Redeeming a Bad Day: Five Books to Turn Around One of “Those” Days

Friday was one of “those” days for me. It involved a lost shoe, a band aid, cupcakes, and poop (we’re potty training, but don’t “those” days always involve poop?!). If I tried to explain it, you’d probably nod your head sympathetically but really be thinking “For real? She’s gotta get a grip! Those are some small potatoes!”

The truth of the matter is, we ALL have those days, where the small potatoes seem to pile up and overtake us. And when I say, ALL of us, I mean grownups and littles alike. When Preschool Bookworm gets into a “funk” and I recognize we are about to spiral down a bad path, I know I have to take action.  Enter bibliotherapy! The books below all speak to redeeming a bad day. Try these out when you’re headed down the rabbit hole, or when all is right with the world and you have a teachable audience willing to hear the message more fully.

Each book lends itself to discussions of feelings. Ask your bookworm to identify how the characters are feeling at various pivotal points, and why they’re feeling that way. Point to characters’ facial expressions and body language as you “read” the pictures together: “I’m noticing that Pete is wearing a frown & his head is drooped down into his hands as he’s looking at the rain outside his window. How do you think he’s feeling?” Allow your bookworms to share when they have felt the same way. Discuss how feelings can and do change, and how that comes about, both in the story and in your experience. Share as an adult how you’ve experienced the same core emotions and how you deal with them. I found this article to be a helpful read: “The Benefits of Helping Preschoolers Understand and Discuss Their Emotions.” 

I hope the books below are helpful to you and encourage a happy turnaround for bumpy spots in your day!

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes.

Several animals face small frustrations & disappointments that threaten to sour their moods, but each overcomes the trial (eg, a bird loses his tail feather, but he flies higher than ever before). The exclamation point at the end of the story shows that even our struggles can set in motion a positive change for others (a little girl finds the tail feather and exclaims what a good day it is!).  This is a short book, easily read in less than 2 minutes, but the illustrations and message both provide great material for discussion.

Pete the Cat & His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly & James Dean.

Pete has “magic” sunglasses that help him see the world in a better light. He loans them to his friends as they experience various emotions (frustration, anger, sadness) until they break; a wise friend helps him understand that he, even without his sunglases, has the power to find the good in tough situations.

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig.

Pete is bummed because his play date is ruined by a surprise rain storm. His father decides it might cheer Pete up to be made into a pizza. Doesn’t pizza make everything better? Act this one out for some giggles!

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka.

A boy finds an unlikely friend on a lonely day. With just 34 words, it is a QUICK read with a lasting message. Oh, and it won a Caldecott Honor. A simple backdrop for identifying emotions and how we can help each other when we’re sad or lonely.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena.

January 2016 saw this book add THREE award seals to its cover: Newbery Award, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. As CJ and his grandmother travel to their destination, he spouts out a series of “how come” questions, full of lament, frustration, annoyance, even self pity. His grandmother’s gentle but powerful replies are questions aimed at helping CJ change his perspective. At the story’s end we discover that they are on the way to volunteer at the soup kitchen, and CJ ends up glad to be there. I can’t say enough great things about this book (and neither can the reviewers, as you’ll see from the Amazon page or a simple google search). For today’s post, I love that it encourages bookworms to find redeeming qualities of life’s little frustrations & annoyances.

The books above should be readily available at your local library, or at the affiliate links provided. 

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