As he performs his morning exercise, Winnie the Pooh sings to himself, “I am short, fat, and proud of that.” Oh that we could all approach life with the same self-confidence as Winnie the Pooh.
Pooh is just one character out of many in children’s literature that can help us teach our kids about being confident, about liking themselves and being happy with who they are. As parents, one of our greatest wishes is that our children will grow up with confidence. Confidence to believe in themselves, to be true to who they are, to not care what others think of them, and to flourish in their passions and succeed in their pursuits. We want them to believe the can do anything they put their minds to. Confidence begets bravery, courage, self-worth, and boldness.
Children’s books provide an invaluable resource for helping children with confidence and self esteem. For one, reading aloud together with a young child can lead to expressions of love and encouragement from a parent to a child. These positive affirmations are critical for developing a sense of personal value and a positive self image. Additionally, as maturing readers start to understand characters and storylines, they can relate to and understand themes of self identity, feeling good about yourself, and believing in yourself.
Our list includes books for a broad range of ages. We have board books for newborns and toddlers, picture books for toddlers and kids early elementary school age, and chapter books for elementary school and early middle school age kids. You can filter our list by book type (board, picture, or chapter) and use our table of contents to jump to particular areas of interest, like books about confidence and being yourself.
These children’s books are sure to inspire confidence in young readers with their positive messages and role models. Let us know what books you would add to the list.
Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.
This book has such a powerful message! The babysitter does a fabulous job helping Albie realize his talents and gain confidence in himself. Albie is a refreshing character who you instantly love—not because he’s special or super talented, but because he has learned to love himself and is genuine.
Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, most athletic, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself. Simultaneous eBook.
Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.
Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.
But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
Gerald the giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds the right music. On board pages.
Not Your Typical Dragon - When Crispin Blaze turns 7 years old, he’s expected to breathe fire like all the other dragons, but instead of fire, he breathes a host of most unusual things. By the illustrator of Dream Big, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi.
Horton Halfpott - Tom Angleberger’s farcical middle-grade mystery begins when M’Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it has never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of “the Loosening,” the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can’t tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this romp of a mystery that combines supreme silliness with a tale of a young hero with heart.
Spoon - Thinking that Fork, Knife, and Chopstick have it better than he, Spoon begins to feel down about his status in the utensil world, but when others take the time to show him just how important he is, Spoon quickly comes to realize that being a spoon is the best thing to be after all!
Stephanie's Ponytail - B is for Bookworm - I grew up loving this book, and there are so many things I love about the strong Stephanie! She knows what she likes and isn’t afraid to be different. I love that she isn’t phased by teasing from other kids because of her confidence in herself and her likes. She’s also not afraid to think outside of the box, use her creativity, and try something new. Plus, the ending is hilarious. You might also find yourself with a new repertoire of hairstyles. ;)
A true classic with a timeless message!
All the other bulls run, jump, and butt their heads together in fights. Ferdinand, on the other hand, would rather sit and smell the flowers. So what will happen when Ferdinand is picked for the bullfights in Madrid?
The Story of Ferdinand has inspired, enchanted, and provoked readers ever since it was first published in 1936 for its message of nonviolence and pacifism. In WWII times, Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned in Nazi Germany, while Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children’s book allowed in Poland.
The preeminent leader of Indian nationalism and civil rights, Mahatma Gandhi—whose nonviolent and pacifistic practices went on to inspire Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.—even called it his favorite book.
The story was adapted by Walt Disney into a short animated film entitled Ferdinand the Bull in 1938. Ferdinand the Bull won the 1938 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
Although a young starling chooses to read books when his cousins are learning to fly, the knowledge he acquires comes in handy when a hurricane threatens the flock’s migration.
A beautiful book about being yourself and having the confidence to know you can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you’re willing to work at it. Grace’s mother and grandmother are wonderful examples and provide Grace with the encouragement and perspective she needs as she deals with adversity and show the power of wisdom shared through generations. The illustrations are beautiful as well, and the light touching on diversity is powerful without overwhelming the other equally powerful messages in the story.
Although a classmate says that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.
She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….
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.
