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97+ Compelling Books About Confidence

Searching for a list of the best kids books about developing confidence?

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.

Top 10 Books About Confidence

#1
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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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.
#2
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Absolutely Almost
Written by Lisa Graff
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
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.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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.
#3
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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
#4
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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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?
#5
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Horton Halfpott
Written & illustrated by Tom Angleberger
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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.
#6
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Not Your Typical Dragon
Written by Dan Bar-el & illustrated by Tim Bowers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
#7
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Spoon
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Scott Magoon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
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!
#8
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Giraffes Can't Dance
Written by Giles Andreae & illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
#9
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The Story of Ferdinand
Written by Munro Leaf & illustrated by Robert Lawson
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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).
#10
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Calvin Can't Fly
Written by Jennifer Berne & illustrated by Keith Bendis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
Table of Contents
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Books About Confidence and Self-acceptance

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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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.
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Not Your Typical Dragon
Written by Dan Bar-el & illustrated by Tim Bowers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
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Dear Girl,
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal & illustrated by Holly Hatam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
Honorable Mentions
Little Juniper Makes It BIG book
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Sulwe book
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Fantastic You book
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Leila in Saffron book
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  1. Little Juniper Makes It BIG - What Juniper lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. And her heart is dead-set on growing up and getting taller. She’s tired of having to reach for the cookie jar or use a stepping stool for the toilet. Everything in Juniper’s world seems to be made for adults. Ugh! Juniper is industrious, however, and builds several silly contraptions to help reach her goals. But it isn’t until she makes a fun new friend at school, Clove, who is even smaller than Juniper, that she is able to see her world from a new perspective — and appreciate all sizes, big or small. Aidan Cassie, the creator of Sterling, Best Dog Ever, employs her pitch-perfect humor and heartwarming illustrations here again to help little ones love themselves at any size.

  2. Sulwe - From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

  3. Fantastic You - There’s one special person you get to spend your whole life with: YOU! Which means there’s no one you should take better care of! When you cheer yourself on and cheer yourself up, you make the world a happier place. Life is amazing when you share it with the people you love: family, friends, and always with YOU! Fantastic You shows readers how to develop and nurture a loving and positive relationship with themselves. Kids will learn that self-care includes positive self-talk and self-compassion for a happy, self-empowered life.

  4. Leila in Saffron - A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, and finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her. Sometimes I’m not sure if I like being me. When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like. Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is.

Books About Confidence and Performing Arts

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Giraffes Can't Dance
Written by Giles Andreae & illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
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Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Caroline Binch
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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Ballerino Nate
Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley & illustrated by R.W. Alley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
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.
Honorable Mentions
Out of Step book
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The Major Eights 4: Starstruck book
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Dancing in the Wings book
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Musical Mac book
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  1. Out of Step - Last season Mercy Anderson was one of the best dancers on her school’s dance team when they almost made it to the state championship, but a sudden growth spurt has made her awkward and unsure of her moves—a personal coach would help bring her back to competition level, but can she earn enough money dog walking to pay for the training?

  2. The Major Eights 4: Starstruck - In book four of the Major Eights series, Becca shoots, but will she score a meet and greet with her favorite basketball player? When Becca finds out about her school’s free throw competition, she is ready to put her basketball skills to the test! And if she wins, she’ll get to meet her favorite basketball player! But after a series of bad practices, her nerves start to get the best of her. Can the Major Eights help Becca regain her confidence and meet her hero?

  3. Dancing in the Wings - Sassy tries out for a summer dance festival in Washington, D.C., despite the other girls’ taunts that she is much too tall.

  4. Musical Mac - 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.

Books About Confidence and Being Different

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Spoon
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Scott Magoon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
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!
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Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch & illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Thoughts from 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. ;)
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Another laugh-out-loud book from the author of The Paper Bag Princess! Everyone is copying Stephanie’s ponytail! No matter which way she wears it, the list of copycats keeps growing. But when Stephanie declares her next hair style, she tries to shake all of her followers loose. A newly designed Classic Munsch picture book introduces this tale of trend-setting hairdos to a young generation of readers.
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Mixed Me!
Written by Taye Diggs & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
Honorable Mentions
Red: A Crayon's Story book
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Fearless Mirabelle and Meg book
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Tough Chicks book
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  1. 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!

