Bilingual books on Feelings and Emotions for Children

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world. 

In recognition, for the month of October, I am going to share a post each week relating to bilingual books in Chinese, which we can enjoy with our children, to improve their mental health and resilience.  Thankfully, there are SO many great books on the topic, that it’s difficult to choose our favourites from the bookshelf to include.

The topics will be Feelings (this post), followed by Kindness and Peace (next week), and finally Growth Mindsets.

In this post on Feelings, I will review three book sets:

1) 我的感觉 My Feelings – Bilingual (Set of 8)
2) 淘弟有个大世界 Todd’s World (Set of 8)
3) 情感 Book of Emotions – Habbi Habbi

Why is it important to read books about feelings?

Kids experience complex feelings just like adults – they get frustrated, excited, nervous, sad, jealous, worries, embarrassed, angry and the list goes on.  However, usually young children don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling – which is why reading books together is a good starting point. 

These books recommended in this post provide lots of opportunities to talk about feelings, and also identify feelings in others.  But beyond recognising the feelings, the best part is these books give ideas about how to manage our feelings in positive and constructive ways, which is a skill for life.  Research has proven that children who are able to identify, understand, express and manage their feelings will experience long term benefits to their mental health and wellbeing.

I’ve deliberately chosen books in this post which contain an English translation also – because I feel these are the types of book that we need to be reading TOGETHER with our kids, no matter what our language ability. Experts say that when acquiring a second language, one of the hardest things to do is express our feelings – these books will help. Each of the books mentioned in this post is bilingual (i.e. it contains both Chinese and English text), and also has an audio option to listen to them in either language, through Luka the Robot Reading Companion or use of reading pens.

Ideally, one would be teaching about emotional intelligence to our children on an ongoing basis,  observing and identifying emotions in situations, and options / outcomes.  Sometimes this isn’t always possible.  Sometimes emotions are too difficult for a parent to explain.  And sometimes, language is a barrier.  These shortlisted books below are great for discussing emotions together.

One tip if reading these books as a non-Chinese speaking parent with an older children would be for the adult to read the English, and then see how many of the Chinese characters the child can understand. 

So here’s to good health, good reading, and good Chinese!

淘弟有个大世界 Todd’s World (Set of 8)

Author: Todd Parr
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese & English (Bilingual)
~ Pages per book: 30
~ Lines per page: 1-2
~ Number of Books: 8
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible (in Chinese & English)
~ In Singapore NLB: Yes, but only in English (not the bilingual version, although Luka will read these in Chinese)

These are wonderful books to jump straight into conversations about emotions and how to feel good.  These come in a set of 8, and I’ve selected two books specifically to include in these post, being 感觉书 The Feelings Book and 感觉真棒 The Feel Good Book.

All of Todd Parr’s books have bold, brightly coloured line illustrations – similar in style to much adored Maisy books – with simple text, holding meaningful messages.   That’s Todd Parr’s trademark.  This set is no different.

The Feelings Book encapsulates a wide range of moods which a child may experience.  It’s targeted at a pre-schooling audience, and with a little dose of humour will encourage a child to recognise how they feel (or want to act) in different situations. 

“Sometimes I feel silly”

“Sometimes I feel like eating pizza for breakfast”

“Sometimes I feel brave”

The “Feel Good Book” is a good follow-on to the “Feelings Book”.  This book contains a laundry list of feel-good things which children can try, and keep in their toolkit of bringing  happiness.  From having a ladybug land on your hand, to making new friends, rubbing a dog’s belly, and more.  Unfortunately, several of these suggestions are not always possible in a COVID world (like rubbing noses, a big hug, a kiss, etc), but this is why we need to read this book even more.  Since some of the most basic ways to feel better and show care might not be possible these days, this books shows there’s always another way to cheer ourselves up.

Both of these books will give you a big laugh, and a great chance to share important conversations with your child.

The full books in this series are:

《不一样,没关系》It’s Okay to Be Different 
《没关系》The Okay Book 
《感觉书》The Feelings Book
《感觉真棒》The Feel Good Book
《我不怕了》The I’m Not Scared Book
《地球书》The Earth Book
《和平书》The Peace Book
《读书真好》Reading Makes You Feel Good

我的感觉 My Feelings – Bilingual (Set of 8)

Author:  Cornelia Maude Spelman
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese & English (Bilingual)
~ Pages per book: 26
~ Lines per page: 1- 4
~ Number of Books: 8
~Pinyin: No
~ Audio available: Luka compatible (in Chinese & English), and Ximalaya
~ In Singapore NLB:  Yes, in both English and Bilingual-Chinese version

This set is well known in English, and often used by family counsellors to assist children in understanding and describing their feelings.  Indeed, their author is herself a social worker.

They are specifically designed to show a young child what a particular emotion feels like, how to cope with it, and how to assist others who might have this feeling.  The books assist in nurturing the emotional intelligence (EQ) of a child, and scaffolding their resilience.

