8 Of My Favorite “FEELINGS” Books to Use When Teaching for Kindergarten

Blog post title "8 of my favorite feelings books to use when teaching for kindergarten. Picture of a pile of winky face emoji circle pins that say "what I'm feeling" in a circle - emoji faces showing a range of emotions

When teaching for kindergarten, you are likely going to cover the 5 senses: see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. Touch can of course also be interchanged with feel. Last year my kindergarteners were looking a little like “deer in the headlights” when discussing how “feeling something” is different than “feeling something”. Do you follow?

For instance, when we say “no hard feelings” – we don't mean it literally. But when a 5-year-old looks at you on the playground with a skinned knee and a blank stare and says, “but…but the ground WAS hard. I FELT it when he pushed me.”

Ahhhh…perhaps a deeper dig is required on our part. Enter: great picture books to help set the stage, tell the story, and teach us lessons.

Funny teacher with oversized glasses checking for kindergarten readiness

Do you have a soon-to-be kindergartener? Do you need to find a fun way to share with your parents what you really want them to know before they go? Then you NEED my free pdf that dishes the dirt and gives a peek behind the scenes into kindergarten as it is today.

It's all the info you never knew you needed to know!

Social Emotional Learning In Schools

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term SEL, it stands for social and emotional learning.

SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

In other words, it's the stuff of life that ALL of us need to learn and put into practice again and again throughout our lives. All of those messages Mr. Rogers taught about…it's SEL. And we need it now more than ever.

What to Teach Kindergarten Kids About SEL

Kindergarten kids (and all of us really) learn best through stories. They are entertained, they can see themselves in the characters, they are exposed to other ideas and can think through scenarios with the guidance of a grown-up.

To be honest, teaching SEL to kindergarten – especially in these last few years – is one of my highest priorities. But…how can we as teachers set aside focused time for social and emotional learning – AND STILL GET TO THE STANDARDS? Ugh. It's hard.

Last year my I had my observation lesson in early September. (*ugh) It was also right in the middle of a moment when we needed to spend every spare moment on these social and emotional skills. (*ugh)

Teaching for kindergarten is NOT for the faint of heart. Add in a pandemic (which meant no preK for most), teaching through masks, and realizing minute by minute that these five-year-olds had not been exposed to social interactions outside of their familes.

Emotionally they were WIRED. Anxious. Worried. Stressed. BIG feelings for LITTLE kids.

But I still had an observation checklist to get to. (Talk about all the feels! 😉 )

Social and Emotional + a Little ELA

I decided to put together a text set, and knew I could use that text set with several goals in mind: 

  • introducing story elements of character, setting, beginning, middle, and end
  • focus on the SEL lessons the characters were going to go through
  • apply these lessons to a ‘big situation’ currently in our specific classroom
  • use this as a build-up to introducing our peace corner and how it is to be used
  • the vocabulary, practice in speaking and listening skills, and exposure to deep and rich text was going to happen naturally! 

I think that the more kindergarten kids hear pacing, fluency, and expression through meaningful texts, the better their own reading skills become.  Also, building community early in the year can be rooted in that time together. 

Kindergarten kids LOVE to be read to. Finding read-alouds that checked a lot of boxes was key to not only growing their social and emotional awareness, but to get through that observation and keep the peace in my classroom!

Social and Emotional Text Set about FEELINGS

What follows are the books I used in my text set. At the end I'll link some of the activities we worked on – let me know in the comments if you'd like to see my compare/contrast chart – happy to share!

(FYI – my principal loved this lesson *thank goodness* – so feel free to modify as needed and use for yourself!) All books listed can be found here, under the list called: Books for SEL and FEELINGS.

the color monster book cover - red, yellow, blue, and green monsters with different emotions
The Color Monster, by Anna Llenas

Teaching about mixed up emotions through color concepts

This sweet book shows that emotions can be thought of as colors. We started our text set with this book, and then I used a daily ‘check-in' color monster throughout the next few weeks for each child to use and put in their response journal. We would talk about why they chose whatever color for that day, and had some wonderful conversations surrounding those journal entries. (Linked at bottom)

