An Award-Winning Book Club for Kids
Shop Now

Coping With Failure: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about coping with failure?

As a recovering perfectionist myself, I fully understand a fear of failure. It can seem so permanent and so disheartening, while really failure is a learning opportunity and a stepping stone to what we will eventually become. Adopting a growth mindset ourselves, and encouraging it in our children can allow us to reframe failures from the thoughts that say “I failed, so I am a failure” to the more constructive and helpful ones that say “I failed, so there must be something wrong with my process.” If we can teach our children to embrace failure as a necessary and important part of any process with a growth mindset, we will give them a powerful tool for coping with all of life’s setbacks and unmet expectations. These are some of our very favorite titles that will help start conversation about and model resilience, to help with coping on all sorts of levels!

Top 10 Books About Coping With Failure

#1
Add to list
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
Thoughts from Grammy
This makes a great read aloud with its vibrant and careful illustrations and text. Santat thoroughly validates the fear that stems from failure and the obstacle that fear can create to further endeavor. His sensitive treatment of the Egg's efforts to return to the top of the wall reminds us to be patient with ourselves and others who may be afraid to take another crack at something.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From the New York Times–bestselling creator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend comes the inspiring epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after? Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most. Will he summon the courage to face his fear? After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.
#2
Add to list
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love this book! The fun and colorful illustrations and rhyme text are wonderful, but the story and message are the best. Rosie's a great female role-model and I love that she learns the great lesson that "the only true failure can come if you quit." Even when embarrassment or failure hold her back, she keeps on trying and recognizes that failure is a step towards success!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. From the powerhouse author-illustrator team of Iggy Peck, Architect comes Rosie Revere, Engineer, another charming, witty picture book about believing in yourself and pursuing your passion. Ada Twist, Scientist, the companion picture book featuring the next kid from Iggy Peck's class, is available in September 2016.
#3
Add to list
She Persisted
Written by Chelsea Clinton & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted. Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted. She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small. With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power. This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.
#4
Add to list
Ish
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Siblings are both the best... and the worst. This book showcases the power siblings have to tear us down or to build us up, and the effect that both can have. While Ramon is initially happy with his art, once his older brother laughs at him he feels like a failure for a long while, until his little sister shows him that his art is truly something beautiful, and once he is able to see it through her eyes he once again finds his inspiration...ish.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
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.
#5
Add to list
Beautiful Oops!
Written & illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Near the very top of my list of things I want my children to learn is to not be afraid of mistakes or failure—they're simply part of the process. The interactive way multi-media mistakes are transformed in this book into quirky artwork is endearing and keeps the mood light and my little reader busy while I read the slightly more serious message present in the text. My toddler wants this "again" and "again", and thus far it's been sturdy enough to withstand toddler exploration, which is a plus!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator. An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.
#6
Add to list
What Do You Do with a Problem?
Written by Kobi Yamada & illustrated by Mae Besom
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
Wonderfully illustrated and perfect for talking about how to deal with difficult problems. "I don't know how it happened, but one day I had a problem. I didn't want it. I didn't ask for it." It's a little heavy-handed towards the end of the story, but I honestly thought it worked nicely. I loved how Mae Besom adds color to the illustrations as the story progresses and the "problem" turns into an opportunity.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What do you do with a problem? Especially one that follows you around and doesn't seem to be going away? Do you worry about it? Ignore it? Do you run and hide from it? This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It's a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it's here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem and yourself. What are problems for? They challenge us, shape us, push us, and help us to discover just how strong and brave and capable we really are. Even though we don't always want them, problems have a way of bringing unexpected gifts. So, what will you do with your problem?
#7
Add to list
How to Catch a Star
Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes a story about wishing, persevering, and reaching for the stars. Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be. Oliver Jeffers offers a simple, childlike tale of reaching for the stars, and emerging with a friend.
#8
Add to list
The Spelling Bee Before Recess
Written by Deborah Lee Rose & illustrated by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
To the meter of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, this zingy book about a spelling bee is an enjoyable read aloud with a great lesson... sometimes the main character of your story DOESN'T WIN, because they haven't worked hardest, don't deserve it, or just have bad luck... and that's ok. You can learn a little something from your loss, move on, and maybe even give it another shot in the future! The illustrations for this book were a little so-so for me, but the story is so excellent that it makes up for it.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
The students were squirming but none made a sound, as the spelling bee entered its championship round. It’s right before recess, and the annual school spelling bee is down to just three spellers: Cornelius the Genius, Smart Ruby, and The Slugger, who never strikes out. Round after round, the words whizz at them, but with one minute left until recess, there’s still no winner. Who will triumph? It all comes down to one final word, and a curveball that no one sees coming! Deborah Lee Rose’s clever rhyming text packs a laugh-out-loud wallop with words that young readers will enjoy spelling and reading aloud again and again. Fun and whimsical illustrations by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis provide the perfect balance of humor and suspense as readers find out whether The Slugger will hit a grand slam or finally strike out. The book includes three spelling lists that can be used for spelling bees at home, in school, at the library, or for community events. An author’s note describes why and how words were chosen.
#9
Add to list
The Curious Garden
Written & illustrated by Peter Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.
#10
Add to list
Too Many Carrots
Written by Katy Hudson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
The bestselling picture book that Publisher's Weekly calls “simultaneously sassy and sweet.” Rabbit loves carrots — and that’s a big problem! In this phenomenal bestseller, Rabbit loves carrots a little too much. In fact, his carrots are crowding him out of his cozy burrow. When his friends offer to help, they're just asking for trouble — a lot of trouble! This charming and lovingly illustrated children's book, by acclaimed author Katy Hudson (A Loud Winter’s Nap and Bear and Duck), shows how friendships get us over the rough spots in life, even if the going gets a little bumpy. Too Many Carrots is the perfect springtime, Eastertime, and anytime gift.
Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Coping With Failure and...

