4 Books about Big Feelings

The wail started low but before long it was loud and ear-ringing high.  My preschooler's block tower had gotten too tall for its tippy construction and had fallen over. To me, the incident seemed rather small. Nothing broke beyond repair. No one got hurt. Yet, for my child, the moment feels life shattering and she responds in a life shattering way. A big expression of emotions from a tiny physical frame.

If the size of feelings matched the size of a person, parenting preschoolers would be a lot easier. They don't though. Emotions run high during this age range as our kids learn to identify their feelings and develop the tools to manage them. And that is a difficult process. Feelings are abstract and vary from person to person. Yet, books can provide a tangible, more concrete access point to learn from.

Note: All titles featured are available through the Kitsap Regional Library system. Visit the branch most convenient to you to check them out for yourself.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melaine Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is an overly cautious squirrel living a safe but slightly boring existence. Through a series of mishaps, Scaredy Squirrel is taken out of his comfort zone and on a comical adventure. Scaredy Squirrel is the first in a series of equally well done books.

What I love about Scaredy Squirel, besides the fact that I probably identify with him too much, that these books are true to his personality. His growth in learning to step outside of his comfort zone is not a 180 degree experience. It is is 5 or 8 degrees. I appreciate how this honors the child's personality while still encouraging them to try new things.

Scholastic has animated some of these books. They verbatim to the text and the illustrations are also the same. It is just another fun way to experience Scaredy Squirrel. They do have a bonus feature of an author interview where she takes about her inspiration for Scaredy, the illustration style and other fun tidbits. So if you or your kids love Scaredy, I would recommend checking out the DVD as well.

Hands are Not For Hitting by Martine Agassi, Ph.D.
This book is part of Free Spirit's award-winning Best Behavior Series, and directly addresses how hands should and should not be used. This book covers a lot. (I picked up the copy geared for ages 4-7. They do have a board book designed for ages 0-3.) It addresses the emotions that might be behind the hitting behavior, alternative actions that can be taken and positive things that we can do with our hands.

The text is designed to facilitate discussion with your child about feelings. There is also a four page "A Word to Grown-Ups" section to further help.

A unique feature of this book is that it addresses domestic violence. In the children's text, is simply reads, "It's not okay for grown-ups to hit, either." There is more in the adult section, including what to do if you suspect your child is being abused and "4 Things Adults Can Do If There is Fighting at Home."

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban
Mouse is mad and he has some different ways to show it, but the other animals in the forest don't thing he is going it right. Then mouse finds his own way to handle his anger, which actually helps him not feel so mad anymore.

There are three main things I liked about this book. 1) While mouse experiments with some of the less desirable, typical toddler tantrum actions (yelling, stomping, rolling on the ground) they don't work. They don't even phase the other animals in the forest.  2) The story supported that it is okay to feel mad, it is how we respond to the feeling that matters. 3) Mad is a passing feeling. When handled in an appropriate manner it will pass faster.

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
One of this generation's children's book destined to become a classic. Mr. Fish believes that he unhappy attitude is beyond his control. Yet, a chance encounter with another fish changes his mind and his behavior.

Some days it feels like our kid's bad attitude, or ours for that matter, has a life of its  own. It is just there.  This book reminds us that we do have power over our attitude. There are things that can be done to turn a frown upside down, or in this case, a pout-pout fish into a kiss-kiss fish. I like how this book speaks to the power of a single act of kindness. A simple kiss changed the pout pout fish's perspective. What little thing can we do to help others?

PS. To see more Children's Book Chat posts, click here

Disclaimer: All opinions written above are those of the review and not of PBF MOPS, MOPS Intl. or Peninsula Bible Fellowship.

Kristen is a wife and mother who likes to pretend that she can cook, write and create. She is a little compulsive when it comes to cleaning and organizing and has an ever growing love of dark chocolate, tea and Jane Austen. But mostly, she is a woman trying to figure out how to live a life she can be proud of.