps. Any book with animals is always a surefire way to engage little ones and this is a great book to begin introducing toddlers to the emotion of grumpiness as well as to some ways for coping with the grumps.
2. Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy
This book tells the story of a little girl who is feeling sad, but by the end of the book she is able to make a pretty great list of things that make her happy and turns her mood around. While it may be advanced for young toddlers, they can still enjoy the illustrations and the visual cues for the emotions of being sad and happy. Definitely a book children can grow into.
3. Glad Monster Sad Monster
This book is a great interactive way to teach your little one about emotions, because the book comes with a variety of monster masks that your child can try on, and each depicts a different emotion. The colors are bright and fun and kids love masks! There is also a Spanish version available as well.
4. On Monday When It Rained
A straightforward book about emotions with simple descriptions and crisp black and white photos that let little ones see a little boy in various states of emotion from happy to scared.
5. Mouse Was Mad
This book shows different ways that we can express anger, from stomping like a bear to being totally still and silent like a mouse. The adorable cast of animal characters will engage your little one and the message is clear.
6. Sometimes I’m Bombaloo
This story is about a little girl named Katie and how she sometimes loses her temper and turns into “Bombaloo.” When she is mad, Katie uses hitting instead of words and doesn’t feel quite like herself, but more like “Bombaloo.” The story shows how a little time away and some love from her mother makes Katie feel better and helps her cope with her frustration. A great book to help talk about temper tantrums with your child.
7. The Way I Feel
A fun and colorful, rhyming book that introduces children to a variety of emotions and their names. Covers a broad range of emotions from pride to thankfulness. This is one of my favorites.
8. When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry …
A great option for talking about the emotions of anger and frustration, particularly those feelings surrounding siblings and sharing.
9. I Am Happy
This book offers a truly unique way to introduce feelings to your toddler via their favorite sense: touch. If your child is anything like mine, they will love getting to “feel” the different emotions throughout this book (i.e. scratchy, fuzzy, etc.) as each emotion is associated with a tactile texture.
10. Baby Faces
This book offers real-life pictures of little ones in different states of expression. Your little one will love examining the faces of the other children and it is a great beginning book for talking about emotions.
11. My Many Colored Days
This book is filled with the wonderful rhymes that we’ve come to know and love from Dr. Seuss and is a great book that your child can grow into. For earlier development, the book can be used to talk about colors, and later the book can be used to discuss feelings and moods.
12. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear
While this book isn’t directly a feelings book, the little mouse in the story goes through a variety of emotions that can be read very clearly on his face. I read this book with my students when I was preschool teacher and it was always a hit and a great book for sparking conversations.
13. The Feelings Book
I love all of Todd Parr’s books, because of the way they mix silliness that kids will love with other important information (i.e. “I feel brave” intermixed with statements like, “I feel like having pizza for breakfast”). The illustrations are always fun and bright which kids love.
14. When I Am / Cuando Estoy
A great book for introducing feelings in a bilingual format!
15. Llama Llama Mad at Mama
If your child is a fan of the Llama Llama books like my daughter is, then you’ll love this one. Our favorite llama character explores feeling angry at his mama in this great book that most little ones will likely be able to relate to. Apparently parents can be just as frustrating to toddlers as they can be to us at times.