Books About Coping With Failure and Problem Solving

Add to list
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love this book! The fun and colorful illustrations and rhyme text are wonderful, but the story and message are the best. Rosie's a great female role-model and I love that she learns the great lesson that "the only true failure can come if you quit." Even when embarrassment or failure hold her back, she keeps on trying and recognizes that failure is a step towards success!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. From the powerhouse author-illustrator team of Iggy Peck, Architect comes Rosie Revere, Engineer, another charming, witty picture book about believing in yourself and pursuing your passion. Ada Twist, Scientist, the companion picture book featuring the next kid from Iggy Peck's class, is available in September 2016.
Add to list
Beautiful Oops!
Written & illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Near the very top of my list of things I want my children to learn is to not be afraid of mistakes or failure—they're simply part of the process. The interactive way multi-media mistakes are transformed in this book into quirky artwork is endearing and keeps the mood light and my little reader busy while I read the slightly more serious message present in the text. My toddler wants this "again" and "again", and thus far it's been sturdy enough to withstand toddler exploration, which is a plus!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator. An award winning, best-selling, one-of-a-kind interactive book, Beautiful Oops! shows young readers how every mistake is an opportunity to make something beautiful. A singular work of imagination, creativity, and paper engineering, Beautiful Oops! is filled with pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and even an accordion “telescope”—each demonstrating the magical transformation from blunder to wonder.
Add to list
What Do You Do with a Problem?
Written by Kobi Yamada & illustrated by Mae Besom
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
Wonderfully illustrated and perfect for talking about how to deal with difficult problems. "I don't know how it happened, but one day I had a problem. I didn't want it. I didn't ask for it." It's a little heavy-handed towards the end of the story, but I honestly thought it worked nicely. I loved how Mae Besom adds color to the illustrations as the story progresses and the "problem" turns into an opportunity.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What do you do with a problem? Especially one that follows you around and doesn't seem to be going away? Do you worry about it? Ignore it? Do you run and hide from it? This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It's a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it's here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem and yourself. What are problems for? They challenge us, shape us, push us, and help us to discover just how strong and brave and capable we really are. Even though we don't always want them, problems have a way of bringing unexpected gifts. So, what will you do with your problem?
Honorable Mentions
Papa's Mechanical Fish book
Add to list
Oliver and the Seawigs book
Add to list
Lulu's Party book
Add to list
The Most Magnificent Thing book
Add to list
  1. Papa's Mechanical Fish - Grammy -

    This is a great story about exploring ideas; sometimes they work out and sometimes they need more work. The creative dad in this book just keeps working on his ideas, most of which don't really succeed. Although so many of his ideas have fallen short, he doesn't get discouraged, and no one in his family is ever critical; everyone just keeps thinking and nurturing curiosity. The painterly illustrations engage the reader in the action, both of the inventor and his family who have their own activities parallel to the father's pursuits. This story is on the long side, although the repetition and reiterations work to keep young readers engaged and there is plenty to look at on every page. It is a terrific book for STEM topics and encouraging curiosity, perseverance, thinking, and patience.

