Headstart for Life

5 Picture Books That Speak the Language of Feelings

“Feelings come and feelings go. I never know what they’ll be. Silly or angry, happy or sad — They’re all a part of me!” – Janan Cain

Abracadabra! Welcome back to Headstart for Life and our blog Beyond Therapy again! This week, through this blog post, with the feeling of “macaroni and cheese”, I would like to share with you these five picture books that talk about FEELINGS!

Emotion recognition is a term that refers specifically to the ability to recognise how facial expressions are linked to the inner emotional experience (Hutchins & Prelock 2008). From my understanding of social skills, I believe that emotion recognition is the foundation to support other subsequent skills. Children learn from recognizing emotions in pictures then extend the skill to real-life context. For neurotypical children, they might learn to recognize others’ emotions through their experiences without having explicit and intensive training. While for children who might be struggling with having a clue of what others are feeling, these five picture books can be some great tools to help them with.

1. I’m Feeling Macaroni and Cheese


Photo credit: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Im-Feeling-Macaroni-and-Cheese/Tina-Gallo/Crayola/9781534402003

This is a very colourful book that uses a series of creative names to address various feelings that we experience every day. From Macaroni and cheese that means happy in this book, to Mango Tango that represents the feeling of “surprise”. Talk to your toddlers or pre-schoolers on these feelings using these special terms from the book might sound pretty fun! Or, you can help them to create their version of the name of feelings using their vocabulary.

2. The Way I Feel


Photo credit: https://www.amazon.com/Way-I-Feel-Janan-Cain/dp/1884734723

Play this game with your child: take a turn to put on a different facial expression that represents a different feeling and make a guess. You can frown, cross your arms, or hold your fist and pretend that you are about to shout “I can’t do this” and ask your child to guess what you are feeling. Definitely, you can describe the feelings on your own. Or, you can also use the description on this book to act out your feeling. Moreover, the illustrations on all the faces in this book give a significant idea of how people look like when they feel a certain way. You can talk with your children about what the eyes are doing and what the mouth are doing with a particular emotion. Try it today and have fun!

3. In my Heart


Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/359443613987937563/?autologin=true

I personally like this book very much that the simple design of the pages and the minimal colour of this book give a very warm and calm feeling to the readers. With very gentle descriptions of these feelings: happy, brave, mad, calm, hurt, sad, hopeful, afraid, silly, and shy, I would recommend this book as your bedtime story. When you read this book to your child, don’t forget to put the feelings into your voice too! Add very colourful intonation to your expression that can make it so much fun and will definitely enhance your child’s impression of these feelings! Remember, “Eek!”, “Abracadabra!”, “ Aaaarrgghh!”, “Hooray!”, “Wow!”.

4. Who is Happy?


Photo credit: http://hardiegrantgift.com.au/books/who-is-happy/jarvis/9781847807229/

In the morning, who is excited about breakfast? While getting ready for school, who is worried they’re running late? In the classroom, who is shy about showing their work? This book is not a classic picture book where you see beautiful illustrations and wonderful sentences on the page. I would think that this book is an “I Spy” book, in which you have to look for the character that has a particular feeling, for example, “who is excited about breakfast?”, look for the figure that shows the feeling in the context. If your child is also interested in this book, this book might guarantee a pleasant interactive quality time with your children. Before bedtime, who is excited about their bedtime story?

5. Visiting Feelings


Photo credit: https://www.amazon.com/Visiting-Feelings-Lauren-Rubenstein/dp/1433813394

This book was published by American Psychological Association that talks about mindfulness. It has a very strong flavour of art and literary expression of its language. This book helps people to have more awareness of the emotions, accepting the feeling and watching the feeling from a distal perspective, as eventually the feeling comes and the feeling goes. Just like what the author writes in this book “If you listen to what your body can say, you’ll find that your feelings are really okay.” From my point of view, I see that this book is trying to translate the state of mindfulness into some meaningful and imaginative language. Even if it is not suitable for your children as the language is too advance, I think it will also be a good read for adults.

As I previously learned and mentioned in my previous blog post, all emotions have its equal surviving values and also serve their own function and purpose. I hope introducing these books to you will be helpful in recognizing all the emotions. Most importantly, relate the idea to the daily life experiences so that children will start to link these feelings to their own inner emotional experience.

Remarks: These books are available at National Library Board.



Hutchins, T. L. & Prelock, P. (2008) Theory of Mind Task Battery.

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Freya

Freya has been working with children with special needs for four years and has a strong interest in Social Skills Training. In her time with children, she believes that “Understanding the child’s ability is the key”. She is grateful for the opportunities to grow and learn together with all the children she has met and also to be their companion.

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