21 Books to Help Kids With Their Big Emotions

From the time our kids are born, they’re trying to communicate how they’re feeling. It starts with the basics—feeling hungry, tired, wet, or cold—but as our babies grow into children, they begin to experience emotions they don’t yet have the words to articulate. These feelings can come out in tears, temper tantrums, clinginess, or acting out.

Throw in a disruption to routine, an unexpected hurdle, or, you know, a global pandemic, and we might see the emotions in our kids magnified. We can help them by acknowledging their feelings, helping them notice changes in their body when they feel a certain way, like clenched fists or a racing heart, and naming what we think they’re feeling. Books can be helpful companions in this learning for parents and for kids, so we rounded up some editors’ favorites and highly-rated books to help you help your kids with their big emotions.

 

Understanding Emotions

Anna Llenas

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings

The color monster's emotions are all mixed up until a friend helps him describe each feeling.

LAURA RENAULD AND BRIGETTE BARRAGER

Fred's Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers

A beautiful book with captivating illustrations that touches on all of the emotions of the human experience—just how Mister Rogers would've wanted.

Jo Witek and Christine Roussey

In My Heart

An adorable book to help describe how emotions make us feel in our bodies and in our heart.

 

Anger and Frustration

Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Mad at Mama

In Llama Llama's rhyming fashion, we see Llama Llama's frustration mount into a tantrum while on an errand with his mama.

Molly Bang

When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry ...

In this award-winning book, we see a range of emotions in Sophie, including ways to move on from anger.

Mo Willems

I Love My New Toy

Best friends Elephant and Piggie have to deal with some big feelings when something happens to Piggie's favorite new toy.

James Dean

Pete the Cat: Robo-Pete

When Pete's friends don't want to play what he wants, he invents a Robot to play with him, but things don't work out exactly as Pete planned.

 

Curiosity

Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

Ada Twist, Scientist

Ada Twist asks all the questions, to her parents' exasperation. An editor favorite, this heartwarming tale explores where curiosity can lead.

Adam Rex and Claire Keane

Why?

A funny tale about the power of staying curious.

Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel

Life

For kids who wrestle with the big questions, this book is poignant and beautifully illustrated.

 

Courage

Tom Percival

Perfectly Norman

Norman was a perfectly normal kid, until he grew a pair of wings. A heartwarming story about what happens when you have the courage to be yourself.

Gaia Cornwall

Jabari Jumps

An adorable story about working up the courage to do something that scares us.

 

Love and Empathy

Diane Adams and Claire Keane

Love Is

Relatable to parents as much as kids, this sweet book shows love in action.

Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck

Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

Tiny T. Rex learns how to help a friend who is sad in a way he didn't expect.

Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened

This charming story covers the confusing and difficult emotions that can come when unexpected things happen.

 

Worry and Anxiety

Andrea Maturana and Francisco Olea

Life Without Nico

Whimsical illustrations help tell this sweet story about coping when a friend moves away, but also feels relatable for any child who can't be with their friends right now.

Patrice Karst and Geoff Stevenson

The Invisible String

This story highlights how love connects us to those we care about. It can help kids deal with separation anxiety, family far away, or the loss of a loved one.

Loren Long

Little Tree

In this story, a tree is afraid of losing his leaves, until he sees the other trees growing bigger and stronger. A great book for kids who have a hard time with change.

Tom Percival

Ruby Finds a Worry

Ruby learns the worst thing and the best thing to do when you find a worry. A great dialogue opener if you suspect your little one worries more than others.

Julia Cook and Anita DuFalla

Wilma Jean - The Worry Machine

A fun book to help kids and parents describe how anxiety feels and develop strategies together.

Dawn Huebner and Bonnie Matthews

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety

A practical guide to help children work through their worry and anxiety with storytelling and written exercises.

 

Read More: 10 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Anxiety

 

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