Picture books for kids help me explain concepts to kids in neutral way, by focusing on the character instead of lecturing the kid standing in front of me.
By using book characters as the focus, we are introducing the topic in a neutral way and not lecturing our kids about what they should or should not do. This takes emotional pressure off of the situation and allows both the kid and adult to be curious and have discussions about the topic, instead of debating with one another.
Kids with ADHD can experience BIG emotions but they might not be sure how to manage them, or even identify WHICH emotions they are feeling. Here are some of my favorite books that show kids with ADHD how to manage their emotions (emotional regulation), be self-aware, and think about how they think (metacognition).
My Day is Ruined! A Story for Teaching Flexible Thinking
Good for discussing: ADHD and flexible thinking, emotional regulation, big emotions, what we can and can’t control
My Day is Ruined features a kid who is disappointed and frustrated when things don’t go his way, at home and at school. With empathy and creativity his mom and a teacher give him strategies to acknowledge the frustration and brainstorm new ideas. A big part of this process is recognizing what it outside of our control. This is an excellent book for a parent/caregiver to read with a child to introduce the idea of flexible thinking and how a person actually practices flexible thinking.
I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! My story about accepting ‘No’ for an answer and disagreeing…the right way!
Good for discussing: ADHD and disagreeing, emotional regulation, big emotions, what we can and can’t control
When a child says, “no!” they are trying to exert their independence. No is an excellent word. It helps us set boundaries and communicate what we do not want. But when you are a parent/caregiver who hears “no” from your child countless times in a day it might be difficult to look at this in a positive light. So let’s teach our kids how to disagree in a productive way. This book gives practical examples of how we can model disagreeing with others and learning to accept “no” for an answer too.
What Were You Thinking? A Story about Learning to Control Your Impulses.
Good for discussing: ADHD, impulse control, hyperactivity, self-awareness, decision-making
Kids with ADHD can have trouble controlling their impulses. They are not trying to be bad or defiant but they simply act or speak before they think. Impulse control is one of the executive functions in our brains. Executive function skills can be slower to develop in kids with ADHD. But we can find ways for kids to practice these skills! With patience and empathy, we can use a book like What Were You Thinking? to show kids how to notice their impulses and what they can do to slow down and make better decisions.
Waiting is Not Easy!
Good for discussing: patience, managing emotions, waiting is hard for kids and grown-ups alike
I love books by Mo Willems! His style of writing and illustrating for kids manages to be deep and simple at the same time. Waiting is Not Easy! shows one elephant’s struggle to wait for a surprise. As his excitement grows bigger his patient for waiting gets smaller. I’m sure a lot of kids (and maybe some grown-ups too) can see themselves in this story. A great book to read with preschoolers or elementary school students!
What if Everybody Did That?
Good for discussing: impact of our words and actions, impulse control, hyperactivity, ADHD
Kids usually think all about themselves and what is important to them. But how can a kid learn to see the impact of their actions on others? The book What if Everybody Did That? uses great illustrations to show the impact of one kids making a choice, like running through the grocery store with the cart, compared to EVERYONE making the same choice. This is a great book to read with kids of all ages to introduce the idea that out decisions and actions impact those around us.
Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets
Good for discussing: fidgeting, fidget toys, classroom accommodations, movement-seeking kids, ADHD, hyperactivity, self-advocating
Lots of kids with ADHD crave movement. Bouncing in a chair, tapping their feet, swinging their legs, or walking around can be ways that kids seek movements. Sometimes this helps them focus on another task like reading or listening. Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets shows how one kid learns to speak up for what he needs in school and effectively talk to his parents and teacher about these needs.
Free Association. Where My Mind Goes During Science Class.
Good for discussing: daydreaming, focus, sustained attention (one of the executive functions in our brains), self-advocating, empathy, parent teacher partnerships, inattentive ADHD
Does your child daydream? Does this make them miss information when they are in school? In Free Association Where My Mind Goes During Science Class you’ll meet a daydreaming student and her kids teacher. With kindness and support, the teacher shows the student how to learn to catch herself daydreaming, what to do with those thoughts, and then how to refocus on the work. A great example of modeling self-awareness and practicing focus!
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Good for discussing: focus, persistence, sustained attention (an executive function skill in our brains), ADHD, planning skills
Kids with ADHD can have big creative ideas! These kids are the future innovators, inventors, and creators that the world needs. But sometimes kids with ADHD can struggle to start their project and see it through to the end. Reading Keep Your Eye on the Prize with your kid will show them one kid’s story of persistence and focus as he enters the school science fair.
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