Ballerino Nate - After seeing a ballet performance, Nate decides he wants to learn ballet but he has doubts when his brother Ben tells him that only girls can be ballerinas.
Willow - Miss Hawthorn’s room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that’s how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn’s classroom comes young Willow. She doesn’t color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise’s other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.
The Crown on Your Head - Lemony Snickers - This is a beautiful book from an amazing author and illustrator with four New York Times bestsellers. The message in the book is heartwarming and powerful: every little one is special and unique and always will be, even as they grow and change. Children need to be told they are loved every day, and this book is a great way to reinforce that message while admiring together the illustrations and a variety of animals and settings. Every child should feel like a queen or a king and recognize their potential.
You're Here for a Reason - The Goodfather - Beautiful rhyming makes a playful tale of a few very important lessons: each of us matters, and don’t lose hope. Even when things seem to go wrong good things can happen! The playful illustrations are sure to hold the attention of young readers and ensure these important messages are heard.
“McKee’s gentle humor and love of irony are in full force in this celebration of individuality and laughter.” —Publishers Weekly This padded board book has a soft, padded cover and rounded edges, perfect to share with the smallest readers. Elmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him! If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn’t it? David McKee’s comical fable about everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant teaches readers to be themselves and celebrates the power of laughter.
A #1 New York Times bestseller which Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb calls, “a beautiful, beautiful book” New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her daughter Paris Rosenthal collaborate to bring you the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl, Dear Girl, is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life; a gentle reminder that she’s powerful, strong, and holds a valuable place in the world. Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she’s great just the way she is—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on table tops. Dear Girl, encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out. Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved. —Amy and Paris A perfect gift for all occasions.
Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light: “We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.” Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.
I absolutely love the text in this book, with an overall message of self-love. It does a great job of talking through specific things we can do to love and appreciate ourselves, like self-care, positive affirmations, and being kind to yourself. The illustrations aren’t personally my favorite, but I think the text makes up for them!
I have a best friend. That best friend is Me!
Meet Nancy Carlson’s peppy pig—a character who is full of good feelings about herself. Her story will leave little ones feeling good about themselves, too!
It’s okay to need some help. It’s okay to be a different color. It’s okay to talk about your feelings.
From the bestselling author Todd Parr comes a reassuring book about being who you are.
Told with Todd Parr’s signature wit and wisdom, It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format. The book features the bold, bright colors and silly scenes that made Todd a premiere voice for emotional discussions in children’s literature. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence—and it’s never to early to develop a healthy self-esteem.
It’s Okay to be Different is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, and promote character growth.
I'm Gonna Like Me - Celebrate liking yourself! Through alternating points of view, a girl’s and a boy’s, Jamie Lee Curtis’s triumphant text and Laura Cornell’s lively artwork show kids that the key to feeling good is liking yourself because you are you. Like the duo’s first New York Times best-seller, Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day, this is an inspired book to rejoice in and share. I’m Gonna Like Me will have kids letting off some self-esteem in no time!
I Like Myself! - High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.
Zero - Follow up to the award winning book, “ONE”, a number called ZERO wonders, “How does a number worth nothing become something?” The story of ZERO’s search to find value in herself and in othersTopics covering: - Body Issues & appearance - Finding value in yourself and developing character - Working with others/Teamwork/Developing social skills - Counting/Math - CourageZero is a big round number. When she looks at herself, she just sees a hole right in her center. Every day she watches the other numbers line up to count: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . !” “Those numbers have value. That’s why they count,” she thinks. But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero feels empty inside. She watches One having fun with the other numbers. One has bold strokes and squared corners. Zero is big and round with no corners at all. “If I were like One, then Ican count too,” she thinks. So she pushes and pulls, stretches and straightens, forces and flattens herself, but in the end she realizes that she can only be Zero. As budding young readers learn about numbers and counting, they are also introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills and character, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.
Exclamation Mark - A punctuation mark feels bad that he doesn’t fit in with the others until a friend reveals the possibilities that exist when differences are accepted.
These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles — all in their sparkly crowns!
