Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman is about a rambunctious little dog, Katie, who loves her family’s new kittens so enthusiastically she scares them away. Katie is full of emotions. She loves the kittens, she leaps and howls with excitement when she sees them, and she is sad when she is told she has stay away until they get used to to her. She might even be a bit jealous when she sees her Sara Ann playing with the kittens. All these emotions come to life through the illustrations.
Katie tries hard to do what she is told and control her excitement. There are wonderful and very funny pictures of Katie literally shaking she is trying so hard. And, of course it doesn’t work – Katie howls her loud AROOOOO! AROOOOO! howl of excitement, runs and leaps and scares the kittens again. Eventually, Katie has a break through moment and learns to play gently with the kittens. She learns how to be a friend and is really happy.
There are many children’s books where the main character is trying to control emotions. This one is different because the emotions that need to be moderated are positive: love, excitement and a desire to be friends. Another real strength of this book is the way Katie’s emotions are shown in the illustrations. Everyone can tell what Katie is feeling.
This is a good book to use for a child who is learning how to make friends, or who is trying to moderate emotions or behaviors. It could also be a good book in a new baby situation. Parents can refer back to Katie and say, “Are you feeling like Katie (so enthusiastic, sad or …)” “Do you remember how Katie was trying to control her excitement?” “Is it hard to control your excitement (substitute appropriate emotion) like it was hard for Katie?”
My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith is a very special little board book. It focuses on joy and happiness and noticing those things and moments in life that “fill your heart with happiness.” This is a book that was written “to support the wellness of indigenous children and families,” so some of the examples, such as bannock baking and drumming, have that specific cultural reference. But other examples, and the idea are universal – that we all benefit if we, and the children in our lives, take time to focus on the things in our life that give us joy. The last page asks, “What fills YOUR heart with happiness?” It is a good question for both adult and child.
Share Reading Tips
- Talking about emotions is hard in the heat of the moment. Use these books to explore emotions in a safe space.
- Pay attention to the ways in which we know how someone is feeling. Ask follow up questions like, “What do you see that makes you say that.”
- Tie what’s happening in these pictures to your child’s everyday life. “When did you feel like Katie?” “Tell me about a time that you were happy.”