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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Books About Feelings for Babies and Toddlers

Although early childhood is an incredibly joyful time, it is also very common for, babies and toddlers to struggle at times with difficult feelings and experiences. For example, they have to cope with the normal anger and fears that arise as they grow. They may also experience challenging situations such as: being separated from or losing a loved one, moving to a new home or child care, coping with having a new baby join the family, or other changes that cause confusion and sadness. Books can be powerful tools to help young children make sense of these feelings. To help parents and caregivers support children as they deal with challenging feelings and experiences, we have created this list of books on a variety of topics, including:

As you share these books with your child, it’s important to follow her lead. Children may have different responses to the stories on this list. You may find that your child resists finishing a particular story. This may mean that she is not yet ready for it or the story may be “hitting too close to home.” Put the book aside in a place where your child can explore it independently. If you wait, you may see that, over time, your child returns to the story when she is ready. You may also find that your child requests the same book over and over. Repetition is an important way that children make sense of new ideas. Hearing the same story again and again can also be very comforting to children. Not every book is for every child. Because some of the books listed below address sensitive topics, it is always a good idea to read them by yourself before reading them to your child. That way you can be sure they reflect your family’s values and are appropriate for your child’s temperament, age, and developmental stage.  

Exploring Feelings

Title Author Age Range
Baby Faces   Margaret Miller  birth to 2
Oh, David!: A Diaper David Book   David Shannon   birth to 2
Oops!: A Diaper David Book   David Shannon   birth to 2
If You're Happy And You Know It: My First Taggies Book   Ken Geist, Ed.  birth to 2
I Am Happy:  A Touch and Feel Book of Feelings   Steve Light   birth to 3
My Many Colored Days Board Book   Dr. Seuss  birth to 5
The Feelings Book   Todd Parr  birth to 5
Lots of Feelings    Shelly Rotner  18 months to 3
Grumpy Bird   Jeremy Tankard   18 months to 3
When I Am/Cuando Estoy   Gladys Rosa-Mendoza   18 months to 3
Taking a Bath With the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy   Scott Menchin  18 months to 5
The Way I Feel   Janan Cain    2 to 6
Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day   Jamie Lee Curtis   2 to 6
How Are You Peeling? Foods With Moods    Saxton Freymann   3 to 6
Feelings   Aliki  3 to 8
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day   Judith Viorst   4 to 8
I Like Myself   Karen Beaumont  3 to 6
I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem   Jamie Lee Curtis  3 to 8

 

Coping With Feelings of Anger

Title Author Age Range
Words Are Not For Hurting   Elizabeth Verdickem  18 months to 5
Hands Are Not For Hitting   Martine Agassi  18 months to 5
Teeth Are Not for Biting   Elizabeth Verdickem   18 months to 5
No Matter What   Debi Gliori  2 to 5
Finn Throws a Fit   David Elliott   2 to 5
Mouse Was Mad   Linda Urban  2 to 5
Llama Llama Mad at Mama   Anna Dewdney  2 to 5
When I Feel Angry    Cornelia Maude Spelman  2 to 5
Alicia Has a Bad Day   Lisa Jahn-Clough  3 to 6
Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum   Deborah Blumenthal  3 to 6
Mean Soup   Betsy Everitt  3 to 6
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry   Molly Bang    3 to 6
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo   Rachel Vail  3 to 6



Fears

Title Author Age Range
Separation
Owl Babies Martin Waddell  6 months to 18 months
Have You Seen My Duckling?    12 months to 3 years
When Mama Comes Home Tonight Eileen Spinelli  18 months to 3
I Love You All Day Long Francesca Rusackas  18 months to 3
Are You My Mother? P. D. Eastman  18 months to 4
Oh My Baby, Little One Kathi Appelt  18 months to 4
Whose Mouse Are You? Robert Kraus  2 to 4
Don’t Go! Jane Breskin Yolen  3 to 5
The Kissing Hand Audrey Penn  3 to 8
Thunderstorms
Franklin and the Thunder Storm Paulette Bourgeois  18 months to 4
The Storm Book Charlotte Zolotow  3 to 6
Thunder Cake Patricia Polacco  4 to 6
Thunder and Lightning: They’re Not So Frightening   4 to 8
Dark
Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear Martin Waddell  2 to 5
I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear Heinz Janisch  3 to 6
There’s a Nightmare in My Closet Mercer Mayer  3 to 6
Medical Appointments
My Friend the Doctor Joanna Cole  18 months to 3
Franklin Goes to the Hospital Paulette Bourgeois 2 to 5
Next Please Ernst Jandel 2 to 5

