The best early chapter books about big feelings

Who am I?

I’ve always loved books that take me on an emotional journey. Whether the story is realistic or fantastical, set firmly in the here and now or on another planet centuries in the future, I want to ride the roller coaster as the characters experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. That’s also one of my focuses as a writer for children. Little kids can have very big feelings, and stories for young readers can validate those feelings—without skimping on the fun. After all, joy can be a big feeling too. 


I wrote...

Tally Tuttle Turns into a Turtle (Class Critters #1)

By Kathryn Holmes, Ariel Landy (illustrator),

Book cover of Tally Tuttle Turns into a Turtle (Class Critters #1)

What is my book about?

It’s the first day of second grade, and Tally Tuttle is so nervous that she feels like she ate butterflies for breakfast. She’s new in town and is afraid she won’t make any friends. A moment of teasing during morning roll call makes Tally want to retreat into a shell...but she’s astonished when she actually transforms into a turtle! At first, Tally likes having a built-in place to hide, but she doesn’t want to stay a turtle forever. 

Tally Tuttle Turns into a Turtle is the first installment in a new chapter book series, Class Critters, about a magical classroom where each kid turns into a different animal for a day to have an adventure and learn a life lesson.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Kathryn Holmes Why did I love this book?

Second-grader Alvin Ho is afraid of everything. Not even carrying around a Personal Disaster Kit—packed with a whistle, Band-Aids, dental floss, a magnifying glass, a scary mask, and other necessary items—can ease his overwhelming anxiety. Nervous kids are sure to relate to Alvin’s misadventures, but this book has more to offer than a realistic take on a child’s fears. It’s also very funny! Of the books I read when plotting my own chapter book series, this one made me laugh the most. 

By Lenore Look, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

The first book in a hilarious chapter book series that tackles anxiety in a fun, kid-friendly way. Perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers, and fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

A humorous and touching series about facing your fears and embracing new experiences—with a truly unforgettable character—from author Lenore Look and New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor winning illustrator LeUyen Pham.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home,…


Book cover of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Kathryn Holmes Why did I love this book?

Eight-year-old Eleanor has only ever had one babysitter. Bibi is the person who makes Eleanor soup when she’s sick, sews up her pants when they don’t fit right, and keeps track of her lost baby teeth. When Bibi has to move away, Eleanor’s heart feels like “a mirror that fell and shattered in a million pieces.” This gentle book about losing people you love, missing them terribly, and moving forward is ideal for helping kids travel that same tough path. A novel-in-verse, it’s also a quick read without sacrificing an inch of depth.    

By Julie Sternberg, Matthew Cordell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

I had a bad August. A very bad August. As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.
Eleanor's beloved babysitter, Bibi, is moving away. Suddenly, the things she used to enjoy aren't fun anymore-everything reminds her of Bibi. To make matters worse, Eleanor has a new babysitter, who just isn't the same. But as the new school year looms ahead, so do new beginnings. And Eleanor is about to learn some special things about herself, friendship, and the bittersweet process of growing up.


Book cover of Perfect Patchwork Purse

Kathryn Holmes Why did I love this book?

Cousins Alma and Del live above a secondhand shop that may or may not be magical. Alma has had her eye on a special patchwork purse in the window, so when their friend Cassie buys it, she can’t help feeling blue. Her envy only grows when the purse seems to be filled with items that appear just when Cassie needs them…like magic. I love that this story gives Alma space to feel her feelings, even as Del tries to pull her cousin out of her funk. Jealousy is a normal part of childhood (and adulthood!), and this book handles it beautifully. 

By Corey Ann Haydu, Luisa Uribe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perfect Patchwork Purse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Family magic saves the day for best-friend-cousins Del and Alma in the third Hand-Me-Down Magic book. With adorable illustrations and short, easy-to-read chapters, this series is perfect for fans of Ivy & Bean and Dory Fantasmagory.

Alma knew it the first time she saw it: The patchwork purse in the window of the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe was magical. Special. Perfect. But when her friend Cassie spots the purse and buys it, what could Alma do but agree that the purse really did look just right on Cassie?

