putting a name to emotions and feelings

by Jo Witek, illustrator Christine Roussey -  Abrams Appleseed, 2014
ages 0 to 8 years / conversation starters, emotional resilienceheartwarmers

Childhood is a wondrous and joyful time. Everything is magical and full of wonder. But it's easy to forget that childhood is also intense!

Those small bodies can experience such BIG emotions. Learning to understand, process and communicate emotions is a difficult process.

A book that's been incredibly helpful in our home recently is In My Heart: A Book Of Feelings.

It was Kim’s ‘welcome to the world’ gift for Angus (Ivy helped to choose it) and, while it was a great choice for a newborn gift, it was also great for the 3-year-old sister whose entire world was about to shift (baby brothers can do that). The book became foundational for conversations about feelings in general + her own.

In My Heart: A Book Of Feelings likens our hearts to a house, with lots of feelings living inside.

Each page contains a wonderful description to help explain a feeling:

Other times, my heart feels strong.
I stand up tall, as if I can touch the clouds.
New people and places don’t frighten me.
I can do it! Watch me go!
This is when my heart is brave.

Each feeling is accompanied by a sweet colourful sketch that tells a story about the feeling—in this case setting off in a hot air balloon to travel around the world.

Names are put to important feelings throughout the book; happy, brave, mad, calm, broken, sad, hopeful, afraid, silly, and shy. My favourite is:

Sometimes I hide my heart away where no one can see, like my own small treasure.
I don’t want anyone to look at me.
Safe on my swing, I can watch the world from up above.
This is when my heart is shy

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings is a beautiful pathway for young and not-so-young children to put words to how they feel. There's lots to love about it:

– It’s great reference for asking about how the child feels (when I can tell Ivy is having a hard time I make sure to slip it into our current reading pile).

– It’s simple and clear so that children easily relate to the images.

– It's great for identifying the difference between feelings—an angry heart might feel loud or a sad heart heavy.

– It’s a great opener for talking about feeling vs. acting (e.g. understanding that it’s ok to feel mad but it’s not ok to hit).

– It can be read quickly to plant a seed that will bear fruit when needed, or snuggled in close, taking time to talk about the words and pictures and opening up avenues of communication.

And I particularly love that each feeling is given the same amount of attention and acceptance. No feelings are labeled as 'bad' or ‘should not feel’. It's just an all round beautiful book (originally published in French).

Amazon        Book Depository        Booktopia