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The Feelings Book (Revised): The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions Paperback – February 26, 2013
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It's worth noting that this book briefly mentions PMS, so it's probably best read after a book like "The Care & Keeping of You 1: The Body Book for Younger Girls", which introduces the concept of menstruation.
On the plus side, the book helps to normalize the many emotions a growing girl might be feeling. I like that it is explicit about how your emotions will affect your behavior, and your behavior will affect how other people react to you. You need to make sure you are exhibiting the actual emotions you feel; if you just act angry, other people - and yourself - won't understand or address the actual emotions you may be feeling, which may be embarrassment, disappointment, or shame.
The book has several chapters talking about emotions in general. Specific emotions are addressed in the following sections:
I Feel Anxious
I'm So Jealous
I've Been Disrespected
I'm Really Sad
I Don't Feel Safe
Much of the book is formatted like an advice column, with questions outlining particular scenarios and answers providing specific tips and strategies. In many ways, the Q & A format was a good thing, because it made a lot of the emotions seem relatable. There were common scenarios like, "I'm scared to sleep alone at night," "I'm jealous that my sister is in my cousin's wedding, but I'm not," and "My parents are divorced, and every time I stay with one of them, I miss the other one." On the other hand, however, I'm a bit concerned that some of the scenarios might actually introduce fears that my daughter never considered before. For example, in the "I Don't Feel Safe" chapter, there were scenarios like, "I worry about school shootings," and "My house burned down last month, and I'm afraid our new house will burn down, too."
Along the same lines, I'm afraid the book might introduce some additional concepts that maybe my child isn't ready for. In the "I'm Really Sad" chapter, there is a section listing "Signs of Depression", and one of them is "think[ing] a lot about death or suicide". It does not define suicide, and I'm not even sure if my daughter knows what "suicide" is, but if she doesn't, I'm not sure if this is the best way to introduce it. Maybe it is, because it's safely confined in a book about emotions? I don't know. I need to think about it some more while I decide whether or not to have my daughter read this book.
It might also be helpful for a parent previewing this book for a child to know that this book does mention the idea of "seeking professional help," going on to explain what therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists do.
Mostly, I'm disappointed that, despite touching upon embarrassment early in the book, there is no chapter titled, "I Feel Embarrassed." After anger, I feel like my daughter is most affected by unnecessary feelings of embarrassment.
Also, in the "I've Been Disrespected" chapter - which is basically about being bullied - I don't think the answers are entirely realistic. Of course it advocates using words to solve the problem, but it suggests saying things like, "I'd like to find a way for us to get along." I'm sorry, I just think that in the real world, if kids used language like that with a bully, it would be met with laughter and eye-rolling. I am all for having children work out their own problems, however, when it comes to bullying, I don't think this section emphasized enough the importance of letting the teacher know that bullying is occurring among classmates.
By the way, I've bought almost every single American Girl book and all are brilliant and well-loved by my daughter (even the Body Book). I've learned a lot myself. For her Fall birthday we are getting her a subscription to the magazine.
UPDATE: We got my daughter the subscription to the periodical and she devours it. Lots of fantastic tid-bits and more on how to handle emotions.