The Benefits of Social-Emotional Books for Early Learning Development

As children develop, they learn to identify and gradually regulate their feelings. With the help of language, they can talk about their emotions instead of just acting on them.

With adult support and their own growing awareness, children also develop an understanding of other people’s feelings and emotions and how they defer from theirs.

The social-emotional aspect of child development plays a crucial role in a child’s overall growth and well-being. It encompasses the ability to understand and manage emotions, develop healthy relationships, and navigate social situations effectively.


Social-emotional books can be a powerful tool in supporting the early years foundation of a child's social-emotional development.

These books often feature relatable characters and scenarios that children can connect with, helping them to understand and process their own emotions and experiences.

By exposing children to stories that explore themes such as friendship, empathy, self-awareness, and conflict resolution, social-emotional books can provide valuable lessons and strategies for navigating the complexities of social interactions and emotional regulation. You can also incorporate literacy activities based on a specific book and expand the learning experience.

For example – using the book “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry ” by Molly Bang:

when Sophie Gets Angry- Really really Angry

Activity : Exploring Emotions and Coping Strategies.

Objectives : Identify and name different emotions

Understand the importance of expressing emotions in a healthy way

Explore coping strategies for managing strong emotions

Materials :

Book: “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry” by Molly Bang

Emotion cards or pictures representing different feelings (e.g., happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised)

Paper and art supplies (crayons, markers, etc.)


Start by reading the book “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry” to the class.

Discuss the different emotions Sophie experienced throughout the story and how her anger escalated.


Emotion Identification: Show the emotion cards or pictures to the children.

Ask them to name each emotion and share a time when they felt that way.

Sophie’s Emotions: Revisit the story and have the children identify the emotions Sophie experienced at different points in the narrative.

Coping Strategies: Discuss the coping strategies Sophie used to manage her anger, such as going for a walk, kicking a tree, and eventually calming down.

Art Expression: Provide each child with paper and art supplies. Ask them to draw or create a representation of a time when they felt really angry or upset, and illustrate how they coped with that emotion.


Have children share their artwork and discuss the coping strategies they depicted.

Emphasize the importance of expressing emotions healthily and safely, just like Sophie did.

Encourage children to use the strategies they learned from the book and the activity when they experience strong emotions in the future.

Extension Activities: In active learning, every subject matter can be connected and incorporated into the other learning areas.

So extensions can look like creating an art project that will last more than a week so, you can continue to discuss and reinforce the importance of Identifying emotions and coping with emotions healthily.

We once made a Big Sophie tree out of wood in art. It was placed on the wall of the library. Children used it as their claiming corner.

Create a classroom “Calm Corner” with books, stuffed animals, and other calming tools for children to use when they need to manage big emotions.

Introduce mindfulness and deep breathing exercises as additional coping strategies.

Invite children to share their own experiences and strategies for dealing with emotions like anger or frustration.

This activity promotes emotional literacy , self-awareness , and healthy coping mechanisms by using the relatable story and characters from a book.

Here is a list of Social-emotional books I personally like to read and/or incorporate into activities.

Grumpy bird

Grumpy Bird is a delightful children’s book written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard . In this charming tale, Bird wakes up feeling grumpy—too grumpy to eat, play, or even fly.

It’s a heartwarming story that reminds us of the power of friendship and how even the grumpiest days can turn brighter when shared with loved ones. 🦜🌟

The feelings book

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr is a wonderful exploration of emotions for young children. In this vibrant and engaging board book, Parr celebrates the wide range of feelings we all experience.

From feeling silly to feeling brave, the book playfully captures the ever-changing and sometimes nonsensical emotions that make us human. The bold, bright colors and silly scenes make it accessible and relatable for kids.

My Many colored days

My Many Colored Days is a children’s book written by Theodor Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss . Accompanying a manuscript Geisel wrote in 1974 was a letter outlining his hopes of finding “a great color artist who will not be dominated by me.” Geisel saw his original text about feelings and moods as part of the “first book ever to be based on beautiful illustrations and sensational color.”

Over the years I have taught so many litercy and social-emotional activities using this book. In this rhyming story, each day is described in terms of a particular color, which is associated with a specific emotion. The vibrant illustrations and unique approach cover a range of moods and feelings, making it a wonderful way for parents and teachers to talk with children about their emotions.

