Reading children’s books about feelings is an effective way to help children, from toddlers to teens, learn to navigate their emotional world.
Children’s books about feelings and emotions are an essential self-regulation tool–and a must-have in any home or school library–because parents, teachers, and caregivers can use them to help toddlers, preschoolers, and kids of all ages understand their feelings. Especially those BIG feelings that can make them feel overwhelmed and out of control. You might also enjoy this list of self-regulating strategies for kids.
Knowing how to describe, manage, and express emotions (such as anger, rage, fear, sadness, or loneliness) is essential to a child’s social-emotional learning and development. Fortunately, reading books about feelings and emotions to kids–at home and in the classroom–is an easy way to help children from toddlers to teens learn to self-regulate. SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) games are another great resource for parents and educators.
This post begins by explaining the benefits of reading books to help kids understand their feelings. It is followed by several lists of feelings books for toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, elementary-aged kids, tweens, and teens–that can help children understand their feelings and the intense rainbow of emotions that go with them. And it concludes with a book list for parents and teachers. You might also appreciate this list of anger management books for kids from toddlers to teens.
Please note: Since first published in 2015, we have re-published and continually updated this post with the best and most recent books about emotions for kids and will continue to do so.
Related: Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
Benefits of Reading Kids Books About Feelings and Emotions for Children
Reading children’s books about feelings and emotions is important to a child’s social-emotional learning, development, and health because they can help kids label, express, and manage emotions such as anger appropriately.
We teach toddlers to identify colors, numbers, shapes, and letters–but what about their feelings? Feelings can be confusing when we don’t have the words to express them; they can also be overwhelming and scary when we keep them to ourselves.
But knowing how to describe emotions is vital to a child’s social-emotional learning, as is knowing that it is okay to express and share our feelings in healthy ways. For this reason, parents, teachers, and caregivers must do everything possible to help kids understand their worries, nonsensical emotions, and the many feelings they might experience.
And this makes reading books about feelings aloud to toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners an important self-regulation strategy. Reading kids’ books about emotions to children can help them understand them enough to label and appropriately describe their feelings, which is an important first step in their social-emotional learning and development.
Related: Kids Yoga: How to Get Started
How do Books About Emotions Help Kids Understand Their Feelings?
As a psychologist, caregiver, and now a parent, I have discovered many ways to help younger children understand their emotional bodies and learn to self-regulate over the years. And reading children’s books about feelings and emotions to the little ones in our lives is a great way to help kids understand the alphabet of feelings they experience and learn to navigate the turbulent waters of their emotional world.
I witnessed the benefits of reading feelings books to my daughter and the many children I cared for and help raise over the years. They learned to understand basic emotions and moods well enough to label them and communicate them with me, and they also became much more tolerant, peaceful, and less likely to react negatively to the little things.
Because of this, I found their basic understanding of feelings and emotions more valuable than gold.
More Ways to Help Children Understand Their Feelings and Emotions
There are many other fantastic tools and resources to help children learn to self-regulate, in addition to the feelings books for kids on the list below.
While another excellent calming strategy is making sensory bottles–click the link to learn more about them.
In my many years of experience, using self-regulation strategies for kids (such as reading books about feelings and anger management to children) can reduce the amount and severity of emotional outbreaks and temper tantrums at home and in the classroom.
For this reason, I can’t recommend feelings books for children highly enough–stock your library! Feelings books for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners are listed first, followed by books about emotions for older school-aged children, tweens, and teens.
Children’s Books about Feelings and Emotions for Toddlers to Teens
Look for these Children’s books about feelings at your local library, or use the affiliate links for your convenience. If you click the title of the feelings book to purchase, this website will earn a small commission at no cost to you.
**Click on the title of the book about feelings for kids for more information**
Books About Feelings for Toddlers
Making Faces: A First Book About Feelings by Abrams Appleseed (1 – 4 years)
This feelings board book introduces five essential facial expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, and silly in an accessible format for babies and toddlers. Each is introduced with a large image of a baby’s face. Readers are asked to mimic the face, then pick it out from a group of other babies. The last spread includes all of the expressions from the previous pages and a mirror so readers can watch themselves make any face they please.
to the story.and describes how they feel physically and inside. Toddlers can practice articulating and identifying their own emotions as they listen
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss (2 – 5 years)
Here’s a color concept book to use with babies–or a feeling and moods book to discuss with toddlers. In other words, you can use it either way. At first, I didn’t particularly appreciate the bright colors and animals associated with different emotions. But, after reading it to my daughter a few times, I learned to appreciate this book and its simple yet profound message. “But it all turns out all right, you see. And I go back to being me.”
