Picture Books About Self-Control

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Picture Books About Self-Control

Control, emotional management, and patience

Here are some picture books about managing our feelings and self-control.

It's Hard to Be Five by Jamie Lee Curtis

The subtitle of this book is "Learning How to Work My Control Panel", which perfectly encapsulates the theme of this list. A control panel is a great metaphor for self-control, and this book has vibrant illustrations with good examples of why kids need self-control.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Ok, so I love love love Kevin Henkes, pretty categorically, and this book was one of my favorites as a child! But, it's also a great book about the importance of self-control. Lilly gets in trouble at school for not being able to control herself over her excitement about her purple plastic purse. This book does a great job of putting the issue of self-control in a realistic childhood context, while also not being too serious.

When Sophie's Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

This picture book, along with Bang's Caldecott-nominated When Sophie Gets Angry-Really Really Angry... contain excellent techniques for managing hurt feelings. A great way to develop better self-control is to practice active ways to deal with feelings, and Sophie's techniques are realistic and manageable strategies for many children.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Little Red Hen can't stop interrupting her bedtime stories. This funny story has a undertone about the importance of self-control - after all, if Little Red Hen would stop interrupting, she would probably get an actual bedtime story!

Karate Hour by Carol Nevius

Martial arts are about controlling yourself. This book is a meditation about a karate class, and the patience and listening skills required to excel. It has large, life-like illustrations of stances and karate moves that remind the reader that karate is about listening to your sensei and your body.

Ping Pong Pig by Caroline Jayne Church

Ping Pong Pig wants to fly, and spends all of his time leaping around the farm - and accidentally destroying everything in the process! Eventually, he realizes that he is in everyone's way and bothering his friends, so he uses his trampoline to help around the farm instead of destroy. While this Pig is not exactly a model of self-control, this book is a cute example of how self-control in a busy and active child does not have to mean sitting quietly and doing nothing: self-control can involve channeling energy into active and helpful behaviors.

The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers by Lisa Campbell Ernst

The Gingerbread Girl just wants to be friends with the animal crackers, but they're so excited to run free that they don't listen to her. Sadly, their lack of listening skills ends with most of them getting eaten!

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Maria loves her mother's sparkly ring. She knows she shouldn't play with it, but can't resist putting it on while making tamales with her cousins. What will happen when she can't find the ring? This lighthearted Christmas story has a happy ending, but also contains a subtle reminder of the possible consequences of a lack of self-control.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

Patience is required to see nature. If you want to see a whale, you can't just go to the ocean and expect to see one. You may have to wait for the right conditions and weather and luck. This book is about the value of patience and concentration. The pencil and linoleum print illustrations are reminiscent of the water and pair well with the textual layout.

Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems

Piggie has a surprise for his friend Gerald, but it is very difficult for Gerald to wait for that surprise. Elephant and Piggie are rightfully beloved characters, and this book has a nice message about how waiting can be worth it, even if it feels hard.