Books: Powerful Tools for Exploring Emotions

It’s the end of the year.

Expectations are high.

How do you make sure everyone is alright?

The answer is not simple.

It is really quite  unclear.

But, books are powerful tools. 

So please, do not fear.

As a former employee in a small but bustling toy store, and now as a Children’s & Teen Librarian, I feel I have seen the spectrum of joy and stress that end of year deadlines and holidays can deliver to community members. This year, I consulted Marilyn Alberts, who has a Masters Degree in Child Development and who is funded through the Birmingham Foundation to serve families on Pittsburgh’s South Side via Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Knoxville. Alberts was able to share some practical tips about facing year end stress, and both of us found some books that can help caregivers explore the concepts of expectations and emotions with children.

Tips & Insights:

  • Include children in activities for any year end holiday. It takes more time, but it will mean a lot if they take part in decorating, making, or preparing for a gathering.
  • Find part of your routine that can stay the same during the year’s end. Stick to your bedtime routine, for example, to create a haven from holiday schedules that can depart from the norm. This maintains some continuity and a sense of safety.
  • Be transparent about plans and acknowledge things that might be particularly exciting or difficult this year, as families and expectations shift.
  • Read. Reading together does not just open up critical dialogues about feelings — it also creates bonds that last a lifetime.



Who Done It by Olivier Tallec is an interactive book that challenges the reader to identify feelings among a cast of beautiful illustrated characters.


I Wish I Had… by Giovanna Ziboli explores traits and abilities through the eyes of animals big and small.


Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett uses bright illustrations and conversational prose to tell a story of expectation, disappointment, and a sweet change of heart.


Red Sled by Lita Judge is a nearly wordless book that invites readers on a joyful night time sled ride. Practice identifying sounds and adapting to twists and turns!


Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail is about losing your temper and finding it again.

When reading, you can start to have conversations about the emotions you see. It is not possible to have all the answers when discussing emotions. Sharing books that explore emotions is a great tool to opening conversations, and to allow children to see themselves in stories. Together, you will find names and a common vocabulary for exploring emotions year round.

So, now what?

Visit your nearest public library and talk with a Librarian about books that can help you talk about specific emotions, and about year end holidays you celebrate.

By Angela, CLP – Squirrel Hill

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