A Little SPOT of Emotion 8 Book Box Set (Books 1-8: Anger, Anxiety, Peaceful, Happiness, Sadness, Confidence, Love, & Scribble Emotion) by Diane Alber (2 – 6 Years)
Here’s a box set of books about feelings that teaches children about several different emotions: what they are, what affects them, and how to control or change them in a way that is creative and easy for kids to understand. And there are several more book sets by the same author–get the Little Spot of Feelings Book Set HERE.
Preschool Books About Feelings and Emotions
Lots of Feelings By Shelley Rotner (3 and up)
Children can learn to identify others’ body language and feelings by reading this awesome little book. Simple text and photographs introduce basic emotions such as happiness, grumpy, thoughtful, etc.
Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day By Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell (3 and up)
My daughter and I fell in love with this book of silly scenes with fun rhymes about how a little girl feels from day to day the first time we read it because both of us could totally relate–well done, Jamie Lee Curtis! This book follows a spunky little red-head through 13 feelings beginning with “Today I feel silly…”
This is a fun interactive book that children can use to understand how they feel at any moment
The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids; 20 Different Moods/Emotions; Autism; ADHD; Help Kids Identify Feelings and Make Positive Choices; Laminated Pages (Monster Flipbook) (3 and Up)
We all experience different emotions from time to time. As adults, it’s important to teach kids skills to identify their feelings and handle them appropriately, and this flipbook is a great way to start that dialogue. When children experience different moods, they often forget the options they have. This flipbook provides positive actions that can be taken for each mood. Instead of complaining, children are reminded about other choices that can be made.
More Children’s Books about Feelings for Preschoolers
Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere (Mindfulness Moments for Kids) by Kira Willey (3 – 6 Years)
Breathe Like a Bear is a beautifully illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. Best of all, these 30 simple, short breathing practices and movements can be performed anytime, anywhere: in the car to the grocery store, during heavy homework nights at home, or even at a child’s desk at school.
The Emotions Book: A Little Story About BIG Feelings by Liz Fletcher (3 – 7)
This is a wonderful story about an elephant who explores his feelings. Help your child self-regulate their emotions with this little story about BIG feelings that teaches children how to control their emotions and respond when faced with overwhelming feelings or challenging circumstances. The story is simple enough that any child can understand, and it is done in rhyme, making it fun for little ones.
My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings by Natalia Maguire (2 – 7 Years)
This feelings book about emotions includes a cute story that kids can relate to, beautiful illustrations that capture children’s attention, calming-down activities for kids, instructions to adults on the follow-up activities, emotions cards, feelings cards, coloring pages, and related short stories to teach kids empathy.
My Magical Feelings – The Magic of Me Series – The Number 1 Personal Growth Series for Confident, Happy, and Healthy Children! (3 – 7)
This feelings book is a great resource for teaching kids about emotions, providing clear education on emotion identification, and includes examples of the range of emotions a child can experience with examples relatable to their developmental age.
Books About Feelings for Kindergarten
Inside Out Box of Mixed Emotions by Disney Book Group (ages 3 and up)
Get to know Riley’s infamous emotions with this unique format. With five fun storybooks, each devoted to a different Emotion, Pixar’s Inside Out fans will treasure this special collection of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.
book about feelings for kids that helps children build and use a vocabulary to communicate their emotions. Unfortunately, some of the rhymes in this book and word choices were awkward and didn’t flow very well. Nevertheless, I decided to mention this book because it contains more feeling words than most books about emotions for children. We found it useful and recommend it, even though the choice of words is sometimes awkward and strange
The Color Monster by (ages 3 – 7 years)
My daughter and I found this a delightful book and a great tool for helping young kids sort out their emotions. This sensitive book gently encourages young children to open up with parents, teachers, and daycare providers by illustrating common emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and calm. And kids will LOVE the bright illustrations and amazing 3-D pop-ups on every page!
More Books to Help Kids Understand Their Feelings
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (3 – 8 yrs)
The day my daughter said, “I’m feeling shy,” at only 2 years of age, I knew she was learning how to identify her feelings thanks to reading this book. I particularly appreciated the note to parents in the back showing how this book can help children understand what circumstances make them feel happy, sad, jealous, and so on.
The Feelings Book By Todd Parr (3 and up)
The illustrations in this feeling book are as fun as Todd Parr’s quirky intelligence, but this book does not teach about emotions as effectively as a few others on this list of books about emotions for kids. A few emotions are included (scared, brave, cranky, lonely, and silly), but most of the “feelings” are about wanting to do certain activities, so it is not as effective as other books that help children understand their feelings.
