Picture Books to Teach about Feelings and Emotions | K-2

December 14, 2021

I love using picture books to help students both identify and begin to understand their feelings and emotions. When students are able to name their emotions and begin to get a handle on them, they are strengthening their emotional intelligence (or EQ). In today’s post, I wanted to share some of my favorite books to do this in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms.


In case you are interested in watching/listening to this content, I have all this information available in the video below:


Here is a little about each book I chose (please note that all the links below are Amazon affiliate links and if you choose to purchase through that link, I earn a small percentage of the sale):

#1: The Boy with the Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee

I love this book because the main character is in about first or second grade and he experiences BIG feelings. Throughout the story, he is playing soccer, playing with trucks and blocks, chatting with his mom… all relatable things to our students. I really like to use the illustrations in this story to identify what some big feelings may look like. For example, our cheeks may get red, we may clench our fists, we may start to cry, etc.

Two main parts of this story that my students relate to are: showing empathy (feeling what others may be feeling) and being worried about what others may think of our emotions. Of course, by the end of the story, the little boy recognizes that we ALL experience big emotions and feelings and these are completely normal.

This rhyming book is easy to listen to and relevant to our students! After we read, I like to ask students many different questions about their feelings and emotions. I include this story in my December writing unit where students will read this aloud then make connections through writing. You can see that here >>> December writing mini-lessons



#2: When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… By: Molly Bang

I chose this book because it shows some ways someone may cope with feeling angry. Our students may get REALLY angry and want to hurt others with the words or bodies or they may want to destroy property. None of those are appropriate ways to handle our anger, so we want to provide students with options to release that anger. In this story, Sophie’s sister does something that makes Sophie really angry. She feels like she is going to erupt and yell and scream. Instead, she runs outside to get away from everyone and be in nature.

Now there are some criticisms of this book because she seems to just run away from home and then comes back later in a better mood. It is important to bring up to your students that you can only go outside if it is okay with your parents and it is a safe place to be. In the story, it seems to be as her parents are completely fine with her being outside.

This provides Sophie with some time away from everyone to let her emotions settle before she is able to re-join her family. After we read a story like this one, I like to ask students what they do to settle down their angry emotions. It is important that we recognize people cope with their anger differently. Some want a hug, some want to talk it out, some need space. All of these are great ways to deal with our feelings!



#3: In My Heart by Jo Witek

Now this book doesn’t go into too much about coping with our emotions, but it nicely identifies feelings. The illustrations are beautiful in this book as the heart on each page gets smaller. On each page, the author shares different emotions and how you may experience them. For example, if you are scared, your heart might beat fast and you may feel cold with chills crawling up your neck. It describes our different emotions in a nice descriptive way for students to understand!

This book is also part of a larger series called the Growing Heart series and there are some other books about bravery, being patient, and a book of joy!


#4: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Similar to In My Heart, this story helps students identify different feelings they may be experiencing. I like this one because it is a rhyming book and includes different emotions from the other books. For example, it has the emotions silly, jealousy, disappointment, and more!

At the end of this book, the main takeaway is that feelings come and go and they’re all a part of you!



#5: Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang

This may be one of my FAVORITE books about feelings! Everyone can relate to a time when they’re feeling grumpy and others are telling you you’re seeming grumpy, but you just keep saying “I’m fine!” because maybe you don’t really know why you’re feeling this way!

In this story, Jim Panzee is going through something similar. Everyone is trying to cheer him up and he’s trying to convince them that he is NOT grumpy. Throughout the book, he finally realizes that he IS grumpy and that his feelings are valid! He will probably feel better tomorrow and he is allowed to be upset. This is important because when we are feeling sad, upset, angry, etc. we can take the time to recognize and validate that feeling, instead of just trying to change our emotions to happy right away!


#6: The Color Monster by Anna Llenas

This is another story to help students identify their emotions and I would say it is geared more towards kindergarten and first grade. At the beginning of this one, the author points out that it is important to be able to name our feelings because when they are all jumbled up, we can feel overwhelmed and we don’t know why!

On each page, the color monster recognizes the different feelings he is having and puts them in a separate jar. Now this book also has some criticisms because it doesn’t tell students what they might do to cope when they have these feelings. While that is true, I think it is always important not to just read these books, but to have discussions around the topics! After we identify different feelings, we can ask students what they like to do when they’re feeling sad, jealous, angry, etc. This connects students to the book, brings up ideas for handling our emotions, and most importantly, helps students recognize that we all deal with our feelings in different ways!


Have you read any of these?! Or do you have other great books to share to teach about feelings and emotions?!


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