Books about Feelings and Friendship

Making a friend, and managing feelings are universal skills that need to be taught children. All of these read-alouds open up the door for thoughtful conversations.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doreffeld 

the rabbit listenedTaylor, our main character, builds a beautiful block structure. The block structure gets knocked down. She is devastated. A zoo full of animals try to help and leave Taylor feeling more alone. The rabbit comes to comfort Taylor, and simply listens. The rabbit stays until Taylor is ready to pick herself back up. This book does what picture books should do, captures a full range of emotions in a simple, beautiful, concise way.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

The Rabbit Listened

I walk with Vanessa, A story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet 

vanessaA wordless picture book tells the story about being bullied, new at school, alone, and left out. It shows what one person can do by reaching out to another person. The back contains teacher and parents tips about how to talk children through this book. There are many possible classroom extensions with this book.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

The Color Monster: A Story about Emotions by Anna Llenas

the color monsterEveryone has mixed up emotions some days, so does the color monster. He feels all sorts of things and needs to sort them out. This pitch perfect book shows children how to sort through what they are feeling, and always affirming every feeling is ok. The illustrations are beautiful, creative, and wonderful. It reminds me of Dr. Suess’ many colored days. Every parent and teacher should read it out loud to small people they love.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions


Hedgehog Needs a Hug by Jen Betton

hedgehog needs a hugHedgehog wakes up feeling a little blue, and all he wants is a hug. No one can see past his prickles, and all the animals shy away from him. Finally, he finds skunk, who also needs a hug. This time hedgehog has to look past the stink and be a good friend to get a friend. In the end, they both get a hug that will make them feel better.  Simple, sweet, with a perfect lesson, reach out to the person that might seem stinky or prickly at first, and you just might find the perfect friend.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

Hedgehog Needs a Hug

Making a Friend by Tammi Sauer

making a friendBeaver is very good at making things, but he cannot make a friend. He tries very hard, but it just doesn’t happen. Finally, he makes a friend, a snowman. Racoon comes along and helps him. When they are finished, they see that snowman is not very fun to play with. However, they realized how much fun they had together. There it was, a friendship created. I love everything Tammi Sauer has written. I simply love her books. Buy them all, she is a genius.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

Making a Friend

My Heart by Corinna Luyken

my heartCorinna Luyken is a master of both illustration and writing. Our hearts are deep wells of emotion, able to open wide, break, and mend. This book makes an abstract concept, our heart, concrete and accessible for young children.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

My Heart


Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

words and your heartA delightful and poignant book about how our words and feelings are intricately linked. It reminds us all to be kind with our words and loving to ourselves. Perfect for preschool and younger elementary.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

Words and Your Heart


Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer

mostely monsterlyI adore this book, it has been out 9 years now, yet it has stood the test of time. Tammie originally wrote this as a valentine’s day book, but it came out all monsterly. Bernadette is a monster with a secret, she is nice and sweet on the inside, not a proper monster at all. She can’t fit in at monster school unless she learns to be a little more like a real monster. However, in the end, she becomes mostly monsterly, and stays true to herself as well.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

Mostly Monsterly

Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli

mr. hatchMr. Hatch lives in a grey world, his days are the same, without joy. One day a mysterious package of chocolates arrives at his door, with a simple note, “somebody loves you.” These words change Mr. Hatch’s life, he begins to smile and care about other people, and everyone begins to care back. When the mail man comes back to tell him the box of chocolates was not for him, he is devastated. However, he now has made real friends, because he was brave enough to love them first. This is my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day book. Read it to every grade, older children love being read to, and young children understand the meaning of the story. I love this book.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, please use this link:

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (paperback)

Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover

educatedI was riveted and sometimes torn to pieces reading Educated. Westover’s account of her childhood in remote Idaho is captivating. If you read only a few books a year, this should make the list. Tara’s parents are fundamentalist Mormons, prepping for the end of the world. They live with their seven children isolated from civilization and society.  Traditional medicine is strictly forbidden, as well as the public-school system. This book was hard to put down because her experiences were so extreme. It seemed impossible that a young girl could grow into a functional adult after surviving such an odd upbringing. At times I had to take breaks, the account of abuse by one family member was so disturbing. However, I had to know how it ended. I particularly appreciated how she portrayed herself in a brutally honest light.  She recognized her own skewed thinking and habits, as well as her family. Her journey of healing and establishing a healthy mindset is the most inspiring story I have read all year.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Educated: A Memoir

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Book Cover of One Day In December

Laurie and Sarah, best friends since college, are beginning their adult lives as roommates in London. A dilapidated flat is their home sweet home. Parties, work, and living on a shoe string budget is the faze of life, and they live it with vigor. One day, Laurie is riding the bus home, it stops, the doors open, and she locks eyes with a handsome stranger. The attraction is instant, not just physical, but an unspoken connection. The bus doors close, the handsome stranger is gone. Laurie is left haunted, wondering and longing to know who he was. Laurie and Sarah go through many fazes together, but Laurie’s flame for this mysterious man remains.

