The Best Books for Helping Kids Process Their Emotions

  • Post last modified:18 June 2023
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Emotions, we all have them. It’s part of our human makeup that we feel a myriad of emotions on a daily basis. Anger, fear, embarrassment, sadness, happiness…these are all important feelings, and no matter your age, size, gender, we feel them all. 

Little children though feel them more keenly than adults due to their under-developed brain. I should know, I’m a psychologist by trade, and I have three little human beings.

The key to healthy emotional development is to 

  • First, accept and validate their emotion. Never ever deny, nor repress what they are feeling, we are all entitled to feel what we feel. The key is what we DO with these emotions.
  • Second, give clear boundaries on what we can/can’t do with these emotions. E.g. “it’s ok to be angry, but not ok to hit me”,
  • Third, model your own emotions and tell them what you are feeling and thinking, and how you are behaving. Children should see adults as humans too, and we can get angry/sad, we can do things we don’t want to do. But our emotions can get the better of us!
  • Fourth, if indeed something bad has happened because of our big emotions, seek to repair it.

Here are my top picks of books to help children understand, process and learn about emotions (big ones, small ones and everything in between)!

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Parenting Books about Healthy Emotional Development in Children

Written by Dan Siegel

ISBN: 978-0553386691

Available for sale at Amazon.

E-version available for sale at Amazon and Apple Books.

Listen to it on Apple Books and Audible.

Daniel Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and is the author of many practical and insightful books into raising children such as this book and No Drama Discipline.

This is a easy to read, accessible and practical book on the frankly, quite unnerving topic of emotional regulation and development of little humans. If you only read 1 book on the topic, let this be the one!

Written by Janet Lansbury

ISBN: 978-1499351118

Available for sale at Amazon

E-version available at Amazon and Apple Books

Listen to it on Audible.

Janet Lansbury has been working as a parent coach for the past 20 years, teaching RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) parenting classes, so she knows a thing or two about emotions of very young children. This is a perfect read for parents with toddlers of big emotions, and how you can support your child, provide them with the trust and care they need to work through these challenging moments. 

Time pressed like me? Audible has the above two titles, as well as other fantastic parenting books to listen to on the go. 

Chinese Picture Books To Teach Children about Emotions

文/图 Written and illustrated by 佐佐木洋子

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9787505608252

Available for sale at Amazon.

This was one of the very first Chinese picture books my children read and loved. While this series doesn’t target emotions specifically, it is a great set of beginner books to explore basic emotions in very young children. 

You can read the full review here.

文/图 Written and illustrated by 安娜 耶纳斯 Anna Llenas

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9787533288129

Available for sale at Amazon.

English Version:

ISBN : 978-0316450010

Available for sale at Amazon.

E-version available on Amazon and Apple Books.

This book is great for explaining emotions to children in a simplistic way. Using colours to illustrate how emotions can be represented e.g. red is angry, pink is love. It’s a simple concept that young c children can grasp.

What I really like about this book is the message that sometimes our emotions are all mixed up (like the little emotion monster) and that’s when it gets confusing and scary for children. If they can learn to isolate the emotions, they can learn how to explain and control them better.

This is one of our top picks of Chinese picture books on emotions.

文/图 Written and illustrated by 赖马

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7554529843

Available for sale at Amazon.

“I’m so angry I’ve turned into a fire breathing dragon!!” Children with their immature minds can flip their lid in an instant (!!), changing from a cute child into a horrible dragon. In this boo, the anger is depicted in a humorous and relatable manner.

文/图 Written and illustrated by 莫丽 邦

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7543470781

Available for sale at Amazon.

English Version:

ISBN: 978-0439598453

Available for sale at Amazon.

E-version available on Amazon  and Apple Books.

A classic picture book about anger. The English version of the book won the Caldecott Award Honor Book in 2000. Sophie is angry, very very angry…. And you know what, it’s ok to to be angry… because we all feel mad at times, it’s what we do with the anger that makes the difference. This is perfect for angry little toddlers, who are just beginning to understand this fairly explosive feeling. (My youngest daughter is 100% Sophie when she gets angry!  So this was perfect for us to read…) 

文/图 Written and illustrated by 宫西达也

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9787539189147

Available for sale at Amazon.

The 7 books in this set are:

  •     《你看起来好像很好吃》
  •     《我是霸王龙》
  •     《你真好》
  •     《永远永远爱你》
  •     《我爱你》
  •     《遇到你,真好》
  •     《最爱的,是我》

My son really enjoyed this series of books, my girls not so much. So maybe this could be more appealing to the boys and dinosaur lovers. I personally really enjoyed the books, and shed a tear or 2 with some of them.  

There are 7 books in this set, and each story revolves around a ferocious and hungry T-Rex with the biggest heart. Along the way, he shows kindness, integrity and love to the other dinosaurs he meet. 

The following pages are from 《你看起来好像很好吃》. As you can see, the interaction between the “menacing” T-rex and the baby Ankylosaur is both sweet yet funny. 😆

文 Written by 恩斯特·杨德尔 Ernst Jandl

图 Illustrated by 诺尔曼·荣格 Norman Junge

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7544246507

Available for sale at Amazon.

English Version:

ISBN : 978-0099439332

Available for sale at Amazon.

A beautifully illustrated picture book with super simple text, making it perfect for young children to understand fear and anxiety. 5 broken toys wait anxiously for their turn to see the doctor. What lies await on the other side of the door? This is a lovely book to delicately explore the feelings of anxiety and worry, and the relief after with your children.

文/图 Written and illustrated by 阿加西

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7545600599

Available for sale at Amazon.