I was so mad

I Was So Mad is another one written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer . In this classic, funny, and heartwarming story, Little Critter experiences quite a grumpy day. The Critter family keeps saying “no” to just about everything Little Critter wants to do. Whether it’s keeping frogs in the tub or helping paint the house, Little Critter’s frustration grows. But will his bad day be salvaged with a little help from a friend? ‘Little Critters series are all gems’ 📚🦔

I hate everything

I Hate Everything! A book about feeling angry is another awesome children’s book written by Sue Graves and illustrated by Desideria Guicciardini. In this engaging story, Sam is having a bad day, and nothing seems to be going right. His dad is too busy to play with him, he dislikes his lunch, and even Archie’s party doesn’t bring him joy. But can Aunt Jen help him manage his anger?

Be Kind

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller is a heartwarming picture book that beautifully illustrates the power of kindness. When Tanisha accidentally spills grape juice on her new dress, her classmate contemplates how to make her feel better and what it truly means to be kind. From inviting the new girl to play to standing up against bullying, this moving and thoughtful story explores the impact of small acts of kindness.

Each gesture, no matter how small, can make a difference in someone’s day—or at least help a friend.

Each gesture, no matter how small, can make a difference in someone’s day—or at least help a friend.

Lama lama Mad at Mama

Lama Lama Mad at Mama is a delightful and rhythmic phrase that captures the playful emotions of a child. It’s like a little poetic chant, expressing a child’s frustration or annoyance with their mother. The repetition of “Lama lama” adds a sing-song quality, making it memorable and endearing. ‘Love all Lama Lama book series by Anna D. ‘ 🦙💕

Grumpy Monkey says No!

Grumpy Monkey Says NO! is a fun children’s book written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang . In this original board book, Jim Panzee, the grumpy monkey, seems to have a penchant for saying “no” to everything. Whether it’s going for a walk, having a playdate, or even eating a banana, Jim’s default response is a resounding “no.” But can he ever decide to say “YES” instead?

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a heartwarming children’s picture book written by Philip C . Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. In this delightful tale, we meet Amos McGee, a friendly zookeeper who has formed deep bonds with the animals he cares for. Each day, Amos visits his good friends at the zoo, ensuring he meets their unique needs.

A heartwarming tale of friendship, compassion, and the joy of caring for others, all wrapped up in the cozy world of a zookeeper and his animal friends.

How Do Dinosaurs say I'm MAD?

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? is an intersting children’s book written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. In this playful and relatable story, dinosaurs exhibit various behaviors when they are angry. From sticking out their tongues to throwing tantrums, the dinosaurs’ antics capture the range of emotions associated with being mad.

But fear not! The book also teaches young readers how to handle their tempers—whether through counting to ten, taking a timeout, or practicing calm breathing. All of the ‘How Do Dinosaurs’ book series’ are my favorites.

Big Feelings

Big Feelings is a powerful and uplifting picture book written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman . In this heartwarming story, a group of children navigate their neighborhood, experiencing a range of emotions—both big and small.

From anger and frustration to hope and inspiration, the children learn to see the world from different points of view. The book celebrates diversity, kindness, and the importance of acknowledging our feelings

The way I feel

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain is a wonderful children’s book that uses strong, colorful, and expressive images to help children connect words with emotions. In this beautifully illustrated book, kids learn useful words to name their feelings, just as they name all things in their world.

I Like myself

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont is a delightful children’s book that celebrates self-acceptance and self-love. In this joyous rhyming tale, a little girl embraces everything about herself—inside and out. Whether she has messy hair or beaver breath, she knows what truly matters. The book’s sassy and soulful text, paired with David Catrow’s wild illustrations, encourages kids to appreciate their uniqueness and feel good about who they are.

Some Days

Some Days by Karen Kaufman Orloff is a moving and delightful exploration of a child’s shifting feelings. In this rhyming picture book, readers follow a year in the life of a young boy and girl as they experience a wide range of emotions—joy, fear, anger, jealousy, excitement, pride, disappointment, loneliness, and contentment.

From “angels in the snow days” to “need my mommy now days,” children learn how to cope with both positive and negative feelings. The book encourages open discussions about emotions and helps kids understand that it’s okay to feel different things at different times.

Love You Forever

Last but definitely not least, Love You Forever is a touching children’s picture book written by Robert Munsch and beautifully illustrated by Sheila McGraw . The story centers around the enduring love between a mother and her son.

When I first started teaching and I used to Read this Book to my Pre-K group, I used to bawl my eyes out. Teaching moment I suppose.

In the end as a parent or a teacher, reading stories/books that explore diverse experiences and perspectives can foster empathy and understanding your children.

Many social-emotional books present characters facing challenges or conflicts, providing opportunities for children to learn effective problem-solving strategies.

Books that model healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation can help children develop these important skills.

Stories that highlight positive social behaviors, such as sharing, cooperation, and conflict resolution, can encourage children to apply these skills in their own interactions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.