Picture of Grumpy Monkey book cover - red with angry monkey illustration
Grumpy Monkey, by Suzanne Lang

Always good to use humor when teaching for kindergarten

Jim the chimpanzee is grumpy for no good reason, despite all of his friends advice. I love this book because it teaches us that we are allowed to feel our feelings – there's nothing wrong with that! This is also a great book to talk about characters, setting, and BME!

ruby finds a worry book cover - little girl looking at a yellow cartoon worry
Ruby Finds a Worry, by Tom Percival

It's great for kids to have a concrete visual for an abstract thought

I can't get enough of Ruby! The worry, which my kids thought looked like an angry lemon, cracked them up! They held this visual in their head as we moved throughout the schoolyear. I even had one child come in and whisper nervously to me, asking if I could see his worry on his shoulder! It opened a door for conversation and connection, which is gold in kindergarten. Also, another GREAT book for story elements!

the boy with big, big feelings book cover - little boy with colorful thoughts spiraling out of the top of his head
The Boy With Big, Big Feelings, by Britney Winn Lee

This is a must-have for those kids who deeply feel their feelings

You know those kids who aren't just happy they are OVERJOYED! They aren't just sad they are DOWN IN THE DUMPS! (*that would be have been me…still is!) This book is perfect for us. Feelings are a beautiful gift – we just have to learn to be aware of them, honor them, and life can be so beautiful when we do. Story elements? CHECK!

What I'm Feelin' Song cover art for Kaci Bolls. Winky face emoji on light blue background with multiple emoji emotions surrounding it

With all of this great reading…could you use a dance break? HECK, YES YOU COULD!

I've got you covered. Check out this SEL inspired song for kids and their grown-ups called What I'm Feelin'.

Click the link to hear the song and see the video too!

The Feelings Book - book cover - 4 cartoon faces with various emotions
The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

Who doesn't love Todd Parr – perfect for social and emotional talks

Todd Parr has the best books for using language that gets right to the point. The bright illustrations are always a favorite – and they are always written with a wink and a smile.

book cover of little red fox has feelings - multiple faces of fox showing a range of emotions
Little Red Fox has Feelings, by Didi Dragon

You will fall in love with the little red fox who feels all the feels

I absolutely love this book by Didi Dragon, because it shows kids how going from a range of emotions and feelings in one day – is OK! If you are teaching for kindergarten, you'll know that one child can go through all of these emotions in one hour! 🙂

Tiger Days book cover - a white tiger illustration roaring
Tiger Days, by M.H. Clark

I picked this book up and bought it just because of the binding and cover!

I saw this book and bought it without even cracking the cover – I was not disappointed. Similarly to how The Color Monster compares different feelings to colors, Tiger Days compares different feelings to animals – ALWAYS a win in kindergarten!

A little spot of feelings book cover - a rainbow circle with a little rainbow spot detective guy
A Little Spot of Feelings: Emotion Detective, by Diane Alber

A little detective work is sometimes needed for us to get to how we are feeling – and why

I am a fan of Diane Alber's creativity and devotion to her craft. I'm pretty sure I have all of her books – and use her little spots in my classroom year-round. Her box sets are my fave! I think this one is special because it teaches our kids that sometimes it takes a bit of pondering or digging to figure out why we are feeling what we are feeling.

Do you want a sweet gift for your classroom kids? How about a class set of What I'm Feelin' Stickers or Buttons? We offer bulk discount along with FREE shipping – just message us!

We also have short-sleeve ringer tees and baseball tees in both Youth and Adult sizes – AND sticker sheets and keychains!

Check them out for yourself and then show us your style! Seeing your swag gives us ALL THE FEELS!

Do you have a favorite book about feelings that is great for kindergarten? Let me know in the comments! I'm always looking to add to my classroom library. If you want to look further into any of the books I've listed – here's an easy way to see them all in one place. Click the link or the button below and check out the list called: Books for SEL and FEELINGS.

Free Coloring Growth Mindset Coloring Sheets by Proud to be Primary
Today I'm Feeling Slide Chart by The Social Speechie
Color Monster Craft & Writing by Little Ray of Sunshine
Color Monster Printable by Ms Mal's Munchkins


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