  2. Fearless Mirabelle and Meg - A fun and exuberant picture book about twin sisters with very different talents. Mirabelle and Meg Moffat are twins, and their mom and dad are famous circus acrobats. Mirabelle is fearless. She promises to be the most topsy-turvy, upside-down acrobat of all. Unlike Meg, who is afraid of heights. But with a grand new show featuring Mirabelle about to open, it soon becomes clear that there is at least one thing that does scare Mirabelle. Could it be time for Meg’s talent to shine?

  3. Tough Chicks - From the moment Penny, Polly, and Molly hatch from their eggs, the whole farm knows they are truly tough chicks. They wrestle worms, rope roosters, and are often found under the hood of the tractor. All the other animals and even the farmer himself tell Mama Hen to make her chicks good. “They are good!” Mama Hen replies. But her chicks are different. They’re tough and smart and strong in a good way.

Books About Confidence and Kindness

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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You're Here for a Reason
Written & illustrated by Nancy Tillman
Thoughts from 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.
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Now available in board book, You're Here for a Reason, from national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman, takes a universal truth and makes it accessible for readers young and old. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. In this tender and timeless read-along book, Tillman reminds us of this message in beautiful illustrations as children and animals interact with acts of kindness. "You're here for a reason. If you think you're not, I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . . a piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren't here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you're here! Thank goodness times two! I just can't imagine a world without you."
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The Things I Love About Me
Written & illustrated by Trace Moroney
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
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.
Honorable Mentions
About Average book
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My Panda Sweater book
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The Cool Bean book
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Dazzling Travis book
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  1. 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.

  2. My Panda Sweater - A quirky kid donates her beloved panda sweater, and through this act of sacrifice gains a new friend. With whimsical, contemporary artwork, this story balances the topic of selflessness with humor and heart, while also offering an opportunity to talk about bullying, sharing and self-confidence.

  3. The Cool Bean - AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! AN AMAZON BEST BOOKS OF THE MONTH (DECEMBER 2019) SELECTION! The “too-cool-for-school” third picture book from the #1 New York Times bestselling creators of The Bad Seed and The Good Egg, Jory John and Pete Oswald Everyone knows the cool beans. They’re sooooo cool. And then there’s the uncool has-bean . . . Always on the sidelines, one bean unsuccessfully tries everything he can to fit in with the crowd—until one day the cool beans show him how it’s done. With equal measures of humor, wit, and charm, the #1 New York Times bestselling duo Jory John and Pete Oswald craft another incredible picture book, reminding us that it’s cooler to be kind. Check out John and Oswald’s other books for children: The Bad Seed The Good Egg That’s What Dinosaurs Do

  4. Dazzling Travis - Travis sets no limits to what he enjoys doing. Shopping and football, ballet and dress-up make Travis a one of a kind boy! But when some of the kids on the playground begin to pick on him, Travis truly dazzles. This empowering story encourages both boys and girls to challenge the social norm, revealing their true selves.

Want to see books about kindness?

Books About Confidence and Self-esteem And Self-reliance

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The Crown on Your Head
Written & illustrated by Nancy Tillman
Thoughts from 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.
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Celebrates each child's unique individuality, symbolized by a crown that each are born with and which will always be there.
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I Like Myself!
Written by Karen Beaumont & illustrated by David Catrow
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
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.
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I'm Gonna Like Me
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis & illustrated by Laura Cornell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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!
Honorable Mentions
The Little Engine That Could: 90th Anniversary Edition book
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The Dot book
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Ish book
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Ballet Bunnies book
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  1. The Little Engine That Could: 90th Anniversary Edition - Celebrate the 90th anniversary of The Little Engine That Could with this all-time classic reillustrated by Caldecott Award-winning artist Dan Santat! The kindness and determination of the Little Blue Engine have inspired millions of children around the world since the story was first published in 1930. Cherished by readers for ninety years, The Little Engine That Could is a classic tale of a little engine that, despite her size, triumphantly pulls a train full of wonderful things to the children waiting on the other side of a mountain. This anniversary edition features the original text, all-new reimagined artwork and an introduction from Caldecott Medal-winner Dan Santat, and a special letter from Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

  2. The Dot - Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher’s encouragement leads her to change her mind.

  3. Ish - Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere. Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.” Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

