Navigating difficult situations involving feelings as a child can be very scary. Being nervous or anxious as an adult can oftentimes seem like part of our daily routine when we have a big presentation or a deadline approaching quickly, but for a child, it could be their first time experiencing one of these feelings. Understanding this as a parent is essential to helping your child grow and develop emotionally, but finding ways to connect with them can be difficult since it can be uncharted territory for everybody. An easy way to connect with your child and talk about difficult topics while still keeping it entertaining is through picture books. Here are five wonderful picture books that tell stories of children experiencing big emotions and how they successfully dealt with them:
The Time Machine by Pauline David-Sax
The Time Machine focuses on the difficulties children, and anyone else, can face when apologizing for a mistake. The main characters Nia and Bailey have been best friends up until last Thursday, when Bailey said something hurtful to Nia. Bailey finds it very hard to apologize to Nia, and sees her only option as going back in time by building a time machine to fix her mistake. The Time Machine tells the powerful story of how to mend a friendship through a sincere apology, and how an apology does not need to be met with “It’s okay” to be accepted.
Big Feelings, Author by Alexandra Penfold
In a book full of colorful illustrations, Big Feelings tells the heartfelt story of how feelings and emotions that children face can seem very daunting. The book depicts children experiencing multiple emotions, both positive and negative, in many situations. They are shown as feeling excited and scared, hopeful and tired, frustrated and inspired, and although these feelings may seem like they would get in the way, the book focuses on how children can learn to work together to grow with their feelings and recognize that they are never alone.
Find Your Calm by Gabi Garcia
Find Your Calm focuses on how anxiety can be extremely overwhelming for children. Often overlooked, anxiety in kids can occur in nearly every situation: at the doctors’ office, show and tell, and even getting on the bus for school. The story tells the successful story of coping with anxiety through grounding, breathing, and using your five senses to regain connection with yourself. Through these techniques, children and adults can learn how to deal with scary feelings of anxiety and how to not let it conquer their lives.
Tell Someone by Debra Kempf Shumaker
We are all taught to not keep difficult things to ourselves as children, and Tell Someone does a wonderful job of explaining why telling a parent, trusted friend or adult can make us feel better. Holding things in, good or bad, can make any situation feel lonely, and the book focuses on how saying a few words to someone else can take pressure off of one person. Through the repeated saying “I tell someone,” the reader learns that sharing your thoughts and emotions from any situation can help us learn and grow together, instead of alone.
Buddy’s New Buddy by Christina Geist
Buddy’s New Buddy tells the story of main character Buddy trying to find a new partner for their upcoming field trip. He seeks help from Lady, who gives him advice on how to find things in common with his classmates to find his new partner. He feels frustrated since he cannot find anyone he shares an interest with until a new girl in school, Allison, comes and says everyone calls her Sunny, just how Buddy’s name is actually a nickname! The book focuses on the difficulties children can face when finding friends, but common interests and hobbies can be found in unexpected places.
Lily Dokhanchi is studying English with a minor in Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is an intern at Cardinal Rule Press and enjoys writing and editing while working in ways that can impact children. In the future, she hopes to become an English professor and work with kids to write about and depict their experiences.