Best Children's Books About Emotions

The Ultimate List to Teach Your Children How to Handle their Emotions

Updated Jan. 23, 2019

Emotions. A difficult thing for all of us to understand. The younger we can teach our children about emotions and how to handle the feelings they experience, the better they will be able to express them in a positive way. Children experience the same emotions we do. They don't have the words to express how they are feeling and often act out their emotions instead which is often frustrating for us and for them. Reading books about emotions can help them learn the words to associate with their feelings. Check out our list below of the best books about emotions.
(For more information on the benefits of teaching your children to identify and express emotions please see: The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at Vanderbilt University. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/familytools/teaching_emotions.pdf)

The Rabbit Listened book
#1
The Rabbit Listened
Written and illustrated by Cori Doerffeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Taylor's block castle is destroyed, all the animals think they know just what to do, but only the rabbit quietly listens to how Taylor is feeling

Three Little Words book
#2
Three Little Words
Written by Clemency Pearce and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Perfect for Valentine's Day, graduation, birthdays, or anytime a hug is required, this beautiful book lets children know their parents will always be there for them! What are the three little words that make everything better? I Love You! Preschoolers will love snuggling with their families and counting all the ways that the three little words “I love you” can solve most every childhood concern. With warm, cuddly, reassuring illustrations of adorable animal families, this book lets children know that their parents will always be there with lots of hugs and kisses. "Each time the phrase I love you is introduced, Pearce describes it with a different adjective, such as mighty, friendly, or winning, which emphasizes the myriad ways unconditional love can rescue upsetting moments.... The bouncy rhythm makes it fun to read aloud, especially since little ones will easily catch on to the repeated refrain. Great for any time a kiddo needs a boost of confidence."—Booklist

I'm Grumpy book
#3
I'm Grumpy
Written by Jennifer L. Holm and illustrated by Matthew Holm
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This cute board book does a great job talking about emotions, and grumpy cloud shows that sometimes it's easy to get down in a funk! I love the ending where he chooses to be kind and happy to make sunny feel better, and I think that shows a great lesson about how we can choose to do something nice for someone--which will make us happy, and get us out of the dumps!

This board book explores why Grumpy Cloud is grumpy.

How Are You?/ Cómo Estás book
#4
How Are You?/ Cómo Estás
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The giraffe's very expressive facial expressions are my very favorite part of this story as they question the ostrich about how it's feeling. There wasn't quite as much to this story as I was hoping there would be, and I think it might be better suited for a board book format.

When two giraffe friends find a baby ostrich, they have some questions. Is baby ostrich hungry? Shy? Tired? Ostrich saysno! So how does she feel? Friendship awaits in this book about feelings, expressed both in English and in Spanish.

Ruff!: And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day book
#5
Ruff!: And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day
Written and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Meet Ruff the Dog, star of the picture book Ruff! And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day. He’s an adorable new animal character created by bestselling illustrator Caroline Jayne Church. What Ruff wants most is to make some friends. He accidentally digs up the house of a little grey mouse named Hubble. By the time Ruff helps Hubble make a new home, he has a friend. Then he and Hubble decide to help Lottie, a duck who has also lost her home. And soon Ruff has a second friend! Caroline Jayne Chruch’s full-color illustrations bring all the animals in her charming story to life.

No! book
#6
No!
Written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Tim Warnes, Tracey Corderoy
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Everyone thinks Otto is adorable. But then Otto learns the word no -- and now he says it all the time! At first, it's fun to refuse to eat, take a bath, and go to bed. But when Otto has a bad day at school, Daddy has the perfect solution.

The Most Magnificent Thing book
#7
The Most Magnificent Thing
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

I Am Human book
#8
I Am Human
Written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A child recognizes his own humanity, his capacity for doing harm and being harmed, his ability to feel joy and sadness, and his belief in hope and promise to keep learning.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book
#9
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
Written by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

"Children are not the only ones that need to learn how to be truly happy. It's all in the bucket, that invisible bucket that follows you everywhere... teaches young readers valuable lessons about giving, sharing, and caring. This guide to daily happiness, though, is not just for kids. We all need reminders of the benefits of positive thinking and positive behavior. It's an important lesson to teach and remind us all . . . that showing kindness and appreciation of others goes a long way to making this world a happier place for everyone, including ourselves. A classic tale, beautifully told and beautifully shared." —Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers' Favorite Book Reviews While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other's buckets by what we say and what we do. When you're a bucket filler, you make the world a better place to be! This 32-page picture book is perfect for children, parents, grandparents, teachers and people that want to teach empathy, nurture kindness and create a positive environment in their home, classroom, workplace and community.

Don't Push the Button! book
#10
Don't Push the Button!
Written and illustrated by Bill Cotter
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The only rule in Larry's book is that the reader not push the button, but when no one is looking, it may be irresistible.

Follow Me: Animal Faces book
#11
Follow Me: Animal Faces
Written and illustrated by Fhiona Galloway
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

In this interactive novelty board book, little ones trace a die-cut trail of different faces! Use your finger to trace a trail on many different faces! This interactive board book lets little ones explore others' faces by tracing a tactile pathway forming different features. Each page will display a face, showcasing a diverse group of people throughout the book.

That's Not Mine book
#12
That's Not Mine
Written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Two fuzzy creatures both want to sit in the same comfy chair. The trouble is, they can’t agree who it belongs to. They get madder and madder, until… With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) sharing and (not) being a good friend features the endearing characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small.

