Books To Boost Emotional Intelligence In Children
Not just life events, even day to day happenings provide us with many opportunities to talk to children about feelings and emotions, to listen to their thoughts, and to observe their expressions. If you enjoy reading with or to your child, stories also provide a context where you can talk about even difficult issues with your child.
Acknowledgement and validation of feelings make up the first step we can take to nurture a child's emotional intelligence. Then we progress to discussions about emotions, where we express them, label them, and learn to deal with them, regulate them, and overcome our emotional challenges.
Communication and story-telling are important tools of building emotional intelligence. Here are a few books that parents and teachers will find useful to read aloud to kids in the context of emotional intelligence. The more you discuss the stories in interactive ways, the more a child will learn new vocabulary to express their own emotions and understand other people's feelings. The poignant and insightful stories of many of these books offer many opportunities to talk about feelings.
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
This incredibly moving story deals with the profound themes of love and loss. Oliver Jeffers uses his unique style to present this heart warming story that carries a deep message of hope.
Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival
Ruby is a happy child until the day she finds a worry. She is unable to get rid of the worry, which keeps growing in size everyday. A perfect book to launch wonderful discussions with your child on their worries and hidden anxieties.
The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside
A good book to talk about worries in a classroom setting, but not so well-liked by many parents. Worry about weight is mentioned, so if your child is unaware of body image worries, they might pick that up as a new worry. The book is also from a previous era, when the safety circle was probably considered wider than it is today.
Sweety by Andrea Zuill
A great book for talking about neuroatypical children, and in fact any child who struggles to fit in. Sweety is an awkward naked mole rat. She has unusual hobbies like interpretive dance and fungus identification. She's intense and passionate, and struggles to find friends who would understand her.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
A beautiful, insightful story of loss, the process of grief and how we can support our friends through grief. My personal favourite. This book tells us the first step to be a caring friend, a supportive carer and a compassionate therapist - to hold the space for someone.
How to be a Lion by Ed Vere
If you liked The Story of Ferdinand, you will love this too. A beautifully illustrated book that conveys the message of self-awareness, holding one's identity, standing up to bullying, and self-empowerment. A story of triumphant inner courage.
Foothpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson
This is a award-winning illustrated book without any words. You can leaf through slowly, savouring each page and the details therein, and weave your own narrative about the beauty all around us and little acts of kindness that make our world beautiful and uplift our spirit.
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
A lovely story that encourages creativity, individuality and finding meaning in what we do, regardless of what others think we should or should not do. Destructive criticism from others can discourage us from pursuing things they deem we are not perfect for, but we can find our own voice, our own brush stroke and do it for our own joy.
In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco
A touching story to teach children about inclusivity, diversity, adopted child families, same sex parents households, and other different kinds of families. Children are not born judgmental or bigoted, they absorb the behavior, including non-verbal attitudes they seen in their parents, peers and societies. Express your openness and acceptance of diversity with this book and answer the child's questions in an authentic, age-appropriate way.
What do you do with a problem by Kobi Yamada
The famous Kobi Yamada of "what to do with" fame tells the story of a child who has a problem that simply won't go away. The more the child tries to avoid the problem, the bigger it grows. A light book on an important topic, of childhood anxiety. The colour tone of the imagery may be more appreciated by children over 8 years, but the message is universal. A good book to talk about mindsets and attitudes that help us to deal with problems.
I hope these books will help you to start open and heart-felt dialogue that promotes emotional intelligence in your child. Also, please remember that it is not the book or its reading, but the time you spend with your child with the book, and the discussions you have, that will make huge changes in the child's psyche.
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