Feeling the feels: Ten best children’s books about understanding their emotions

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant | All Images Courtesy of Amazon

We’ve definitely experienced many scenarios such as this; perhaps we misbehaved because we threw temper tantrums due to being impatient, unhappy or grumpy. Instead of being tolerant, supportive and exploring the issues we’re going through we might have endured a smack on our bottoms, told to be quiet and dismissed by our parents.

What’s sorely lacking in these settings is the growth of emotional intelligence specifically in children. Now, what exactly is emotional intelligence? It’s the capacity to identify, understand and manage not only our emotions but the emotions of other people. Children are essentially little human beings, they mirror how we act whether we are conscious of it or not and constantly look towards their parents as a guide to handle their own emotions.

According to PsychCentral, the benefits of emotional intelligence are listed as follows.

•  Self-awareness.
This is the ability to label, recognize, and understand your own emotions. Self-awareness requires us to tune in to our feelings and not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and sadness. Recognizing our own emotional states and how they affect our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions is the key to cultivating self-awareness.

• Emotional regulation.
Emotional regulation has to do with our ability to control strong emotions by not acting on raw feelings in an impulsive or destructive manner. Developing the ability to sit with unpleasant feelings and to give ourselves the time and space to decide how we may alleviate or reduce negative feelings cultivates self-confidence. Emotional regulation also helps us develop the ability to consider various solutions to a particular situation or problem. Not reacting solely from an emotionally charged state in better decision-making outcomes.

• Empathy.
When we empathize with others, we develop deeper, more intimate relationships. Empathy is the ability to recognize how and why people feel the way they do. Empathy allows us to anticipate how our actions and behaviors influence other people as well as our own. Developing empathy skills enhances our experiences, relationships, and a general understanding of ourselves, other people and the world around us.

• Social skills.
This is a very broad term. In general, having strong social skills means having the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, and courteous manner. In a nutshell, good social skills are the summation of all of the components of EQ: self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy. These books are recommended for parents who are looking to help children understand, manage and navigate the world of their emotions.

#1 When Sadness Is at Your Door 

Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc

Author: Eva Eland

Pages: 32

ISBN10: 0525707182

ISBN13: 9780525707189

Sadness can be scary and confusing at any age! When we feel sad, especially for long periods of time, it can seem as if the sadness is a part of who we are–an overwhelming, invisible, and scary sensation.

In When Sadness Is at Your Door, Eva Eland brilliantly 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. The beauty of this approach is in the respect the book has for the feeling, and the absence of a narrative that encourages the reader to “get over” it or indicates that it both of which are anxiety-producing notions.

Simple illustrations that recall the classic style of Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) invite readers to add their own impressions.

#2 The Feelings Book

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Author: Todd Parr

Pages: 32

ISBN10: 031604346X

ISBN13: 9780316043465

Sometimes I feel silly.
Sometimes I feel like eating pizza for breakfast.
Sometimes I feel brave.
Sometimes I feel like trying something new…

The Feelings Book vibrantly illustrates the wide range of moods we all experience. Kids and adults will appreciate Todd Parr’s quirky intelligence as he pays special attention to the ever-changing, sometimes nonsensical emotions that we all feel. 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 Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes.
Along with the four other bestselling Todd Parr picture books, The Feelings Book is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, and promote character growth.

#3 When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry


Publisher: Scholastic US

Author: Molly Bang

Pages: 40

ISBN10: 0439598451

ISBN13: 9780439598453

This beautifully designed book tells the story of a little girl named Sophie, who learns that it’s okay to be angry.

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, kids will see what Sophie does when she gets angry. What do you do?

#4 The Way I Feel

Publisher: Parenting Press, U.S.

Author: Janan Cain

Pages: 18



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 that go along with simple verses to help children connect the word and the emotion. Your child will learn useful words, and you will have many chances to open conversations about what’s going on in her/his life. Recommended by parents, teachers and mental health professionals.

The Way I Feel is a valuable addition to anyone’s library. This book is ideal for children with autism.


