7 Books to Help Children Understand Their Feelings

Written By

Jess VanderWier
August 25, 2021

This article has been reviewed by Nurtured First’s team of child development experts.

One of my absolute favourite ways to teach children is through storytelling. I believe that storytelling can be magical – whether it is a story of sameness from childhood, a made-up story to help children through a challenging moment, or a children’s book. 

We have found books to be such a valuable resource in our house as our daughter was starting to have some big feelings. We found they were a great way to help her understand that her feelings were normal, learn some new ways to cope with these feelings, and even learn about ways to describe them. 

These are seven of my favourite books for helping children understand their feelings. These are all books that I have read with my children, and I am constantly recommending them to clients, family and friends! 

Today I Feel 

by Madalena Moniz

This book is a great introduction to feelings and emotions. We are provided with a new feeling word for each letter of the alphabet. At the end of the book, we are asked to think about how we are feeling today, giving children the chance to use the new vocabulary they have learned to share how they are doing.

The Colour Monster 

by Anna Llenas

When the colour monster is confused by all of his different feelings, a young girl helps him identify and label each feeling. This story helps children identify and label emotions and feel more in control. 

Breathing Makes It Better 

by Christopher Willard and Wendy O’Leary

In this book, readers are taken through a variety of different situations and feelings that they may experience and are reminded to stop and take a breath in each situation. There are also a number of breathing exercises and practices to try with your children at the end of the book!

In My Heart 

by Jo Witek, Illustrated by Christine Roussey

This story covers a full range of emotions from happiness to sadness, from shyness to bravery. The author describes how emotions feel physically, inside our bodies. This book will teach children so many new vocabulary words to help them describe how they are feeling!

What Do You Say to a Dragon? 

by Lexi Young Peck, Illustrated by Wendy Leach

This is one of my favourite stories to help children struggling with fear and anxiety because it teaches parents tools to support their children with these big feelings! When the little boy wakes up scared from a nightmare, his parents help him through his fears, giving him tools to face the dragon and make a new friend.

The Day You Begin 

by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This heartening story is all about finding the courage to connect when we are feeling scared and alone. The story reminds us that we all have these feelings sometimes, and that’s okay. If we are brave and begin telling our story, others around us will be happy to listen and join us where we are at. 

You, Me and Empathy 

by Jayneen Sanders, Illustrated by Sofia Cardoso

I love this story as it helps children begin to understand empathy. The character in the story goes through several situations where he shows an abundance of understanding, compassion, and kindness. This is an excellent book for children who understand their own emotions and are ready to learn about respecting others’ emotions. The author also includes discussion questions as well as activities to promote empathy and kindness. 

Get simple parenting tools sent straight to your inbox.

    Article By

    Jess VanderWier
    Jess is a seasoned Registered Psychotherapist with a deep commitment to enhancing emotional well-being in children and families. Holding a Master's in Counselling Psychology, Jess has extensive clinical experience in guiding parents through their children's intense emotions, sleep struggles, anxiety, and other challenges with empathy and understanding. In addition to individual sessions, she is known for her work educating parents on social media through @nurturedfirst. Outside of her professional life, Jess enjoys the peace of nature hikes and spending as much time as possible enjoying her family.