words: Libby Walden
pictures: Richard Jones
publisher: Little Tiger Press
orig pub year: 2016
version reviewed: pdf preview 2016
(from Little Tiger Press)
What you feel is who you are…
Explore a world of emotions with this stunning peep-through picture book. Richard Jones’ enchanting illustrations and the lyrical text make each and every feeling come to life to help children understand the emotions they experience.
Learning about feelings, emotions, and how to deal with them seems to be one of those mostly untaught skills that we’re expected to pick up. But understanding our feelings and how to deal with them is an important skill, and one that is worth actually teaching. Babies and toddlers are bundles of open emotions; their feelings are writ large in giggles and smiles; in screams and tears; in shouts and thumps. And generally parenting manuals are full of how to suppress the expression of strong emotion: time out for tantrums, star charts for “good behaviour”. But it feels like we don’t learn what the emotions are, and how to effectively deal with them. Teaching children explicitly about their feelings is an essential skill and picture books are an essential part of this learning.
Many picture books express feelings and how they are dealt with implicitly within their stories, but naming emotions explicitly and expanding the vocabulary to talk about them are where books like Feelings are a blessing. Feelings is a beautiful book, both physically and visually, with a rhyming text that expands emotional vocabulary in a narrative way. The text flows so that Feelings can be enjoyed as a story, but each spread of images can be explored individually and discussed at the appropriate level. I imagine this would be a very useful book in CAMHS settings for older children struggling to identify and express emotions appropriately.
As an autistic parent of autistic children, learning to express and focus emotions is a skill that I find difficult to teach, and my children need to be explicitly taught. Explosions are common at Chaos Castle as strong emotions are rarely contained. Being able to talk about different emotions, identify them, and learn techniques to focus them is something we work on every day. Art is a fabulous medium for expression, and the illustrations in Feelings are a perfect inspiration to help us to express our emotions too.
Thank-you Little Tiger, Richard, and Libby, for producing such a beautiful and useful book for any age. Most parents may find this book best for toddlers, but it’s attractive and captivating enough for older children (and adults) too.
The Colour Monster – Anna Llenas (Templar Publishing, 2016)
The Great Big Book of Feelings – Mary Hoffman & Ros Asquith (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013)