One of the best tools to raise your children’s emotional IQ and empathy are books. Reading a story with your children gives you ample opportunity to talk about the story, the cause of the emotions and what is the best way to act and react in a similar situation.
Help your children improve their coping mechanisms by raising their emotional intelligence. Improve your child’s ability to interact with others by making him aware of his own emotions. Emotional intelligence helps your child control her feelings and identify the same emotions in others.
Children with high emotional intelligence become tomorrow’s leaders who know how to negotiate difficult situations, communicate effectively and have strong relationships. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child. By teaching your children empathy instead of sympathy, you are teaching them to be considerate of others’ situation. The child understands the other person’s emotions and what that person is going through from that person’s perspective, not his own.
Here are our top 15 books for building Emotional IQ in children.
Top Emotional-IQ Building Books For Kids
Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
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Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun: Having The Courage To Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy
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Just Grace by Charise Mericle
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Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner
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How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elfers
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Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
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Waiting For Wings by Lois Ehlert
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Weslandia by Paul Fleishman
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Take A Deep Breath by Sue Graves
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In Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, Molly is confronted by the typical class bully. Instead of being overwhelmed by fear, she acts. She may be short with buck teeth, big eyes, and a voice like a bullfrog but her grandmother taught her self-esteem.
In the story, Molly has enough self-confidence to change all her short comings into positive attributes. She’s able to do this because she had taken her grandmother’s advice to heart— “walk proud, smile big, and sing loud.”
Children believe and absorb what adults tell them. Their parents and the grownups in their world are their role models. In this story, Molly learnt that she could change herself; she had enough confidence to do so despite her circumstances. By changing yourself inside, you can change the circumstances outside.
Lucy likes to eat spaghetti in a hot dog bun. She is different, but she knows who she is. Along comes Ralph the bully. He points out how Lucy is different in a mean way— “Lucy, Lucy eats stinky food that puts us all in a big bad mood!”
A situation develops where Ralph needs Lucy’s help. Instead of taking revenge, Lucy stays “different” and helps Ralph.
Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun is about having the courage to be who you are. To not succumb to peer pressure but to stand for what you believe, even if you’re the only one. Lucy understood that you should respect and treat people with kindness, even if they are different than you.
Lucy also had the choice of giving back what she received from Ralph or to “turn the other cheek” and react opposite to the way Ralph treated her.
Rat’s best friend moves out of the Junkyard. Devastated, Rat masks his sadness with an attitude that he doesn’t need friends. He rejects all help and friendships from neighbors. Dog moves into the Junkyard with the same, if not worse, attitude. Rat and Dog have met their match in each other.
Then disaster strikes with cold weather and food. It forces Dog and Rat to acknowledge that they care for each other and how they need one another.
So often when hurting, people hide behind a mask of grumpiness or artificial friendliness. Meanwhile, they are hurting inside. Don’t Need Friends teach children empathy and to look beyond the obvious. The story shows the benefits of lasting relationships like friendship, and the pain when losing a friend.
Just Grace is the first book in the Just Grace series. Just Grace is the fourth Grace in her class and is therefore known as Just Grace. She has the ‘superpower’ of empathy. Whenever someone needs help, Just Grace is there to serve.
Although Just Grace has her idea about life, she can empathize with the other side of life too. She loves drawing comics and making lists. Just Grace learns a sad story about her neighbor and creates a big idea to help her neighbor. She uses her talents to activate her big idea.
Just Grace shows children that they have the ability—‘’super power”—to help others, that friendship is important, and how to find a solution to difficult situations.
The story also teaches not to assume how someone will act in a specific situation. Rather get the facts and decide based on reliable information received. Never assume; you never know what is going on in another person’s life or why a person reacts a certain way.
Shelley Rotner is a photojournalist who has accurately captured different emotions of toddlers. These close-up images help children identify various emotions they experience. Lots of Feelings is ideal for pre-school to grade 1 children.
By learning to identify the emotion, parents can teach the children how to express what they are feeling and how to deal with different emotions. Toddler and kids who you have difficulty in expressing their emotions may relate to the expressive and subtle expression portrayed in Lots Of Feelings.
The book shows children that they are not alone; other children have similar emotions. The book covers basic emotions but not the spectrum.
Real size or larger than life animated fruit and vegetables portray different emotions. These delightful animations are accompanied by rhyming text describing the emotions.
How Are You Peeling is a great book in helping toddlers express their feelings. By associating with the funny animations, they learn to describe how they feel. Parents can then take it to the next level by helping the child to understand what caused the emotions and how to deal with it.
The book is helpful in teaching social emotional skills. By focusing on the various facial expressions—the eyes are narrowed, and the mouth drags downwards—you can teach kids how facial expressions portray various emotions.
Everybody makes mistakes but how you react when you make a mistake is what counts. Often mistakes are associated with shame, guilt, harsh feedback, and the desire to cover up to avoid repercussions.
Beautiful Oops teaches children that it is okay to make a mistake. Nobody is perfect, and imperfection is acceptable. The book goes a step further and shows how to see the beauty in a mistake. How an opportunity arises when something goes wrong. It teaches an optimistic attitude no matter what happens.
An accidental blotch when drawing can become an animal. Accidentally tearing the paper creates the opportunity to draw a new picture by using the tear as the ‘crocodile’s mouth.’
Beautiful Oops encourage children to take risks and try new things, to be creative in a different way than yesterday.
