Review by Anna Mowat who works as part of the All Right? wellbeing campaign in Otautahi
How do I feel? A dictionary of emotions for children
Rebekah Lipp and Craig Philips. (2021). Wilding Books.
This emotions dictionary is all about helping children find the words for how they truly feel. Learning to recognise and label our emotions correctly is such an important skill for life.

There’s little doubt that this writer and illustrator duo have a large amount of creative energy to continue producing books that support our tamariki’s emotional needs and wellbeing. How Do I Feel is no exception.

This book works as a dictionary of emotions, it alphabetically lists around 60 emotions, describes them and how they may feel in our bodies. That in itself is a clever way to help tamariki identify the differences between our emotions and feelings.

There are many things I love about this book, but it’s key feature, in my mind, is that alongside the definition and description of any emotion, is a full page dedicated to an illustrated depiction of the emotion. For those of you who know Lipp and Philips’ work, their same lively, movement-filled pictures are here again – the emotions are brought to life.

This is where the magic lies because as a parent, professional or educator, this is likely where our tamariki will ‘be’ and it gives us lots more to talk about. “Wow, this guy is feeling proud. He looks happy and the emotion seems to be bursting from his chest.” And the kōrero may continue – around when we have felt proud too, or when we were proud of our child.

Because this book isn’t a ‘story.’ It’s a go-to book to dip in and out of – you may read about one emotion each day as a teacher, or as part of bedtime reading, as a parent. You may visit it when you’re feeling an emotion, or you notice one your child is feeling – it might be a great way to talk about jealousy when there’s sibling rivalry or humility before the birthday party event. In this way the book helps us to emotionally ‘coach’ our tamariki. 

My overall thoughts and feelings on How Do I Feel? – I love it! It’s a fantastic book to help us normalise emotions for our tamariki, and even for us. When we know that emotions are normal we don’t feel so alone in them, or that there’s something wrong with us. Talking about emotions is the best way to normalise them and validate them. This book is a great means to do this well– especially when this is new to us, it feels awkward or hasn’t been modelled.

It’s a double thumbs up from me – as a parent and a professional working with tamariki. It will be in my office and home bookshelf – both visible and ready to go to, anytime.

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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