Monsters
Go Away, Big Green Monster! Ed Emberley 2 to 5
My Monster Mama Loves Me So Laura Leuck 2 to 5
I Need My Monster Amanda Noll  3 to 8

 

Self-Control

Title Author Age Range
No No Yes Yes Linda Patricellei  birth to 3
Quiet Loud Linda Patricellei  birth to 3
No, David! David Shannon  18 months to 5
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Mo Willems  18 months to 5
Please, Baby, Please Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee  18 months to 3
It's Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel Jamie Lee Curtis  5 to 8

 

Friendship Troubles

Title Author Age Range
Gossie and Gertie Olivier Dunrea  12 months to 3
Sheila Rae’s Peppermint Stick Kevin Henkes  18 months to 3
My Friend and I Lisa Jahn-Clough  2 to 5
Being Friends Karen Beaumont  2 to 5
My Friend Rabbit Eric Rohmann  birth to 3
Chrysanthemum Kevin Henkes 3 to 6
Chester’s Way Kevin Henkes 3 to 6
Big Al Andrew Clements  3 to 6
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon Patty Lovell  3 to 6
Wemberly Worried Kevin Henkes  3 to 6
Shark Vs. Train Chris Barton  3 to 8
William’s Doll Charlotte Zolotow  4 to 8
Delores Meets Her Match    4 to 8
Enemy Pie Derek Munson  4 to 8

 

Grief and Loss

Title Author Age Range
Losing a Favorite Comfort Object
Dogger Shirley Hughes 3 to 6
 Explaining Death
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to
Understanding Death
Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown 2 to 6
I Miss You: A First Look at Death Pat Thomas 2 to 6
Lifetimes Bryan Mellonie 3 to 8
Water Bugs & Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children Doris Stickney 4 to 8
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life    4 to adult
 Loss of a Pet
Goodbye Mousie Robie Harris  2 to 5
I’ll Always Love You Hans Wilhelm  3 to 6
Alfie and the Birthday Surprise Shirley Hughes  3 to 6
Saying Goodbye to Lulu Corinne Demas  3 to 6
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney Judith Viorst  2 to 6
Jasper's Day Marjorie Blain Parker  3 to 6
Loss of a Loved One
Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss Laura Olivieri  3 to 8
Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss Michaelene Mundy  4 to 8
When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief Victoria Ryan  3 to 6
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs Tomie dePaola 2 to 8
Badger’s Parting Gifts Susan Varley 3 to 8
Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying Joyce C. Mills 4 to 8
Grandma’s Purple Flowers Adjoa J. Burrowes 4 to 8
Everett Anderson's Goodbye Lucille Clifton 4 to 8
Saying Goodbye to Daddy Judith Vigna 4 to 8
The Blue Roses Linda Boyden 4 to 8
Tear Soup Pat Schweibert 4 to adult
Lifetimes Warren Hanson  4 to adult
Grief or Trauma
A Terrible Thing Happened* Margaret M. Holmes 2 to 8

*The "terrible thing" mentioned in the title is not specified in the book which allows
parents and caregivers to use this story to support children who have experienced the
loss of a loved one or another type of trauma (e.g., physical or sexual abuse).1213132132

Divorce

Title Author Age Range
Let’s Talk About It: Divorce   Fred Rogers

 2 to 5

Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce
  Cornelia Maude Spelman  2 to 5
Two Homes   Claire Masurel  2 to 5
Was It the Chocolate Pudding:  A Story for Little Kids About Divorce
  Bryan Langdo  2 to 5
Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child's Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce  Tamara Schmitz  3 to 5
Dinosaurs Divorce   Marc Brown  3 to 5
It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear   Vicki Lansky  3 to 5
My Family’s Changing:  A First Look at Family Break-Up   Pat Thomas  3 to 5
I Have Two Homes   Marian DeSmet  3 to 5
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?  A Story of Divorce   Carol Gordon Ekster  5+

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