How Do You Feel? Picture Books

Feelings can be very confusing to young children, and some of the best ways to teach about them are with picture books. These new titles are fun for teaching lessons about emotions and character education.

Too Tall HousesToo Tall Houses by Gianna Marino. 9780670013142. 2012. Gr PK-2.

Rabbit and Owl are next-door neighbors—and very good friends.  Owl likes to sit on his roof and watch the forest, while Rabbit loves to work in his garden.  But one day Owl complains that Rabbit’s vegetables are growing too tall, and blocking his view of the forest…and the next day Owl builds his house a little taller.  Then it is Rabbit’s turn to complain, “Owl, your house is blocking the sun from reaching my veggies”…and Rabbit builds his house a little taller than Owl’s.  Back and forth they argue until their houses are the tallest houses in the world.  But up so high, the wind is stronger and gustier, and it blows their houses apart.  Now they each have nothing…but do they still have their friendship?

Black DogBlack Dog by Levi Pinfold. 9780763660970. 2012. Gr PK-2.

Kids—and others—often fear the unknown because they have blown it all out of proportion.  Mr. Hope, the first one to see the black dog, calls the police about a black dog the size of a tiger outside his house. When Mrs. Hope sees it, she cries, “There’s a black dog the size of an elephant outside!” By the time the older children get up, it has grown to the size of a T-Rex and more.  Then Small gets up, takes a look, and heads outside. “Try and catch me!”  The black dog chases Small, around and around, and as they run it gets smaller and smaller, until the two squeeze into the house through the cat door. The lesson is presented gently and matter-of-factly by Small Hope:  “There was nothing to be scared of, you know.”

HappyHappy by Mies van Hout. 9781935954149. 2012. Gr PK-1.

There are lots of words for emotions, but kids usually get by with happy, sad, and mad.  With minimal text, this picture book uses the expressions of fish to illustrate many other feelings, including nervous, shy, furious, brave, confused, jealous, and astonished.  The fish, though hilarious, are also right on target with their facial expressions, even when emotions are similar, such as angry and furious; or surprised, shocked, and astonished.  The illustrations remind me of sidewalk chalk (very BOLD sidewalk chalk) on a freshly blacktopped driveway.  This book belongs in every classroom, library, preschool, and home.

I can think of no complaint from kids worse than “I’m bored.”  Here are two funny books about that most feared ailment.

I'm BoredI’m Bored by Michael Ian Black, ill. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 9781442414037. 2012. PK-2.

The narrator finds herself bored, bored, bored, until she spies a potato—a TALKING potato. This talking potato is bored because it has to hang out with a kid, and kids are boring!  Forgetting her own boredom, the girl tries to convince the potato that kids are not boring—they can play games and turn cartwheels.  “Boring,” says the potato.  Well, kids can pretend stuff, like being a famous ballerina or a lion tamer.  “Boring,” says the potato.  No matter what ideas the girl has, the potato’s response is “Boring.”  With its funny illustrations and the increasingly spirited text, this book would make a great read-aloud when everyone says, “I’m bored.”

Delia's Dull DayDelia’s Dull Day : An Incredibly Boring Story by Andy Myer. 9781585368044. 2012. Gr PK-1.

A little girl is sure that she lives the most boring life.  Just look at yesterday—walking past the same 16 boring houses, riding on the same boring bus…even recess was boring.  While the narrator tells the story of the lack of excitement in her life, the illustrations tell the story of a girl who doesn’t pay attention to the world around her.  Hot air balloons float through the sky, a pirate sits behind her on the bus, and a lost submarine surfaces in the school swimming pool.  At the end of the day she cries, “Now do you see how completely boring my life is??!!”  Well, she decides, tomorrow is another day.  And the end of the book shows that things do not have to be big or extraordinary in order to be interesting.

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