  2. Oliver and the Seawigs - B is for Bookworm -

    This adventurous and imaginary tale will keep you guessing what will happen next! When Oliver's parents disappear, Oliver goes after them on his own journey, facing problem after problem. I love the Oliver is brave and instead of just complaining when a problem arises or his idea fails, he thinks about the next step he can take solve his problem and get his parents back. Plus, he makes a wonderful friend along the way. :)

  3. Lulu's Party - B is for Bookworm -

    I love that this story shows that sometimes, things just don't always go perfectly or how you plan them to. When Lulu's treat wasn't very good, she and her friends were able to come up with something else and still have a wonderful time!

  4. The Most Magnificent Thing - Mr. Staccato -

    One of the concepts in The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown is that sometimes when we fail, our reaction is to blame ourselves, "I'm no good." The more positive response to failure, though, is to blame our actions, "there was something wrong with the process." This book presents a similar idea as it follows a young girl and her assistant as they attempt to create the most magnificent thing ever. Try as she might, though, the girl can't quite get it right. Eventually, frustration sets in and she loses her cool. Thankfully, her trusty sidekick helps her go for a walk and get a new perspective on things. This is a great book for not giving up and learning from "failure".

Books About Coping With Failure and Friendship

Add to list
How to Catch a Star
Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes a story about wishing, persevering, and reaching for the stars. Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be. Oliver Jeffers offers a simple, childlike tale of reaching for the stars, and emerging with a friend.
Add to list
Too Many Carrots
Written by Katy Hudson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
The bestselling picture book that Publisher's Weekly calls “simultaneously sassy and sweet.” Rabbit loves carrots — and that’s a big problem! In this phenomenal bestseller, Rabbit loves carrots a little too much. In fact, his carrots are crowding him out of his cozy burrow. When his friends offer to help, they're just asking for trouble — a lot of trouble! This charming and lovingly illustrated children's book, by acclaimed author Katy Hudson (A Loud Winter’s Nap and Bear and Duck), shows how friendships get us over the rough spots in life, even if the going gets a little bumpy. Too Many Carrots is the perfect springtime, Eastertime, and anytime gift.
Add to list
El Deafo
Written by Cece Bell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her "superpower."
Honorable Mentions
You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish book
Add to list
Mango Delight book
Add to list
  1. You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish - A brand new paperback title in the bestselling Rainbow Fish series! Everyone loses once in a while. But being a good sport when you lose isn’t always easy—not even for Rainbow Fish. A lighthearted look at accepting loss without losing your sparkle!

  2. Mango Delight - What happens when your BFF becomes your EFF . . . EX-Friend-Forever? Surviving seventh grade is tough-especially when your BFF dumps you, you lose your spot on the track team, and you cost your dad his job. That’s the mess Mango’s in. THEN her ex-bestie spitefully tricks Mango into auditioning for the school musical and the tables turn: Mango wins the lead role, becomes a YouTube sensation, and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee. But soon Mango is forced to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have . . . and the kind she wants to be.

Books About Coping With Failure and Family

Add to list
The Bad Beginning
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky. In the first two books alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, a lumpy bed, a deadly serpent, a large brass reading lamp, a long knife, and a terrible odor. In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. Never before has a tale of three likeable and unfortunate children been quite so enchanting, or quite so uproariously unhappy.
Add to list
Salt in His Shoes
Written by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Young Michael Jordan, who is smaller than the other players, learns that determination and hard work are more important than size when playing the game of basketball.
Add to list
A Wrinkle in Time
Written by Madeleine L’Engle
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
Honorable Mentions
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle book
Add to list
Beard Boy book
Add to list
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin book
Add to list
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters book
Add to list
  1. Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle - A father teaches his daughter all about bicycle riding, from selecting the right bike to trying again after a fall.

  2. Beard Boy - Young Ben wants to be just like his awesome dad—bearded. Ben wants a beard. All the most boss people in his town have them. The baker, the barbers, the butcher, they’re all bewhiskered—even the old lady who waits at the bus stop has one. Most of all though, Ben wants a beard just like his dad. He tries his best to start on some scruff, but nothing works quite right. And when his dad explains he might have to wait ’til he’s older for a beard of his own, he decides to take some more permanent action—with a marker that is. In the end, Ben and his dad find the perfect solution in this hilarious and heartwarming picture book celebrating the bond between father and son.