Whilst these books aren’t exactly ‘fun’ to read, we’ve brought them out on more serious occasions when one of the family is experiencing a particular feeling, and assist us in solving the problem.  They aren’t so much of a story, as a self-help book for kids.  The language and scenarios are simple enough for a child to relate to, and I’d view them as a helpful aid to have on hand.  We have had some good reflections using these books in a ‘quiet corner’.

For example, the 我好难过 (When I Feel Sad) provides relevant examples of when people can feel sad (rejection, being ignored, etc), and a few suggestions on what a person can do to overcome this.  Whilst it’s not exhaustive, I feel it’s enough ideas to encourage a child to start brainstorming how they could cope. It ends with an understanding that it’s completely okay to feel sad sometimes, and that sadness won’t last forever.

The accompanying illustrations are simple and sweet, showing a little hamster family in various situations.

The full books in this series are:

《我好害怕》When I Feel Scared
《我好难过》When I Feel Sad
《我觉得自己很棒》When I Feel Good About Myself
《我会关心别人》When I Care for Others
《我好嫉妒》When I Feel Jealous
《我好生气》When I Feel Angry
《我想念你》When I Miss You
《我好担心》When I Feel Worried

Habbi Habbi: Book of Emotions 情感

Author:  Habbi Habbi
Country of original publication: U.S.A
Language: Simplified Chinese-English (Bilingual) or English-Spanish
~ Pages per book: 10
~ Lines per page: 2
~Pinyin: Yes
~ Audio available: yes, through Habbi Habbi Reading Wand

Habbi Habbi are unique bilingual board books, for nascent learners.  This book belongs to their set of Phrase Books.   It covers some very atypical feelings from the usual books, grouped as synonyms and antonyms from calm to angry, and powerful to vulnerable, and finally worthy/valued. 

The Habbi Habbi Reading Wand brings extra vibrancy to the book, including a musical tune paired with each emotion, and plenty of contextual phrases about each feeling.

As with all the Habbi Habbi collection, The Book of Emotions celebrates values such as diversity and inclusion, comfort with emotional expression, self-confidence and worthiness, resilience, and empathy.  This can be seen through the illustrations – which show diversity of faces and races – and the very intentional choice of words in their phrases.

I’ve reviewed Habbi Habbi in detail in an early post here. – this is a wonderful set for a toddler to learn through play.

Other books on emotions?

None of the books mentioned above are typical story books….. as in, they have no plot or storyline.  If you’re looking for good bilingual story books, with plots and characters which create room for open-ended discussions on emotions, do consider:

  1. Elephant and Piggie set – by Mo Willems (previously reviewed here)
  2. Tyrannosaurus series –  by Miyanishi Tatsuya (previously reviewed here)

Additionally, if you’re looking to make a learning module out of ‘emotions’, another good tool is the Le Le Chinese Readers.  I mention these books, as I know many readers own this set of 300 books for early reading.  The set (especially the red and yellow ones) include several books on ‘feelings’ which make a nice topical study using more basic Chinese vocabulary that a preschooler would be able to read themselves.  This is a good option for creating a broader study around the topic – the pictures are realistic too, which aids in discussion facial recognition of emotions.

Where to buy great Chinese children’s books?

In Singapore: Most of the titles listed in this post are available from My Story Treasury (online) if you’re looking for a one-stop solution. My Story Treasury is a lovingly curated collection of Chinese picture story books for kids.  Remember my blog readers have a 10% discount if you use “LahLahBanana10” at checkout from their store. There are several other fantastic children’s bookstores in Singapore too who stock some of these books.  Buying local is totally the best.  I am grateful to My Story Treasury for recommending to our family the Todd Parr and Cornelia Maude Spelman sets, and providing them so I can write this review.

In Australia & New Zealand:  Most of the titles are available through Luka Reads (online).  Luka Reads is the official retailer of Luka the Reading Robot in Australia, and they also stock great books which are Luka compatible.  If you use “LahLah20Off”, you’ll receive a $20 discount.

In United Kingdom / Europe:  De Ziremi is a new online bookstore for Chinese literature for children.  Their collection is growing daily, and they’re hoping to stock some of the titles in this post.  They also have several other interesting books on emotions (such as Everyone《想哭的时候》 by Christopher Neal). If you quote “LAHLAHSPECIAL” on checkout for anything from their store, my blog readers will receive 10% off. This is a really kind gesture from De Ziremi.

On Taobao – if you really must do this option, look at the end of my Taobao post for recommended bookstores through Taobao’s TMall.

Take care of your own mental well being!

I hope you and your family will spend some time this month reflecting on emotional resilience, and building this into your bilingual journey.

I’d love to hear from you if you have other suggestions on bilingual books on feelings and emotions which your family has enjoyed, or comments you may have on the topic.

DISCLOSURE: I am grateful to My Story Treasury in Singapore for recommending to our family the Todd Parr and Cornelia Maude Spelman sets, and providing them so I can write this review. Please know that I only recommend learning resources on this blog which our family believes are genuinely helpful….. there’s no affiliation, commissions, or money being made here at all! It’s simply the passion of sharing!

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