Oh the world of feelings!! It is all around us and we eat, sleep, and breath it from the moment we are born. There is solid evidence to suggest that the more we gift our children the opportunity to develop emotional literacy, the more capable they will become in managing the stresses of life as well as embracing its joys. Which suggests that all of us adults best be getting down to understanding how to best awaken emotional literacy in our littles.

Over the years as I have worked to discover what makes the most sense for children, I have time and time again found myself wandering the aisles of my favorite bookstores, becoming wonderfully lost in the inviting world of children’s literature. The illustrations, the simple words – all of it comes together to so beautifully evoke emotion.

And most powerful of all, is the realization children often have – all snuggled up alongside their special adults – that not only do all of those feelings have names, but if somebody wrote a book about them, it must mean they aren’t the only human in the world to have been so overcome by those feelings at one point or another!

It is with all of this in mind that I decided to put together my 5 most favorite books for children – and their adults – everywhere in the promotion of emotional literacy. In no particular order…!

the way I feel

1. The Way I Feel – Janan Cain

· The illustrations are so incredible! You don’t even need to read the words – you can just become absorbed with the pictures and the feelings that literally flow out of them.

chocolate covered cookie tantrum

2. The Chocolate Covered Cookie Tantrum – Deborah Blumenthal

· This book has the most incredible illustrations and words to describe exactly how it feels to be a child who is being pulled into the vortex of a meltdown – and who is lovingly helped through that by a big person who cares.

invisible string

3. The Invisible String – Patrice Karst

· Imagine holding onto the idea that nobody is ever truly alone?! How wonderful to cloak yourself in that knowledge as a child who so longs to have your special big people always close and right by your side. This book also provides a platform for talking about loss and grieving.

alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Judith Viorst & Ray Cruz

· We all have them! And how powerful it is to know that this is sometimes just part of be a human. The normalizing message of what it is to be hit by a day when nothing goes your way – and to find a path through it all.

llama llama

5. Lama Lama Mad at Mama – Anna Dewdney

· This is the quintessential story of a grocery store meltdown – and how Lama Lama’s mama saves the day, just as big people are designed to do.

And because I couldn’t actually stop at 5!!…

mommy, daddy, I had a bad dream

6. Mommy, Daddy, I had a Bad Dream – Martha Heineman Pieper & Jo Gershman

So many children are frightened by their dreams – and some even become afraid of sleep because of this. This is a lovely story that helps children understand dreams – with their special big people showing them the way.


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Dr V