“Not Fair”

Many children are very attuned to fairness. This is great when it helps a child to be more compassionate or aware of injustice. It’s often less good when it causes a child to feel jealous and act in ways that they later regret or when it spoils an experience that they might have enjoyed. The books in this section help children to manage the feeling that something is “not fair” so that it doesn’t get in the way of their values, goals, self-esteem, or ability to enjoy themselves. You may also want to visit the Bookshelf section on Assertiveness and Self-Advocacy to help children learn what they can do when something isn’t fair.
Age range: 1st grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This interactive workbook based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques helps children to learn cognitive restructuring and relaxation strategies to manage envy when something is “not fair.” It includes techniques to navigate situations when “someone else has something you think is better than what you have, or does something better than you, or gets more attention than you do.” This book is best for a child who has some insight into their thoughts (i.e., can name their thoughts about specific situations).
Age range: Kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a great read for a child who is feeling jealous of a peer/sibling’s accomplishments or attention and who has found themselves subsequently acting in ways that they aren’t proud of. It validates the feeling of jealousy and gently encourages a child to consider their values (e.g., friendship) and to act in ways that align with these values. It also includes a nice modeled apology at the end.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a fun, silly read that can start conversations about jealousy, perspective-taking, and self-esteem. It’s ideal for a child who has criticized, rejected, or even bullied someone due to feelings of insecurity or jealousy (as Goat initially does in this story). It’s less ideal for someone who has been on the receiving end of this. Children are often told that someone is being mean to them because they are “just jealous,” and although this is well-intentioned and sometimes true, it can come off as invalidating or even overly permissive of hurtful behaviors.
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: This adorable book is great for animal lovers who have experienced or will be experiencing a change from being the “Special One” or “best one and only” to having to share someone’s love and attention. This would apply to children who are adjusting to sharing their parents with a new sibling or step-sibling; their grandparents, aunts, and uncles with a new cousin; their best friend with a new friend who wants to play; etc. It reassures children that there is “plenty of love to go around.”
Age range: 2nd grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: This book is ideal for an older, verbally-oriented child who is scared of their anger and/or feels embarrassed or ashamed by their behavior when they’re angry. The book destigmatizes anger by presenting it as a valuable feeling that shows us when we’ve been hurt or that something is unfair. It teaches children strategies for managing the feeling in healthy ways (e.g. deep breaths, talking about it with someone they trust) so that they can use their anger to motivate positive change.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a really great introduction to anger management and would probably be best received by a child who has expressed some interest in getting a better handle on their anger (maybe they want to get in trouble less, or they’ve expressed sadness about hurting someone’s feelings while they were angry). Importantly, it teaches children to listen to their anger (e.g., maybe a child needs a rest or someone needs to stop being unfair) as well as to calm down using a handful of impactful coping strategies (e.g., taking a break, deep breaths, exercise, talking with a trusted person).