When a friend with impeccable taste in children’s books comes to you and says, “Mary, you’ve got to read The Boy with Big, Big Feelings. This book sums my children up perfectly and would be so important for anyone raising boys… No, anyone raising children… to know that it’s okay, and maybe even essential, to both feel and show emotions,” you immediately ask her if you can borrow said book. Then, of course, you fall in love with it and add it to your posting calendar to ensure that you remember to share it with the world ASAP. Read on to see why The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee, illustrated by Jacob Souva, is important and worth sharing!
In The Boy with Big, Big Feelings, Lee and Souva introduce us to a boy who feels. Who not only feels, but feels big. However, he learned to “stuff all his feelings deep down” and “control what he thought he should hide,” because he worried that his peers would laugh at and make fun of him if they knew all that he felt. So, he hides his heart until one day, he notices a peer who also seems to be feeling extra big emotions, too. Through their friendship, the two learn to open their hearts again, and also realize that others around them feel big emotions at times, too!
I greatly appreciate that the main character feel big, big feelings both positively and negatively. When he is scared, he cries hard; when he is happy, he bursts with joy; and when others around him feel their own emotions, his heart reflects those feelings back as if they were his own. So often, we equate squashing emotions to bottling up our worries, fears, and sadness, but many children also try to temper their happiness and excitement, too.
Additionally, you should know that Lee crafted this story originally as a stand-alone poem, not as text for a children’s book. Therefore, this book seems meant to be read aloud and shared, to bring adults and children together as they share this book to allow them greater comfort in sharing their emotions and experiences with each other, too.
And lastly, just look at these illustrations! From the end pages to how Souva has portrayed emotions swirling around the characters, these illustrations will make YOU feel! The combination of Souva’s illustrations with Lee’s descriptive phrases (you know it’s special when tears are described as “That big heart of his / would push feelings right out of his eyes!”) allows children to deepen their understanding of feelings and develop language to describe how their emotions make their bodies feel.
Of course, we want all children to grow up in touch with their feelings, understanding them in a healthy way and finding safe ways to express their emotions. For boys, though, this freedom seems even more urgent. Thank you, Britney Winn Lee and Jacob Souva, and the many other authors and illustrators who are helping our children grow, understand how to process their emotions, and express them honestly and safely!
If you liked The Boy with Big, Big Feelings, check out:
- How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere — You can read my full review here.
- Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean — You can read my full review here.
- Tough Boris by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kathryn Brown — You can read my Instagram review here.
For more books on emotions, be sure to visit this post, as a great number of color books include terrific information for children about processing emotions.