This book was a welcome respite from holiday hustling. It is simple, charming, but not cheesy or forced. There were plot turns that I didn’t always see coming. It is a love story, reminiscent of the greats, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones Diary, or You’ve Got Mail. I deeply appreciated the sweet unfolding of the romance, the painful upsets, and unexpected joys.  One Day In December is a light and lovely read for December coziness, or to beat the January blues.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: One Day in December: A Novel


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

the woman in the window Anna has not left her house in a long while. She feels safe and secure at home, and that is where she stays. Her New York City home sits across from a park, looking straight into the neighbor’s window. Anna is not working right now, she is on a break from her practice as a child psychologist. With so much time on her hands, she begins to watch the neighborhood with detailed intensity. When a new family moves in across the park, something does not seem quite right. As she gets to know them more, she is convinced they are suspicious. When she believes she has witnesses a crime in the neighborhood, Anna loses all sense of reality and fiction. The story unravels in unpredictable twists, and devastating back story all woven into a suspenseful read.

If you are a lover of psychological thrillers, this is your book.

To Purchase at a local bookstore near you, click on:


Meet Clemantine Wamariya

The Girl who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

the girl who smiled beadsClementine has written a deeply moving account of her life as a Rwandan Refugee. At six years old she survived the genocide in Rwanda. For years, she lived through conditions that would break any human in two. The book travels back and forth from Clemetine’s adult life to her childhood in Africa. I learned so much about the roots of conflict and the ripple of devastation it spread. Clementine’s description of her feelings,  how she wrestled with the residual trauma are beyond moving. Without empathy for what others have suffered, we cannot treat others with compassion and kindness. I was gripped with sorrow, and amazed at the author’s fighting resilience.  This memoir is necessary and worth every moment. I am thankful she was brave enough to put this story into words, and I am thankful I read every one of them.

To Watch more about her life, watch her TED Talk:

Ted Talk

Look for this title at your local book store withIndie Bound

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 

the curious charms of arthur pepperThis is the summer book I have been longing for. Charming, heartwarming, but nuanced with emotions. Arthur, our main character, lost his wife and has bridled his pain with routine. Eating the same breakfast, watering his fern, and dressing the same way each day. Arthur wakes up on the first anniversary of his wife’s death, ready for the same routine. However, he stumbles upon an unfamiliar piece of jewelry in his wife’s things. A fully decorated charm bracelet. After discovering there is meaning behind one charm, he is off on a journey to find the meaning behind these tiny symbols.  Arthur finally breaks out of his routine and finds out much more than he ever wanted to know. However, in the process, he finds himself. It may sound trite or cliché, but it was a lovely little story. Light, but not fluff, true to the human experience, but not too sad. I am thankful I found this little treasure.




3 Read Alouds for Home or School

Friends are always asking me what they should read next with their children . I loved these three middle grade novels for their unique worlds and dynamic characters. Appropriate grade levels and independent reading levels are included.

The Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George 

The Heartwood HotelMona the mouse gets separated from her family in a terrible storm. She wanders through the woods and stumbles upon The Heartwood Hotel. On a stormy night she finds shelter, and the most magnificent home. There are perches for the birds, burrows for the badgers, and a home for little Mona.  The kind owner gives her a job and a place to stay. Life at the Heartwood is not always easy. Her co worker Tilly is nothing but a pest, and Mona misses her family terribly. However, she finds community and belonging. This book is enchanting, and delightful. The world building is charming, and any animal loving child will eat these books up.

Read Aloud to K-4th Grades. 3rd Grade Independent Reading Level.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Heartwood Hotel, Book 1 A True Home

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

the wild robotRoz the robot washes up on an isolated Island.  When her button is pushed, and she is turned on, she explores and meets all the wild inhabitants of the Island. She soon discovers a little gosling in need of care. Roz begins a journey of learning to mother the gosling and trying to fit in with all the other animals.  Not every animal is trusting of outsiders, and Roz faces many challenges. This book is engaging and sweet. The themes of acceptance and friendship are a wonderful springboard to conversation with children. Read Aloud to 2-5th graders.  5th Grade Independent Reading Level.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Wild Robot

Winter House by Ben Guterson 

Winter HouseElizabeth comes home from school to find her mean aunt and uncle have left for the holidays. She is being sent to the mysterious Winter House hotel. This is the best twist of fate Elisabeth has had in years. Winterhouse is an unusual and enchanting old hotel at the foot of a mountain. Elisabeth meets the all the quirky guests and the peculiar owner, Norbridge Falls. Soon she has met a friend her age, and life has never been better. With fluffy treats baked fresh each day, skiing, ice skating, and the most extensive library anyone has ever seen, Winter house is truly paradise. Until some strange events begin to unfold, and Elisabeth finds herself in the middle of an old family mystery. This book was fantastic, you will wish you could book a room in Winter house, it is reminiscent of the world of Harry Potter. I loved it, and I know children will too. Perfect for 3rd-6th grades. 6th grade independent reading level.

To purchase this book on Amazon, click here:  Winterhouse