Social-emotional picture books to help your kids get through the holidays

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

by Rachel Edmondson

The holiday season is often fraught with emotions. Many adults find themselves stressed, excited, joyous, and sad—sometimes all in the same day! It’s helpful to remember that the children in our lives are often dealing with the same strong emotions.

While having a vacation from school, receiving gifts, attending celebrations, and spending time with family and friends are all good things, these changes to routine can often be drastic and can contribute to heightened emotions for many kids.

Books are one great way to help children process emotions and learn important social-emotional tools. When reading these books with your kids, make sure you take time to ask open-ended questions, listen to your child’s responses, and remind them you are there to help them when their emotions get overwhelming. Some suggested questions include:

  • How do you think the character is feeling? Why?
  • Have you ever felt this way? What did you do?
  • How did the character respond to the problem? Did it work? Is there something else he/she could have done?
  • What would you do if you were in this situation?

So be sure to take a break from the craziness of the season, snuggle up with a warm blanket and a book, and help your child develop social-emotional skills that will be a gift for years to come.

Grumpy Pants, by Claire Messer

Busy days, lack of sleep, and feeling impatient can make us grumpy. And sometimes we just wake up grumpy! This cute book reminds us that we can start afresh each day. There are many great books about being grumpy. Some others to consider include, Bernice Gets Carried Away, by Hannah E. Harrison, and Hooray for Hat!, by Brian Won.

It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Resilience is an important skill for children to learn, and this book acknowledges common frustrations and helps kids think about how they might handle life’s disappointments. This would be a great book to start a conversation with your kids about how to handle receiving a gift they don’t like. It’s also a helpful reminder for adults that what may seem small to us can be very significant to a child.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama, by Anna Dewdney

Waiting for Christmas is hard! Llama Llama becomes overwhelmed with all the activity of the holidays. Mama Llama is there to gently help Llama Llama deal with his holiday meltdown. For a non-Christmas book about tantrums check out, No Fits, Nilson!, by Zachariah OHora.

Love Monster and the Last Chocolate, by Rachel Bright

During a season of giving and receiving, sharing can be hard—especially sharing a new toy. In this story, Love Monster isn’t sure he wants to share the box of chocolates he gets as a present, but he is eventually reminded that sharing can be just as sweet as receiving.

Rude Cakes, by Rowboat Watkins

This is the story of a rude cake who never waits his turn, doesn’t say please or thank you, and refuses to listen to his parents. But one day he learns a lesson in manners from an extremely kind and polite cyclops. This is a quirky, hilarious book that will have your kids laughing while reminding them of the importance of good manners and being respectful. For another funny book about manners, check out Heather Tekavec’s Manners Are Not for Monkeys.

We’re All Wonders, by R. J. Palacio

During the holidays, we often spend time with people we don’t see on a regular basis. If you think your little one could use a gentle reminder about accepting differences and not teasing, then check out this story about a boy who is teased for looking different. This picture book is based on a chapter book that is an excellent read for older kids. There’s also a movie adaptation of the chapter book that is currently in theaters.

Rachel Edmondson

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