Grumpy Mood

Everyone feels grumpy sometimes, and everyone has bad days. These books destigmatize grumpiness and remind children that they don’t have to be happy all of the time. Some of the books in this section also help children to look deeper than their grumpy mood to see other feelings that need attention (e.g., sadness, hurt, frustration). Many of the books are funny, which is great because a giggle can be great for a grumpy mood. Importantly, irritability, rather than sadness, is very often a primary symptom of childhood depression. If a child frequently feels grumpy, it is important to talk with a child’s pediatrician about whether mental health services are recommended.
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This is a silly, sparkly book about Kevin the Unicorn who wakes up to a bad day, and by the end of the book realizes that “it’s okay to not feel okay.” The book is great for a kid who is reluctant to share when they’re feeling down or having a bad day due to a sense that they’re supposed to be/ act happy all the time. It normalizes bad days and highlights how problematic it is to pretend to be happy when one’s “insides [don’t] feel smiley at all.”

Grumpy Monkey

Written by Suzanne Lang
Illustrated by Max Lang
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book helps kids to recognize when they’re feeling grumpy (and maybe also sad, as is common with grumpiness), and it gives children permission to feel grumpy without needing to try to fix it right away. The story validates how annoying it is when everyone tries to give you unsolicited advice for how to feel better, and it ends with a sweet moment between friends who agree that “it’s a wonderful day to feel grumpy.”

Grumpy Pants

Written and illustrated by Claire Messer
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This is a great read for a grumpy day. It destigmatizes feeling grumpy, and in a silly way, helps a child to see how Penguin’s self-soothing (primarily centered around getting undressed and taking a bath) sets him up to have a less grumpy day tomorrow.
Age range: 1st grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: I would recommend this interactive workbook for a child who would like to feel more resilient when things don’t go their way and who won’t be totally thrown off by the (fairly judgmental) title. The interventions in this workbook predominantly focus on cognitive restructuring , which requires a child be able to articulate their thoughts to some extent. In most situations, I’d recommend a different book on problem solving, flexible thinking , and/or frustration tolerance , but for a primer on strategies that address glass-half-empty thinking patterns, this workbook could be useful. The obstacle course metphor that Dr. Huebner uses is effective and fun.
Evidence-Based Practices: Cognitive Restructuring
Age range: 1st through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book is excellent to read with a child who is already able to label their feelings at least some of the time, and who will enjoy thinking more deeply about their emotions. It teaches children that anger is often the “crust” on top of a pie filled with other feelings that need to be noticed and expressed so that they don’t bubble up and explode. After talking with her Tia, Amaya realizes that she’s been getting angry a lot lately because she’s been feeling jealous of the attention her baby sister has been getting, so it’s particularly relevant for kids in a similar situation, but it’s certainly not limited to this scenario. The book also provides a convincing rationale for taking deep breaths and provides a nice visual for practicing this skill. It’s available in English and Spanish.