Book List for Social-Emotional Learning

Books are a powerful way to help children make sense of difficult feelings and situations. 

As babies children learn and grow, they must cope with situations that are new, potentially scary, or ones that cause confusion or sadness. These big feelings can be overwhelming and books can be a great way to help children make sense of their feelings. 

Reading stories over again is a good way to help ensure that children can make sense of new ideas – a familiar story is also very comforting! 

Here’s a short list of our absolute favorites to get you started: 

  • The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
  • I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer
  • Love You Forever by Sheila McGraw
  • Where’s Your Smile Crocodile? by Clarie Freedman
  • What Are you So Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld
  • Elmer by David McKee
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • In My Heart, a Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
  • Mean Soup by Betsy Everitt
  • Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang

(The books on this page were published in English and may also be available in Spanish at the library.)

Helping Children Explore and Understand Feelings Through Books

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

Get the Full List of Books Recommendations

Many of the book recommendations on this page are from Zero To Three, a nationwide nonprofit focused on early childhood development. 

The full list of book recommendations to support social-emotional learning is on Zero to Three’s website and includes stories on topics like coping with fears, self-control, friendship, grief and loss, and divorce.

Source: Zero to Three,