Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to change. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about change.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about change, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Messy One to popular sellers like The Road Not Taken to some of our favorite hidden gems like Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut.
We hope this list of kids books about change can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Little Tree - For graduates, for their parents, for anyone facing change, here is a gorgeously illustrated and stunningly heartfelt ode to the challenges of growing up and letting go. A story of the seasons and stepping stones as poignant for parents as for their kids, from the creator of Otis the tractor and illustrator of Love by Matt de la Pena. “Long’s gentle but powerful story about a young tree who holds tight to his leaves, even as everyone else lets theirs drop, takes on nothing less than the pain and sorrow of growing up. . . . As in Long’s unaccountably profound books about Otis the tractor, a pure white background somehow adds to the depth.”—The New York Times Book Review In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is. Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree’s leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered. As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.
Ice in the Jungle - When Ice’s mother tells her that they’re going to move to an exciting new place, Ice isn’t so sure. She likes her home and her friends, and the fun they have together. The journey takes forever, and their new home is very strange. Everything is different – the weather, the food, the people and the language. Ice tries to make friends, but everyone seems too busy and preoccupied to care.Will anything happen to help Ice feel more at home?A charming debut picture book about the anxieties and hardships of moving, with a heart-warming, positive ending.
Cat Knit - Cat and Yarn are the best of friends. They have so much fun playing together, the two are inseparable. Until the day Girl takes Yarn away. When Yarn returns, he is completely changed, no longer Cat’s bright and rolly friend. Cat is mad! Soon, Cat begins to miss his best friend, and he just might realize that a little change isn’t so bad after all.
Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts - There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello. From being pushed on a swing to learning how to pump your legs yourself, from riding a beloved trike to mastering your first bike ride, from leaving the comforts of home behind to venturing forth on that first day of school, milestones are exciting but hard. They mean having to say goodbye to one moment in order to welcome the next. Honest and uplifting, this cheerfully illustrated ode to change gently empowers readers to brave life’s milestones, both large and small.
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It Takes a Village - “It Takes a Village offers a universal, unifying message. It captures perfectly Clinton’s vision of a multicultural America working toward a constructive goal. So hopeful and forward-looking.” —The Washington Post “Inspired by her 2006 book of the same name, Clinton’s unadorned text celebrates how civic spirit emerges…Most of the storytelling is found in Frazee’s delicately textured images, which exude energy, hope, and emotional authenticity.” —Publishers Weekly “This work is a welcome reminder that all people ‘are born believers. And citizens, too.’” —Shelf Awareness “What does it take to change the world?” Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first book for young readers, inspired by the themes of her classic New York Times bestselling book It Takes a Village, and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee, asks readers what can they do to make the world a better place? It Takes a Village tells the heartwarming and universal story of a diverse community coming together to make a difference. All kinds of people working together, playing together, and living together in harmony makes a better village and many villages coming together can make a better world. Together we can build a better life for one another. Together we can change our world. The book will resonate with children and families and through the generations as it encourages readers to look for a way they can make a difference. It is a book that you will surely want to read again and again, a book you will want to share and a book that will inspire.
Things That Go Away - A playful ode to things that come and go in life—and the one special bond that never fades There are many things that go away: leaves fall, tears dry, music lasts only for a few moments, and bubbles pop, vanishing without a trace. Everything in life passes, moves on, or transforms—except one thing that never fades. With her signature warmth, playfulness, and beautiful illustrations, Beatrice Alemagna reminds us that in a changing world, the love between parent and child remains constant.
The Last Great Adventure of the PB & J Society - When her best friend’s house is threatened with foreclosure, young Annie Jenkins is full of ideas to save the home: selling her appendix on eBay, winning the lottery, facing down the bankers . . . anything to keep Jason from moving. But Jason’s out-of-work dad blows up at the smallest things, and he’s not very happy with Annie’s interventions, which always seem to get them into more trouble. But when Annie tracks a lost treasure to Jason’s backyard, she’s sure the booty will be enough to save Jason’s family. Pirate treasure in the Midwest seems far-fetched, even to Annie, but it could be the answer to all their problems. Now all she has to do is convince Jason. As the two hunt for answers and the pressure gets to Jason and his family, Annie discovers that the best-laid plans aren’t always enough and there are worse things than moving away.
Cody and the Heart of a Champion - In Cody’s life, some people keep her on her toes—just like Mother Nature, who is warm one day and snowy the next. Or like Cody’s brother, Wyatt, who has started wearing collared shirts because his girlfriend likes them. Meanwhile, Pearl has begun playing soccer and it’s all she can talk about. Spencer is busy creating a mysterious museum underneath GG’s house and he’s never around to play. And Spencer’s mom doesn’t look any different. . . . Could she really have a baby growing inside her? Maybe the baby is like Cody’s beloved ants, waiting patiently inside the earth for spring to arrive. It seems like everything around Cody is changing—from seasons to friendships—but if she can just navigate it all with her trademark enthusiasm and charm, maybe the most important things will stay the same.