Crabby Pants book
#13
Crabby Pants
Written by Julie Gassman and illustrated by Richard Watson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

When things don't go Roger's way, he gets crabby. However, Roger thinks he has found a solution to being such a crabby pants.

When I Feel Worried book
#14
When I Feel Worried
Written by Cornelia Maude Spelman and illustrated by Kathy Parkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Everybody worries. Children worry too—in new or confusing situations or when someone is angry with them. This new addition to the acclaimed The Way I Feel Series uses reassuring words and illustrations to address a child’s anxieties and shows ways to feel better. Cornelia Spelman and Kathy Parkinson team up once again to provide a comforting and empowering book that’s helpful to all.

Theo's Mood book
#15
Theo's Mood
Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It's Mood Monday and Miss Cady's class is sharing how they feel after the weekend. But Theo doesn't know whether he's in a good mood or a bad mood. He has a new baby sister and he isn't just happy like Eric who got a new bike or sad like April who lost her dog. As Theo's classmates discuss all their feelings, he realizes he's not in a good mood or a bad mood—he's all those things!

Pilar's Worries book
#16
Pilar's Worries
Written by Victoria M Sanchez and illustrated by Jess Golden
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Pilar loves to dance. She pliés while brushing her teeth. She leaps when hurrying to ballet class. But when tryouts for her favorite ballet are held, Pilar is anxious. Auditioning makes her whole body feel scared. But by using some of the coping techniques she’s learned and focusing on her love for ballet, she is able to persevere. This gentle story is a great tool for children dealing with anxiety.

You Get What You Get book
#17
You Get What You Get
Written by Julie Gassman and illustrated by Sarah Horne, Julie Gassman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Melvin likes to throw a tantrum when he does not get what he wants, but he learns that the classroom rule, "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" applies at home as well.

No More Tantrums book
#18
No More Tantrums
Written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

When babies don't get their way, they have a tantrum. Do big kids have tantrums? No! Big Kids use their words! Every child's life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there! Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

Meditation Is an Open Sky book
#19
Meditation Is an Open Sky
Written by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Sally Rippin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Feeling mindful is feeling good! You know when you’re having a bad day, you have that wobbly feeling inside and nothing seems to go right? Find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate! In this daily companion, kids of any age will learn simple exercises to help manage stress and emotions, find focus, and face challenges. They’ll discover how to feel safe when scared, relax when anxious, spread kindness, and calm anger when frustrated. Simple, secular, and mainstream, this mindfulness book is an excellent tool for helping kids deal with the stresses of everyday life.

Show Me Happy book
#20
Show Me Happy
Written by Kathryn Madeline Allen and illustrated by Eric Futran
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Show me happy. Show me helping. Show me sharing when we play. Show me NOISY, Show me quiet. Show me putting things away. From the team that created A Kiss Means I Love you, this new book of engaging photos will “show” early learners simple actions and concepts that all children learn as they begin to socialize and communicate. Lively, charming photos illustrate real kids doing common activities like helping and sharing or pushing and pulling. A perfect companion to the first book, Show Me Happy is a delightful read-aloud that will make any story time expressive and fun.

Mindful Me book
#21
Mindful Me
Written by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Stacy Peterson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Sometimes kids’ lives can get busy and out of control, and worries can take over. When that happens, knowing how to pause and regain composure with mindfulness can help! This easily digestible guide introduces kids to mindfulness as a way to find clarity, manage stress, handle difficult emotions, and navigate personal challenges. With step-by-step instructions to over thirty breathing, relaxation, and guided meditation exercises, readers will have an entire toolkit at their disposal and writing prompts will help them process their discoveries. Clearly written and incredibly relatable, this invaluable resource provides a positive introduction to the world of self-care and mindfulness.

Peaceful Piggy Meditation book
#22
Peaceful Piggy Meditation
Written and illustrated by Kerry Lee MacLean
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What can you do when you're mad, sad, or anxious? Find a quiet spot, sit, and breathe. When you meditate every day, your mind stays happy, and even bad days are a little easier.

Grin & Bear it: The Wit and Wisdom of Corduroy book
#23
Grin & Bear it: The Wit and Wisdom of Corduroy
Written by Don Freeman and illustrated by Jody Wheeler, Don Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Adventurous, imaginative, and always optimistic, Corduroy offers up wit and wisdom that will bring a little bit of sunshine to readers of all ages. Since Corduroy’s first publication in 1968, this adventuresome stuffed animal has been delighting readers of all ages. Now America’s favorite teddy bear is here to share with you fifty years of his accumulated wit and wisdom, all in one adorable little book. Charming and inspirational, this is the perfect gift for graduation, or any other occasion when you might need a little confidence boost.

Allie All Along book
#24
Allie All Along
Written and illustrated by Sarah Lynne Reul
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Poor Allie! She's in a rage, stomping and smashing, throwing a tantrum, and having a fit. Is there a sweet little girl hiding somewhere under all the angry layers? With the help of her understanding big brother, she's able to calm down, bit by bit, and become herself again. The illustrations' varying hues and vibrant colors capture the powerful feelings that young children can't always express in words.

I'm Sad book
#25
I'm Sad
Written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A girl, a potato, and a very sad flamingo star in this charming sequel to I’m Bored by New York Times bestselling author and comedian Michael Ian Black and celebrated illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Everyone feels sad sometimes—even flamingos.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.