Books

Reading about emotions and feelings to kids can help them understand what they're feeling.
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17 Children’s Books That Help Kids Deal With Big Feelings

“Feelings are never wrong.”

Reading to our children at an early age feeds their imagination and opens up their mind's eye to the possibilities in the world. But books can also help them make sense of how they feel and what they’re going through, which is why having some books about coping with emotions on their shelf can give kids an early start to facing their feelings and learning how to deal with them.

“Just encouraging children to label their feelings and to learn what that jumble of emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts inside of them — anger, anxiety, sadness, etc. —  is a great place to start,” Daniela J. Owen, Ph.D. tells Romper. Owen is a child psychologist and author of the children’s book series, Right Now, and over the past year, she has personally seen a rise in mental health issues, especially for elementary school-aged children. “During the pandemic, I have gotten lots of calls from parents of younger children with panic attacks. Anxiety is up, as is depression in communities where children have spent the past year away from peers and friends, and in some cases rather isolated from anyone other than their families.”

Having to deal with these feelings can be overwhelming for adults, but for young children who aren’t mature enough to wade through their emotions healthily, inevitably, some sort of meltdown follows. “Having parents validate all feelings their children experience is really important. Feelings are never wrong. What a child does in response to a feeling can be wrong, but the feeling itself is never wrong. For example, hitting your sister because you are mad is not OK, but feeling mad is OK.”

Books are an effective tool to convey these messages to children. They can take an adventure with colorful characters, journey through their experiences, and by the end, learn different ways to cope.

Owen is just one of many children’s book authors who write about dealing with big feelings. She started her series as a guide for children and adults to help them with the process of children being able to label their emotions and help adults understand how to respond appropriately. This list of books covers a wide range of emotions and includes recommendations by Owen.

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1

A Book On Taking A Breath

In Boyd’s book, she acknowledges the everyday feelings that kids experience and offers coping techniques from A to Z, and in a fun way — like B is for Breathe. Your kids will find developmental and healthy ways to express themselves instead of lashing out.

2

A Book About Worry

In this paperback, kids get to take a journey with Ruby as she learns what to do with an unexpected emotion — worry. After it grows, she soon learns she’s not the only kid with this emotion.

3

A Book About Big Feelings

Here’s a story of a little boy whose feelings grow so big that they make him want to burst. He tries to ignore them, but art helps him learn how to acknowledge and celebrate them. This book is perfect for kids who struggle with anxiety, sensitivity, or those who feel deeply.

4

A Book On Handling Stress

Acknowledging feelings in the moment is important. Dr. Owen wrote this book as a self-help guide for children. When big emotions rise up, her simple calming routine teaches them how to deal with their stressful feelings.

5

A Book About Gloomy Days

Feelings are like a switch. Sometimes that happy on button can quickly flip to the off, or sad mode. This book, with its silly visuals, shows kids how having a positive attitude can change their day.

6

A Book About Phobias

Sometimes fear can make the smallest things seem big, and the feeling just grows and grows. This book, written by clinical psychologists, helps kids learn to conquer the fear that can keep them from enjoying their daily activities.

7

A Book About Calming Anger

Nick is angry, and that’s OK. But with help from animals at the zoo, he learns that it’s not OK to do mean things when angry. Kids will learn techniques for calm, how to apologize when they’ve acted out, and can also enjoy a coloring page.

8

A Book On Emotional Challenges

Things don’t always happen the way that we expect them to, and for kids, that can feel overwhelming. Big Feelings helps them with managing frustrating feelings and how to see things from a different perspective. The multicultural characters offer a brilliant inclusive view of the world and how, despite our differences, we all deal with the same feelings.

9

A Book About Anxiety

Anxiety can be a quiet crippler and a hard feeling for children to describe. This book visually shows kids how to recognize the spot of anxiety, how it can grow, and how to shrink it. Their place of balance is to come back to their green, peaceful spot.

10

A Book About Anxious Feelings

This is a practical guide for children created by child psychologists. Fiz, the friendly monster host, will walk your kids through it how to deal with anxiety. It includes 20 simple activities and helpful information for parents.

11

A Book About Bravery

Facing our fears can sound like a big thing for children. Owen’s book gives them examples of overcoming those fears and what it means to bravely stand up to hard situations.

12

A Book About Jealousy

These authors use the habits of pirates to teach kids how to deal with being jealous of others. Pirates are always searching for gold. But instead of focusing on the things they don’t have, this book helps kids focus on all the good things they already have.

13

A Book On Coping With Change

Change is constant. The past year has created many opportunities for our families to pivot and adjust. But that can be really hard on our kids. Boyd’s book shows kids what they can do to navigate life changes, like crafting, eating healthy, or playing games.

14

A Book On How To Express Yourself

One main message of this book is that feelings are normal, and everybody has them. Next, it helps kids learn to control their emotions and also offers help with practice exercises, tips, and quizzes.

15

A Book On Overcoming Fear

In this book, kids get to journey with Jabari. He is a little boy who has learned to swim and now has to jump off the diving board, but he’s afraid. Little readers will be able to relate to what it feels like to be afraid and see what it’s like for Jabari to overcome his fear.

16

A Book On Different Feelings

Even though feelings can be heavy, this book makes learning about them fun. Through colorful pictures and interactive activities, kids will understand how to label their feelings, learn empathy and calming methods. Also included are emotions and feelings cards along with adult instructions.

17

A Story On Managing Anger

This picture and activity book helps kids to learn that when they are angry, there’s no need to “roar like a dinosaur.” Follow Riley’s story as other friendly dinosaurs help Riley find calm. Kids will learn how to push pause and take a minute instead of having an emotional explosion.