  4. Ballet Bunnies - 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!

Books About Confidence and Imagination And Play

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Willow
Written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan & illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
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.
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Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple & illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles -- all in their sparkly crowns!
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When You Need Wings
Written & illustrated by Lita Judge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In the tradition of Where the Wild Things Are, beloved author-illustrator Lita Judge brings us a soaring story about the power of imagination. On a day when you feel like no one is listening, and you wish you could just disappear, shut your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? That isn’t your heart. That is the sound of your very own wings beating within. Acclaimed author-illustrator Lita Judge takes readers on a wonder-filled exploration of a child’s imagination, thoughtfully weaving in a gentle suggestion of how to explore that bountiful inner world and let it help them shine with courage in the real one.
Honorable Mentions
Unstoppable Me book
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Sticker Girl book
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  1. Unstoppable Me - This lyrical picture book about a little boy with boundless energy celebrates the exuberance of an active child. I am movement Heat Static electricity Fueled by food And powered by PLAY! Unstoppable Me is about the sort of energetic child we all know and love—full of fun and play and a bit exhausting! In this book, we see an unstoppable little boy run, jump, and soar through his day. He takes a little time to refuel, then he’s back at it—zooming and zipping around. This poetic, joyful book—filled with illustrations as bright and energetic as the boy himself— is a celebration of the active child.

  2. Sticker Girl - “Martina’s always struggled to carve out her place at school, but she finds tremendous excitement in a treasure all her own: a sticker collection that comes to life!”

Books About Confidence and Feelings And Emotions

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The Story of Ferdinand
Written by Munro Leaf & illustrated by Robert Lawson
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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).
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I Like Me!
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
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!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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!
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When I'm Feeling Angry
Written & illustrated by Trace Moroney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
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.
Honorable Mentions
Gracie Laroo on the Big Screen book
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The Liberation of Gabriel King book
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I Believe I Can book
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  1. Gracie Laroo on the Big Screen - Gracie the pig has a part in a movie with with Tilda Swinetune, the champion swim racer and movie star, but she is upset when she realizes she is just a stunt double—however a small change in the script makes her able to do that and also fulfill her dream with a part of her own.

  2. The Liberation of Gabriel King - Gabriel King was a born chicken. He’s afraid of spiders, corpses, loose cows, and just about everything related to the fifth grade. Gabe’s best friend, Frita Wilson, thinks Gabe needs some liberating from his fears. Frita knows something about being brave— she’s the only black kid in school in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan. Together Gabe and Frita are going to spend the summer of 1976 facing down the fears on Gabe’s list. But it turns out that Frita has her own list, and while she’s helping Gabe confront his fears, she’s avoiding the thing that scares her the most.

  3. I Believe I Can - From the New York Times bestselling creators of I Am Enough comes an empowering follow-up that celebrates every child’s limitless potential. I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves. Actress and activist Grace Byers and artist Keturah A. Bobo return with another gorgeously illustrated new classic that’s the perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, or just for reading at home again and again. My presence matters in this world. I know I can do anything, if only I believe I can.

Books About Confidence and Individuality

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It's OK To Be Different
Written & illustrated by Todd Parr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
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.
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Exclamation Mark
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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Reptile Club, The
Written by Maureen Fergus & illustrated by Elina Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right for him. So when his parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves, Rory knows exactly what it will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive that there are other kids out there who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits for students to show up. Just as he is about to give up, Rory hears whispering in the hallway and hurries over to see who it is. To his astonishment, it's not his schoolmates who have arrived to attend the first meeting, but a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!
Honorable Mentions
Sweety book
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Keith Among the Pigeons book
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I'm Not book
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  1. Sweety - Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat, but with encouragement from her Aunt Ruth, she begins to see that being herself is the best way to find a friend.

  2. Keith Among the Pigeons - Keith feels different to the other cats, who don’t like to wash in bird baths or nap in the branches of trees. He begins to wonder if he actually is a cat. He’s always felt more comfortable when surrounded by pigeons, and he envies their way of life. But when he tries to join them, the birds see him as a cat and keep their distance. Is he a cat or a pigeon? Will he manage to find a way to be himself?

  3. 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.

