If you are looking for the best children’s books about feelings to help you raise emotionally intelligent kids, you’re in the right place. The kids’ books below will help you talk with your children about sadness, jealousy, fear, and more. Check it out!
The case for having children’s books about feelings in every home
“Mommy, why are you crying?”
He put down his pencil, his golden eyes studying mine. He’d just written his name, my big boy, for the first time.
They were happy tears — such happy, happy tears — because this boy of mine was healthy and growing and smart. They were tears of joy because I was so proud of all he had accomplished and my heart was bursting with love.
But he was only four, and just barely.
He wasn’t at an age where he was capable of understanding that crying was not always synonymous with sadness. He didn’t understand that love can be so powerful that sometimes its only release is through your eyes – through a glance that shines like sunbeams or tears that fall feather light down your cheeks.
At that moment in time, I took it upon myself to start trying to explain these big emotions to my boys. I didn’t want them to fear my tears. Perhaps more importantly, I never wanted them to hide theirs. But sometimes, I was at a loss for words.
What did I need? Some good books.
I sought out children’s books about feelings to explain those big emotions
My hope is to raise boys who are not just in touch with the emotions they feel but to honor them as well. Yes, I’m even talking about those tough feelings I know they wish would just go away. I turned to phenomenal children’s books about feelings for help and have never stopped using stories to help my children navigate their huge emotions.
Identifying emotions — and having the ability to recognize what actions and experiences cause particular feelings — is vital, with some considering this an essential skill for life success. Not only can children’s books about feelings help your children cultivate this skill, but they also help build self-awareness as kids begin to recognize how their feelings affect others.
Even better? Understanding our own emotions also helps foster empathy and emotional intelligence.
RELATED: We’ve got more than 100 children’s book lists for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so be sure to check them out!
Children’s books about feelings nurture emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence helps children look kindly upon others. It enables them to slip on someone else’s shoes and identify what it may be like to experience life from a different perspective. If we can gently foster this awareness, our children are more likely to treat others with kindness, tenderness, and respect.
The best way to do this? Read children’s books about feelings, and help your kids understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent.
Without further ado, here are our favorite children’s books about feelings that will help you on your quest to raise emotionally intelligent kids. We hope they have as much of an impact on your family as they have on ours!
Frequently Asked Questions
Children’s books about feelings are significant in that they help children develop an understanding of, and begin to vocalize, their emotions. Not only do the lessons learned from stories foster empathy and help kids create healthy and positive relationships, but they are also vital for building self-awareness as kids begin to recognize how their feelings affect others.
The ability to identify emotions and recognize what actions and/or experiences trigger particular feelings is deemed to be an essential life skill. Additionally, understanding our own emotions helps foster empathy and emotional intelligence. Because emotions are such an abstract concept, the more we help our children understand the way they feel, the less likely they are to act out. A child who can say “I’m sad” or “I’m mad” will be more equipped to handle conflicts.
For kids both big and small, I will forever love Tiger Days as it is a wonderful story to help children identify their feelings and give voice to them as well. As far as sadness goes, Maybe Tomorrow is a beauty, and children really learn and grow from reading that story. The visual metaphor it provides sticks, and it helps kids learn that sadness may be heavy at times, but the baggage will eventually become lighter. Both of these stories are featured below.
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Our favorite children’s books about feelings
General children’s books about feelings
We just adore this sweet children’s book about feelings for how it tackles big emotions – including happiness, sadness, anger and bravery. In a pure, childlike way, this story utilizes direct language and simple images to help kids understand what they are physically feeling as they tackle their own evolving emotional development. This book provides a perfect overview of feelings to help little ones develop emotional literacy and begin to articulate what is going on inside their heads and hearts. For our full review of In My Heart: A Book of Feelings, click here!
This is one of my very favorite children’s books about feelings! In this fabulous and engaging read-aloud, kids are introduced to an array of common feelings they may have on any given day. Each emotion is embodied by a different animal and described through actions taken by that animal, thus brilliantly explaining how a child may feel and act when experiencing a particular feeling. By labeling emotions with animals and their particular behaviors, Tiger Days provides children with an accessible way to begin giving their feelings the appropriate names, together with the vocabulary they can use to express themselves to others. For our full review of Tiger Days, click here!
