Best Kids 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

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.

Grumpy Monkey book
#3
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
#4
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.

Grumpy Pants book
#5
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.

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!

Three Little Words book
#7
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

How Are You?/ Cómo Estás book
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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.

The Most Magnificent Thing book
#11
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
#12
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
#13
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
#14
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.

Ella and Penguin Stick Together book
#15
Ella and Penguin Stick Together
Written by Megan Maynor and illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Sometimes all you need is a good friend to help you be brave. Ella has a surprise for Penguin—glow-in-the-dark stickers! But to see the stickers glow, Ella and Penguin must be in the dark. And the dark is so . . . dark! If only they could see the stickers glow in the light—but that won't work. Soon Ella and Penguin find out that if they stick together, they can face anything. Megan Maynor's sweet and lively text, paired with Rosalinde Bonnet's irresistible illustrations, will have readers clamoring for more Ella and Penguin.

My Many Colored Days book
#16
My Many Colored Days
Written by Dr. Seuss and illustrated by Lou Fancher, Steve Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

This rhyming story describes each day in terms of a particular color which in turn is associated with specific emotions.

That's Not Mine book
#17
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.

A Terrible Thing Happened book
#18
A Terrible Thing Happened
Written by Margaret M. Holmes and illustrated by Cary Pillo, Sasha J. Mudlaff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After Sherman sees something terrible happen, he becomes anxious and then angry, but when a counselor helps him talk about these emotions he feels better.

Be Brave Little One book
#19
Be Brave Little One
Written and illustrated by Marianne Richmond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the author of If I Could Keep You Littlecomes Be Brave Little One, which honors and celebrates the power of courage in every child. Perfect for cheering someone on, this story affirms how bravery can show up in all different ways! When I look at you, shining bright as the sun, I wish for you this... be brave little one!

Allie All Along book
#20
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
#21
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.

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.

Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus book
#23
Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus
Written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Have you ever met a Grumpasaurus? I bet you have. In fact, you may even have one in your own home. Want to know what makes them tick? This handy guide, meticulously researched and lovingly illustrated, tells you everything you need to know. Above all they should be handled with care—otherwise they can become VERY loud and VERY fearsome. In this appealingly modern and clever picture book, a field guide format is applied to the study of the cranky child . . . er, rather, the GRUMPASAURUS . . . who, in spite of himself, will win your heart.

InvisiBill book
#24
InvisiBill
Written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-8

InvisiBill is the hilariously absurd, tongue-in-cheek story of an ordinary middle child who feels so overlooked by his busy, distracted family that he becomes invisible ... or InvisiBill!

Meditation Is an Open Sky book
#25
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.

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