Books About Confidence and Trying New Things

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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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?
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The Little Engine That Could
Written by Watty Piper & illustrated by George Hauman and Doris Hauman
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
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. :)
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
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.
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Born to Ride
Written by Larissa Theule & illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Louise Belinda Bellflower lives in Rochester, New York, in 1896. She spends her days playing with her brother, Joe. But Joe gets to ride a bicycle, and Louise Belinda doesn’t. In fact, Joe issues a solemn warning: If girls ride bikes, their faces will get so scrunched up, eyes bulging from the effort of balancing, that they’ll get stuck that way FOREVER! Louise Belinda is appalled by this nonsense, so she strikes out to discover the truth about this so-called “bicycle face.” Set against the backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement, Born to Ride is the story of one girl’s courageous quest to prove that she can do everything the boys can do, while capturing the universal freedom and accomplishment children experience when riding a bike.
Honorable Mentions
Saturday Is Swimming Day book
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Black Belt Bunny book
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  1. Saturday Is Swimming Day - New things can be scary — but as one endearing little girl discovers, it’s perfectly fine to take your time. Swimming lessons are on Saturdays, and every Saturday one little girl has a stomachache. When she gets to the pool it’s loud, the floor is wet and slippery, and her swim cap is too tight. Her swimming instructor, Mary, says it’s OK to sit by the edge if she doesn’t want to get in the water this week. The next Saturday the girl has a stomachache again, but with Mary’s gentle encouragement, she eventually manages to make it into the pool to practice her kicks. Little by little, the girl’s confidence grows — until one Saturday comes around when she has no stomachache at all! In a charming and relatable story about trying something new, author-illustrator Hyewon Yum shows that sometimes a little bravery and a lot of patience are all you need to face your fear.

  2. Black Belt Bunny - From the author of the bestselling Ladybug Girl series, this hilarious, empowering picture book about a little black-belt who faces a new challenge is perfect for fans of The Three Ninja Pigs, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, and I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato Black Belt Bunny is fast and strong and has seriously awesome moves—from front-kicks to back-flips to air-chops. Then he’s faced with something new, something every bunny must learn, something he might not be as good at: He has to make . . . a salad. Black Belt Bunny tries to escape. He even disguises himself with a fake mustache. But when he finally hops to it, he discovers that his seriously awesome moves come in pretty handy, and that—in a funny twist that puts the narrator in the hot seat—he isn’t the only one who has to try new things.

Books About Confidence and Courage

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Zero
Written & illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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You Can Do It, Bert!
Written & illustrated by Ole Könnecke
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
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.
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Chicks Rule
Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & illustrated by Renee Kurilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Nerdy Chick has been waiting all day for the Rocket Club meeting. But when she gets there, she finds a disturbing sign tacked to the door: “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!!!” Puzzled, then baffled, then just plain mad, Nerdy Chick sets out to change the rules. Along the way, she meets other chicks who are just like her: passionate and determined. From Soccer Chick to Science Chick and Wordy Chick to Yoga Chick, these chicks aren’t willing to take “NO” for an answer. They rally together, march to the barn at the center of town, and—when they hear “NO” once again—chart their own path forward (or, rather, up, up, and away!). A celebration of girl power and community action, Chicks Rule! is the playful, diverse, victorious anthem chicks everywhere will love.
Honorable Mentions
Music for Mister Moon book
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I Will Be Fierce book
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When You Are Brave book
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Maria Finds Courage: A Team Dungy Story about Soccer book
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  1. Music for Mister Moon - After shy cello player Harriet Henry accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky, the moon becomes her friend, and Harriet gains the courage to share her music.

  2. I Will Be Fierce - Today, I will be fierce! It’s a brand new day, and a young girl decides to take on the world like a brave explorer heading off on an epic fairytale quest. From home to school and back again, our hero conquers the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), forges new bridges (friendships), and leads the victorious charge home on her steed (the school bus). Written by Bea Birdsong and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, I Will Be Fierce is a powerful picture book about courage, confidence, kindness, and finding the extraordinary in everyday moments.

  3. When You Are Brave - An inspiring picture book affirmation about having courage even in difficult times, because some days, when everything around you seems scary, you have to be brave. Saying goodbye to neighbors. Worrying about new friends. Passing through a big city. Seeing a dark road ahead. In these moments, a young girl feels small and quiet and alone. But when she breathes deeply and looks inside herself, a hidden spark of courage appears, one she can nurture and grow until she glows inside and out. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller’s uplifting words join New York Times bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler’s luminous art to inspire young readers to embrace their inner light—no matter what they’re facing—and to be brave.

  4. Maria Finds Courage: A Team Dungy Story about Soccer - Find the Courage to Try Something New When Maria’s family moves to a new town, her parents sign her up for the summer soccer team to help her meet new friends. But Maria has never tried soccer before. She would rather be back on her old swim team. Maria is afraid she will be the worst player and no one will like her. Coach Tony and Coach Lauren remind Maria everything is new at first. Maria will have to give soccer a try to see if she likes it. What have you wanted to try but were afraid to? Like Maria, you can have the courage to try something new, because who knows? That new thing you try might just become your next favorite thing! *** Join the Team! The Team Dungy series of picture books for young readers, ages 6-9, teaches character-building lessons through the familiar world of sports.

Want to see books about courage?

