An ear-piercing shriek. The thunder of stomping feet. Arms and legs flailing wildly.
As a parent, you’ve likely experienced your child lashing out in anger.
While anger is a normal emotion, your child may need assistance learning healthy ways to express it. Young kids who are learning to identify and regulate strong emotions can benefit from reading children’s books about anger with a trusted caregiver. In this article, we explore why reading books helps young children understand anger, and we share picture books about anger for young children and workbooks to help kids with anger management.
Why reading books helps young children identify big emotions
Talking about emotions and labeling them is an important step in helping your child to identify and manage big feelings such as anger. Developing a greater understanding and acceptance of their emotions helps children feel more in control of their reactions.
Reading books about feelings gives kids a “window into the emotional world.” Books offer an opportunity for young children to see others experience and cope with anger, as well as the consequences of those actions.
Books can also model healthy ways for children to regulate their body when they’re feeling angry, such as when they see a character in a book practice taking deep breaths to calm down. This gives children an opportunity to practice appropriate ways to self-regulate with a trusted caregiver so that they’re better prepared to calm down the next time they’re having a hard time with a big feeling.
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Picture books about anger for young children
From preschoolers to elementary school, you’ll find a great selection of books for young readers about anger for 2-8-year-olds.
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
In this follow up to the popular Llama Llama Red Pajama book, Little Llama grows tired and overwhelmed and has a meltdown during a morning of errands with his mom. After Mama Llama acknowledges that shopping isn’t fun for her either, they clean up the mess together and find ways to make the rest of the errands more enjoyable for both of them.
Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver
Ahn grows angry at his grandfather when he’s told to stop playing so that they can eat dinner. His grandfather gently tells Ahn to go sit with his anger in his room. A moment later, a furry red creature appears––he’s a physical manifestation of Ahn’s anger. Through Ahn’s conversation with the creature, Ahn’s Anger offers children concrete ways to work through their anger and calm down.
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
This Caldecott-honor book normalizes anger through colorful depictions of this big emotion. Sophie gets red-mad when she doesn’t want to share a toy with her sister. After initially lashing out, Sophie goes outside and spends some time in nature to help her mind and body calm down. When she’s feeling better, her family warmly welcomes her back home.
One thing to note about this book is that it depicts Sophie running away. While it demonstrates some healthy techniques Sophie uses to cool down, such as playing in nature, you might also consider using this book to talk with children about safe ways to manage big feelings.
When I Feel Angry (The Way I Feel Books) by Cornelia Maude Spelman
This story follows a young bunny rabbit who shares situations that make her angry. She recognizes that the way she initially wants to respond could hurt other people. Instead, she comes up with other ways to cool down, such as taking a deep breath or two to blow out the anger, or doing something that she enjoys. When I Feel Angry teaches children that talking out their feelings with an adult or a friend can help them calm down.
When Miles Got Mad by Sam Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller
This book teaches children about using their words to express emotions. It identifies talking as one of the appropriate ways to address anger. After Miles gets mad and yells at his little brother for breaking his toy, a Furry Red Monster appears. The monster explains, “The more you yell, the bigger and stronger and scarier I get!” As Miles talks to the Furry Red Monster about his feelings and starts to calm down, the monster shrinks until he disappears completely. After managing his anger, Miles is able to do some problem-solving and to enjoy playing with his brother.
A Little Spot of Anger: A Story About Managing BIG Emotions by Diane Alber
If you’re looking for an engaging strategy to help children calm down, A Little Spot of Anger provides a rhyme that uses counting and breathing as a fun technique they can use to make those anger spots shrink down.
Dragon’s Fury: (Children’s books about Anger) by Michael Gordon
Ben and Gronk the Dragon are good friends who have lots of fun playing together. Sometimes when Gronk has trouble managing big angry feelings, Ben helps him find ways to calm down. When the tables are turned, and Ben gets frustrated and angry, Gronk returns the favor. This is a playful book that shows kids how friends can help each other manage angry feelings.
Workbooks to help kids with anger management
These additional resources can help slightly older children to identify when they’re feeling angry and appropriate ways to regulate their emotions.
Anger Management Skills Workbook for Kids: 40 Awesome Activities to Help Children Calm Down, Cope, and Regain Control by Amanda Robinson, LPC RPT
This engaging workbook helps young children develop skills for managing their anger and building better relationships with friends and family. The activities in the book are designed to help children learn to identify negative thinking patterns and practice coping skills.
Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad by Samantha Snowden, MA
This workbook teaches children that anger is a normal emotion. Through a range of exercises and activities such as drawing, writing, and meditation, children learn healthy and safe ways to express and manage their anger.
How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger (Laugh & Learn®) by Elizabeth Verdick
This is more of a guidebook about anger management that goes through what anger is and how it might express itself for different people. It offers strategies for dealing with anger and for addressing other feelings that might lead to anger.
Elizabeth Verdick also has a number of board books about feelings and behaviors for caregivers to read with toddlers and preschoolers that are related to anger, such as Calm Down Time, Teeth Are Not for Biting, and Voices Are Not For Yelling.
Ages: 8-13 years