All the Feels : Social-Emotional Books and Toddlers

Korie Staff Image

If you have a toddler at home, you are most likely familiar with things like tantrums, the struggle to refrain from saying “no” or random emotional breakdowns for no apparent reason. You may have also witnessed your toddler having difficulty sharing with other children or taking turns, and even seen (or felt) an occasional bite.

All of these behaviors can be frustrating to deal with as this little person’s caregiver. It’s frustrating for the little person too! And while the tantrums, tears and teeth are all very normal for a toddler, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to make life a little easier for both you and your little one.

One thing you can do is add some social-emotional books into your reading time with your toddler. Social-emotional books are any books that help you and your child address emotions and how your child deals with those emotions, as well as how to establish positive relationships with other people.

Books about emotions, such as The Feelings Book by Todd Parr or Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner, can make it easier for you to discuss ways to recognize and deal with how your child is feeling. Books about relationships, like Emily’s Sharing and Caring Book by Cindy Post Senning, are engaging examples of how caring for someone else and having empathy are important and help to build good relationships with others.

Cover of the book, Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner.

Reading to your little one is a wonderful way to spend some special time with him or her, but it is also an opportunity to teach your toddler a little more about things they experience in life every day, including what “angry” feels like, how to cope with disappointment or why it’s worthwhile to share with a friend. It is also a good way to start building a feeling vocabulary: a word bank to help your child tell you how he or she is feeling. Sometimes all it takes to prevent a tantrum is your child being able to tell you, “I’m angry!” Reading social-emotional books will help you to introduce new words about emotions into your child’s quickly growing vocabulary. After you read some of these books to your toddler, the next time she seems upset, encourage her to use her words to tell you how she feels.

As your child becomes more comfortable and skilled with expressing herself, you will find yourself spending less time trying to control a tantrum and more time having fun with your toddler.

CLP offers several “Here to Help” booklists that recommend books for children of all ages about different life events that may be challenging to discuss with your child. Check out some of the “Here to Help” booklists for ideas on books to read to your child to help them grow socially and emotionally.

Korie is part of the Library’s Early Learning BLAST Outreach team. Her favorite children’s authors are Kevin Henkes and Audrey and Don Wood. She enjoys making sensory bottles, taking long walks through small neighborhoods and ‘80’s era fantasy films.

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