Each page in this stunning story is a metaphor for the heart’s various manifestations. As a diverse group of kids journey through the heart’s numerous emotions, they learn the heart can be a puddle or a slide or a window opened wide. The children are happy at times and scared at others, remorseful on some pages, and joyful on others. When faced with a tough emotion, they find companionship in family and friends to help them through. And overall, they learn one very important notion: whether their hearts are open or closed, tiny or large, each and every child has the freedom to decide how he or she feels at a particular time. For our full review of My Heart, click here
Books About Sadness and Grief
Elba, a pink hippo, drags around a great big block, greatly limiting her potential. Norris happily dances wherever he goes, surrounded by a cloud of butterflies. Norris tries to convince Elba to join him on his adventures, but the block often gets in Elba’s way. Norris never gives up though, patiently and compassionately cajoling Elba to join him, all the while following her lead and helping her manage her block. Little by little, Elba’s block becomes smaller and her burden is lifted. This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books about grief I have ever read. For our full review of Maybe Tomorrow?, click here!
I can’t tell you how many times I have recommended this book to friends and students for the way it so gently touches on sadness. Sadness is universal — everyone feels unhappy at times — and this story (with the help of a girl, a flamingo, and a potato!) conveys that sometimes our sadness is so big that even our best friends can’t cheer us up — but this is ok. That sadness won’t stick around forever, but our friends will stick by us no matter what. This children’s book about feelings speaks to children so perfectly, and my family turned to I’m Sad a lot when we were in the thick of challenges at home.
In this fabulous book, sadness is personified as a visitor, one who must be given a name and a face to make it less mystifying for kids. The beauty of this story is that the child must invite the visitor in, with the author even suggesting activities you can do with sadness, such as going for a walk or sitting quietly together. The author doesn’t suggest that you must try to shut the visitor out or force it to go away. To the contrary, she respects sadness and attempts to make this daunting feeling less frightening for kids. This is a unique, fresh approach to the notion of sadness, and I love how the idea of sadness arriving as a visitor reminds children (and even adults too!) that this feeling is not permanent, but temporary instead.
Books about anger
This is a powerful book about a young boy who blows up after his grandfather tells him to stop playing because it is dinner time. When Anh is sent to his room to sit with his anger, the reader is taken on Anh’s journey as he grapples with this big emotion and eventually learns how mindful breathing can help transform and control his feelings. This is such a good children’s book about feelings for those of us parents and teachers dealing with tantrums on the regular! It is also fabulous for teaching about breathing and meditation as strategies to calm down.
This hilarious book helps guide children through their grumpiest moments, and the manner in which the Grumpasaurus is described makes this more of a playful read than a didactic one. Instead of feeling like a threatening lesson on behavior, the narrative, which is primarily written in captions and side notes, provides a unique and engaging exploration of anger that children can readily understand. What more do you need to be sold than the cover page, which states: “The observations that follow in this field guide tell you everything you need to know about the Badmoodicus grumpasauricus, more commonly known as the North American Grumpasaurus.” We love it!
Books About Loneliness
When Maia’s best friend suddenly moves away, Maia is crippled by sadness. How on earth will she get through her days without her closest confidante by her side? Ever so slowly, Maia’s pain eases as she breaks out of her comfort zone and takes chances on new experiences, including new friends and even hobbies. This is a tender exploration of loss and recovery, and it so beautifully tackles the notion that embracing new people or passions in your life in no way means you have to let go of the old. For our full review of Life Without Nico, click here!
Brian is never seen or noticed by his classmates. He has no friends, and thus appears in the story devoid of color, making him invisible at school. Eventually, a new child winds up in Brian’s class and Brian is the first to reach out to him. When a bond forms between the two boys and they are teamed up to work on a class project, Brian finds a way to step out of the shadows and flourish. Not only does he make a new friend, but Barton’s illustrations show how small acts of kindness fill Brian up with color until he is, quite literally, a vibrant force in his classroom. For our full review of The Invisible Boy, click here!
Books About Joy
This gorgeous book celebrates and supports the wellness of indigenous children. It honors those special moments that fill our hearts with joy and encourages children always to remember those things that make them happy, whether it’s the feeling of the sun on your face, a warm hug, or the smell of something special baking in the oven. For more beautiful Native American Picture Books, click the link!
One exuberant little girl tries hard to measure just how joyful she feels. She embraces the beautiful day but realizes her arms aren’t big enough to hold the whole world. How on earth can she express how very alive she feels? This joyous story celebrates happiness and living with our hearts and arms wide open. A gem!