Dramatic collages with bright colors on uniquely shaped pages show the life cycle of a butterfly. Hidden eggs transform into creepy caterpillars. Caterpillars disappear into silky cocoons that wait patiently to become beautiful butterflies.
The rhyming text guides children through the life cycle of four types of butterflies. Search for the hidden eggs while being mindful of caterpillars that chomp holes in the pages. Follow the caterpillars as they search for the perfect place to weave their cocoons…
Waiting for Wings teaches 3-7-year old children, how to recognize different flowers and to identify the different butterflies from caterpillars. The life cycle of the butterfly teaches children why it’s worthwhile to wait for something. The book also shows the reward of waiting and thinking. Emotional actions or reactions may be disastrous. Whereas waiting before you decide what to do, have positive outcomes—a beautiful butterfly.
Wesley is an outsider at school because he doesn’t conform to what is trendy. He wears purple sneakers and thinks football is stupid. He eavesdrops on a conversation where his parents discuss him—”He sticks out,” says his mother. “Like a nose,” bemoans his father.
Wesley uses what he learned at school and creates a new civilization, Weslandia, during the summer holidays. School kids who mocked and tormented Wesley become interested in what is going on in Wesley’s backyard.
Wesley’s entrepreneur initiative changes his life from being a nerdy outcast to a trendsetting popular friend.
Westlandia is a great tool to show children how important it is to apply what you learn. It stimulates the entrepreneur spirit and creative thinking. Wesley didn’t submit to peer pressure but stayed true to his values and what he deemed important. He also didn’t succumb to negative comments.
Four friends, each afraid of something that is part of regular daily activities. Lucy fears dogs. Josh is afraid to go into the pool. Dan doesn’t want the nurse to look at his bruised knee and Ben is afraid of going on stage in front of people.
All four friends overcome their fear by taking a deep breath and being brave about the situation. Take A Deep Breath teaches children what to do when struggling with the emotion of fear that may lead to anxiety.
Take A Deep Breath is part of a series of books that address different emotions and behaviors. It helps children learn to cope with uncomfortable situations.
No, No, No! by Marie-Isabelle Callier
Jeanne says no to everything her mother asks her to do. Her answer is always ‘NO” to picking up toys, getting ready for dinner…She is a typical 4-year old going through a stage of testing the parent’s patience limits.
Jeanne’s mom loses her patience and Jeanne decides she wants her friend Sophie’s mom as a mother. She spends the night at Sophie’s house…Curbing her defiant attitude Jeanne realizes she misses her mom.
No, No, No! Portrays how defiance can escalate into negative extremes. It also teaches honoring and respecting your parents because they have your best interest at heart.
When Leon Leyson was 10 years old the Nazis invaded Poland; His family was relocated to Krakow ghetto. Born as Leib Lezjon, he tells his story how he survived the concentration camp ruled by Amon Goeth.
The Boy On The Wooden Box is the only memoir published of a former Schindler’s list child. Leon survived when his family’s names were added to Oskar Schindler’s list of factory workers. Leon tells what an innocent boy went through and how he survived the Holocaust.
His true story is told without bitterness; the story leaves a legacy of hope. Throughout the story, he holds onto hope. Told from a survivor’s perspective, cause readers to empathize without having to experience the same horrors. His hope encourages children in difficult situations to be courageous and to hope for the “impossible”.
The courage of Oskar Schindler in saving so many Jewish victims, teach children that anything is possible when you are willing to take a risk to help someone.
Two unlikely kindred spirits communicate as pen pals. Meena, a 12-year old artistic Indian girl, lives with her family in a rundown apartment in New York. River, a redheaded athletic boy, lives in the mountains of Kentucky.
In their letters, they overcome cultural and gender issues and discover they have the same fears, hopes, and dreams. They share similar hardships as well as empathize with each other’s unique situation.
Same Sun Here shows how overcoming misconceptions can blossom into joyful relationships and true friendships. The story shows that we may seem different on the outside, but in the end, we all live under “the same sun”. The story is an excellent example of the benefit and reward of open and honest communication.
Fern Arable saves Wilbur the pig’s life by adopting him as her pet. When he becomes too big to be a house pet, he is sold to Uncle Homer Zuckerman. In the barnyard, there are many friends, including Charlotte, the spider.
As a grown pig, Wilbur’s life is once again in danger when he is destined for the butcher’s block. This time it’s Charlotte that saves Wilbur. The story has a sad twist when Charlotte is dying with 513 unhatched eggs stranded at the fairground. Will Wilbur be able to return the favor and help Charlotte?
Charlotte’s Web tells a story of friendship and compassion. It also teaches never to give up because there is always a solution.
Little Man throws the meanest fastball in town. When playing ball, his stuttering isn’t noticed. He takes over his best friend’s paper route, and suddenly his stuttering becomes an issue. The neighborhood junkman who is also a thief, bullies Little Man.
Little Man’s speech disability hinders him to talk to customers and other paperboys. He is mocked and ridiculed. Taking on the paperboy job despite his stuttering, shows Little Man’s inherit courage to face his fears. As he delivers the newspapers, he makes new friends and experience life in a way he wouldn’t have if he gave in to his fears.
Paperboy is a story that shows that you can overcome fear. It also displays the beauty and ugliness of life, but courage overcomes many obstacles.
Hopefully you find something on this list that will help your child develop fully emotionally this summer. If you have another favorite that we didn’t mention, please leave it in the comments.