Having a Rough Day? Books to Make a Bad Day Better

Eliza Clark
September 10, 2015

Every young child has a rough day once in a while. Tiredness is often the culprit, but really, almost anything can set a preschooler off. There are so many things they want but can't have. So many rules that seem made to be broken. So many things that don't turn out the way they had imagined.

It's hard to be a kid. Even the luckiest kid in the world, with the most loving and understanding parents possible, is going to have a tough time every now and then. There will be days when she goes from whine to tantrum to sulkiness and round and round again. And as your child suffers from tears and time-outs, so do you!

How can we make it better? That's all any parent wants to know. The answer is not to bend the rules or offer consolatory lollipops, but to acknowledge our kids' feelings so that they can more easily let them go. Listening to and accepting their vehement expressions of displeasure can be hard on the ears and not fun in the least, but it is the surest way to brighten everyone's mood. 

More fun and also helpful is reading some of these wise books about bad days. There's nothing like realizing you are not alone to make a person, especially a very small person, feel better.

David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon

David Shannon got started early as an author. When he was a little boy, he made a book "illustrated with drawings of David doing all sorts of things he wasn't supposed to do, and the text consisted entirely of the words "no" and "David" - they were the only words I knew how to spell!" On this ancient document, Shannon has based his funny and popular "David" series. No, David! is a classic reflection of the parent-toddler relationship, and David Gets In Trouble brings us up to the school years, when the young scamp is finally able to make some excuses for himself. The pictures are funny and raw, and preschoolers will recognize themselves in this story and take great pleasure is watching someone else get in trouble for a change.

Martha Doesn't Say Sorry! by Samantha Berger

"There are many things Martha does, but apologizing isn't one of them." So begins this cute story of an unrepentant otter who must learn the value of a sincere apology. Martha is as charming as anything in her pink dress and bow, but her naughty streak runs deep. As does her pride. When she does finally learn to say sorry, her reluctance is palpable and very funny to young readers who have been there before! Lovely, uncluttered illustrations make this an appealing and amusing read for all.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney

A major temper tantrum in the middle of a shopping center is every parent's nightmare. It's also about as common as rain. In other words, this installation of the popular Llama Llama series hits a nerve! From the perspective of the little llama, it's not hard to see how the bad mood develops. It's also instructive to see how Mama skillfully repairs the breach. The quick rhyming text and large scale pictures draw little readers in—readers who themselves are often mad at Mama!

Where's Your Smile Crocodile? by Claire Freedman

Kyle the crocodile is glum today, and goes off looking for his smile. The forest animals do their best to cheer him up. The monkey makes faces, the parrot makes silly noises, and the elephant blows big bubbles in the water. But none of that quite does the trick. What gladdens him in the end is cheering up a sad lost lion cub. Helping another is the best way to feel better! We love this message, and the sweet story that delivers it.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

It starts off as a bad day for a little bird, a dog, a fox and a squirrel. Losing a feather, a nut or the way home can really put a damper on the day. What can change a bad day into a good day? Read this very beautiful book and find out!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Judith Viorst wrote this book in 1972, and it is still as much of a classic as ever. Best for elementary school children, it chronicles an accumulation of small woes in a day in the life of small boy. Gum stuck in his hair, no prize in his cereal box, no dessert in his lunch box, mean friends, a cavity, and lima beans for dinner add up to a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day for Alexander. This book has humor, but also pulls no punches. There's no happy ending here, other than bedtime, and the promise of new day. As Alexander's mother concedes, "some days are like that."

From the Parents

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