A funny and thoughtful exploration of emotions from ‘happy’ to ‘sad’ via ‘interested’, ‘upset’ and ‘silly’, this book is beautiful, empowering and great fun to read and share. It’s perfect for helping children explore different feelings; what causes those feelings, what those feelings can make us do, and how we might manage or change those feelings.
The language used is ideal for young children – from the choice of the word “feelings” (rather than “emotions”), though to the selection (including ‘excited’, ‘bored’, ‘angry’, ‘lonely’, ’embarrassed’) Hoffman has chosen feelings particularly pertinent to young children, but also phrased them in a way which is accessible and meaningful.
The text offers so many opportunities for interaction and reflection. Although presented simply and straightforwardly, this book acknowledges the complexity of emotions; how the same situation can cause different people to feel differently, and how some emotions can make us feel both bad or good (for example, we get to see how feeling angry can motivate us to do something for the better, with a timely nod to the current situation facing libraries in this time of austerity).
The illustrations are just wonderful; not only are they funny or poignant in many cases (do look for the reflection in the mirror of the boy who is feeling lonely), but they celebrate all of life in a way that sadly doesn’t happen enough in children’s books. There are children in wheelchairs, women in hijabs, and children from all sorts of backgrounds and families. None of this is commented upon – it is all just normal, just part of the rich family of characters throughout the book.
This book, although full of difficult emotions, is actually mostly about joy: It’s a delight to read and to share, it’s a constructive, positive book. It makes it easy for parents to have discussions with their kids, it helps the children find a vocabulary to express what they might otherwise not be able to name, and it does it all with flair, honesty, and thoughtfulness. The sprinkling of practical suggestions (e.g. what to do to help you feel calm, or what you could do if you are feeling worried), alongside the joie-de-vivre in the illustrations make this an essential addition to any library at home, school or (if you are lucky) on the highstreet.
Inspired by this post from A Little Learning For Two, we set about making dolls with changing faces, showing different emotions, using two rolls (one slightly smaller than the other), some blank stickers and a selection of lids.
I gave the girls this sheet with suggestions of how to draw different facial expressions and they drew the faces they were interested in on small stickers.
The stickers were stuck onto the smaller roll, so that they could be seen through a hole cut out of the slightly larger roll. To make it easier for little hands to turn the faces round, we used hot glue to add lids to the inner roll – these overhung the larger roll when the two rolls were slotted together and made perfect stands (if on the bottom) or bases for hats (if on the top).
The girls then decorated the outer rolls with body shapes around the cut-out for the faces, and we were ready to explore our different emotions.
It would be great if I could have made a film of the faces changing, but these images will have to suffice!
This simple activity was surprisingly powerful – it really was a great way in to thinking about how others are feeling, and about how what others are feeling can effect the way we ourselves feel.
Whilst making our rotating dolls we listened to:
Other activities which could work really well alongside reading The Great Big Book of Feelings include:
I hope all of you are feeling BRILLIANT today – let me know!
I’m delighted to be linking up with Nonfiction Monday today – I always mean to, but rarely manage to get my act together. This week it is being hosted by NC Teacher Stuff – do hop on over to see what other nonfiction delights people have discovered recently.
Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of The Great Big Book of Feelings from the distributors. I was under no obligation to write this review and received no payment for doing so.