  3. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin - Hana has signed up to play the violin at the talent show, even though sheÍs only had three lessons. Her brothers predict disaster. But Hana practices and practices, inspired by her grandfather, or Ojiichan, who played the violin every day when she visited him in Japan. As Hana takes the stage, doubt is all she can hear, until she recalls her grandfatherÍs words of encouragement, and shows the audience how beautiful music can take many forms.

  4. Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters - Rosie Revere is no stranger to flops and fails, kerfuffles and catastrophes. After all, she’s an engineer, and engineering is all about perseverance! But sometimes, Rosie has a really important project to tackle—one that feels much bigger than herself. When Rosie’s beloved Aunt Rose and her pals the Raucous Riveters—a gaggle of fun-loving gals who built airplanes during World War II—need her help, it’s up to Rosie to save the day. Will Rosie be able to invent a contraption to help one of the Riveters paint in the annual mural competition? After one flop . . . then another . . . and another . . . Rosie starts to lose hope. But thanks to some help from her classmates Iggy Peck and Ada Twist, Rosie creates the Paintapolooza! and, along with the Riveters, rediscovers the meaning of Home.

Want to see books about family?

Books About Coping With Failure and Perseverance

Add to list
She Persisted
Written by Chelsea Clinton & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted. Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted. She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small. With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power. This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.
Add to list
Flight School
Written & illustrated by Lita Judge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled. Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.
Add to list
Max and Marla
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Two fearless Olympians sled to victory in this delightful new picture book Max and Marla are best friends. And aspiring Olympians! With their eyes on the prize, they know exactly what it’ll take to reach sledding success: preparation, practice and perseverance. So when rusty blades, strong winds and difficult slopes get in their way, Max and Marla realize true joy lies not in winning but in friendship. Obstacles turn into victories! With delightful illustrations and charming text, Alexandra Boiger brings to life the story of two unstoppable pals—true Olympians who never give up!
Honorable Mentions
Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands book
Add to list
Cartwheel Katie book
Add to list
  1. Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands - Trying—and failing—can be a path to happiness too. Leela loves to do yoga. She could do all sorts of poses, but there was one pose she couldn’t do. Every time Leela tried to do a headstand…KERPLUNK! This book explores the themes of acceptance, resilience, and self-compassion and offers the message that just because we may experience a failure does not mean that we are a failure. Written as a counterpoint to the message of The Little Engine that Could, Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands is a story about a girl who tries her best, but still falls down. Through the process she learns that happiness is not determined by external achievement. Even in the face of failure, peace can be found if we accept that we cannot do everything and focus on our experience.

  2. Cartwheel Katie - Katie is enrolled in a gymnastics class, but when she has trouble doing some of the moves she gets discouraged and considers dropping out.

Books About Coping With Failure and Social Themes

Add to list
Ish
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
Siblings are both the best... and the worst. This book showcases the power siblings have to tear us down or to build us up, and the effect that both can have. While Ramon is initially happy with his art, once his older brother laughs at him he feels like a failure for a long while, until his little sister shows him that his art is truly something beautiful, and once he is able to see it through her eyes he once again finds his inspiration...ish.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
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.
Add to list
The Thing Lou Couldn't Do
Written & illustrated by Ashley Spires
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
An endearing story about a little girl who doesnÍt think she can. ñUp there! The tree can be our ship!î one of LouÍs friends exclaims when they decide to play pirates. ñUmmm ƒî responds Lou. Usually she loves adventures. But this is new. Lou has never climbed a tree before. And she knows she canÍt do it. She doesnÍt even want to try. But this adventure does look fun, and when all her excuses run out, Lou realizes the bravest adventurers are those who TRY. An inspiring lesson for anyone whoÍs ever avoided something hard.
Add to list
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
Written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
In this interactive and engaging read-aloud, bestselling author and award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell creates a funny, engaging, and almost perfect story about embracing life's messes. Little Louie's story keeps getting messed up, and he's not happy about it! What's the point of telling his tale if he can't tell it perfectly? But when he stops and takes a deep breath, he realizes that everything is actually just fine, and his story is a good one--imperfections and all.
Honorable Mentions
Leif and the Fall book
Add to list
The Cat from Hunger Mountain book
Add to list
  1. Leif and the Fall - Persistence and creativity can lead to amazing things, as Leif the leaf discovers in this lovely storybook from Allison Sweet Grant and Adam Grant, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Originals. Leif is a leaf. A worried leaf. It is autumn, and Leif is afraid to fall. “All leaves fall in the fall,” say the other leaves. But Leif is determined to find a different way down, and with his friend Laurel, he uses the resources around him to create a net, a kite, a parachute in hopes of softening his landing. The clock is ticking, the wind is blowing. What will happen when a gust of wind pulls Leif from his branch? In a culture that prizes achievement, kids are often afraid to fail—failing to realize that some of the very ideas that don’t work are steps along the path to ones that will.

