Best Books for Big Emotions

Sharing the best books for helping young children learn about their emotions and how to manage them through self regulation.

As adults we understand that our days can be filled with many different emotions but children are still learning about their feelings and it is important for parents and teachers alike to help young children understand and communicate their feelings. It's true that some children's emotional intelligence develops more easily than others but how do we best support those having difficulty in this area? Books are always a great place to start.


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Best Books for Big Emotions - the best picture books to use with young children to help them understand their feelings and start regulating them | you clever monkey

With the growing appreciation for the benefits of having a growth mindset, helping children better understand their emotions and how to manage them is a key focus area in early childhood and a stepping stone to having children develop a growth mindset. Recognising the different emotions and learning how to regulate your feelings and, perhaps, your behaviour can be harder work the younger you are. Picture books provide great support for young children and there are some truly fantastic resources available now.

The Color Monster is a recent addition to our collection and it is a beautifully constructed book my children have loved exploring. Just like the movie Inside Out, the author has put colours to our different emotions and created some relatable characters young children will love.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings uses some lovely analogues to help young children understand their different emotions - being sad makes us feel heavy like an elephant. The illustrations are gorgeously whimsical and the cut-outs invite exploration by small hands. 

Glad Monster, Sad Monster is by Ed Emberly as as you would expect brilliantly illustrated. Fun colourful monsters wearing masks and acting out the different emotions make this book perfect for the very youngest child helping them put names to their different feelings.

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The Feelings Book keeps things simple and seeks to show children that our feelings are always changing but that by sharing them with others we will better understand and be understood. Todd Parr has a great number of very useful books to help young children's social and emotional learning and they have long been a favourite at preschool.

The Red Beast focuses more on anger and is one of a series targeting children on the Autism spectrum. It again effectively uses colour and visuals to explain how anger can sometimes control our actions and provides some useful tips for 'taming the red beast'. I think it also makes an important point that a true friend is able to separate the behaviour from the person.

It's Hard to be Five takes a rhyme filled look at the impulsivity that young children learn to control better as they grow. It's a good fit for preschoolers who are struggling to control their behaviour but in a balanced approach. 


One of Those Days is a useful book for teaching children to deal with disappointment which anyone who works with preschoolers will already know, can bring a child's day to a standstill. This book is a great tool for helping young children to talk about their day and to help them look forward to starting over. By the same author, The OK Book is a good partner read to One of Those Days.

Some of you might also like this printable I recently made for a student who has been using the Test Drive program with the OT to connect with his emotions and reflect on them. I created this visual for us to use in class. We've laminated it then added a gauge for the student to be able to move.


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