A Cup of Jo

A Children’s Book We Can’t Stop Reading

The other night, something amazing happened…

We had just discovered the children’s book Today I Feel… by Portuguese author Madalena Moniz, in which a little boy feels different emotions from A to Z — like adored, excited, nervous and strong.

How beautiful are the illustrations?

At bedtime, the boys and I cuddled up with the book. When we got to “jealous,” I explained what the word meant. Suddenly, four-year-old Anton, who is usually pretty taciturn, piped up about our recent family vacation. One evening, he had spotted a group of kids playing at the park and felt jealous. He spied on them until they came around a tree and said hi. Then they all played together and he was happy. This was fascinating to hear because I had been standing right there and hadn’t realized he’d felt any of those emotions! Kids often experience a whole world of their own, don’t you think?

Plus, teaching little ones to identify their feelings helps them hone a life-long skill. Cup of Jo reader Lora works at a juvenile detention center as part of her training as a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. “The girls I work with can often more easily articulate their emotional confusion or acknowledge contrasting emotions,” she says. “However, the boys will often describe something emotionally complex but then revert to saying ‘…and so I was angry.’ I often follow up with, ‘It sounds like you were frustrated [or lonely or feeling disrespected or…] and I can see why that might then make you angry.’ I think many of them feel like anger is a safe emotion for them to feel, so it’s easy to revert to that as their primary description. But as they hear new words to describe their feelings, they often pause to think or ask for more information. By expanding their language, we are helping them expand their ability to recognize different layers in their emotional world.”

Thoughts? What children’s books are you loving these days?

P.S. Five children’s books that teach kindness, and 18 kids’ books with female characters.

(Photos of Today I Feel by Stella Blackmon for Cup of Jo.)