More Children’s Books About Feelings and Emotions
Hilly Discovers Her Feelings by Meytal Raz-Nave (3 and up)
Throughout this book about emotions for kids, Hilly’s quest is motivated by one simple question, “How do I feel?” in response to the events she encounters daily. While reading this book, children can learn about their feelings, emotions, and different moods through Hilly’s varied experiences.
The Very Frustrated Monster by Andi Green (3 and up)
The WorryWooMonsters stories teach simple lessons about many different feelings and emotions and how to handle them. This is one of several books in the series. Links to other books by the same author can be found on the same page.
Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold (4 – 7 Years)
Here’s a new picture book to help children navigate BIG FEELINGS! What do you do when things don’t go to plan? We may feel mad, frustrated, or overwhelmed, but by talking it through, compromising, and seeing another point of view, we can start with a fresh perspective and begin anew.
Children’s Books About Feelings for Older Children, Tweens, and Teens
The Feelings Book: The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions by Dr. Lynda Madison (8 and up)
This feelings book can help children understand and deal with emotions positively. Inside, you’ll find tips for older children, tweens, and teens about expressing feelings and staying in control–with special attention and sensitive advice about handling fear, anxiety, jealousy, and grief.
Understanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings By Mary C., Ph.D. Lamia (9 and up)
This excellent workbook offers a basic education for families in understanding, managing, and discussing strong emotions and feelings. The straightforward advice included makes it useful for parents struggling to understand their children’s feelings and know what to do about them.
The Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges: How to Make Good Choices and Stay Out of Trouble by
Books to Help Kids Understand Their Feelings: Resources for Parents and Caregivers
Knowing how to describe, express, and manage emotions such as anger or sadness is important to children’s social-emotional health and development. And the social-emotional development resources listed below can help parents and caregivers teach their children to understand and express their emotions in healthy ways.
The skills I have developed due to reading these books have helped me navigate the treacherous waters of helping my spirited daughter understand her emotional world. You might also enjoy this list of self-regulation strategies for kids.
Feelings Flash Cards by Todd Parr
Parr’s trademark silly style makes this portable deck of feelings cards fun for kids of all ages. It contains 20 sturdy flashcards with 40 different emotions (each card shows two opposite feelings, one on each side). Use these social-emotional development cards to help children from toddlers to teens learn what it means to feel silly and serious, calm and nervous, brave and scared, etc.
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
This is one of my absolute favorite parenting books–hands down. The
The Whole-Brain Child Workbook by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
This is the compaction workbook for the book on the list above. It allows readers to think more deeply about how the ideas inside it fit their parenting or teaching approach. It also shares specific and practical ways to implement the concepts explained with dozens of clear, practical, and age-specific exercises and activities to assist brain development. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I read this bestselling classic as a requirement for my undergraduate studies when I was studying to become a teacher, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Self-Regulation Books and Resources for Children from Toddlers to Teens
Learning how to express emotions is important to a child’s social-emotional health, and this list of feelings books for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners, can help children understand emotions and express feelings in healthy ways.
Children feel intense emotions string inside them every day. Fortunately, the ability to name our feelings and give them a label can help kids understand their emotions. And this can reduce the severity of overwhelming feelings that lead to meltdowns and emotional outbursts.
This makes reading children’s books about feelings an effective way to help kids and teens learn to manage their emotions and self-regulate. So, teach your kids about their feelings with any of the kids’ books about emotions on the list above.
We have also compiled a list of books to help kids understand and manage their anger. For more information, check out this excellent children’s book list about anger management. It includes several more fantastic children’s books about emotions, including one of our household favorites, Sophie gets angry. Click on the link to see them all.
More Self-REgulation Strategies for Kids
Because learning to self-regulate is such a crucial developmental milestone, we have a few more resources and tools you can use to help children master this social-emotional domain.
- Reading fairy tales aloud to our children is another way to understand how they feel and who they are in the world. Click on the link to learn more.
- Playing Social-Emotional Development Games for Kids is another easy way to help kids begin to understand their feelings. Click on the link to see an awesome collection of social-emotional games you can try.
- Yoga practice is another wonderful way to help children learn to calm down and regulate their emotional states. Check out Yoga for Kids and this list of FREE yoga videos for kids to learn more.
- Calm-down sensory bottles are another tool you can use to help children understand their emotions and develop mindfulness.
- Getting outside in nature is another fantastic self-regulation strategy, so have a slew of outside activities you can try with the kids.
- Find things to be grateful for and choose joy.
- Look at this list of self-regulation strategies for kids for even more ideas!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–> HERE.