Friday, September 7, 2007

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Emotions are a tough thing to explain sometimes, being so very intangible. An illustration of facial expression certainly helps, as do examples of when you might feel a certain way. These books have a few novel ways to address the discussion, and help children learn to identify and name their feelings.

My Many-Coloured Days, by Dr. Seuss, ill. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

This book uses the idea of feeling like different animals and colours to talk about emotions, and the swirling paintings carry the mood even further. Example: When my days are happy pink, it's great to jump and just not think! He even mentions "mixed-up days" when a child might not know what they feel, which I haven't seen elsewhere. In the end though, the book reassures that no matter what our mood, we go back to being ourselves.

Walter Was Worried, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

This book uses a few devices to help bring forth and express different feelings. Each child has a different reaction to different types of weather, and both the weather and the face are illustrated. The fact that the letters of the emotion are painted into the form of the face is a bit gimmicky, but can be totally overlooked unless you have one of those children who likes to find things in pictures (as Pumpkinpie does). Example: Walter was worried when the sky grew dark. This book goes through a nice range of emotions as the weather grows first wilder, then clears up, and the chldren react accordingly.

How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods, by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

Easily dismissed as a novelty item, I actually quite like this book, in which fruit and veg are turned into creatures with extremely communicative faces. I like the simplicity of the text, and the clarity of the facial expressions, and I like that the tone is light and there is some giggle factor. It's a great way to get kids trying out making those faces themselves, and seeing what they look like on you. The physicality of that exercise can really help make the connection between the face and the feeling.

Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis, ill. Laura Cornell

As I've written before, Curtis is one of the celeb authors that gets it right for kids, and this book is a fun one. What I like most about it is that each mood - and there is a wide range - is illustrated with a jaunty rhyme about some of the things that might help create that mood or some of the kinds of reactions a kid might have while feeling that way.

Sometimes I Feel Awful, by Joan Singleton Prestine, ill. Virginia Kylberg

This story of a crummy day is told by a young girl who has trouble expressing her feelings. As she looks back on how her day went from good to bad to worse, she identifies in each episode what made her feel bad, how she reacted, and what she could have said to make the person involved understand her. It is a bit on the heavy-handed side in terms of the reptitive message that she was not making herself understood, something I normally hate in a picture book. In this case, though, I think it does something useful and tricky - models how a child might put feelings into words. This skill is so useful, I give the message-y aspect a pass here. (Also, I found myself extra touched by the expressiveness of the girl's face, as she looks quite a lot like my Pumkinpie. Aww.)

Sometimes I Feel Like a Mouse, by Jeanne Modesitt, ill. Robin Spowart

This simple book features a child noting how sometimes they feel like different animals, and then identifying the feeling. Sometimes I feel like a mouse hiding, Shy. The paintings in the books are soft-edged, boldly coloured, and nicely evocative.

Lots of Feelings, by Shelley Rotner

This book features Rotner's signature sunlit, bright photos, and has children showing the faces associated with a nice variety of feelings, some of which I have not seen in other books. There is a nice variety of faces, too, which I appreciate, though some of the faces look quite like the child is approximating, and the emotions then are not quite as clear. Mostly though, this is a nice one for teaching children about expression and how it reflects feelings.

Look for these and other books about feelings at your local library!

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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