Big Feelings: Books To Help Kids Understand Their Emotions

Books are a tool to start conversations with kids about how they may be feeling amid the COVID-19 crisis

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Due to COVID-19, everyday life as we know it has fundamentally changed. Being stuck at home is isolating and stressful for our kids, they miss school, their friends and their normal routine.

Children have a variety of big feelings about what is going on around them during a global pandemic. With families also spending more time together in close quarters, emotions are running high.

During times like these, books are a great way to start conversations about feelings and help kids understand and express how they feel. Reading books aloud can lead to deep and meaningful discussions with children about how we feel different emotions and what causes each emotion to arise. 

Developing the process of identifying feelings and coping is essential for one’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Books use storytelling to teach emotional intelligence in a fun and natural way.

Many experts now believe that a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) may be more important than their IQ and is certainly a better predictor of success, quality of relationships, and overall happiness. A high emotional intelligence helps kids develop positive self awareness, confidence, empathy, creativity and self expression. 

I am a mom who is deeply vested in the emotional intelligence of my children. And not just my children but all children. Social and emotional learning STARTS with being able to recognize, acknowledge and direct emotions (both in yourself and in others).

In fact, I wrote a book about it called My Mama Says Inside Me Lives A Village to help children to identify the many feelings that live inside them, along with a curriculum to teach social and emotional skills in schools. Any teacher can utilize this curriculum for free in their classroom.

Here are some other great books for helping kids manage their emotions:

The Grumpy Monkey – This picture book highlights the danger of suppressing your feelings and putting on a happy face. It also demonstrates to kids that they are not only allowed but encouraged to feel their feelings! “It’s a great day to be grumpy” says the monkey at the very end. Yes, indeed by letting yourself actually identify and acknowledge what you are feeling, it is going to be easier to let it go! 

In My Heart – A beautifully illustrated book that explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside. With language that is lyrical but also direct, children will be empowered by this new vocabulary and able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions. 

The Color Monster – By illustrating such common emotions as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and calm, this sensitive book gently encourages young children to open up an dexpress how they are feeling. And kids will love the bright illustrations and amazing 3-D pop-ups on every page!

The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon – This playful book about a grouchy sibling reminds kids and adults that we all have bad days, but we have the power to turn them into good days with a little help from one another.

And remember, it’s not only about reading the book, but utilizing it to start a conversation with your child. Ask them what emotions they feel, what do they like to feel, and what do they not like to feel? Try not to judge your emotions, and be conscious as you talk about our own feelings so that you can encourage your kids to follow your example. This empowers them and gives them the tools to identify, acknowledge and (eventually) direct their emotions!

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