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List of Children's Books That Help Emotional Development

by Alice Drinkworth, studioD

Kindergarten teachers report that one in five children entering kindergarten does not have the emotional and social skills to be ready for school, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Children learn from example, and reading books together can show them how others navigate their emotions and give examples on how to cope. Find relevant role models dealing with anger, anxiety, sharing and other feelings in this list of children’s books that help emotional development.


Angry feelings catch one by surprise, and acting out can lead to many time-outs. Read about how to handle anger in these titles. "Mouse Was Mad," by Linda Urban, is about an angry mouse stomping through the forest trying to find the right way to be mad. His animal friends offer their ideas. Bear tells him to stomp. Bobcat shows him how to scream. Mouse has to find his own way to express his anger. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," by Judith Viorst, describes a very bad day for Alexander. From the time he wakes up until he goes to bed, Alexander gets the bad shake of the day, enough that he wishes to move to Australia. "When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry," by Molly Band, follows young Sophie, who gets so angry, she wants to smash the world to smithereens. She finds a way to cope with her emotions in a way that is universal.


Fear is common in childhood, and small ones can often find solace in books about other children dealing with the same fears. "The Kissing Hand," by Audrey Penn, deals with starting school and the anxiety related to separating from a parent. "Wemberly Worried," by Kevin Henkes, features a mouse starting kindergarten. Wemberly already worries a lot, and now she has more to worry about when she goes to school and worries how other kids will perceive her. "Go Away, Big, Green Monster," by Ed Emberly, deals with the classic childhood fear of monsters in a playful way. Children see the monster taking shape, then tell it to go away, piece by piece.


Learning to play with others and sharing toys is an important skill to learn for children. These books tackle the social side of emotions. "How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends?" by Jane Yolen, is a romp with dinosaurs behaving badly. The ironic text will have children roaring. "Mine!" by Shutta Crum, is for any child who ever had a toy they really liked and didn’t want to share. "Benny’s Pennies," by Pat Brisson, is a rhyming tale about a boy with five pennies to spend, and all the ideas on how to spend them.


"My Many Colored Days," by Dr. Seuss, is a lesser known Seuss classic about different emotions. Each day is given a color, based on emotion, presented in classic Seuss rhyme. "Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes," by Eric Litwin, demonstrates a cool, laid-back attitude when facing bad experiences. Pete the Cat keeps his cool whatever he steps in. "No, David," by David Shannon, is another in the popular David series. Children who get in trouble can relate to the impish David, who is always hearing, “NO!”

About the Author

Alice Drinkworth has been a writer and journalist since 1995. She has written for community newspapers, college magazines and Salon.com. Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. She is also a certified master gardener.

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