Same Way Ben - Ben likes things the same way every day at school—he sits at the same table, eats the same lunch, and likes the daily class routine. But when his teacher leaves to have her baby and a substitute teacher comes and changes everything, Ben gets upset. He liked everything the way it was before! But soon Ben starts to think differently about change and realizes that doing things another way can be fun.
The Bad Seed - From the New York Times bestselling author of the Goodnight Already! series This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! This seed cuts in line every time, stares at everybody and never listens. But what happens when one mischievous little seed changes his mind about himself, and decides that he wants to be—happy? With Jory John’s charming and endearing text and bold expressive illustrations by Pete Oswald, here is The Bad Seed: a funny yet touching tale that reminds us of the remarkably transformative power of will, acceptance, and just being you. Perfect for readers young and old, The Bad Seed proves that positive change is possible for each and every one of us.
Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean - Glee actress Jane Lynch takes a look at bullying head-on in her first picture book. Marlene is the self-appointed queen of the playground, the sidewalk, and the school. She is small but mighty . . . intimidating! Known for her cruel ways, the little Queen of Mean has kids cowering in fear—until big Freddy stands up to her and says what everyone has been too fearful to say. In Seussian rhyme, actress Jane Lynch, clinical psychologist Lara Embry, and former children’s book editor A. E. Mikesell gently and comically depict the undoing of a bully and her efforts to reform. Tricia Tusa’s charming illustrations make the story an even more accessible conversation starter for all ages.
Anxious Charlie to the Rescue - A friend in need causes an anxious pup to confront his fear of change in this thoughtful and encouraging tale. Charlie follows the same routine every day: he hops out of bed in the morning, walks the same route to the market, and lines up his stuffed animals just so in the evening. If anything is slightly different, Charlie worries that something bad might happen. But when friends call one morning asking for Charlie’s help, he forgets to follow his usual routine. Will something bad happen, as Charlie fears? Or will he learn that change can be good? In this touching story by Terry Milne, readers will fall in love with the nervous little dog named Charlie and his ability to overcome his fear of change.
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Amina's Voice - A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
Rosetown - From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana. For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window. But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third. Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!
Karma Khullar's Mustache - In the tradition of Judy Blume, debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this “sparkling and triumphant tale of a middle school misfit” (Heather Vogel Frederick). Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
The Amazing Idea of You - Fans of Emily Winfield Martin will delight in this loving, gorgeously illustrated story that celebrates new life. Hidden inside every living thing is an idea. That idea can sprout, sing, wriggle, take wing . . . into something amazing! Exploring beginnings both small and great, The Amazing Idea of You bonds the human and natural worlds in a lyrical burst of celebration. So dig deep, fly high, look around, and find the extraordinary inside everything . . . including YOU!
Husky - Twelve-year-old Davis lives in an old brownstone with his mother and grandmother in Brooklyn. He loves people-watching in Prospect Park, visiting his mom in the bakery she owns, and listening to the biggest operas he can find as he walks everywhere. But Davis is having a difficult summer. As questions of sexuality begin to enter his mind, he worries people don’t see him as anything other than “husky.” To make matters worse, his best girlfriends are starting to hang out with mean girls and popular boys. Davis is equally concerned about the distance forming between him and his single mother as she begins dating again, and about his changing relationship with his amusingly loud Irish grandmother, Nanny. Ultimately, Davis learns to see himself outside of his one defining adjective. He’s a kid with unique interests, admirable qualities, and people who will love him no matter what changes life brings about.
Want to see books about self-esteem?
Before I Leave - How do you say goodbye to your best friend? When a little hedgehog’s family tells her they’re moving far away, she and her anteater best friend decide to play one last time, like nothing is changing. And though it’s hard, they discover that while some things have to change, the most important things find a way of working out.
The Messy One - Vivienne really enjoys being messy, but when she loses her favorite necklace she is determined to tidy up her room to find it.
The Fox on the Swing - Once upon a time a boy called Paul lived in a treehouse with his mother and father. One day a fox appeared in Paul’s life - and when a fox comes into your life, Anything can happen. This sensitive story about friendship, dreams and happiness was written by Evelina Daciute and illustrated by Ausra Kiudulaite. It tells the story of Paul and the fox, whom he encounters one day when out buying bread for the family, and how their relationship begins, develops and shifts as life forces change on them both. The book’s themes are friendship, change, loss and the importance of seeking happiness in the little things of life
We Are Not Friends - Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.
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