Bibliotherapy, or the use of books as a therapeutic intervention, can be used very effectively to support children in understanding and processing their feelings and emotional experiences. Books can be used at home by parents and loved ones, in the therapy setting and at school by educators in the classroom. Many children and families already associate stories with deep connection, guidance in moral narratives and family bonding. Using books to aid in understanding emotional experiences can offer a lasting and powerful impact for caregivers and children alike. Books about feelings can also act as a tool to guide parents in modeling their own emotional expression for their children, communicating that such conversations are safe and welcome in their home. 


How Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers

Age Range: Toddler-3rd Grade

Focus: Emotional Development 

This is a book that personifies vegetables to assist in identifying feelings. The silliness of this narrative engages children, offering language to name emotional experiences. This book can be used with young toddlers to introduce emotional language, as well as with school age children to normalize emotional variation and fluidity. 


In My Heart: A Book of Feelings (Growing Hearts) By Jo Witek

Age Range: Toddler-3rd Grade

Focus: Emotional Development  

This story can also serve as important resource when introducing the concept of feelings to young children. The author uses colors, concrete language and simple drawings to create a powerful narrative of the range of emotions experienced by humans. Parents have shared that the colors and heart shaped cutouts immediately engage children, and that this story frequently becomes part of a regular nightly routine. 


The Color Monster By Anna Llenas 

Age Range: Toddler-3rd Grade 

Focus: Emotional Development 

The Color Monster is unique in that it both describes the character’s emotional overload and empowers children to make sense of their emotions in productive way. The author also uses colors to separate out the emotions and distinguish them from each other. While this book is helpful for toddlers, it seems to resonate very well for school aged children, promoting socio-emotional development. 


The Rabbit Listened By Cori Doerrfeld 

Age Range: The Whole Family!

Focus: Being Present, Moving Through Emotions

This simple story carries a deep, profound message that the entire family can benefit from. The reader observes as a young boy experiences the loss of his tower, and various friends offer solutions to help him feel better. Ultimately, what the boy finds that he needs is for someone to sit with him and listen, allowing him to move through his emotional experience. The Rabbit Listened is an important reminder of how we all experience frustration, anger, sadness, grief and disappointment and that sometimes, the best solution is for someone to bear witness to our experience. 


Wilma Jean and The Worry Machine By Julia Book & Anita DuFalla

Age Range: 2nd-5th Grade 

Focus: Anxiety/Worries 

In this story, Wilma Jean is a relatable character who is experiencing many different worries and fears. Throughout the book, she explores various coping skills to help with her fears and lessen her feelings of anxiety. This story is simultaneously humorous and helpful as it normalizes feelings of anxiety and empowers children to cope with their worries. 


How to Take the GRRR Our of Anger By Elizabeth Verdick & Majorie Lisovskis

Age Range: 2nd-6th Grade 

Focus: Anger/Frustration 

This book is an extremely helpful tool for older school aged children, speaking to feelings of anger and how to manage them. The story helps children to understand that feeling angry is normal, but that there are healthy ways to express this powerful emotional. It offers awareness for how and why anger can build up quickly and strategies for how to manage these feels before they become problematic and out of control. 


My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson 

Age Range: 1st-4th Grade 

Focus: Sadness/Fear

My Happy Life is a story about a young girl named Dani and her experience of happiness over time. Throughout the story, Dani faces challenges time of joy, like when she meets a new friend and periods of sadness, like when her friend moves away. Originally translated from Swedish, the story is compelling, as it represents an honest reflection of how our emotional experiences can evolve over time, emphasizing that we all experience this evolution and fluidity. 

For more info on child counseling at Cope With School NYC click here.