Books About Confidence and Friendship

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Elmer
Written & illustrated by David McKee
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4
"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.
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Hello, Universe
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly & illustrated by Isabel Roxas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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
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The Lion Inside
Written by Rachel Bright & illustrated by Jim Field
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
"That day they BOTH learned That, no matter your size, We all have a mouse AND a lion inside." A mouse feels small and insecure and determines that what he needs to do is learn how to roar like a lion. He knows he has to act brave when he approaches a lion to learn how. In a hilarious turn of events, the lion is afraid of mice! The mouse comforts the lion, they become friends, and we learn that there's a lion and a mouse inside all of us. The inspiring text by Rachel Bright and the fun, bold illustrations by Jim Field teach young readers an important lesson. Regardless of how big or mighty we are, we can all live our dreams and do what we want to do. Fans of Aesop's "The Lion and the Mouse" will enjoy The Lion Inside!
Honorable Mentions
Linus The Little Yellow Pencil book
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My Big Bad Monster book
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Wordy Birdy book
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Positively Purple book
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  1. Linus The Little Yellow Pencil - Linus and his eraser, Ernie, don’t always see eye to eye. But with the family art show drawing near, these two will have to sharpen their collaboration to make something neither one could do on their own! This ode to art by the illustrator of Spoon and Chopsticks points out the power of sharing the creative process and sticking with it.

  2. My Big Bad Monster - Have you ever met your monster of self-doubt? This girl has. When she’s had enough of his negativity, she discovers that with a little help from new friends and a lot of boisterous music, he’ll disappear for good! This sweet picturebook with energetic art by A. N. Kang will strike a chord in readers both big and small.

  3. Wordy Birdy - Wordy Birdy LOVES to talk. “Hello, sunrise. Hello, pink sky. Hello, orange sky!” But does she love to listen? NOPE. One day, while she’s walking through the forest, her gift of the gab gets her into hot water: “That’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty danger sign and that’s a pretty tree… .” Will this inattentive bird walk right into danger? Will her faraway thoughts lead her along a path of doom? It’s up to her long-suffering, heard-it-all-before pals Squirrel, Raccoon, and Rabbit to save their distracted friend. Author Tammi Sauer will have kids and their parents in stitches with this funny, fast-paced, lovable caper about the importance of paying attention—and the importance of standing by your friends through thick and thin.

  4. Positively Purple - 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.

Books About Confidence and Multicultural

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Absolutely Almost
Written by Lisa Graff
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
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.
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
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.
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The Colors of Us
Written & illustrated by Karen Katz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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Recess Rebels (Miranda and Maude #3)
Written by Emma Wunsch & illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
A princess and a revolutionary form an unexpected friendship in this charming, illustrated chapter book series The girls and boys of 3B aren't getting along. It starts with a game of tag and ends with a tug of war. In between, there are sneak attacks, a girls-only newspaper, a doughnut filled with cheese, and one stolen Frizzle chicken. Maude gets lots of opportunities to protest, but in the end, it's Miranda who learns to stand up for what she believes in.
Honorable Mentions
Mission Lost Cat book
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The Prettiest book
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One on One book
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Get Up, Stand Up book
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  1. Mission Lost Cat - Beatrice “Bumble B.” Flinn wants to help find her friend Rosa’s lost cat, Charley, and she decides the best way is to make a flyer with a drawing and, with the help of her father, hand them out in the neighborhood—but most of them blow away, and Rosa is upset and blames Bumble B and her flyer for the lack of results.

  2. The Prettiest - An incisive, empowering middle grade novel about a trio of unlikely friends who fight back against middle school sexism. A list appears online, ranking the top fifty prettiest girls in the eighth grade. Eve Hoffman is disgusted by the grating, anonymous text messages she’s been receiving ever since she was ranked number one. Sophie Kane is sick of the bullying she’s endured after being knocked down a peg by the list. And Nessa Flores-Brady is tired of the outside world trying to define who she is. Reeling from the rampant sexism and objectifcation in their school, the three girls attempt to track down the list’s creator. But are they prepared for what they might find?

  3. One on One - Chloe Gordon is so excited to attend summer soccer camp with her Soccer Sisters Makena James and Val Flores— even though she worries she’s not as skilled as her friends. It’s even worth having to promise her parents she’ll attend ballet camp afterward as a trade. But when Chloe arrives at camp and discovers that the Breakers’ archrival, Skylar Wilson, is rooming down the hall, she worries that her camp experience will be more stressful than fun. Can the Soccer Sisters band together and shut out Skylar’s bullying, and can Chloe overcome her fear of not being good enough?

