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

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days book
#2
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days
Written by Shelly Becker and illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

All kids have trouble getting a grip on their emotions, sometimes—even young superheroes! But what do they do when they’re having a bad day? Colorful action-packed illustrations and a dynamite rhyming text reveal the many ways superheroes (and ordinary children, too) can resist the super-temptation to cause a scene when they’re sad, mad, frustrated, lonely, or afraid. From burning off steam on a bike or a hike, to helping others, this energetic picture book has plenty of fun ideas to help kids cope when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

No! book
#3
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.

Grumpy Monkey book
#4
Grumpy Monkey
Written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A hilarious picture book about dealing with unexplained feelings…and the danger in suppressing them! 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 encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. 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? Suzanne and Max Lang bring hilarity and levity to this very important lesson. This picture book is an excellent case study in the dangers of putting on a happy face and demonstrates to kids that they are allowed to feel their feelings (though they should be careful of hurting others in the process!).

When I'm Feeling Angry book
#5
When I'm Feeling Angry
Written and illustrated by Trace Moroney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The Feelings Series are beautifully produced picture books that cover different emotional concepts for young children. The Feeling series is especially designed to help children better understand their feelings and how to identify, manage and express those feelings in an appropriate and acceptable way, both to themselves and others. These books provide an invaluable tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and contribute to a healthy emotional foundation upon which children can thrive.

Mad, Mad Bear! book
#6
Mad, Mad Bear!
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Gee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Bear is very, very, very MAD! Will he ever feel better? Find out in this sweet and silly picture book about toddler tantrums that little ones—and their caretakers—are sure to relate to. Bear had to leave the park early for his nap. Then he fell and got an owie on the way home. And then he had to leave his favorite boots and stick outside. Bear feels like nothing is fair, and that makes him VERY, VERY, VERY MAD! Can he find a way to move through his emotions and get back to feeling better? Maybe…but not before having a major meltdown!

I'm Grumpy book
#7
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.

Grumpy Pants book
#8
Grumpy Pants
Written and illustrated by Claire Messer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Have you ever had a grumpy day and not known why? Penguin is having a grumpy day like that. No matter what he does, he just can't shake it! Sometimes the only thing left to do is wash the grumpy day away and start over. The simple text and lively illustrations are the perfect cure for even the grumpiest of days.

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck book
#9
Happy Hippo, Angry Duck
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

I love everything Sandra Boynton and this book is no exception. Little children are learning everything for the first time and this book teaches emotions in such a great way! It is a great introduction to help kids understand their feelings.

Poses questions to the reader on the state of their mood based on animal emotions, from happy as a hippo to worried as a rabbit and contented as a frog. On board pages.

Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar book
#10
Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This beautiful little gift book featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar provides a simple, easy-to-follow journey to relaxation, perfect for children and adults. Just stop and breathe . . . How do you feel? Join The Very Hungry Caterpillar for a soothing story featuring classic art from the World of Eric Carle. With simple coping mechanisms and beautiful illustrations, this book is an excellent reminder to kids and adults alike to take a moment, breathe deep, and smile!

How Are You?/ Cómo Estás book
#11
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.

Emma book
#12
Emma
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Step into the drama filled world of Jane Austin’s Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer. Your little one will learn about the meddling Emma Woodhouse, who takes it upon herself to become the village matchmaker, creating all sorts of feelings in others. Her friend’s emotions include Mr. Elton being angry, Miss Taylor becoming happy, while Jane Fairfax is tired.

Three Little Words book
#13
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

Ruff!: And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day book
#14
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.

I Am Human book
#15
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.

Opposites book
#16
Opposites
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A selection of opposites--beginning with happy-and-sad--is presented by a group of engaging animal characters. On board pages.

Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps book
#17
Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps
Written and illustrated by Sophy Henn
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

An adorable story about a grumpy panda who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed–now available as a board book! One morning, Pom Pom Panda wakes up on the wrong side of the bed . . . and then nothing goes right. He can’t find his blanky, Timmington. And to make matters worse, his baby brother, Boo Boo, is playing with his favorite toy. Harrumph! By the time he arrives at school, Pom Pom is in a terrible mood. When his friends ask if he wants to play, that terrible mood comes pouring out: “LEAVE ME ALONE!” And that’s exactly what happens, much to Pom Pom’s surprise. From the creator of Where Bear? comes an adorable story that’ll be sure to cheer up any child (or parent) who woke up with a case of the grumps.

Little Face Big Face book
#18
Little Face Big Face
Written and illustrated by Bill Cotter
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A new book from the author/illustrator of Don't Push the Button! Little face, big face Chewing on a twig face! Short face, long face Super-duper STRONG face! Faces can communicate a lot of things! Introduce little listeners to what different animal traits and emotions can look like, how widely they range, and what else can be learned from an expression in this fun, interactive board book.

Don't Push the Button! book
#19
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.

A Different Pond book
#20
A Different Pond
Written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls "a must-read for our times," A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event - a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son - and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Thi Bui's striking, evocative art paired with Phi's expertly crafted prose has earned this powerful picture books six starred reviews and numerous awards.

The Most Magnificent Thing book
#21
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!

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book
#22
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.

In My Heart book
#23
In My Heart
Written and illustrated by Jo Witek
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young girl explores what different emotions feel like, such as happiness which makes her want to twirl, or sadness which feels as heavy as an elephant.

The Memory Box book
#24
The Memory Box
Written by Joanna Rowland and illustrated by Thea Baker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Grieving over the death of a special person, a young child creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one. Includes a guide for parents with information from a Christian perspective on helping manage the complex and difficult emotions children feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.

Follow Me: Animal Faces book
#25
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.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!