Del decides it's up to her to bring some homespun magic back…


Book cover of Jada Jones: Rock Star

Kathryn Holmes Why did I love this book?

Fourth-grader Jada’s best friend, Mari, just moved away. On top of missing Mari, Jada is having issues with another girl in her class, Simone. Jada wants to be friends, but Simone keeps shutting her out. This book tackles how unsettling it can feel when friend groups change. Another thing I love about the Jada Jones series is its STEM focus. In Rock Star, Jada shares her interest in cool rocks with her class. Opening up about her passion is part of what helps her make it through her emotional rough patch in one piece.    

By Kelly Starling Lyons, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jada Jones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.

When Jada Jones's best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She'd much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada's teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she's in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn't seem to like any of Jada's ideas. She doesn't seem to like…


Book cover of Lola Levine Is Not Mean!

Kathryn Holmes Why did I love this book?

When soccer-loving Lola accidentally injures a classmate during a pickup game at recess, her peers start calling her “Mean Lola Levine.” Losing playground privileges and friends is enough to put Lola in a bad mood that almost lives up to her unfortunate new nickname. I like that Brown treats Lola with empathy (after all, what happened was an accident) while also having her realize she was playing too aggressively and does bear some responsibility for the incident. This story can guide young readers through similarly sticky situations. 

By Monica Brown, Angela Dominguez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lola Levine Is Not Mean! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Meet Lola Levine--a biracial bicultural second grader, who isn't afraid to be herself, in this first book in a new chapter book series.

Lola loves writing in her diario, and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. But when a soccer game at recess gets too "competitive," Lola accidentally hurts her classmate. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine! Lola feels terrible, but with the help of those who love her most, she learns how to navigate the 2nd grade in true Lola fashion--with humor and the power of words. In this first book in a series, Lola's…


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The City Sings Green & Other Poems About Welcoming Wildlife

By Erica Silverman, Ginnie Hsu (illustrator),

Book cover of The City Sings Green & Other Poems About Welcoming Wildlife

Erica Silverman Author Of Wake Up, City!

New book alert!

Who am I?

I am an award-winning author of picture books and early readers. I have set my stories in many kinds of locations, including a haunted house, an Eastern European shtetl, an English Renaissance village, and a working cattle ranch. For Wake Up, City, I turned to the setting I know best, the city. I drew on memories of walking to kindergarten in early morning Brooklyn. This book is my love song to cities everywhere. As a lifelong city dweller, I worry about the impact of urban spread on the planet, but I feel hopeful, too, because many cities are becoming more nature and wildlife-friendly. The books I'm excited to share celebrate city wildlife. 

Erica's book list on celebrating cities

What is my book about?

A unique and artful blend of poetry, science, and activism, this picture book shows how city dwellers can intervene so that nature can work her magic.

In Oslo, Norway: citizens create a honeybee highway that stretches from one side of the city to the other, offering flowerpots, resting spots, bee boxes, and beehives—even water fountains—every eight hundred feet.

In the Bronx, New York: a community rallies to clean their river and cheers at the return of the long-lost beaver population.

In Busselton, Australia: people make a rope bridge that swings high above speeding cars, creating a safe path for tree-hopping possums and squirrels alike.

Through a mix of lyrical poems, real-life success stories, and bouquet-bright artwork, The City Sings Green explores the environmental impact of humans and showcases the many ways that we can rewild cities across the globe. Together, we can welcome nature back!

The City Sings Green & Other Poems About Welcoming Wildlife

By Erica Silverman, Ginnie Hsu (illustrator),

What is this book about?

A unique and artful blend of poetry, science, and activism, this picture book shows how city dwellers can intervene so that nature can work her magic. Perfect for fans of The Curious Garden and Harlem Grown.

In Oslo, Norway: citizens create a honey-bee highway that stretches from one side of the city to the other, offering flowerpots, resting spots, bee boxes and beehives-even water fountains-every 800 feet.

In the Bronx, New York: a community rallies to clean their river and cheers at the return of the long-lost beaver population.

In Busselton, Australia: people make a rope bridge that swings high…


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