The best picture books dealing with feelings

The Books I Picked & Why

The Rabbit Listened

By Cori Doerrfeld

Book cover of The Rabbit Listened

Why this book?

The Rabbit Listened is about a child who builds “something amazing” only to have it destroyed in an instant. As the child grieves, various animals suggest ways to solve his problem. Finally, a rabbit arrives who listens quietly as the child shares his emotions surrounding the tragedy. This wonderfully insightful book combines honesty, heart, and humor with a hopeful, happy ending. For the child, this book is a comfort, and a guide for empathy. For the adult, this book is a gentle reminder that we don’t have to fix things or know the perfect words to say to make everything better. Sometimes, and probably most of the time, the best thing we can do is just listen.


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Grumpy Monkey

By Suzanne Lang, Max Lang

Book cover of Grumpy Monkey

Why this book?

One wonderful day, Jim Panzee wakes up grumpy. Although he denies it, and despite the other animals’ attempts to cheer him up, Jim remains grumpy until the end. This book is a rollicking reminder that we all have emotions, and that’s okay. It affirms that we, as humans, (or monkeys, as it were,) are entitled to our own feelings. The book ends with a hopeful blossoming of a new friendship. Children will love the lively illustrations. It’s a fun read that sends an important message with a dash of subtlety and big helping of humor.


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Maybe Tomorrow? (A Story about Loss, Healing, and Friendship)

By Charlotte Agell, Ana Ramírez González

Book cover of Maybe Tomorrow? (A Story about Loss, Healing, and Friendship)

Why this book?

Elba drags a dark, heavy block everywhere she goes. Later we learn Elba has lost a friend, and carries that loss like a weight. Her friend Norris, who is always surrounded by butterflies, tries to help. Maybe Tomorrow? is a metaphorical story about how friendship can help lighten the darkness of grief and sadness. Having experienced my share of grief, this book struck so many emotional chords. It speaks with truth and compassion, and is a wonderful resource for kids who are struggling with their emotions, especially grief. 

“I’ll always have this block, you know,” said Elba. 

“Yes, maybe you will,” said Norris. “But I will help you carry it sometimes.” 

Wow. Just wow.


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When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry

By Molly Bang

Book cover of When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry

Why this book?

This book is spot-on for children dealing with emotions. (And what child isn’t dealing with emotions??) The story revolves around a relatable situation: Sophie has a tantrum after her sister takes a toy. It doesn’t diminish or sugar-coat Sophie’s anger. Kids will identify with Sophie as she explodes, then runs into the woods. Her anger resolves through mindfulness—very helpful for kids when they have tantrums. The natural world comforts Sophie and she returns home in a calm mood, ready to be with her family, who welcomes her home. Ultimately, this is a reassuring story of unconditional love.


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I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

By Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds

Book cover of I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

Why this book?

I Am Peace offers steady reassurance for children when swirling emotions overwhelm them. “The thoughts in my head are like rushing water and I feel like a boat with no anchor…” it begins. Then the book leads us through some simple mindfulness and meditation exercises, followed by ways to feel gratitude and peace. In today’s world, I can’t imagine a more important message. Children today are shouldered with more than their share, and this book helps them regain their center and focus on the here and now. A helpful reminder for adults, too!


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