25 Awesome Picture Books To Help Kids With Their Big Emotions
Kids experience so many feelings – some too big to keep inside. Help your kids normalize all of their big emotions with these picture books!
In this post, you’ll find books about:
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What do we usually say when our kids are faced with emotions and feelings that are too big for them to handle – say, for example, they’re angry over a ripped book or devastated about canceled plans and are crying?
It’s usually something along the lines of, “You’re okay, it’s okay, no need to be so upset,” right?
In fact, this reaction comes almost as a second nature out of our desire to help our kids feel better quickly. Because we don’t want them to suffer. We want to help them stop being sad, angry, worried, or afraid so they can get back to feeling happy – as soon as possible.
We want the “bad” emotions to go away so the “good” ones can come back.
But is this helping our children? Does it help them get back to feeling in control of themselves?
Feelings and emotions aren’t “good” or “bad” – they just are. So rather than trying to eliminate certain ones, we can help our children better by making the conscious decision to listen and validate their emotional needs – and teach them to make sense of what they’re feeling. And when we do, we’re doing so much more than showing empathy.
We are creating a safe environment that will help our children develop emotional resilience, self-regulation, and a growth mindset.
To help you in your efforts to teach your kids about what they are feeling, here are some excellent picture books to read together. They are must-haves to add to the bookshelf and are perfect for kids ages 3-8.
25 Picture Books That Help Kids Learn About Big Emotions And Feelings
Books About Anger And Impatience
1. The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess
Have you ever seen a curmudgeon that looks like your brother, but is in such a bad mood you hardly recognize him? You can try all the peanut butter sandwiches and brownies you have, but he is not moving. Nothing works, especially nudging, and he just makes you so grumpy that eventually you have no choice but to fight back–and then…Have you ever become a curmudgeon that just won’t budge?
Why We Love It: This playful depiction of bad moods and sibling conflict shows kids how to approach tough feelings – in ourselves and in others.
2. Waiting Is Not Easy by Mo Willems
Piggie has a surprise for Gerald. A big surprise. But does Gerald have what it takes to wait for it? New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator, Mo Willems, takes kids on a hilarious journey as Gerald learns that sometimes one of the hardest things to do is wait. And wait. And wait some more…
Why We Love It: From waiting at the doctor’s office to waiting for grandma to come, being patient is hard! Like other beloved books in the Elephant And Piggie series, kids can connect to the story with the help of humor and emotions they can recognize immediately.
3. Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival
Ravi never minded being the smallest in his family. Until one day, his short arms can’t reach the monkey bars, he can’t find anyone during hide-and-seek, AND he’s too little to ride the big slide. Ravi is so mad — he turns into a ferocious, roaring TIGER! But Ravi is about to discover something very important about voicing his feelings.
Why We Love It: This book helps kids understand that it’s good to be curious about all of our emotions – even anger! Then we can learn where our anger comes from, what it feels like, and how to manage it.
4. Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Bird wakes up feeling grumpy. Too grumpy to eat or play. Too grumpy even to fly. He walks past Sheep, Rabbit, Raccoon, Beaver, and Fox. All the while, Bird grows grumpier and grumpier! But before he knows it, a little exercise and companionship help Bird overcome his bad mood.
Why We Love It: In this relatable book, kids learn that being grumpy isn’t the end. Sometimes the antidote is simply a change of scene.
5. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Tucked into bed by his mama, Baby Llama immediately starts worrying when she goes downstairs, and his soft whimpers turn to hollers when she doesn’t come right back. In this infectious rhyming read-aloud, Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama drama!
Why We Love It: Being patient for mom is no easy task. Kids will relate to Baby Llama’s need for comfort, as much as parents will appreciate Mama Llama’s reassuring message. (For another fun book about anger from this author, try Llama, Llama Mad At Mama.)
6. Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne and Max Lang
Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it–how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They have lots of suggestions for how to make him feel better. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy?
Why We Love It: All feelings are allowed – even the grumpy ones! This hilarious book helps kids learn how to deal with confusing emotions.
7. Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman
Having a pet dragon is very fun. But what do you do if he gets angry or upset? What do you do when your dragon lost his cool and wants to burn everything to the ground? Find out about anger management as you learn how to train your own angry dragon.
Why We Love It: Things don’t always go our way, and that can be pretty frustrating. This book helps kids learn how to handle that frustration in a healthy way!
Books About Sadness
8. When Sadness Is At Your Door by Eva Eland
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 sensation. But approaching this feeling as if it is a visitor helps demystify it and distinguish it from ourselves. There are even activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, and going outside for a walk.
Why We Love It: Books like these help kids understand that emotions are neither “good” nor “bad.” This is the perfect first step to teaching emotional literacy.
9. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t really his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in Deborah Diesen’s fun fish story that’s sure to turn even the poutiest of frowns upside down.
Why We Love It: Kids will love chiming in with the repetition in this book. They’ll also learn to giggle at the exaggerated pout we all tend to display from time to time.
10. Maybe Tomorrow? by Charlotte Agell
Elba has a big block. She’s been dragging it around for a long time. Norris dances everywhere he goes, even uphill. He is always surrounded by a happy cloud of butterflies. Can Norris and his butterflies help ease Elba’s sadness and convince her to join them on a trip to the ocean? This tender exploration of loss illuminates the sustaining power of kindness, empathy, and friendship.
Why We Love It: This simple and sweet story dismantles the fear of talking about being sad, and shares ways to manage it and accept it as real.
Books About Fear And Worry
11. Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It’s way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians or killer bees. But in his tree, every day is the same and if danger comes along, he’s well-prepared. Day after day he watches and waits, and waits and watches, until one day … his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree…
Why We Love It: This hilarious book normalizes anxiety, fear, and the need to be in control. It also teaches kids that they can handle a lot more than they think.
12. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board…
Why We Love It: This story encourages kids to try things that scare them, and inspires them to face their fears and find the courage within.
13. Scaredy Monster by Meika Hashimoto
Scaredy Monster has a BIG secret. He’s not scary like many monsters—he’s a scaredy monster! Join Scaredy Monster as he overcomes his fears of losing a tooth, riding a bike, and going to his first sleepover. With some help from Mommy Monster, Scaredy discovers he’s much braver than he thought—and he finds ways to feel safe and happy while doing scary things!
Why We Love It: These stories address common fears that kids have in a way that helps them feel brave. Kids also learn that they’re not the only ones that have these fears!
14. Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
Join the Brave Cowboy as he tries to sing his young calf pals to sleep on a dark, dark night—EEEEEEEK! IS THAT A HUGE HAIRY SPIDER OVER THERE? Oh, it’s just a flower? Well then, back to the lullaby.
Why We Love It: This book will get kids laughing and reminds them that not everything is as scary as it seems.
15. The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright
Kevin the koala loves every day to be the same, where it’s snug and safe. But when change comes along, will Kevin embrace all the joys that come with trying something new? You see, high-up was safe since he liked a slow pace, while the ground down below seemed a frightening place. Too fast and too loud and too big and too strange. Nope. Kevin preferred not to move or to change.
Why We Love It: In this fun rhyming read-aloud, kids learn that change isn’t so bad – especially when it brings exciting new possibilities.
16. Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
Meet Ruby — a happy, curious, imaginative young girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry. It’s not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . and a little bigger . . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about. But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries — and there’s a great way to get rid of them too.
Why We Love It: Stress and worry can be consuming – but books like these help kids realize that there’s something they can do about these big emotions.
Books That Help Kids Understand And Manage Their Emotions And Feelings
17. The Boy With Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
Meet a boy with feelings so big that they glow from his cheeks, spill out of his eyes, and jump up and down on his chest. When a loud truck drives by, he cries. When he hears a joke, he bursts with joy. When his loved ones are having a hard day, he feels their emotions as if they were his own. He tries to cope by stuffing down his feelings, but with a little help and artistic inspiration, he realizes his feelings are something to be celebrated.
Why We Love It: This book is a great way for kids to learn about their big emotions, and is especially helpful for kids who experience extreme emotions and anxiety.
18. Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
Silly, cranky, excited, or sad—everyone has moods that can change each day. And that’s okay! Follow the boisterous, bouncing protagonist as she explores her moods and how they change from day to day.
Why We Love It: This story explores the many different emotions and feelings kids experience, from silly to grumpy, mean, excited, confused, and more.
19. Tiger Days by M.H. Clark
From tiger fierce to snail slow, there are lots of ways to feel and be. A walk through the menagerie of Tiger Days helps young readers see all the feelings they have and the ways those feelings change.
Why We Love It: This book gives kids a creative way to recognize and describe the emotions they experience.
20. The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman
The book opens with the question: “How are you feeling today?” And this leads on to a spread by spread presentation of a wide range of feelings, including: Happy, Sad, Excited, Bored, Interested, Angry, Upset, Calm, Silly, Lonely, Scared, Safe, Embarrassed, Shy, Confident, Worried, Jealous, and Satisfied. The final spread is about Feeling Better because sharing and talking about feelings helps us to feel better.
Why We Love It: This book is a one-stop-shop for learning about the wide array of emotions we can experience, along with how to manage them in a healthy way.
21. The Color Monster by Anna Llenas
One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result.
Why We Love It: Learning how to identify emotions is the first step to feeling more in control of them. This book uses color to explore emotions in a creative way.
22. There Are No Animals in This Book (Only Feelings) by Chani Sanchez
Masterworks of contemporary art teach kids about feelings and how they can be expressed in art. Contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Alex Katz help kids recognize love, surprise, hurt, and other powerful feelings in these images, which accompany a fun-to-read aloud narrative with a silly twist at the end.
Why We Love It: This book teaches kids that emotions can be expressed in many ways, including art.
23. A Little SPOT Of Feelings: Emotion Detective by Diane Alber
Do you have a little one that has a tough time expressing their feelings? This book helps children not only recognize feelings in themselves, but in others too! A Little SPOT of Feelings is a story about a little Scribble SPOT that is an Emotion Detective. He teaches you all about different emotions and facial expressions so you know how to NAME your FEELINGS. He also shows specific examples of children describing how they are feeling.
Why We Love It: This book is an excellent way to get kids talking about and understanding their emotions. Get 8 more books that address specific emotions in this box set.
24. The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
The Way I Feel uses strong, colorful, and expressive images which go along with simple verses to help children connect the word and the emotion. Children will learn useful words giving parents, teachers, and caregivers many chances to open conversations about what’s going on in their child’s life.
Why We Love It: Children need words to name and describe their feelings, and this book empowers them with those words.
Every child handles their feelings differently. Learning to deal with them is an important part of growing up. This collection of board books teaches kids how to recognize the range of emotions they experience daily – even if they don’t fully understand their feelings or have the words for them yet. Each book in this series features fun characters that illustrate a specific emotion.
Why We Love It: It’s important for kids to realize that the emotions they experience are normal and that everyone feels the way they do from time to time. The books in this set help kids learn more about these emotions.
I hope your kids enjoy these books as much as mine do! If you have any more books to add to this list, let me know in the comments! I love finding new books for our family!
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- 12 Things You Should NOT Say To Your Kids
- 127 Words Of Encouragement For Kids
- How To Get Your Kids To Read This Summer (And Like Doing It)
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