www.trialbyinspiration.com Children's Books about Feelings and Emotions

I’ve been slowly listening to this super thought-provoking book about surrendering to your feelings instead of distracting yourself (hello nightly cocktails, hello wayyyy too many podcasts filling every moment of silence). The premise is that if you take time to sit in your feelings, you will live your life with more clarity and resonance. It’s got me thinking about how we teach our kids about their feelings, especially anger and frustration.

I’m still grappling with how and when to encourage my kids to express their big feelings. I’d love to raise them in an accepting, patient, judgment-free home, but listening to a thirty-minute tantrum is exceptionally depleting after a long day at work (or, anytime, really). So, at a loss and already overloaded on parenting books, I searched for the best picture books for kids about feelings. Here are our current favorites, all four-year-old approved.

Grumpy Monkey
Suzanne Lang (Author) Max Lang (Illustrator)
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? -Bookshop.org

The Boy with Big, Big Feelings
Britney Winn Lee (Author) Jacob Souva (Illustrator)
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. The boy tries to cope by stuffing down his feelings, but with a little help and artistic inspiration, the boy realizes his feelings are something to be celebrated. -Bookshop.org

The Rabbit Listened
Cori Doerrfeld (Author)
When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen . . . which is just what Taylor needs. -Bookshop.org

Today I Feel… An Alphabet of Feelings
Madalena Moniz (Author)
Beautifully illustrated by Madalena Moniz’s subtle watercolors, Today I Feel . . . follows a child through a whole range of emotions, from adored to curious to strong. Not all of the emotions are positive and not all of them are simple, but they are all honest and worthy of discussion with a young child. -Bookshop.org

Aliki (Author)
Happy, sad, shy, excited – how do you feel? Sometimes it’s hard to explain your feelings. – Bookshop.org
This one is from my childhood, and it’s less modern in a few of it’s many, many vignettes (there is a plump little girl who is called greedy for requesting more cake, she’s not sad about it, but it’s a bit cringy to 2021 eyes). That said, my son loves it, and it’s mostly playful and insightful. Tip: At this age, if you never read the part you don’t like: it’s like they never existed 🙂

Do you have any favorites to recommend?

*What? No Amazon links? No: All book links go to BookShop.org, an online bookstore that helps support the fragile ecosystem of bookselling and keeps local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. Many of the prices are comparable to Amazon, and you’re supporting independent bookshops. Power to the People.