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Empathy: Picture Books

I'm kind of an expert on childrens' novels, but not so much on picture books.  So I invited my new friend, Vanessa, to do a guest post on children's books that teach empathy.  She has a great website devoted to childrens' books, Silly Eagle Books. (And for certain best friends born on another continent, she even has a couple book lists about Kenya!)

**This post is part of a series I've been doing on empathy.  For other posts on how to show empathy and teach your children empathy, click here.**

Books to Help Your Toddler Understand Emotions

Hi, I'm Vanessa from Silly Eagle Books. I write about children's books and how they inspire and influence my family's everyday life. I visit the library regularly and love using picture books to teach my two daughters. If you need a children's book about a particular subject--I can probably give you a few titles. So, when Katie asked me to share some of my favorite feelings books for toddlers, I jumped at the chance! Here are the ones I've enjoyed reading with my own daughter. 
The Way I Feel  
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain is probably my favorite. It covers a wide range of emotions and the illustrations are powerful. Even without being able to read the words, my daughter can feel the emotion depicted on each page. 
When I Feel Sad (Way I Feel Books)When I Feel Angry (Way I Feel Books)
When I Feel Sad (Way I Feel Books) I also like the Way I Feel books. There is a sad, angry, scared, and jealous book. Each one is dedicated to a single emotion and helps toddlers really understand all facets of the emotion.
Little Bear'S Happy Face/Sad (First Book about Feelings)
A really great hands-on book/toy is Little Bear's Happy Face/Sad (First Book about Feelings) by Lynn Offerman. The book comes with four bear faces that your child can insert into a space (like a puzzle piece) in the book to match little teddy bear's emotion. (For example, when he falls off his bike, they can put the sad face in the spot.) My daughter enjoyed playing with the pieces and being actively involved in the story. It made it very easy to talk about the various emotions.
Gryphon House 12849 Everybody Has Feelings-Black & White
A few years ago, a friend of mine who has a child with Aspergers asked me if I could recommend a book about feelings with pictures of real children (as opposed to illustrations). She said her son could not relate to the illustrations, but that pictures of real children were what he needed. I found  Everybody Has Feelings by Charles E. Avery--a beautiful collection of black and white photographs that depict the moods of children. I sent her the book and she said that it was perfect.
Facial Expressions Learning Cards
While searching the internet, I came across these Facial Expressions Learning Cards which look like another good source of images of real children. I also like that they are cards--which allows for more hands-on learning experiences with your child.
Todd Parr Feelings Flash Cards
Todd Parr Feelings Flash Cards are another option if you like illustrated images. (Added by Katie: I totally love Todd Parr's illustrations!)

Alex Toys I Feel Stamp Kit
Everyone loves smiley faces, but kids can also have fun exploring emotions other than happiness with this I Feel Stamp Kit from Alex Toys. If you are really feeling crafty, you can make these funny faces feeling eggs from Happy Together. I've had them on my to-make list forever. 

What about you? What are your favorite books, toys, or crafts to help your child understand emotions?

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thanks for letting me guest post! :) Hope your week is getting easier.


  2. I love this post! I've been trying to figure out how to teach my almost-2-year-old how to tell us what he is feeling, to talk it out with us as his vocabulary is growing. One quick question... do you know how much of a difference is there between the board book and the regular book of The Way I Feel? I want to get that one for our family, but most places I see it online have the board book for about half the price of the hardcover... just wondering if you'd know what differences there might be. Thanks for a great post!