So you’re a parent who is taking control of your mental health and emotional well-being. Good for you you!
You want to pass down healthy skills to your kids, and equip them with knowledge and tools you didn’t have at their age. Way to go!
You’re looking for books to help with this. Good thinking!
Aaand you have no idea which ones are good or where to start… Me too!
I’m right there with you, Parent. I’m wading through all the options, reading reviews, making use of the library, and doing a whole bunch of pre-reading, too. Here are four books that get a thumbs up from me. Hope these reviews help you out as you research the right options for your kiddo.
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing
by Christopher Willard & Daniel Rechtschaffen, Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
If you want to teach your child how to calm down and breathe through their emotions, look no further than Alphabreaths! This book was recommended to me by a friend who is a Naturopathic Doctor, and I am glad I took them up on the suggestion. (THIS Naturopathic Doctor if you live in SK Canada and are looking for a good one.)
Alphabreaths is a collection of 26 breathing exercises, each starting with a letter of the alphabet so they are easy to remember. It is a simple, straightforward book with beautiful illustrations that makes breathing exercises relatable and easy to remember.
For example, you could remind a child to breathe “in through the nose and out through the mouth,” or you could say, “Let’s do some oatmeal breaths!” Oatmeal breaths are when you imagine a bowl of hot oatmeal in front of you. You breath in through the nose to smell the oatmeal, then breathe out through the mouth to cool it off.
You could also say to a child, “use your diaphragm,” or you could say, “Let’s do some teddy bear breaths!” Teddy bear breaths involve laying on your back, and placing a teddy bear on your tummy. Breathe so your teddy bear moves up and down.
The above youtube video shows Alphabreaths being used in a classroom, which is the ideal place for it, I believe. It is a little less ideal for families, simply because of the cost vs. long term use of the book. (Last I checked, it was $30+) After all, once you memorize the breaths, you may use it very little. If you are interested in this book for family use, I would recommend borrowing it from the library, or using the youtube video above.
(If anyone from Sounds True Publishing can hear me, I think putting all 26 breaths onto one page, and printing it as a poster would be awesome! I would absolutely buy that for home, and it could be used for schools too!)
I recommended this book for: 3-8 years old / Preschool-Grade 3
To help teach: mindfulness, relaxation, breathing
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings
by Britney Winn Lee, Illustrated by Jacob Souva
“There once was a boy with feathery hair
and a heart that was bursting with feeling.
His emotions seemed bigger than everyone else’s,
and sometimes they made him go reeling.”
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings is a rhyming story about a boy who is afraid of his emotions. They are big and overwhelming. He’s afraid that other people won’t like him if they know about his big feelings, so he tries to hide them instead of expressing them. Thankfully, he finds another child with big feelings too, and then they find others together. The moral of the story is that everyone has feelings, and that it’s ok to express them instead of keeping them inside. When you share what you are feeling with others, you’ll come to realize that they have feelings that affect them too, and many of them feel the same way you do.
I like how this book describes what the physical body feels with each emotion. I think this could help kids identify and name the feelings they are having out loud, possibly for the first time.
I recommend this book for: 3-6 years old / Preschool-Grade 2
To Help: highly sensitive kids, ADHD kids, or Autistic kids name and express emotions
The Smart Cookie
by Jory John & Pete Oswald
The Smart Cookie is a fictional story about a cookie who is having trouble in school. Cookie lacks confidence, is afraid to speak up in class, and is worried that they aren’t as smart as the other baked goods in the classroom. Cookie struggles with daydreaming, distractions, shyness, and low self-esteem. But thanks to the support of a very kind teacher, Ms. Biscotti, Cookie finds something that they are really good at. Their confidence soars, as they learn that it’s ok to not be the best at everything. Everyone has something that makes them special.
If a cookie could have ADHD, the Smart Cookie would be the poster child! So many of Cookie’s struggles are similar to my own children’s struggles. I think it’s wonderful that there are book characters for every child to relate to, even if that character is a cookie who sleeps in a cookie jar with six-dozen roommates!
I highly recommend this one for being so relatable, and so positive, and so darn cute!
I recommend this book for: 5-8 years old / Kindergarten-Grade 3
To Help: ADHD kids, or children who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, or low self-esteem
The Worry Workbook
by Imogen Harrison
Children’s Non-Fiction, Journal, Activity Book
The Worry Workbook is an activity book for children who struggle with worry and anxiety. I am almost tempted to use this one myself, because it is just that good!
This book contains 40 activities, from coloring for relaxation, to creating a mood tracker, to practicing positive self-talk, to keeping a gratitude journal, to breathing exercises. It teaches many sound Cognitive Behavior Therapy principles used by counselors and therapists, and is truly a remarkable tool. Where were books like this when I was a kid?
If they aren’t offended by the simple language and cutesy illustrations, this book could easily be good for teens as well as children. I think it would be useful for autistic teens who need short, straightforward instructions.
I recommend this book for: 7-12 years old/Grades 2-6 (and beyond)
To Help: anxious or highly sensitive children understand and process worry & anxiety
© 2023 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.
Disclosure: No affiliations here! While this page may contain links to products, I am not an affiliate or ambassador for any brand. I do not receive commission or kickback of any kind for recommending products. Just sharing stuff I love, and hope it helps someone. If you wish to support my blog in some way, please consider following me on social media and sharing my links with your friends. -Ashley