  4. Get Up, Stand Up - Bob Marley’s music has inspired millions of listeners around the world with messages of peace, love, and truth. This third picture book adaptation of one of his beloved songs has a timely message for children: To counter injustice, lift others up with kindness and courage. As a young girl goes on with her day in school, she comes across several instances of teasing and intimidation. But with loving action and some help from her friends, she’s able to make things right for herself and others. With exuberant pictures by John Jay Cabuay accompanying Marley’s iconic lyrics, Get Up, Stand Up is a vibrant testament to the power we all have to make a difference.

Books About Confidence and African Americans

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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Written by Derrick Barnes & 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.
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A Letter to Amy
Written by Ezra Jack Keats
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Generations of children have read, re-read, and loved Ezra Jack Keats's award-winning, classic stories about Peter and his neighborhood friends. Now, for the first time, _Peter's Chair, A Letter to Amy_, and _Goggles!_ are available in paperback exclusively from Puffin. "A master of ingenious collages, Keats has made brilliant variegated pictures."—_The Horn Book _Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) was the beloved author and/or illustrator of more than eighty-five books for children.
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The King of Kindergarten
Written by Derrick Barnes & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
A New York Times betseller! A confident little boy takes pride in his first day of kindergarten, by the Newbery Honor-winning author of Crown. The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.It sits and shines behind your head--like a crown. Mommy says that today, you are going to be the King of Kindergarten! Starting kindergarten is a big milestone--and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He's dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can't wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he's up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can't wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements--and then wake up to start another day. Newbery Honor-winning author Derrick Barnes's empowering story will give new kindergarteners a reassuring confidence boost, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton's illustrations exude joy.
Honorable Mentions
I Can be Anything book
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The Night Is Yours book
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Don't Touch My Hair! book
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Hair Love book
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  1. I Can be Anything - Zoe is sure that she can be anything she wants to be, despite a little voice of doubt that points out the problems with her ideas—but first she needs to learn how to read.

  2. The Night Is Yours - 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.

  3. Don't Touch My Hair! - An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair. It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens…until, finally, Aria has had enough! Author-illustrator Sharee Miller takes the tradition of appreciation of black hair to a new, fresh, level as she doesn’t seek to convince or remind young readers that their curls are beautiful—she simply acknowledges black beauty while telling a fun, imaginative story.

  4. Hair Love - When mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to do his daughter’s hair in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters from former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestseller Vashti Harrison. Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When mommy does Zuri’s hair, she feels like a superhero. But when mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to step in! And even though daddy has a lot to learn, he LOVES his Zuri. And he’ll do anything to make her–and her hair–happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair–and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere

Books About Confidence and Family

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Calvin Can't Fly
Written by Jennifer Berne & illustrated by Keith Bendis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.
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Go Get 'Em, Tiger!
Written by Sabrina Moyle & illustrated by Eunice Moyle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-18
This very first picture book from the Hello!Lucky team celebrates milestones reached and challenges overcome! The award-winning Hello!Lucky team brings their bold style and surefire laughs to a picture book about an exuberant tiger tackling life’s challenges and coming out on top. Perfect for celebrating any big milestone, from the first day of preschool to college graduation, and every goalpost in between.
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Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus
Written by Dusti Bowling
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
"High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online." The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of "armage," everything changes once again. She's about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?
Honorable Mentions
Dear Boy, book
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All of the Above book
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  1. Dear Boy, - The follow-up picture book to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Girl, by beloved children’s book author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter, Paris Rosenthal Paris Rosenthal teams up with her father, Jason Rosenthal, the author of the Modern Love article “My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me,” to bring you the heartwarming and inspirational Dear Boy,. Dear Boy, is an open love letter to the special boy in your life. Boys, too, need a gentle reminder that they are cool, clever, compassionate, and one of a kind. With the same tenderness as Dear Girl,, Paris and Jason’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations will make any boy reading this book feel that he’s amazing just the way he is—whether he’s offering a helping hand, singing in a choir, or reaching for the stars! …be kind …always trust magic …and pursue your dreams.

  2. All of the Above - Now with a new cover! A heart-warming, transformational story about a motley group of kids whose lives are changed by a math teacher’s challenge, written by award-winning author Shelley Pearsall with interior illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Javaka Steptoe. James Harris III, Rhondell, Sharice, and Marcel are four inner city students with a quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. Weaving together their different personal stories, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them, award winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is based on a true story. Bonus content includes a revised authors note with photos, resources, and more!

