Social skills and emotions are abstract big ideas — especially to children. A great book can help provide a platform to talk about difficult situations with your child in a more concrete way. I talk more about how to use books to change your child’s behavior in this post, which links to positive book series for younger children.
For older children, books need to still be specific but also more nuanced in terms of emotions and how to handle situations. Just because they are older doesn’t mean they know how to handle their emotions — yes, the days of the 3-year-old tantrums are over — but this is replaced by feelings that are deeper and more complex, and hence, more difficult to understand.
Pair this with social relationships and situations that are more complicated, and you can easily have a child who is having difficulty working a situation out — like we all do from time to time.
6 Awesome Book Series About Life for 8 to 13-year-olds
Books about Friendships, Self-Confidence, and Social Skills
These are not really a series of books by the same author but rather a series of books of a similar theme. These are great for fortifying your tween with the skills and know-how to stick up for themselves, honor their own voice, and value themselves.
In this stage of life where peer pressure is prime, I think it’s a good idea to arm yourself and your child with some real practical social skills to help them develop a healthy sense of self and the ability to navigate sometimes difficult social situations.
Being Me: A Kid’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Self-EsteemStick Up For Yourself!Speak Up and Get Along!: Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop, and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About YourselfThe Survival Guide for Making and Being FriendsGrowing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping FriendsSocial Rules for Kids-The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to SucceedWhat Do You Stand For? For Kids: A Guide to Building Character
Books about Feelings for Older Kids
Emotions and feelings change a lot during the pre-teen years. Mary C. Lamira, Ph.D., uses research and practical examples to help older children understand complex emotions in the first two books listed below.
Emotions, Making Sense of Your Feelings is geared toward 12 to 15-year-olds. It covers anxiety, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame, pride, loneliness, sadness and sad love, envy, and the complexity of happiness.
Understanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings is geared at 9 to 12-year-olds and uses quizzes and fun facts boxes to help children understand their internal world of emotions. Both books go through how to handle emotions when they feel out of control, the function behind emotions, and understanding emotions as a part of our life.
Me and My Feelings by Vanessa Green is for children 7 to 10 years old and provides practical tools for helping children learn to manage emotions.
Emotions!: Making Sense of Your FeelingsUnderstanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong FeelingsMe and My Feelings
Books about Worry and Mindful Art
How To Get Unstuck From The Negative Muck by Lake Sullivan Ph.D. is timely for preteens. At this stage of development, emotions can feel overwhelming. One skill that is important to learn is how to stop repetitive thoughts, that negative voice in your head. This book offers healthy ways to cope with negative thoughts drawn from cognitive psychology. There are also journal exercises, a proven technique to resolve emotions. The second book listed is a guided journal that follows along with the book.
Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid’s Guide to Managing Anxiety by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D., is written in a very kid-friendly way that makes thinking about anxiety approachable. She explains how worry works in the brain and teaches kids specific skills to help them manage their worry.
Wreck This Journal and Creative Coping Skills are both very hands-on ways for tweens to handle worry, anxiety, or general angst. Engaging in creativity is a way to quiet repetitive thoughts and stimulate self-energy.
How To Get Unstuck From The Negative Muck: A Kid’s Guide To Getting Rid Of Negative ThinkingHow To Get Unstuck From The Negative Muck JournalOutsmarting Worry: An Older Kid’s Guide to Managing AnxietyWreck This Journal: Now in ColorCreative Coping Skills for Teens and Tweens
Book Series To Help Kids With Specific Issues and Get Them Back on Track
Laugh and Learn by Elizabeth Verdick This series gets much more in-depth for older children and goes through how to recognize the emotion or problem and gives plenty of examples of situations and how to cope in those situations.
For example, in “How to Take the Grrrr out of Anger,” kids are taught to recognize anger and handle situations and emotions that underly anger, like loneliness, guilt, frustration, and fear, and how to manage that anger and resolve conflicts both in-person and online.
These books also use humor to make it more fun — this can help make heavy topics feel light-hearted and may appeal more to boys.
How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger (Laugh & Learn)Dude, That’s Rude!: (Get Some Manners) (Laugh & Learn)Bullying Is a Pain in the Brain (Laugh & Learn®)Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves! (Laugh & Learn)Siblings: You’re Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together (Laugh & Learn)See You Later, Procrastinator! (Get It Done) (Laugh & Learn series)Get Organized Without Losing It (Laugh & Learn®)How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up (Laugh & Learn®)
American Girl, Care and Keeping Series, and the Smart Girls Series started with the Keeping and Care of You: The Body Book for 8-year-olds and up, followed by the Keeping and Care of Feelings. There is a version for older girls, The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls.
All of these books are written by or in consultation with professionals, pediatricians, and psychologists.
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised EditionThe Feelings Book (Revised): The Care and Keeping of Your EmotionsYour Happiest You: The Care & Keeping of Your Mind and SpiritA Smart Girl’s Guide: Friendship Troubles (Revised): Dealing with fights, being left out & the whole popularity thingStand Up for Yourself & Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies & Bossiness and Finding a Better WayA Smart Girl’s Guide: Worry: How to Feel Less Stressed and Have More Fun
The What to Do Guides for Kids series is also excellent. This series is published by the American Psychological Association and Magination Press. I love these guides because they are very interactive.
These are workbooks designed for parents and children to work through together — empowering you to help your child work through difficult emotions or situations.
This series is written by clinical psychologists who guide parents and children through cognitive-behavioral techniques to help them work through difficult emotions like anger, anxiety, negativity, and more. The tone of these books are always encouraging and motivating.
What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Problems With Anger (What to Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When You Grumble Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Negativity (What to Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming OCD (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When You Feel Too Shy: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Social Anxiety (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid’s Guide to Accepting Imperfection (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When It’s Not Fair: A Kid’s Guide to Handling Envy and Jealousy (What-to-Do Guides for Kids)What to Do When Bad Habits Take Hold: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Nail Biting and More (What to Do Guides for Kids)
I hope these tools can help you teach your child positive behaviors and give them the life skills they need to navigate this sometimes messy world! Do you have any favorite books that teach positive behaviors? Perhaps stories that do this in a more nuanced way? I am always looking for new resources, so please comment below!
For more suggestions for younger children, see below. In the meantime, happy reading!