When children have self-confidence and love themselves, they are more likely to try new things, bounce back quickly after mistakes, and be kind to others. One way of instilling these important feelings and overall positive attitude is by reading books that help remind them of how amazing each and every person is. Here are a couple of our favorite books that inspire self-worth and confidence in children.
(Ages 2 – 6)
Todd Parr is the master of making kids feel good about themselves. His brightly colored signature illustrations and positive messages presented using simple language, make his books standouts for young children. A few of our favorites that celebrate uniqueness and build self-confidence are It’s Okay to Be Different , Be Who You Are and It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
The Crown On Your Head by Nancy Tillman, 2011
(2 and up)
I don’t know what is more beautiful, Nancy Tillman’s poignant storytelling or her gorgeous illustrations. There is a reason she is a New York Times Best Selling author, and this lovely story is another winner.
The text speaks to a child directly from a parent’s point of view noting that the child has an invisible crown on their head representing how special they are. “Whatever it is you choose to do, no one can do it exactly like you. Ride on the big slide! And if you fall down, remember your glorious, marvelous crown. It won’t flicker or fade. It won’t dim. It won’t leave. All you have to do is believe.”
This whimsical bedtime story is an excellent way to instill confidence in children of a variety of ages.
Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller ; illustrated by Patrice Barton, 2019
(Ages 3 and up)
“So whether you’re daring or careful or kind, embrace who you are and the way you’re designed. Dream your own dreams. Hear your own heart. You could change the world. You just have to start.”
This is just a short exert from one of my favorite new books, Remarkably You. Eloquent rhymes inspire young readers to be themselves, find their talents, and pursue them. The beautiful artwork featuring a diverse group of children perfectly compliment the lyrical text.
The myriad of positive messages in this timeless book makes it a perfect gift for baby showers, graduations, birthdays, and of course, sharing with loved ones.
Pat Zietlow Miller’s BE KIND was one of my favorite books of 2018 and even though it is early, I foresee Remarkably You will be in the running for my top books of 2019.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont ; illustrated by David Catrow, 2004
(Ages 3 – 8)
I Like Myself stars an exuberant little girl who excitedly shares all of the characteristics that make her unique. “Inside, outside, upside down, from head to toe and all around, I like it all! It all is me! And me is all I want to be.”
Karen Beaumont’s rhyming text and David Catrow’s whimsical illustrations are full of energy, humor, and positive messaging, making this standout picture book a must-have for most home and school libraries.
Celebrate You by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrations by A.N. Kang, 2019
I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curis & Laura Cornell, 2002
(Ages 3 – 7)
Jamie Lee Curtis is not only a famous actress, but she is also very well known in the children’s lit world for her fabulous books celebrating aspects of childhood. In I’m Gonna Like Me, she joyfully writes about a boy and girl who share with the reader all of the things they love about themselves including moments where they make mistakes.
Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger; illustread by Kerascoet, 2018
(Ages 4 and up)
When an illustrator draws a picture of a young girl and names her Viva, she worries something about her creation isn’t quite right. She tries to erase the girl, but the illustration comes to life and reminds the artist, “Everyone has their own special thing- find what is yours and bring what you bring…Find your own voice and sing how you sing. Find your own OOMPH! Find your own ZING! Be your best you, and rock what you got. Don’t let anyone say what you’re not. Live in this world and make your own spot. Take what you’ve got and rock it- A LOT!”
I can’t think of better advice to give our children! My daughter has begged for this book every night for a week. I hope it is a message that she will always remember and continue to rock what she’s got her whole life.
Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal ; illustrated by Scott Magoon, 2009
(Ages 4 – 8)
When an adorable spoon laments all of the cool things his friends, knife, fork, and chopsticks can do that he cannot, his wise mother reassures him with a list of things that make him special. The clever illustrations and wordplay make this a crowd-pleasing read aloud that is entertaining for both children and adults.
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, 2010
(Ages 4 – 8)
When the number zero feels empty inside and like she doesn’t “count”, she tries to reshape herself in the form of other numbers. It is only when she looks at herself with a new perspective that she realizes that by being herself, she adds even more value to the other numbers. This book is elegant, sophisticated, and a wonderful tool for teaching children self-worth.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell; illustrated by David Catrow, 2001
(Ages 4 – 10)
It is impossible not to root for the exuberant Molly Lou Melon. She may be short, clumsy, have buck teeth, and a voice that sounds like a bullfrog, but she also has a very wise grandmother who has endowed her with words of wisdom about being herself.
David Catrow’s eccentric illustrations are hilarious and perfectly exemplify Molly Lou’s vivacious spirit. This is one of my favorite read alouds that my children and my students asked for over and over.
The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, 2007
(Ages 4 – 8)
A stick figure illustration (ingeniously formed using the letters “o” and “k”) informs readers that he likes to try different things even though he may not be great at all of them. “One day, I’ll grow up to be really excellent at something. I don’t know what it is yet…but I sure am having fun figuring it out.”
Deceptively simple, this clever book has an important message that children should not be expected to excel in everything they do. They should always do their best and try new things and hopefully they will eventually find their niche.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers ; illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo, 2018
(Ages 4 – 8)
This lovely book uses similes comparing a little girl to nature to rejoice in her individuality. “Like the sun, I’m here to shine.” The lyrical language is accompanied by beautiful illustrations featuring a group of diverse girls. The last few pages build upon the message of self-worth and focus on celebrating differences and respecting others.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrated by Rafael Lopez, 2018
(Ages 5 and up)
At some point in our lives just about everyone feels like they don’t belong. This complex feeling can be especially confusing and scary for children. The Day You Begin is a powerful book that encourages children to celebrate their uniqueness and share their stories. In doing so, they will often find commonalities with others.
With eloquent text and beautiful illustrations, this special story will resonate with a number of age groups.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall, 2015
(Ages 5 and up)
This book pulls at my heartstrings each time I read it. It is tailor made for every child who has ever felt like they don’t belong. When a blue crayon wrapped in a red label can’t draw the color red, he feels like a failure. No matter what he tries nothing works. When someone asks him to draw an ocean, however, he realizes that he is actually blue and can accomplish great things.
This story is so clever and poignant and so so perfect for reminding children that everyone has a special talent that is just waiting to be discovered. Between the artwork and the positive messaging, there is so much to love about this brilliant book!
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