Ten Children’s Books that Build Emotional Intelligence


Children’s books are one of the best ways to help children learn emotional skills.  Before children can learn to cope with their big feelings, they need to have some knowledge about them.  This is why children’s books are so helpful in building emotional intelligence.

Books are visual so they remove the burden of processing a bunch of spoken language.  The pictures support the words on the page.  Also, the characters in the book experience the emotions and not your child.  This degree of separation allow your child to better develop emotional intelligence because it’s not quite so personal.

Books can also demonstrate some coping strategies for your children.  Once they have the emotional intelligence to recognize their feelings, the next step is to learn to manage the feeling in a productive and healthy manner.

Here’s a round-up of some of our family favorites. They are in no particular order, but all these books we’ve read, enjoyed, and own!

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Children’s Books for Emotional Intelligence

I’m Proud of Myself!

In I’m Proud of Myself, the narrator wrestles with a lot of big emotions.  He uses coping strategies to manage his feelings and overcomes obstacles.  He provides a good example of the grit and resilience and also makes explicit how to use calming strategies.

If you buy this book, you’ll soon hear your children recognizing their triumphs and coaching themselves through big feelings.

(Get a printable with calming strategies here and read how to use the tips).

I Can Handle It!

Written by the same author as I’m Proud of Myself, in I Can Handle It, the narrator manages some difficult feelings. He starts by naming the emotions which is really helpful to make feelings more explicit for children.  Then he demonstrates some flexible thinking during challenges and recognizes when his mistake can be corrected.

Your child will learn the mantra “I Can Handle It!” when reading this book.

(Get a printable behavior chart and see how we deal with behavior choices at our home).

Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel is an anxious fellow.  He sticks to his predictable routine instead of venturing out of his safe and comfy treehouse.  One day he has an accidental trip in the Great Unknown and discovers that new things aren’t really as scary as he thought – they can actually be awesome.

This book is a great launching pad to discussing trying new things with your anxious or fearful child.

If your child connects with Scaredy Squirrel, there is a whole series including Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach, and Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party.

What Should Danny Do?

Danny is a school-aged child who faces the conflicts and decisions many children face. In What Should Danny Do, he experiences arguments with his sibling, faces a meal time disappointment, has a conflict over taking turns, and many additional challenges. Danny’s parents, however, have taught him he has a superpower: the Power to Choose.

In this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style book, the readers see how Danny always has the choice to make a positive or negative decision.  Those decisions have a cumulative affect on whether Danny has a good or bad day.

The sequel What Should Danny Do? School Day presents situations unique to school – facing a mean student, standing up for a friend, asking a teach for help with a lesson, and perservering in an assignment when it’s confusing.

(Read more about how you can help your child make good choices here and get a printable about your child’s Power to Choose).

Wemberly Worried

Kevin Henkes has adorable children’s books with easily-relatable characters. In Wemberly Worried, Wemberly has some pretty big anxiety and worries about all sorts of things.  She is especially worried about her first day of school until she learns to connect with another worried child and discovers friends and school can be pretty fun.

This is another excellent book for any little worriers in your life.  It shows the able to persevere in the face of big feelings.

Pete the Cat and the New Guy

A new friend moves into Pete’s neighborhood in Pete the Cat and the New Guy.  Gus is a little disappointed that he doesn’t have any of the special talents that Pete’s other friends have.  Pete helps Gus realize there is something special he can do and that everyone has their unique talents.

This book is great for highlighting that comparison leads to discouragement.  It shows how it’s important for your children to highlight their strengths.

Not Quite Narwhal

In Not Quite Narwhal, Kelp learns all about fitting in, standing out, and the gift of profound acceptance.  He lives in the ocean as a narwhal but one day discovers a new place filled with unicorns and learns that perhaps he isn’t quite who he always thought.  This book is a celebration of uniqueness and inclusion.

Waiting is Not Easy

One of the Elephant and Piggie books, in Waiting is Not Easy Gerald really struggles to stay calm while waiting for Piggie to reveal a big surprise.  Gerald learns that while waiting can be hard, the pay off can be unmistakably huge.

I am Thankful

Part of the Positive Power series, I am Thankful is an easy reader that’s filled with gratitude.  A young boy narrator reflects on how he is thankful for a number of every day experiences – a warm bed, family time, a new friend.

I am Strong, I am Kind, and I am Brave are other books we’ve enjoyed in the series.

If you like this round-up, be sure to check out the Best Preschool Board Games!

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