Books About Confidence and New Experiences

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Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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....
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Snowboard Sham
Written by Jake Maddox
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
When Will Pastora's family arrived at the Sorenson Resort for a family vacation he did not know that there was going to be a snowboarding competition; he enjoys snowboarding, but he is embarrassed to admit that he is only a beginner so he signs up at a higher level--and soon realizes that tackling the more difficult slopes is dangerous and that he needs some help to admit his error in front of his new, more experienced acquaintances.
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Bertie Wings It!
Written by Leslie Gorin & illustrated by Brendan Kearney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Bertie the birdie knows: he's ready to fly from the nest and into the sky. But whenever he's about to take wing, his fellow feathered friends squawk at him to STOP and follow their advice instead. But not one of these "experts"--the persuasive penguin, the emu, or the kiwi--has ever actually flown! Will Bertie learn to trust his own instincts . . . and soar?
Honorable Mentions
The pout-pout fish goes to school book
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Pouch! book
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Gracie Laroo Goes to School book
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The Koala Who Could book
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  1. The pout-pout fish goes to school - An unabridged board book edition of a Pout-Pout Fish favorite! The New York Times–bestselling Pout-Pout Fish returns for the first day of school. Mr. Fish is nervously awaiting his first day of school, and he frets about not knowing how to write his name, how to draw shapes, and how to do math—until he’s reassured that school is the perfect place to learn how to master all of these new skills, in Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School from Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna.

  2. Pouch! - Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s delightful tale of a baby kangaroo’s first hops toward independence is perfect for board book audiences. Joey wants to go exploring, but at first he isn’t sure he’s ready to leave Mama’s safe, warm pouch. Touching on a universal childhood experience, this sweet tale celebrates trying new things.

  3. Gracie Laroo Goes to School - Gracie LaRoo, the youngest pig on the Water Sprites synchronized swimming team, is nervous about giving a speech at the Wilbur Academy, the school she used to attend—she loves her sport, but her old coach does not think that it really measures up to swim racing.

  4. The Koala Who Could - Kevin is a koala who clings to his tree, and never comes down to play with the other animals—until one day his tree falls down, and Kevin learns that the ground is not as scary as he believed.

Books About Confidence and Sports And Recreation

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Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story
Written by Nikki Tate & illustrated by Katie Kath
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
****In this empowering picture book perfect for young feminists, a gutsy baseball-playing girl and her bricklaying mom celebrate when love and hard work triumph over nerves.**** A young pitcher steps up to the plate. A hardworking mom interviews for her biggest job yet. Girls and women aren't always welcome in the worlds of baseball and bricklaying. But with practice, the right gear, and a whole lot of determination, this intrepid mom and daughter thrive under pressure. Readers get to see their parallel narratives unfold in tandem, coming together at the end for a sweet reward: ice cream! With fun, punchy writing and radiant illustrations, this touching story will be a hit for budding activists, kids who love sports, and the moms who cheer them on.
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Jumping Jack
Written by Germano Zullo & illustrated by Albertine
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
From award-winning Swiss author-illustrator team Germano Zullo and Albertine comes this unforgettable tale of Jumping Jack, a champion show-jumping horse whose partnership with his rider has earned him international fame. Victory is expected when Jumping Jack is on the course! Unfortunately, Jumping Jack's success has mysteriously stalled. He tumbles and struggles. What could possibly be wrong? Jumping Jack's loyal rider is determined to find out! What the duo discover will charm readers, not to mention reaffirm their faith in second chances, the power of friendship, and the potential for triumph despite stumbling blocks. A true winner!
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She's Got This
Written by Laurie Hernandez & illustrated by Nina Mata
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A New York Times bestseller! From gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast and bestselling author Laurie Hernandez comes a picture book about chasing your dreams and never giving up. Even Olympians have to start somewhere. And in this charming illustrated book, Laurie Hernandez tells the story of Zoe, a little girl who dreams of flying—and becoming a gymnast. When Zoe sees a gymnast on TV, she realizes that gymnastics is just like flying. But when she first goes to class and falls off the balance beam, she discovers that following her dreams is harder and scarier than she thought. Through this heartwarming and inspirational story, featuring vibrant art from Nina Mata, Laurie imparts important lessons she learned on her way to Olympic glory: You always have to get back up and try again, and you always have to believe in yourself.
Honorable Mentions
Olympig! book
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The Secrets of Ninja School book
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  1. Olympig! - Pursued by Mr. Hamstring, a reporter who is sure he will fail, Boomer becomes the first pig ever to compete in the Animal Olympics and demonstrates that attitude can be more important than winning.

