Learning from stories is one of the most effective ways to get a message across to children. Kids get engaged easily and remember what they learn through books. In addition, countless studies show that reading to our kids is a great way to help them develop important literacy skills.
Why not teach them a bit about emotional wellness at the same time?
Here is a list of my favourite 6 children’s books to help teach kids (and adults!) about emotional intelligence.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers, by Jen Wojtowski
This is a beautiful story about a boy who doesn’t fit in within his school or community. He is quiet, shy, and just plain different than the people around him. He has a magical secret that makes him even more different that he hides from the kids at school – he grows a magical flower from his head. One day, a beautiful and friendly and well-liked new girl comes to his class. He is immediately drawn to her. Over time, he realizes that she cannot join the class dance party because one of her legs is shorter than the other. He immediately decides to help her by making shoes that help her dance with ease. They form a beautiful friendship and discover they aren’t that different after all! This book is illustrated with captivating pictures and helps kids see that we are all connected if we take the time to look. Kindness pulls us all together.
In My Heart, by Jo Witek
This is a book geared toward young children and describes a range of feelings and emotions in a relatable way. It normalizes strong feelings so that the child can see that it’s ok to have big emotions. It is cute, simple, and a little bit silly. It is an easy and fun read.
What Do You Do With an Idea? By Kobi Yamada
This is the story of a boy with an idea that won’t leave him alone. He starts out without the confidence to grow it. He is even a bit ashamed of it and hides it. As he slowly gains more confidence, he starts to take care of his idea. He feeds it, he learns to love it, and it grows and grows. This is a story that helps kids have the confidence to change their lives, communities, and the world around them.
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, by Emily Pearson
Mary is a normal little girl who does a normal little act of kindness. Her small gesture makes the recipient happy, causing her to do a good deed for someone else. This starts a chain reaction of good deeds, until it comes back around to Mary. This is an impactful story about how one small deed can go a long way. I love the message of this one.
After the Fall, by Dan Santat
This book teaches kids that they can get back up again after failure. The well known story of Humpty Dumpty falling off of the wall and breaking is taken further in this powerful story. What happens to him AFTER he falls? For a while, he is down in the dumps and feeling sorry for himself. Eventually, he learns that he can try again, rise up, and soar. I tear up in this one every time I read it to my kids, which they don’t love. But if I can get through it without crying, they love it.
The Barefoot Book of Children, by Tessa Strickland, Kate DePalma, and David Dean
This book is one that I think every family with children should have out and on display. It isn’t a story, but rather a book full of beautiful pictures and text about children all over the world. It discusses how children are all different, covering religions, abilities, interests, types of homes, and so much more. It engages the child by having him relate his own experience to the ones portrayed in the book. This is a fairly long book, and can be read at any point in the book at any time. It is all about inclusivity and acceptance. I highly recommend this one!
These books are all great additions to any home library. My kids helped me choose these books as some of their favourites. They get read over and over and are an important part of their childhoods. They are definitely worth the investment!