Best Children's Books About Change

38 Children's Books About Change

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Grandma book
#1
Grandma
Written and illustrated by Jessica Shepherd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Told in diary form, Oscar relates how his grandmother becomes less able to look after herself and enters a nursing home, with information about dementia to help children discuss their feelings and adjust to the changing relationship.

Little Home Bird book
#2
Little Home Bird
Written and illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Little Bird loves everything about his home. He's surrounded by his favourite branch, his favourite food, his favourite view and his favourite music. Why on earth would he ever want to change, even when his brother tells him that they must? Discover how Little Bird ends up finding happiness in his new home from home in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Perfect for all children who love home, however many they may have.

Three Pennies book
#3
Three Pennies
Written and illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut book
#4
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, the Huffington Post , Publishers Weekly , Kirkus Reviews , the Los Angeles Times , the Boston Globe , the Horn Book Magazine , the News & Observer , BookPage , Chicago Public Library, and more The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

Little Tree book
#5
Little Tree
Written and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Small Bunny's Blue Blanket book
#6
Small Bunny's Blue Blanket
Written and illustrated by Tatyana Feeney
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Small Bunny does everything with Blue Blanket. Blue Blanket helps him paint the best pictures, go the highest on the swings, and read the hardest words. They need each other. But one day, Small Bunny’s mother insists Blue Blanket needs to be washed. She says Blue Blanket will be as good as new after. But Bunny isn’t sure he likes new. Will his friend ever be the same?

Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean book
#7
Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean
Written by A.E. Mikesell, Lara Embry, Jane Lynch and illustrated by Tricia Tusa
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

Rosetown book
#8
Rosetown
Written by Cynthia Rylant
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

Amina's Voice book
#9
Amina's Voice
Written and illustrated by Hena Khan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

Lubna and Pebble book
#10
Lubna and Pebble
Written by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egneus
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In an unforgettable story that subtly addresses the refugee crisis, a young girl must decide if friendship means giving up the one item that gives her comfort during a time of utter uncertainty. Lubna's best friend is a pebble. Pebble always listens to her stories. Pebble always smiles when she feels scared. But when a lost little boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that he needs Pebble even more than she does. This emotionally stirring and stunningly illustrated picture book explores one girl's powerful act of friendship in the midst of an unknown situation.

Cody and the Heart of a Champion book
#11
Cody and the Heart of a Champion
Written by Tricia Springstubb and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

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.

Hey, Wall book
#12
Hey, Wall
Written by Susan Verde and illustrated by John Parra
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra. One creative boy. One bare, abandoned wall. One BIG idea. There is a wall in Ángel’s neighborhood. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing. Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. But he can’t do it alone. Told in elegant verse by Susan Verde and vibrantly illustrated by John Parra, this inspiring picture book celebrates the power of art to tell a story and bring a community together.

It Takes a Village book
#13
It Takes a Village
Written by Hillary Rodham Clinton and illustrated by Marla Frazee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"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.

The Things That I Love about Trees book
#14
The Things That I Love about Trees
Written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Charlotte Voake
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Journey through the seasons and discover how much there is to love about trees! From brand-new buds in spring to the sound of the wind whooshing through the leaves in summer, from the fall colors to the feel of winter’s rough bark and the promise of spring returning again—no matter what time of year, there’s always something extraordinary to notice about the trees around your neighborhood. Chris Butterworth’s text, gently sprinkled with facts, captures the wonder of a child as Charlotte Voake’s busy, buoyant artwork conveys how something as simple and common as a tree can feel like magic taking root around you.

Finding Granny book
#15
Finding Granny
Written by Kate Simpson and illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every two seconds, someone in the world suffers a stroke. In Finding Granny, that someone is Edie’s beloved grandmother. When Edie comes to the hospital, she is confronted by the physical changes in her grandmother: muddled words, a crooked face, a woman confined to bed. This isn’t the ‘playtime, bedtime, story-time pantomime Granny’ that Edie knows. "That’s not my Granny," she says, as she waits outside in the corridor during her mother’s visits. But when her mother takes Edie to watch one of Granny’s art therapy sessions, Edie starts to understand that the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

Spring After Spring book
#16
Spring After Spring
Written and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the creator of "Star Stuff"comes a picture book biography of Rachel Carson, tracing her journey as scientist and writer, courageously speaking truth to an often hostile world through her book, and ultimately paving the way for the modern environmental movement. Full color.

Pocket Bios: Albert Einstein book
#17
Pocket Bios: Albert Einstein
Written and illustrated by Al Berenger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A colorfully illustrated, pocket-size picture book biography of famed physicist Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein, a theoretical physicist, developed the theory of relativity and is popularly known today for his mass-energy equivalence formula E=mc^2. In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to theoretical physics, particularly for discoveries and research that proved pivotal for quantum theory. Pocket Bios are full of personality, introducing readers to fascinating figures from history with simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations. Titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more.

Pocket Bios: Frida Kahlo book
#18
Pocket Bios: Frida Kahlo
Written and illustrated by Al Berenger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Frida Kahlo remains one of the most celebrated painters of her time for her exploration of themes of feminism, gender, class, and race in her artwork and frequent self-portraits. From her childhood struggle with polio, to the traffic accident that left her with chronic pain, to her artistic exploration of herself and her identity, follow this extraordinary woman's life and accomplishments.These colorful, pocket-size biographies are full of personality, introducing readers to fascinating figures from history with simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations. Pocket Bios titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more.

Night on Fire book
#19
Night on Fire
Written by Ronald Kidd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck—and helpless—in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn’t even know she had.

The Messy One book
#20
The Messy One
Written by Christianne C. Jones and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Vivienne really enjoys being messy, but when she loses her favorite necklace she is determined to tidy up her room to find it.

Anybody's Game book
#21
Anybody's Game
Written by Heather Lang and illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

In 1950, Kathryn Johnston wanted to play Little League, but an unwritten rule kept girls from trying out. So she cut off her hair and tried out as a boy under the nickname “Tubby.” She made the team—and inspired future generations. An inspiring and suspenseful story about what it means to want to do something so badly you’re willing to break the rules—and how, sometimes, breaking the rules can lead to change.

Before I Leave book
#22
Before I Leave
Written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

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.

I Sleep in a Big Bed book
#23
I Sleep in a Big Bed
Written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Babies sleep in cribs. Do big kids? No! Big kids sleep in a big bed. Every child's life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

All the Animals Where I Live book
#24
All the Animals Where I Live
Written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The author used to live in the busy city where there were buses and trains, and people waiting for buses and trains. Now he lives in the country and jubilantly takes us on a tour of his home, pointing out all the animals that share his space. There are stuffed bears and quilted chickens. His dog Wednesday watches cranes, frogs, and dragonflies live their lives. Coyotes and chipmunks come and go, and the world around where he lives is full of life, until winter comes, and there is nothing but snow. Uniquely structured, All the Animals Where I Live is a picture book from Philip C. Stead, one of our most innovative author-illustrators, that is a meditation on life and moments big and small that shape our individual worlds.

Bye-Bye Binky book
#25
Bye-Bye Binky
Written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Babies use a binky. Do big kids? No! Big kids say, "Bye-bye, binky!" Every child's life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.