Books About Worry and Anxiety
Poor Potato, he is worried about everything! How do you possibly prepare for the future when something bad might happen? Potato thinks his friends will make him feel better, but his pals can’t promise that nothing bad will ever happen. They do, however, remind Potato that even when they have experienced tough things, they always make it through to the other side — and have some fun along the way. This book about that uncomfortable feeling of worry is a total gem! We simply adore this entire series of children’s books about feelings! For our full review of I’m Worried, click here!
Poor Ruby has a worry. It came out of nowhere, and though it was small at first, it eventually took up so much space, she couldn’t stop thinking about it… and worrying about her worry! Ruby begins to fear she will never return to feeling happy again until she discovers one little boy sitting on a bench — and he has a worry of his own. Ruby begins to tell the boy about her worry, and she suddenly realizes that talking about her worry is just the thing to make it get smaller. We love how this book conveys that it helps to talk about the things that scare us.
Books about jealousy
Jeremy wants nothing more than the same pair of shoes that the rest of the kids at school wear. But, according to his grandma, Jeremy’s “wants” are not nearly as important as his “needs.” This is such a special children’s book about feelings, one that masterfully sparks a discussion about jealousy, wants, and needs. More importantly, it shows with such a light touch how putting a friend’s needs above your own wants is a magical, fulfilling action. For our full review of Those Shoes, click here!
When Unicorn arrives in town, Goat gets himself in a tizzy. Goat’s bike is no longer cool because Unicorn can actually fly to school. Goat’s marshmallow treats were almost really good, but Unicorn made it rain cupcakes. Unicorn can even make things turn to gold! Will Goat ever measure up to this magical new creature? Or will he discover that being a unicorn may have some very real — and very challenging — drawbacks? Such a fun book to explore envy and jealousy!
Books about fear
My heart explodes a little every time I read this book. Little Tree tackles a topic that so many of us parents and educators see in our little ones: fear of change and transition. The story focuses on a little tree that clings tightly to its leaves, too scared to shed them and transition into the new season. It doesn’t matter that all the trees around him are happy to grow and flourish as each new season arrives. Little Tree simply thinks life is perfect just the way it is and sees no reason to change his ways. One fateful day though, Little Tree realizes he has been left behind by all the trees that have grown tall around him, and he knows a critical decision is on the horizon. To shed, or not to shed? This is a masterpiece – a perfect tale to help children recognize that fear of change is natural and daunting, but the reward is ultimately in the journey that helps us find our way.
A young girl immigrates to a new country and must begin a new school. The child is scared, and she is accompanied by a fear who is with her every day. Fear used to be small, and it kept her safe, but now it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and it continually reminds her that no one wants to be her friend because she is so different from the other students. When a young boy befriends her, though, her fear begins to diminish in size — and she learns that she isn’t the only one who gets scared. Gorgeous!
Books about insecurity
Children constantly compare themselves to those around them, and naturally, when such comparisons are made, insecurity and even jealousy arrive. It is hard for kids to recognize their own incredible attributes when they are so focused on the unique qualities of others. This special story perfectly helps little ones learn to celebrate differences instead of being jealous of them — and to be grateful for everything that makes us special as individuals. A forever favorite.
Oliver is a puzzle piece, and he always wonders where exactly he will fit in. He spends his days dreaming of the possibilities — the mane of a unicorn? An astronaut’s helmet? — and he constantly changes himself to try out different scenarios. Feeling like you don’t belong is pretty universal for young kids, and this wonderful self-esteem book for kids shows that always trying to fit in is challenging. Yet, as is the case with any puzzle, a bit of trial and error helps Oliver figure out exactly where he belongs — at which time he discovers that being himself is the most fitting place of all.
Books About Love
This stunningly illustrated children’s book about feelings is a testament to the ways in which love permeates our lives – from the lull of parents’ voices as they look over their sleeping child to something as simple as burned toast. It is a poetic, lyrical mediation on love, replete with beautiful metaphors that will help little ones recognize how love appears in our everyday lives, shaping who we are and where we come from. I dare you to read this without crying. For our full review of Love, click here!
We adore this new release about a robot who is trying to understand a message he finds in a bottle. “Love, Beatrice,” the message says. But what is love? And who is Beatrice? As the robot journeys to find the answers to his questions, he discovers that love actually surrounds him all the time — he just never knew the right word to explain how he felt. Children will simply adore the idea that sometimes love is hard to explain, but we know it when we feel it. So in LOVE with this one!
RELATED: Need great books to instill self-esteem in your kids? Be sure to check out the link!