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Our favorite books for families facing tough times

Books About Feelings Reading List

Fighting the Big Virus: Trinka, Sam, and Littletown Work Together

Our favorite books for families facing tough times

ZERO TO THREE experts share our favorite picture and activity books for supporting young children through stressful and traumatic situations.

Natalia Lebedinskaia


New & Featured

Fighting the Big Virus: Trinka, Sam, and Littletown Work Together

New from our friends at Piplo Productions, Trinka and Sam help young children and families talk about their experiences and feelings related to COVID-19 and the need to shelter in place. In this free and downloadable picture book, the virus has spread to Littletown causing changes in everyone’s lives. Their experiences support children and caregivers as they talk about family and community strengths, challenges and feelings related to coronvirus, ways grown-ups help children keep safe, and our gratitude for frontline workers.

The story includes a coloring book, a booklet of common questions children may ask, and a parent guide. Also available in Spanish.


I’m Here For You Now

This board book includes eight photo inserts for caregivers (parents, other family members, and/or child-care providers) to add pictures that chronicle a child’s daily interactions with the loving adults in his life. The soothing refrain, “I’m here for you now” serves as a calming reminder to children that they will be loved, nurtured, and protected, no matter what the circumstances.


CuddleBright ExperienceTM

Emphasizing the emotional experience of infants and toddlers, CuddleBright includes four components that work together:

cuddly lovie for the child that can be used as a transitional object to comfort and calm.

A Cuddle Before I Go, an illustrated board book about saying hello and goodbye that promotes positive separations and reunions.

parenting guide with practical tips from experts on topics related to social and emotional development, such as attachment, communication and self-regulation.

And a keepsake heart, which is a transitional object for parents, to help parents feel close to their child during time spent apart. Used together, these items create a shared emotional experience to foster loving, predictable rituals and routines that help build secure attachments.


Piplo Productions

In a series of picture books to help children and grown-ups start difficult conversations and snuggle in closer together, ZERO TO THREE board member and author Chandra Ghosh Ippen combines her love of storytelling and cute creatures with her training in clinical psychology.

You Weren’t With Me

Little Rabbit and Big Rabbit are together after a difficult separation, but even though they missed each other, Little Rabbit is not ready to cuddle up and receive Big Rabbit’s love. This story was designed to help parents and children talk about difficult separations to help them reconnect and find their way back to each other. Available in Spanish.

The book may be helpful for families experiencing:

  • Social distancing, self-isolation, or quarantine
  • Caregiver work-related separations
  • Divorce or caregiver separation
  • Military service related separations
  • Immigration related separations
  • Child welfare related separations
  • Parental incarceration
  • Parental substance use related separations


Once I Was Very, Very Scared

A little squirrel announces that he was once very, very, scared and finds out that he is not alone. Lots of little animals went through scary experiences, but they react in different ways. This story was written to help children and grown-ups (parents, teachers, and other important adults) understand how stress can affect children and ways to help them. Available in Spanish, German, and Norwegian, and Swedish.


Holdin Pott

When you’re little and the heat is on really high, it’s hard to keep the lid on and hold tough stories and feelings inside. This story of a family under a lot of pressure helps children and grown-ups start difficult conversations about emotions.


For Military Families

Over There

This popular book features children expressing their feelings about their parents being away on deployment. Use the template to create your own unique book in either the Mommy or Daddy version! Purchase or download for free, then add photos that represent the spirit of the text. If you and your child are feeling extra creative, you can even draw your own illustrations. Do whatever feels right to capture your family’s unique deployment story.


This book is designed to support a young child whose parent has experienced a physical or emotional injury/illness. Recommended for military families to use when a parent or caregiver of a young child has been injured during deployment, it tells the story of a young bird whose beloved parent has been away on a long journey.


Home Again

This children’s book is written to address the needs of families with young children who are experiencing the return of a parent who has been deployed with the military. Although these reunions can be exciting and joyful, they can also be stressful, both for the adults and for young children. The book explores the many emotions young children may feel at this time and also helps the parents understand the children’s reactions and behavior.


For Adults

The Emotional Life of the Toddler

Now updated with new material throughout, Alicia F. Lieberman’s The Emotional Life of the Toddler is the seminal, detailed look into the varied and intense emotional life of children aged one to three. Hailed as “groundbreaking” by The Boston Globe after its initial publication, the new edition includes the latest research on this crucial stage of development.


Behavior Has Meaning Wheels

Behaviors like these are an ongoing problem for nearly all parents of toddlers. ZERO TO THREE knows that professionals in the field need practical resources that encourage and support struggling parents. These easy-to-use wheels have been helping parents and child care providers learn to manage challenging behavior effectively for more than a decade.


Calming Strategies from A to Z

Nothing works every time a baby cries, and sometimes nothing works! But when little ones are fussy, here are 26 ideas to try when they need some soothing.

Purchase of this product includes a poster and handout with unlimited license to download, print, and distribute these resources.


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