Emotions in a Pandemic: How Mindful Children’s Books Can Help Kids Cope During Covid-19
When COVID-19 hit the U.S. last March, our education system experienced a major upheaval as schools scrambled to transition from in-person instruction to remote learning.
While the shift to a virtual classroom was vital for the health and safety of students and educators, it has presented many challenges, most of which are impacting children’s mental health and well-being. Prior to the pandemic, school was a constant in children’s lives. It was not only a place for learning, but a place for social interaction, a place to play, and a place to grow.
The structure and routine of the school day provided students with a sense of security, and the environment was designed to enhance their learning experiences as well as their social and emotional skills. Unfortunately, many of these key components of school are more difficult to foster through a computer screen, leading to a multitude of challenges for all students, but especially students with special needs or children already coping with mental health conditions.
According to research and published reports, the shift in learning environment has led to an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and loneliness among students of all ages. While this is an expected response to the unprecedented stressors of this past year, it is crucial that we provide children with the right support and resources to handle these issues effectively. Especially for younger children, the uncertainty of this situation and the emotions and feelings that accompany it can be very confusing and scary. One of the simplest (yet most powerful) ways to help children understand and process these emotions during this time is through age-appropriate books!
Below, I have provided a list of children's books that help kids identify their emotions and feelings as well as some mindfulness books that teach children techniques to help them cope with difficult emotions:
1. Right Now, I Am Kind by Daniela Own
This book helps children learn what it means to be kind and aware of other people!
"I stumbled across this psychologist on Facebook and saw that she wrote this book series during the pandemic to help more people than she could in her clinic! I read Right Now, I Am Kind so far to my 11-year-old with special needs and it was really great. It hits on good points for all kids to understand and feel good about themselves." -April T.
2. The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
This rhyming book introduces kids to a range of emotions and explains what they feel like. It teaches kids that all emotions are ok to feel!
"My son's OT recommended this for him - he has ASD and can struggle to articulate his feelings or even recognize them. This book has been brilliant at articulating a wide range of feelings beyond just happy or sad. I'd hugely recommend it myself to anyone whose child needs a bit of help in this area." -Catherine H.
3. Listening to my Body by Gabi Garcia
This interactive book guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them to help them become more mindful of their emotions!
"As a mother of a special needs child who struggles to recognize his own body's cues, this book has been great! The activities and questions have helped him learn and brought about great conversations for his personal growth. " -Bekkah K.
4. Peaceful Like A Panda by Kira Willey
This book provides 30 easy-to-follow mindfulness exercises to help children navigate their day. Through these techniques, kids can learn to manage their bodies, breath, and emotions during each of their daily activities!
"Just like Breathe Like a Bear, the illustrations are gorgeous, colorful, fun, and uplifting and the directions for each activity are clear, concise, and kid-friendly. I have a few other tools, including books and card decks, but these books are my go-to's." -Jessica B.
5. B is for Breathe The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrated Feelings by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd
This book explores the many ways that children can express their feelings and develop coping skills at an early age. It provides children with ways to discuss their emotions, engage in positive behaviors, and calm down.
"This read was a breath of fresh air. Not only will your child learn methods to cope with their emotions, they'll also learn a resourceful array of vocabulary to go along with learning the alphabet." -Mac S.
6. When Sadness Is At Your Door by Eva Eland
Sadness is often a scary and confusing emotion for young children but this book approaches sadness as if it is a visitor. By personifying the emotion, the author is making it easier for children to understand sadness and be mindful of it.
"This is such a simple yet beautiful book. It is such a peaceful reflection on sadness and coping with difficulties. I highly recommend it, and I hope to see more from this author." -Katherine L.
7. The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings is relatable for any child, but especially for children experiencing anxiety and extreme emotions, or who have been diagnosed with autism or as a Highly Sensitive Person.
"As a mama of a kiddo with big feelings and some anxiety, as well as sensory processing disorder, this book hit home better than anything I’ve seen before. This book addresses what it’s like to have emotions of all kinds and how they sometimes show up physically in your body." -Madeline G.
8. Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
This book helps teach children what to do when a worry won’t leave them alone. Through this book, children discover that everyone worries sometimes and that's ok!
"I’m always on the lookout for new books that help kids with social-emotional learning. I love that this book shows that everyone can have a Worry from time to time, but talking about it with someone you trust can help ensure the Worries don’t hang around for long!"
-Stories by Storie
9. The Color Monster by Anna Llenas
The Color Monster helps children unpack their feelings and identify their emotions in a friendly way by associating them with colors. Through this technique children can become more self-aware and find peace with the way they are feeling.
"The book is fantastic. The quality and pop-ups are lovely. The content is absolutely perfect for a very emotive threenager." -Amy G.
10. Breathing Makes It Better by Christopher Willard and Wendy O’Leary
This book explores the mechanics of breath and teaches children how breathing can help them handle all sorts of feelings and situations. It reminds them that all feelings are part of life and being mindful of that is important!
"What a great book! I am a psychologist, author, and mindfulness practitioner and I love this book! The rhyming verses make it easy for kids to remember and use in their daily lives." -Frankie B.