#5 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Author: Judith Viorst

Pages: 32

ISBN10: 0689711735

ISBN13: 9780689711732

Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair. And it got worse… His best friend deserted him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV!

This handsome new edition of Judith Viorst’s classic picture book is sure to charm readers of all ages.

#6 The Grouchy Ladybug

Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers Inc

Author: Eric Carle

Pages: 44


ISBN13: 9780694013203

From Eric Carle, New York Times bestselling author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and From Head to Toe, comes the classic story of one very grouchy ladybug. Eric Carle’s bright artwork and signature style will charm both ardent fans and new readers alike. This board book features sturdy pages and is the perfect size for little hands.

As children follow the Grouchy Ladybug on her journey, they will learn the important concepts of time, size, and shape, as well as the benefits of friendship and good manners.

For generations, The Grouchy Ladybug has delighted readers of all ages with the story of a bad-tempered bug who won’t say “please” or “thank you,” won’t share, and thinks she is bigger and better than anyone else. Readers will love how this testy ladybug introduces them to many new animals and learns that maybe being grouchy isn’t always the best option.


#7 Taking a Bath with a Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy

Publisher: Candlewick Press, U.S.

Author: Scott Menchin

Pages: 32

ISBN10: 0763663352

ISBN13: 9780763663353

From celebrated illustrator Scott Menchin comes a wise and witty meditation on the true secret to happiness. “I miss your smile today, Sweet Pea. What would make you happy?” What do you do when it seems as if nothing will make you happy? For one little girl, it’s a good time to take a survey, from subjects including a quick little rabbit (running around in a wheel), a balding gent (counting rings on a tree), a snazzy centipede (shoes, lots of shoes), and other sundry characters. Enlivened by his whimsical characters, Scott Menchin’s amusing story shows us that just doing what we love to do best can bring the biggest smiles of all.

#8 My Many Colored Days

Publisher: Random House Inc

Author: Dr. Seuss

Pages: 16

ISBN10: 067989344X

ISBN13: 9780679893448

The late Dr. Seuss saw his original text about feelings and moods as part of the “first” book ever to be based on beautiful illustrations and sensational color." The quest for
an artist finally ended—after the manuscript languished for more than two decades—at the paintbrushes of husband-and-wife team Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher whose stunning, expressive paintings reveal such striking images as a bright red horse kicking its heels, a cool and quiet green fish, a sad and lonely purple dinosaur, and an angrily howling black wolf.

Using a spectrum of vibrant colors and a menagerie of animals, this unique book does for the range of human moods and emotions what Oh, the Places You’ll Go! does for the human life cycle.

Here is a wonderful way for parents to talk with children about their feelings. With Johnson and Fancher’s atmospheric, large-scale paintings bursting off the pages, Dr. Seuss’ vision is brought to life. This rare and beautiful book is bound to appeal to
both the innocent young and the most sophisticated seniors.

#9 How Are You Feeling Today Baby Bear?

Publisher:  Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Author: Jane Evans

Pages: 16

ISBN10: 184905424X

ISBN13:  9781849054249

Baby Bear lives in a home with the Big Bears, and loves to chase butterflies and make mud pies – they make Baby Bear’s tummy fill with sunshine. Then, one night, Baby Bear hears a big storm downstairs in the house and in the morning, Baby Bear’s tummy starts to feel grey and rainy. How will such a small bear cope with these big new feelings? This sensitive, charming storybook is written to help children who have lived with violence at home to begin to explore and name their feelings. Accompanied by notes for adults on how to use each page of the story to start conversations, it also features fun games and activities to help to understand and express difficult emotions. It will be a useful book for social workers, counselors, domestic violence workers and all grown-ups working with children. 

#10 The Huge Bag of Worries

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

Author: Virginia Ironside

Pages: 32

ISBN10: 0340903171

ISBN13: 9780340903179

Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are with her all the time – at school, at home, when she is watching TV and even in the bathroom! Jenny decides they have to go, but who will help her get rid of them? A funny and reassuring look at dealing with worries and anxiety, to be used as a springboard into important conversations with your child.

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