This latest list of books about feelings is all about those emotions that make steam rise from the top of our heads. These are picture books about anger, frustrations, general crankiness and grumpy no-can-do attitudes. Books are a good way to allow kids to think about different ways they can handle their negative feelings, even if it is just to acknowledge them for what they are (which in my experience is quite effective!).
These picture books about anger and getting mad will normalize such emotions and make them seem less scary. Many will even make your kids laugh and I hope you can find a way to work them into your daily reading time. Be sure to check out our other lists with picture books about feelings; links are at the bottom of this post. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Tiger and Badger is actually bonus book #14. I just finished reading this brand new book from one of my must-read authors, Emily Jenkins and I had to include it as a last minute addition. Tiger and Badger are best friends but that doesn't stop them from getting into arguments, even over seemingly trivial things. (But remember, nothing is trivial to a child!) After every tiff, however, they are able to put things right, whether it be with working together to solve a problem, or with a silly face. This is one of the best books about friendship I have read and I urge you to pick up a copy!
Grumpy Bird is one of my favorite books on the list because it is so, so funny (and accurate!). When Grumpy Bird wakes up, he is grumpy! Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Too grumpy to do anything, even fly, so he walks along in his grumpy mood. As he passes each of his friends, he snaps at them but they join him anyway and the grumpy walk turns into a sort of follow the leader game and Grumpy Bird can't help but let friendship and fun turn his frown upside down.
Grandfather Gandhi is an absolutely gorgeous book and an excellent choice for older kids. The story is narrated by then-12 year old Gandhi’s grandson, Arun. Arun goes to live with his grandfather, which was considered a great honor. One day his grandfather gets angry, a surprise to Arun. Gandhi explains to his grandson that anger is a normal human emotion, that people must work to conquer and transform so that it can be used for a good purpose. This is a marvelous, must-read book that will encourage your kids to think about the role emotions play in the choices we make.
Mad at Mommy. Komako Sakai's sweet rabbit is mad at mommy for her seemingly unfair behavior. Mommy sleeps late, she watches TV, she gets mad for no reason, and -- horror! -- she says she can't marry little rabbit! The little rabbit threatens to run away but comes back after 5 minutes to make sure that mommy missed her. This book is so sweet and right on point with little rabbit's feelings. Plus, Sakai's illustrations are darling and wonderful.
Mouse Was Mad. Mouse isn't sure what he is supposed to do when he is mad. He tries to hop like Rabbit, scream like Bobcat, stomp like Bear, but nothing seems right. Finally Mouse figures out what do do with all his big feelings, and it feels just perfect. Parents everywhere will want their kids to emulate Mouse.
Sometimes I'm Bombaloo. Katie describes herself as a pretty good kid. She normally does what she is supposed to, but when her brother knocks down too many of her castles she has a hard time using her words. I like the way Katie describes how she feels out of control when she gets angry, and has a name for it, "bombaloo". After a little time to herself, to reflect, she can gain some perspective and move on. I also like the way the solution to "bombaloo" emphasizes patience, rather than punishment.
When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry. This is a classic book about feelings, and any list of books about anger will include it! I'm guessing you have already heard of it, if not read it to your kids. Sophie gets angry because of a perceived unfairness and she blows her top. Her solution is to run away and climb a tree, looking out into the wide world until she feels calm. The message that a peaceful space will help in times of turmoil is a good one.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It seems as if parents either love or hate this book. I love it. It's so easy to relate to Alexander's predicament, especially for those of us who have siblings. Nothing goes right for Alexander all day and it makes him grumpy. At the end of the day he comes to realize that bad days will always happen, even in Australia.
Crankenstein is a pretty hilarious take on how a cranky monster would respond to everyday observations, like Good Morning! (He would say “MEHHRRRR!!”), or Time for School! (He would say “MEHHRRRR!!”), or Who Wants Pancakes?? (He would say “MEHHRRRR!!”) Are you sensing a pattern. Nothing will turn Crankenstein's mood, until..... he meets another Crankenstein. Then, let the giggles begin. It's rather amazing how perfectly Dan Santat illustrates the facial expression of the moody monster.
Finn Throws a Fit. Finn is having a bad day. He doesn't like anything he normally like! And he throws one explosive fit. The illustrations are what really make this book. Finn's tears create a flood! His kicks create earthquakes! Eventually the fit dies down and Finn is finally ready for his peaches. I particularly like how the tantrum is bookended by love and affection. It shows fits are a normal behavior patterns. We are never really certain about what starts or ends Finn's fit, but that's part of real life, no?
Nina in That Makes Me Mad is a graphic novel from the Toon Book series, which is great for beginning readers. A lot of things make Nina mad and she tells everyone exactly how she feels: mad. I liked the way this book refrained from moralizing. It was perfectly acceptable for Nina to express her feelings and my younger son really responded to this book for that very reason. For each thing that makes Nina mad, such as "when you don't let me help," or "when I try and it doesn't work" there is a short vignette showing an example from Nina's life. The solution to big feelings is wonderfully simple; Nina explains that she feels better when she is allowed to tell her parents when she is mad.
The Most Magnificent Thing You may not immediately think of this book for a list of books about anger, but it is a great read, too! Having a can-do attitude like the protagonist is a must for any person wanting to make make her mark in the world of science and technology. With the help of her assistant dog, a “regular girl” decides she is going to invent a most MAGNIFICENT thing. She has a lot of false starts. Nothing seems to be turning out the way she wants and it’s so frustrating for her! However, she takes a walk, comes back and looks at her inventions afresh, and finally figures things out. The book is not at all preachy and Spires’s illustrations are a delight.
Grumpy Goat. Grumpy Goat lives at Sunny Acres Farm, but his disposition is anything but sunny. He is cranky, has no friends and cares about nothing but eating. But... one day he spies a single flower that makes him stop and take care of something other than himself. When the dandelion releases its seeds into the wind, Grumpy is devastated until he sees what those seeds bring. This is a fun book for helping kids to think about alternate perspectives and see that sometimes the payoff for our actions takes a little longer to reveal itself.
Llama Llama Mad At Mama. I'm pretty sure that every parent is familiar with the grocery store temper tantrum. Well, here it is. All laid out in picture book form. This Mama has a lot of patience and explains to her little one that she'd rather be doing something else too, but all is well, as fun activities lie ahead.
- Picture books about fear and courage
- Picture books about perseverance
- Picture books to teach empathy
- Chapter books to teach empathy
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