Little people often need help coping with big feelings, whether positive or negative. When one feeling or another comes to call, the reaction can be overwhelming.
It can be hard to deal with childrens’ emotions; to help them find a way to manage what they’re feeling. As adults, we often have trouble dealing with them ourselves. Wouldn’t it be better if we were given some explanation and advice when we’re small so we can carry it with us through life? The right book can help. Here are a few picture books that may be useful in understanding those big feelings.
In Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland, a young child goes on a journey to discover happiness, where it begins, what it really is and how to find it when it seems to have gone away. With great sensitivity, a very simple text and fluid, heart-warming illustrations that subtly change their palette to fit the mood of the page, it explains we can’t feel happy all of the time…but things will change and we will find happiness again. It’s always right where we are. Elands’ previous picture book, When Sadness Comes To Call gives a beautiful and profound story that helps acknowledge sadness when it enters our life; and shows we don’t need to be afraid of our sadness! It is something that everyone experiences. Maybe we just need to listen to our sadness. It’s possible that sadness just needs to know that it’s understood. Both of these picture books are filled with reassurance and beauty.
We all have our own unique fear, and that’s okay. Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna tells the story of a young girl in a new, unfamiliar country with her secret, very small friend, Fear. But since she has arrived, Fear has been growing and growing. She meets a boy who also has a secret friend. When they share their fears, the world doesn’t seem so scary anymore. Hopeful and filled with friendship and courage. Similarly, You’ve Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave explains how anxiety and worries sometimes sneak up on you…like dragons. People will say they aren’t real, but you know different. In these uncertain times, dragons can hide in plain sight. And maybe they aren’t particularly scary. You just don’t want them around. However, it is reassuring to learn that dragons don’t stay forever. If you look them in the eye a little each day, it won’t be long before they disappear.
Anger is such a huge feeling! Frustration builds and runs round and round and before you know it, it’s out of control. Red Red Red by Polly Dunbar is a lively, raucous read-aloud story and just the thing for those tantrums. Little One wants a biscuit. He knows he can get them down; it’s not too high. He can climb. But…oh no! He falls and bangs his head! Mummy comes running, but he doesn’t want soothing. He wants a biscuit NOW! Sound familiar? An encouraging and soothing tale, for both parent and child, it gives an opportunity to relate and talk about feelings, while offering a calming conclusion filled with warmth and comfort.
Loss can steal the beauty of the world from us, it seems. But in Tibble and Grandpa by Wendy Meddour; illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, we simply and clearly explore the space where we can help each other. Lately, Grandpa is not himself after Grandma died. So Tibble tries to bring him back by playing his favourite game, Top Threes. And in the playing, joy and interest emerge again and the two can support each other with happy memories. An exquisite story of loss, love, intergenerational relationships, memory and healing; it shows how we need each other and sometimes have to work a bit to connect. When a loss occurs, remember that we have common ground and within that, there is joy.
I’m going to wind up with Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls, illustrated by David Litchfield. This is a story that leads us on a path through the darkest, most uncertain times. A young girl and her fox companion are travelling together from a place of despair to one of light, colour and life. Along the way, the pair find that there are many friends, just waiting to help and guide them as they move through the gloom and the rain to emerge in the colour and light of the rainbow. A book that shows
the importance of hope, resilience and strength when the world becomes an uncertain, troubling place. Such an uplifting, mesmerising, beautiful book, it really helps children understand that things will get better, no matter how it seems now. And this is a message that adults often need too!
Any parent or child-minder seeking more advice on the above books, or hoping to find the right books to help their child through certain feelings or a difficult period can get in touch with our expert kids’ books team for recommendations. Just click here.