I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone loves this classic book with a can-do message for littles and adults! I love that the little engine shows perseverance, even when things are hard, and believing in yourself. It’s such a great example of having a positive attitude, and that we are in charge of our thoughts and choose what we feel. :)
A classic story now in a lap-book format has been slightly abridged and features the famous illustrations from the original edition that will keep toddlers cheering on the little blue engine as she continues chugging along.
Your great big smile, your kindness toward others—there are so many things to love about being you. This special junior edition of The Things I Love About Me—with its simple, meaningful words and beautiful illustrations—is part of a series that is perfect for introducing little ones to positive thinking about everyday situations.
Bert is a little nervous about making the jump of his branch. He has several false starts before he finds the courage to make the leap. It’s a simple story with a straightforward message of being brave with some positive encouragement from friends.
This is Bert’s big day. He is well prepared, mentally, and physically. But he might need some encouragement.
You Can Do It, Bert! is a simple, funny picture book with an encouraging positive message. It’s a great gift for anyone embarking on a new venture: a child about to start school, a teenager finishing high school, a college student graduating, or anyone starting a new job or going overseas.
Winner of the Newbery Medal “A charming, intriguingly plotted novel.”—Washington Post Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships. Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms. The acclaimed and award-winning author of Blackbird Fly and The Land of Forgotten Girls writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible tween voice that will appeal to fans of Thanhha Lai and Rita Williams-Garcia. “Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.”—School Library Journal
About Average - As the end of sixth grade nears, Jordan Johnson, unhappy that she is only average in appearance, intelligence, and athletic ability, reveals her special skills when disaster strikes her central Illinois elementary school.
Red: A Crayon's Story - A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis in this picture book by the New York Times–bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It’s an Orange Aardvark! Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. Red will appeal to fans of Lois Ehlert, Eric Carle, and The Day the Crayons Quit, and makes a great gift for readers of any age!
The Colors of Us - Seven-year-old Lena and her mother observe the variations in the color of their friends’ skin, viewed in terms of foods and things found in nature. By the author of Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale.
When I'm Feeling Angry - The Feelings Series are beautifully produced picture books that cover different emotional concepts for young children. The Feeling series is especially designed to help children better understand their feelings and how to identify, manage and express those feelings in an appropriate and acceptable way, both to themselves and others. These books provide an invaluable tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and contribute to a healthy emotional foundation upon which children can thrive.
Mac the millipede loves to make music. He dreams of playing in a talent show with a band, but wherever he auditions, everyone says NO. No one wants him . . . until Mac comes up with an ingenious one-millipede solution to his problem! Brendan Kearney’s funny picture book will inspire kids who like to march to the beat of their own drum.
From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, this glowing, empowering picture book about a nighttime hide-and-seek game celebrates blackness and self-confidence.
Little one, so calm and so happy, the darkness of the night is yours like the darkness of your skin.
This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength.
This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.
PB and Jeli are best bear friends. They play ball together every single day, until the day Jeli gets sick. After the doctor prescribes medication, Jeli begins to feel better but to her surprise, the medication turns her fur purple! With the help of her colorful and caring friends, Jeli learns that there is more to who you are than what shows on the outside. And that maybe being positively purple is positively perfect!
Positively Purple explores the power of empathy and friendship in building a child’s self-esteem. Self acceptance is a strong theme running through the story, with a clear message that change in your appearance does not change how your friends feel about you.
Betty dreams of becoming a great dancer and performing onstage. At home, she’s unstoppable, happily pirouetting through every room. But, in ballet class, everything changes: she feels clumsy and frightened of forgetting the steps. Can her sympathetic teacher help Betty find her poise, balance, and confidence in time for the big end-of-year recital? Kids will shout BRAVO for this adorable little ballerina bunny!
I'm Not - A young girl discovers that best friends can enjoy and do well at different things as long as they are good at being friends.
Being Me: A Kid's Guide to Boosting Confidence and Self-Esteem - Do you like being you? Do you have confidence in yourself? Do you believe that there are kids who can like you for who you are and want to hang out with you? If you answered NO to any of these questions, how about turning those NOs into know-how? Being Me is loaded with tips and advice for taking on everyday challenges and for building up your confidence and self-esteem. Come on! Take a peek inside and find lots of ways to explore your strengths and feel more confident in school, with your friends…with everything!