During my time as a teacher, there have been many occasions where the children I’ve been working have struggled to express how they’re feeling, often resulting in meltdowns or acting out. One of the best ways I found to help in these situations was to encourage the children recognise how different emotions felt and to give them names so they could clearly express what the problem was.
Picture books have played a vital role in this so I am thrilled to see that publishers currently seem to be producing lots of books which explore different feelings and help develop emotional literacy. This blog post highlights five that I’ve received recently and which will be heading straight into the school for the pupils to benefit from.
‘Feelings’ by Libby Walden, illustrated by Richard Jones (Little Tiger Group)
This poetic book is a beautifully-illustrated exploration of our emotions. Ten different feelings are explored in a simple way, helping readers identify how they might be feeling and completely normalising this. It gives the message that although everyone is different, we all experience the same mixture of emotions at various points.
Richard Jones’ illustrations provide a gorgeous backdrop for an exploration of emotional literacy – something which is vital for mental health.
‘Scaredy Bear’ by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Caroline Pedler (Little Tiger Group)
Little Bob does not want to stay in bed, he wants to explore, but his mother tells him a story about the terrifying BIG HAIRY who lurks in the forest. One night, Little Bob sneaks out to face his fears and see the Big Hairy for himself. What he finds, is not quite what he expected.
A gorgeous story about friendship, facing your fears and finding ‘the big bear inside you.’
‘The Worry Box’ by Suzanne Chiew, illustrated by Sean Julian (Little Tiger Group)
Murray Bear worries a lot. He worries about waterfalls washing him away, about his friends laughing at him and about not being very good at things. With the help of his older sister, Murray makes a worry box where he can store his worries so they won’t stop him having fun. But will it really help?
Very useful for teaching children to open and share their worries with someone else to make them feel smaller. This is particularly important as mental health charity Place2Be has recent revealed that two thirds of the children they interviewed revealed that they worry “all the time.”
‘Happy: A Children’s Book Of Mindfulness’ by Nicola Edwards, illustrated by Katie Hickey (Caterpillar Books)
With a growing number of schools encouraging mindfulness and self-reflection in their pupils, books like this are perfect for working in time to stop and notice the world around you.
The poetic text and warm, soothing illustrations guide children through a range of emotions and gives them the space to explore their senses, suggesting various techniques they could use to become more in touch with what they are experiencing. Calming and beautiful.
‘Real life if right under our noses,
It’s what’s here, not the future or past.’
‘Where Happiness Lives’ by Barry Timms, illustrated by Greg Abbott (Little Tiger Group)
This mousey tale gently introduces young readers to the emotion of envy and how it can make you feel.
Grey Mouse has always been very happy in his busy house that has just enough space for everyone to do what makes them happiest. But then he spots a much grander house tucked away in the woods and starts to doubt that his home is so perfect after all. He finds its inhabitant wistfully gazing at a mansion on top of the hill, so they set off to explore.
By the time they’ve completed their tour, Grey Mouse comes to the conclusion that bigger and more expensive does not always mean better. Happiness is more valuable than anything else.
Full of cut-outs, peep-through and flaps to explore, this story is sure to be popular with little ones.
I can imagine all of these books being very useful in helping young children and not-so-young explore their emotions and begin to identify just what it is they are feeling. They should also reassure children that they are not alone in having these feelings and that there are things you can do to make the emotions easier to process.
A beautiful and inspiring collection.
*Many thanks to the Little Tiger Group, Caterpillar Books, Leilah Skelton and Charlie Morris for sending me these titles to review*
Click on the pictures below to purchase the books: