10 Books to Help Children Understand Emotions

The COVID -19 pandemic is having an impact on our children’s social, emotional, and mental well-being. Some of the challenges faced during these unprecedented times relate to changes in their routines, breaks in continuity of learning, missing significant life events and for some, loss of safety and security and they are being confronted with a range of emotions.

 Instilling values and lessons in our children about their emotions and mental health, caring for the world around them, and being mindful might feel daunting at times, even more so when we are under emotional stain ourselves.

Books can be a great tool for connecting and empathizing. Helping children to identify emotions, the situations that spark these feelings and effective coping skills provides them with a strong emotional foundation, which in turn can lead to increased self-confidence and sense of self-esteem.

In this blog post I want to share some of my favourite books regarding emotions in general and some on hope, which I think is so vital to get through these tough times. Next week I will share some books dealing with the more uncomfortable feelings of anger, fear and loss. I hope you find the suggestions useful and inspiring. I would love to hear your suggestions, so please share your favourite books on the topic in the comments below.

Books About Feeling All Your Emotions

The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas

Perfect for engaging children in discussion about emotions. The monster’s colours are mixed-up. A kind little girl helps the monster understand the emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, fear, and calm, which she compares to colours. Beautifully illustrated with a pop-up version also available.

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

A little girl is enchanted by the world around her, but changes when she loses a loved one. She retreats into herself and puts her heart away in a bottle, where it can never be hurt again. This beautiful story shows us that we lose access to all our feelings, even the good ones, when we bottle them up.

 Though Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley

This book really captured our boys' interest, although girls will enjoy it too. A beautiful reminder that everyone has feelings - even tough guys! Lots of scope for discussion here and the final page is just beautiful: a dad and his little boy snuggling as they read together. They are tough guys "who love each other very much."

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

A beautiful book that describes a range of emotions and how they make you feel physically, with simple language that children will relate to.

Today I Feel …. An Alphabet of Feelings by Magdalena Moniz

A lovely ABC of feelings book that is fabulous for starting conversations about emotions. While some of the letter words are less obviously representations of feelings, they offer a great opportunity to talking about what each means and represents.

Books about Hope

 The Promise by Nicola Davies

This beautiful story is a true reflection of the world today, filled with hope and sadness. It reinforces the themes of determination, environment and wellbeing. Set in a grim urban landscape a girl lives by stealing until one night her surprisingly strong, old victim will not let go of her bag before the girl promises to ‘plant them’. The girl doesn’t understand or care what the words mean and from that moment her life changes. By keeping her promise, she brings hope into her own life and indeed to all around her… And there is an inspired and inspiring twist to the ending too.

 Isn’t it Great by Gerard Greverand

This choice might seem a bit of a strange addition as it isn’t about hope, yet it does open up conversations about what is great and appreciating the little things we have. There are statements that my children strongly agreed with, and others they didn’t, which also allows us to see that everyone is different, we are all unique and valid.

 Happy: A Children’s Book of Mindfullness by Nicola Edwards

I love this book.A mindful book for children with beautiful illustrations and a positive message. Gentle and calm to read through with your child after a long day. It is quite poetic and not too heavy for young children to understand. It offers discussion points that help children to reflect and share things about their day.

What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers

Every bit as wonderful as his other books, 'What We'll Build' is the story of parenthood; the hopes and dreams we have for our children's futures, the protection we give them and the sharing of ever-lasting love.
Jeffers wrote this book for his daughter Mari and it is the story of a father and daughter exploring the endless possibilities and adventures that they can enjoy as they build their lives together.

 The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain by Katherine Rundell

The Book of Hopes is an anthology put together by Katherine Rundell. The collection of stories and poems are all under 2 pages and great to be shared, offers distraction and sparks conversation while being housebound during these strange times. The encyclopaedia style allows you to dip in and out of topics – a very smart, funny, hopeful, inspirational resource.

 I hope you find some inspiration and strength in these books. The days are getting warmer and longer. Brighter days are ahead of us. This too shall pass.


With kindness.

Photo: Ben White



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