Feelings. Emotions. That “sea of salty tears.” The “emerald mist” that creeps in. A “fizzle, glow and pop” from inside. “Dancing to the rhythm of a noisy steel-drum band.” Pressure that builds, shaking your world. A “sudden, loud eruption.” It’s hard enough as an adult to recognise and talk about anger, jealousy, loneliness, even positive emotions, we may not share our account of them in words. A child feels as we do, and it’s essential for them to be able to recognise, to name, what they’re feeling, to understand what they’re feeling, for themselves and so they can have empathy for others.
Music appreciation was an activity I enjoyed as a child. My mother would get us to close our eyes and think about nothing else than what we were hearing. Sometimes, I did get fidgety and didn’t listen as well as I should have, but there were times when I was completely captivated by sweet symphonies and taken away to a magical place. This book sings. I read it to my kids while they closed their eyes, without revealing the emotions. I asked them to picture what was described and to tell me what feeling that picture linked to. They guessed every one correct, because of the nature of the text. Walden gives our feelings a story, a voice. Her words are compelling. Do make sure you read it with eyes open, too, because Jones’ illustrations are beyond beautiful and highly effective. The centre die cut is fitting and very cute.
Feelings: Inside my Heart and in my Head, by Libby Walden and Richard Jones, describes and depicts the myriad of emotions we all encounter lyrically, poetically, in the language of emotions, in a way our own feelings and that of our children can connect with and comprehend. It was our read for World Mental Health Day, but it’s one for every day. One for every classroom, library and home. One for every child.