The past few difficult weeks with my nearly three-year-old (a threshhold, I’ve heard, will not offer any reprieve), I’ve been thinking about books that show anger or tantrums. These books are so helpful to me as a parent because they remind me of the child’s point-of-view: that tantrums can be scary; that the child is looking for reassurance and love; that coping strategies can be taught. They are also a helpful talking point. If you are in the midst of the toddler years, I hope these books bring you some perspective and hope.
Mad at Mommy (Author/Illustrator Komako Sakai) – A bunny lists all the reasons he’s mad at mommy and decides to run away. But he returns with an important question: “Did you miss me?” Komako Sakai’s illustrations add such important details to the text that it is a story in itself. A very satisfying insight into a child’s emotions.
When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry (Author/Illustrator Molly Bang) – Sophie lashes out when her turn to play with the gorilla is over. In typical toddler fashion, she uses her fists, feet, and voice to show how angry she is. Sophie has a strategy, however, whether she realizes it or not, to help herself calm down. This book shows that anger can, and is, followed by calm, and that things can return to normal. Very reassuring for the toddler who is frightened by his/her strong emotions.
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo (Author: Rachel Vail; Illustrator: Yumi Heo) – This matter-of-fact story about a girl that sometimes gets angry and loses control will be recognizable to preschoolers and parents alike. Humor and an understanding parent go a long way to helping her calm down and become herself again: “It’s scary being Bombaloo. My mother knows that.” I love the newly-minted word to describe a child’s fierce anger.
Mouse Was Mad (Author: Linda Urban; Illustrator: Henry Cole) – The reader never finds out why mouse is so mad, but that doesn’t matter. His good-natured friends all show him different ways to cope, until Mouse stumbles on a strategy of his own. A great book that illustrates what anger can look like without dismissing the emotion.
Finn Throws a Fit! (Author: David Elliott; Illustrator: Timothy Basil Ering) – Finn’s tantrums cause floods, earthquakes, and blizzards. This hysterical picture book uses metaphor to illustrate what a tantrum feels like for the child and the parent. Fits are epic and endless. Or, at least they seem that way.