Books for Building a Feelings Vocabulary

picture books social emotional skills Aug 15, 2022
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Building a Feelings Vocabulary


An essential part of supporting you and your child’s emotional regulation needs is building a feelings vocabulary.

Important Note:  building an emotional vocabulary doesn’t give you the feeling or teach your child a feeling for the first time. Learning words to name feelings gives you and your child the ability to identify a feeling you are already having.

For example, introducing worry as a feeling and a word doesn’t give your child worry thoughts or feelings, it helps them identify something they are already experiencing. 


4 Reasons Learning Feelings Words is Important


  1. When you can identify your feelings it’s easier to regulate 
  2. It helps your child realize they aren’t weird or wrong because everyone has feelings
  3. It helps your child build empathy (understanding that others have feelings too.)
  4. It makes parenting easier. 😉


Picture Books are Easy and Effective 


Books take the pressure off ‘teaching feelings’ and building them in an effective way with your child during periods of calm and connection.


Six Books to Build Your Child’s Feelings Vocabulary


1) The Way I Feel by Janan Cain


One of my favourite books for building a feelings vocabulary is The Way I Feel. It has playful illustrations and touches on a range of feelings. This makes it a great tool for developing a whole bunch of feelings words in a calm and connected way. It’s especially great for those trickier words like disappointment and jealousy. 

One Way to Use This Book: Play Feelings Charades with the whole family. Pick a page and make a face to match the emotion. 

Fun fact. If you have ever heard that young children can’t cry on demand, play feelings charades with a group of preschoolers. You will discover very quickly that some children are quite capable of turning on crocodile tears for sad charades!

Note: There is a difference between the board book (less emotions) and the picture book (includes more layered emotions like jealousy)


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2) When Sadness is At Your Door by Eva Eland


Sadness is one of our core feelings and sometimes it gets a bad reputation! In this book, sadness is a feeling that you are encouraged to get to know and understand better. Although it can be tempting to avoid it or hide from it, when you invite it in and sit with it, you can learn how to understand it and understand that it is part of you. 

This book is amazing for recognizing that sadness is an important feeling. It’s also a great way to start exploring the idea that there are different tools for helping you process sadness when you are feeling it. Things like listening to music, painting, sitting quietly, going for a walk, etc.


Purchase this book using my Amazon Affiliate Link HERE


3) The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess & Fiona Woodcock


Another book I use extensively in my work, I love this book for helping children understand that everyone can have grumpy, grouchy annoyed type feelings. It also does a good job of showing that those feelings can be a bit contagious if you aren’t careful.

It’s a great book for talking about sibling/friend conflict or as a tool for talking about an argument we might have had with our child when the curmudgeon took over! Just like the book on sadness, it does a great job of highlighting that it’s really important to find tools for those curmudgeon feelings so they don’t grow and fester! 


 Purchase this book using my AmazonAffiliate Link HERE


4) Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman


This book touches on some really important themes, a key one being everyone, everywhere has feelings and sometimes we have different feelings about the same things.

You can use it for talking about your home, your neighbourhood, your school, etc in the context that everyone has feelings AND not everyone has the same feelings at the same time.

It’s a great book for exploring the importance that conflict resolution plays when Big Feelings are involved. Part of working together is recognizing that we all have feelings and sometimes those feelings will lead to conflict and we need to work through that.


Purchase this book using my Amazon Affiliate Link HERE 


5) Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig & Patrice Barton


One of the feelings we all feel, but sometimes have a harder time expressing are the worries and whatifs. A really important part of building your child’s emotional vocabulary is giving them language for those worry thoughts.

This book highlights the importance of understanding when our worry thoughts are holding us back so that we can dig in and find bravery to face those challenges. It also does a great job of showing how others can have worries/whatifs and when we work together, we are stronger (braver).


Purchase this book using my AmazonAffiliate Link HERE


6) Where Do Your Feelings Live by Catherine Hernandez & Myriam Chery


In this book you will explore some of the different ways that feelings live inside us. This is a fantastic book for exploring your feelings body clues. It helps guide conversations around the kinds of things that happen inside your body when you have different feelings. Part of building a feelings vocabulary for emotional regulation is understanding and listening to our body clues.


Purchase this book using my Amazon Affiliate Link HERE 


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