Children's picture books are the perfect way to introduce different social emotional skills. One of the first social emotional learning standards is teaching students to identify feelings. These four books are my favorite for showing students that we all have a range of feelings and all feelings are okay.
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In My Heart
In My Heart is a beautifully illustrated book on feelings. It explores 10 different emotions, creatively describing each. Happy is a big yellow star, shiny and bright. Sadness is as heavy as an elephant.
Emotions that are positive, neutral, and negative are included. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that we all experience a variety of emotions and all those emotions are okay.
This book is the perfect jumping off point for rich discussions with students about feelings. This can easily be used in school counseling or in the classroom using student friendly activities.
Check out this post on In My Heart with suggested companion activities.
The Color Monster
The illustrations and descriptions in this book are so engaging. Similar to In My Heart, this book uses metaphors for each emotion. It talks about what you do when you feel certain emotions, such as dance or cry.
It covers a smaller set of feelings than the other books on this list. This makes it a great book to start with.
The Way I Feel
I believe The Way I Feel by Janan Cain was the first time I used children's literature to explain social emotional concepts to younger children. It has stayed one of my favorites over the last 10 years.
Like In My Heart and The Color Monster, this book normalizes all feelings whether they are positive or negative. I think this book does the best job of highlighting feelings and situations that are relatable and familiar. For example, one character is disappointed after plans get cancelled and another is frustrated when they can't do something.
Today I Feel Silly
Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day is a funny and engaging book about the feelings everyone experiences. It also gives kid-friendly reasons for why certain feelings happen. The writing is entertaining and really allows for easy discussion. Like the other books, this one emphasizes that all feelings are okay.
Don't miss the facial expression wheel at the back of the book! Students can match eyes and mouths to see how expressions change with each feeling.
What are your favorite books to teach about feelings?