  2. The Secrets of Ninja School - When Ruby’s homesickness spreads to other students at Master Willow’s School for Ninjas, she uses all of the skills she has learned to help them feel better. Includes instructions for making a dragon toy two different ways.

Books About Confidence and Action And Adventure

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The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Written by Gail Carson Levine
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy. Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other. The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.
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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
Written & illustrated by Kwame Mbalia
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods. Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he's going to spend on his grandparents' farm in Alabama, where he's being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie's notebook. Tristan chases after it--is that a doll?--and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature's hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
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How to Be a Pirate
Written by Isaac Fitzgerald & illustrated by Brigette Barrager
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
A sparkling and inspirational picture book about a girl who wants to be a pirate, her tattooed grandpa, and their indelible bond. When the neighborhood boys tell CeCe that she can't be a pirate, she goes straight to her Grandpa, who must know something about being a pirate. Why else would he have all those tattoos? As Grandpa shares each tattoo with CeCe, they are transported to imaginative lands where they learn all the qualities a pirate should possess: A pirate must be BRAVE and QUICK, but also FUN and INDEPENDENT. And the most important thing is to believe in yourself, whether you’re a pirate or not. This fanciful, heartwarming story from Isaac Fitzgerald, founding editor of BuzzFeed Books and host of BuzzFeed News Twitter morning show #AMtoDM, is brought to life by New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager in a vibrant, joyful expression of what it means to be... all kinds of wonderful things, including a pirate.
Honorable Mentions
Princess Academy book
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More Than a Princess book
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Devils & Thieves book
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  1. Princess Academy - While attending a strict academy for potential princesses with the other girls from her mountain village, fourteen-year-old Miri discovers unexpected talents and connections to her homeland.

  2. More Than a Princess - Aislin of Eliasind is more than just a princess — she’s half-fairy and half-pedrasi, with magical gifts from each side of her heritage! One day, as Aislin is venturing through the woods, she is alarmed to hear a band of humans coming through. How did they get past the guarded magical passageway that leads to her hidden kingdom? Mistaken for a human herself, Aislin is captured, and soon realizes she’s in even bigger trouble—she’s being used as a pawn to help the king of this nearby kingdom, Morrain, find a secret passageway to the warring land of Scarmander, so he can capture his enemies by surprise. Aislin must find a way to break free, while also minding the beautiful human princess and ladies-in-waiting she now shares a castle with, who are all too ready to point out her differences. Thankfully, Aislin’s inner strength goes beyond her magical qualities. And with a few loyal friends by her side, she’s ready to stand up for herself and her kingdom once and for all. A classic and original fairy-tale that celebrates beauty and goodness in all its shapes and sizes, More than a Princess will resonate with readers who love magic, suspense, girl power, and adventure.

  3. Devils & Thieves - A thrilling new urban fantasy filled with magic and motorcycle gangs from Jennifer Rush, author of the Altered saga—perfect for fans of Beautiful Creatures. Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn’t help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf. When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

Books About Confidence and Competition

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The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee
Written by Deborah Abela
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next bee, India finds the idea disconcerting. She's sure she's not good enough—but her family won't accept that and encourages her to sign up. There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, and the whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…
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The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee
Written by Deborah Abela & illustrated by Aleksie Bitskoff
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
"India Wimple can spell with the best of them. How else would she have won the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee and garnered an invitation to the Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee? India couldn't be more thrilled to travel to London along with the rest of the Wimples. And at first, it seems like a dream come true; she reunites with her spelling bee friends, and they even get to meet the Queen! But there is skulduggery afoot, with some rather mysterious goings-on going on and a series of accidents that seem to be not-so-accidental after all. India has her suspicions about who is behind the duplicitous demonstrations. But can she solve the mystery in time to save the competition?"
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Yasmin the Painter
Written by Saadia Faruqi & illustrated by Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
Unsure about her artistic skills, second-grader Yasmin is not looking forward to the art competition at school--but with the support and encouragement of her family she produces a prize-winning painting.
Honorable Mentions
Gracie Laroo at Pig Jubilee book
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Long Shot book
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  1. Gracie Laroo at Pig Jubilee - It is Gracie’s first time at the Pig Jubilee with her synchronized swimming team, the Water Sprites, and she is the youngest pig with a chance to win a gold medal—the trouble is that she keeps getting distracted and missing her solo part, a triple spin dive.

  2. Long Shot - Pedro, an avid basketball player, decides to run for class president, challenging a teammate who is also one of the most popular boys in school.

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