The five books in this set are:

  • 《手不是用来打人的》 Hands Are Not For Hitting
  • 《语言不是用来伤人的》Words Are Not For Hurting
  • 《细菌不是用来分享的》Germs Are Not For Sharing
  • 《尾巴不是用来扯的》 Tails Are Not For Pulling
  • 《嗓门不是用来嚷嚷的》 Voices Are Not For Yelling

As an educator, I have used a few of the books from this series with my slightly more problematic students. These books are great in explaining what makes a behaviour good and acceptable, and what is undesirable in concrete terms i.e. kiddie friendly language.

If you are looking for a series of books that also offers practical solutions, this is the set for you. 

English Version:

Available for sale at Amazon. 

There are 14 books in the series, and covers a lot more challenging behaviours e.g. teeth are not for biting. Ouch!

文/图 Written and illustrated by 赖马

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7554529836

Available for sale at Amazon.

赖马 is one of my favourite Chinese children’s book author/illustrator. (I have 3 of his books here on my recommendation list!) I like how he has a humorous way of depicting some really big emotions in young children, in a light-hearted approach. 

In this book, Prince Eddie the elephant is a really pleasant elephant… until he gets mad!!!

文/图 Written and illustrated by 赖马

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7554529829

Available for sale at Amazon.

This is perfect for the little perfectionists who can’t bear things going awry. 

作者 Written by 贝西·艾芙瑞 Betsy Everitt

Illustrated by

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 978-7533257774

Available for sale at Amazon.

English Version:


Available on Amazon. 

Horace is having a really really bad day. Everything that can possibly can wrong, has gone wrong!! Mummy senses his mood and suggests that they make a mean soup to let out all his pent up frustration.

Bilingual Picture Books To Teach Children about Emotions

文 Written by Cornelia Maude Spelman

图 Illustrated by Kathy Parkinson

ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9787121273643

Available for sale at Amazon.

There are 8 books in this set, exploring the different emotions of:

  • 《我好害怕》When I Feel Scared
  • 《我好难过》When I Feel Sad
  • 《我觉得自己很棒》When I Feel Good About Myself
  • 《我会关心别人》When I Care for Others
  • 《我好嫉妒》When I Feel Jealous
  • 《我好生气》When I Feel Angry
  • 《我想念你》When I Miss You
  • 《我好担心》When I Feel Worried

This is a fantastic set of books to introduce children to the basic emotions in English AND Chinese. Frankly there are not many bilingual books on this topic around, so if you are looking for a bilingual set about emotions. You’ll be satisfied with this set. 

My children all loved it. And I loved using these books in our homeschooling, framing each lesson around one emotion. 

Be warned though, the words are tiny!!

book emotions
From 《我好难过》

English Picture Books To Teach Children about Emotions

Written by Jo Witek

Illustrated by Christine Roussey

ISBN : 978-1419713101

Available for sale at Amazon.

E-version available on Amazon and Apple Books.

Celebrate all the feelings in your heart with his book. Some can make you happy and feel light like a ballon, others can all you down like an elephant!

I recommend the hard copy over the e-copy for the multi-layered heart effect!

Written and illustrated by Todd Parr

ISBN: 978-0316012492

Available for sale at Amazon.

E-version available on Amazon and Apple Books.

I think Todd Parr has a super power. And that super power is making complicated messages super simple, so simple even a 2 year old can understand it with bold bight colours and silly humour. 

I heartily recommend all of Todd Parr’s 40+ books for your little one. In fact, adults can learn a thing or two with his books too! Like the Goodbye Book

Get it on Apple Books

Written by Carrol McCLoud

Illustrated by David Messing

ISBN : 978-0996099943

Available for sale at Amazon 

E-version available on Amazon and Apple Books. 

Another of my school favourite books on promoting positivity and happiness in others. Using an invisible bucket to understand what positive and negative behaviours can do to yourself and others, it is an easy way to express how children can affect others. 

Written by Felicity Brooks

ISBN : 978-1474937115

Available for sale at Amazon 

Learn about all the different types of emotions, and go through the practice activities together with your children, which is definitely the best feature of this book (and the Usborne All About series)

Written and Illustrated by Trace Moroney

Available for sale at Amazon

There are 9 books in the Feelings Series, but annoying it’s not available for sale in one set! Anyhow, here’s what’s in the series:

  • When I’m Feeling Jealous
  • When I’m Feeling Loved
  • When I’m Feeling Lonely
  • When I’m Feeling Sad
  • When I’m Feeling Kind
  • When I’m Feeling Sad
  • When I’m Feeling Happy
  • When I’m Feeling Angry
  • When I’m Feeling Disappointed
books emotions
From "When I am Feeling Lonely"

Written by Emily Hayes

ISBN : 979-8537578055

Available for sale at Amazon 

E-version available on Amazon

If you have a child with special sensory/emotional processing, then this would be a gentle book to talk about social emotions. 

Written by Katie Abey

ISBN : 978-1526619907

Available for sale on Amazon

E-version available at Amazon and Apple Books

This is a fantastic first book for very young children introducing them to the a wide range of emotions. It is brightly coloured and full of emotive animals, who tries their best to explain why they feel the way they do.

books emotions
We feel grumpy...
books emotions
We feel shy...

Additional Chinese resources to teach children about emotions

Other than books, we also use flashcards to teach emotions in English and Chinese. Ultimately, my children are English speakers first, so having additional bilingual teaching resources have been proved really helpful them ti use their first language to complement the learning of their second language. 

Read this post to learn how to label basic emotions in English and Chinese, along with useful tips on how to use flashcards to teach. 

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