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Books About Feelings for Babies and Toddlers

A collage of popular children's books.

Books are powerful tools that can help children make sense of difficult feelings. Explore this reading list for infants and toddlers to help them navigate complex feelings and experiences, including anger, fear, grief and loss, and divorce.


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: exploring feelings, coping with anger, fears, self-control, friendship, grief and loss, and divorce.

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: Reading List

For All Ages:

  • I Am Happy: A Touch and Feel Book of Feelings by Steve Light
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess
  • The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

For Infants:

  • Baby Faces by Margaret Miller
  • Oh, David!: A Diaper David Book by David Shannon
  • Oops!: A Diaper David Book by David Shannon
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It: My First Taggies Book by Ken Geist.

For Toddlers:

  • Lots of Feelings by Shelly Rotner
  • Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
  • When I Am/Cuando Estoy by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza
  • Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley

For Older Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann
  • Feelings by Aliki
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
  • I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis

Coping with Anger: Reading List

For Toddlers:

  • Words Are Not for Hurting by Elizabeth Verdickem
  • Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi
  • Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdickem

For Older Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • No Matter What by Debi Gliori
  • Finn Throws a Fit by David Elliott
  • Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
  • When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman
  • Alicia Has a Bad Day by Lisa Jahn-Clough
  • Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum by Deborah Blumenthal
  • Mean Soup by Betsey Everitt
  • When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
  • Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail

Fear: Reading List

Books About The Fear of Separation

For Infants and Toddlers:

  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddel

For Older Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Have You See My Duckling? Nancy Tafuri
  • When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli
  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
  • Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  • Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt
  • Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus
  • Don’t Go! by Jane Breskin Yolen
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Books About the Fear of Thunderstorms

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Franklin and the Thunder Storm by Paulette Bourgeois
  • The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
  • Thunder and Lightening: They’re Not So Frightening by JD Schmith

Books About Being Afraid of the Dark

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear by Martin Waddell
  • I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear by Heinz Janisch
  • There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer

Books About Medical Appointments

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • My Friend the Doctor by Joanna Cole
  • Franklin Goes to the Hospital by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Next Please by Ernst Jandel

Books About the Fear of Monsters

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck
  • I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

Self-Control: Reading List

For Infants and Toddlers:

  • No No Yes Yes by Linda Patricellei
  • Quiet Loud by Linda Patricellei

For Older Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • No, David! by David Shannon
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

For Little Kids:

  • It’s Hard to be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel by Jamie Lee Curtis

Friendship Troubles: Reading List

For Infants:

  • My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

For Toddlers:

  • Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea
  • Sheila Rae’s Peppermint Stick by Kevin Henkes

For Older Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • My Friend and I by Lisa Jahn-Clough
  • Being Friends by Karen Beaumont
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
  • Big Al by Andrew Clements
  • Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
  • Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton
  • William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Delores Meets Her Match
  • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Grief and Loss: Reading List

Books About Losing a Comfort Object

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Dogger by Shirley Hughes

Books About Explaining Death

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and March Brown
  • I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
  • Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie
  • Water Bugs & Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children
  • The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life

Books About Losing a Pet

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Goodbye Mousie by Robie Harris
  • I’ll Always Love You by Hans Willhelm
  • Alfie and the Birthday Surprise by Shirley Hughes
  • Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corrine Demas
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
  • Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker

Books About Losing a Loved One:

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • Where Are You? A Child’s Book About Loss by Laura Olivieri
  • Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss by Michaelene Mundy
  • When Your Grandparent Dies: A Child’s Guide to Good Grief by Victoria Ryan
  • Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
  • Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
  • Gentle Willow: A Story for Children About Dying by Joyce C. Mills
  • Grandma’s Purple Flowers by Adjoa J. Burrowes
  • Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
  • Saying Goodbye to Daddy by Judith Vigna
  • The Blue Roses by Linda Boyden
  • Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert
  • Lifetimes by Warren Hanson

Books About Grief or Trauma

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

  • A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes

Divorce: Reading List

For Toddlers and Little Kids:

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

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