  2. The Cat from Hunger Mountain - In a place called Hunger Mountain there lives a lord who has everything imaginable yet never has enough. To satisfy his every desire, he hires builders to design the tallest pagoda; a world-famous tailor to make his clothing from silk and gold threads; and a renowned chef to cook him lavish meals with rice from the lord’s own fields. What more could he possibly want? Yet when drought plagues the land, Lord Cat is faced with his first taste of deep loss, he ventures down the mountain and what he discovers will change his life forever. Rendered in exquisite mixed-media collage, Caldecott Medalist Ed Young’s deceptively simple fable is a deeply affecting tale about appreciating the value of treasures that need not be chased.

Books About Coping With Failure and Animals

Add to list
Cuckoo!
Written & illustrated by Fiona Roberton
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
The illustrations for this story about a little cuckoo bird trying to find someone, somehow that can understand him (either in his language or by learning one of theirs!) are adorable, as is the story. This little bird is literally struggling for some connection, and putting forth all his effort, and in the end his search is rewarded when he least expects it! The animal sounds throughout the book make this one fun for littler readers too!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Cuckoo hatches. And all is well. But when his brothers and sisters sing out Too-too-weet! Too-too-weet! Cuckoo instead chirps Cuckoo! and no one can understand him. When he leaves his nest, Cuckoo still can’t find anyone who speaks his language. He tries to communicate with the other animals—coomooing and buckooing and cabooing along the way—but he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there! Just when he thinks all is lost, Cuckoo finds an unlikely friend who understands him perfectly.
Add to list
Can't Sleep Without Sheep
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill & illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Whenever Ava can't sleep, she counts sheep. But Ava takes so long to fall asleep, it's the sheep that are growing tired-until finally, they quit! When the sheep promise to find a replacement that Ava can count on, chaos ensues as chickens, cows, pigs, hippos, and more try their hand at jumping over Ava's fence. Finding the perfectly peaceful replacement for sheep might not be so easy after all. With irresistibly adorable art, this delightful take on a familiar sleep tactic is sure to become a bedtime favorite.
Add to list
Penguin in Love
Written & illustrated by Salina Yoon
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Geisel Honor-winning author/illustrator Salina Yoon's beloved character Penguin searches for his match in Penguin in Love--a charming picture book that's perfect for Valentine's Day. When Penguin finds a lost mitten on the ice one day, he wonders who it belongs to--after all, every mitten has a mate! To unravel the mystery, he embarks on the biggest adventure of his life. Is love waiting for Penguin at the end of this incredible journey? Prolific author/illustrator Salina Yoon's spare text and bright, energetic illustrations bring to life this endearing story celebrating love in its many forms.
Honorable Mentions
The Best Birthday Present Ever book
Add to list
Lost. Found. book
Add to list
  1. The Best Birthday Present Ever - Squirrel is super excited: he’s been invited to Big Bear’s birthday party! Now he just has to find the perfect present for his friend—but what can you give a bear who already has EVERYTHING? Squirrel searches and searches and chooses . . . a stick! As Bear unwraps his stack of gifts Squirrel begins to worry: is it enough? But with a little imagination, and a good friend, even the simplest stick can become magical. This funny, heartwarming story of friendship is a great gift—and not just for bears!

  2. Lost. Found. - On a wintry day, a bear loses his soft red scarf. The wind carries it whoosh to a pair of raccoons who use it to play tug-o-war. When they run off, a beaver dons the scarf as the perfect winter hat…until it gets tangled on a tree branch. The scarf is lost and found by a series of animals, including a fox and a couple of rascally squirrels, who use it as everything from a swing to a trampoline. When all the animals lay claim to the scarf at once, calamity ensues that can only be fixed by a bear, a little patience, and friendship, in this nearly wordless, clever picture book.

Want to see books about animals?

Suggested Links