Best Children's Books About Coping with failure

20 Children's Books About Coping with failure

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Beautiful Oops! book
#1
Beautiful Oops!
Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
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.

Papa's Mechanical Fish book
#2
Papa's Mechanical Fish
Written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the summer of 1851, with encouragement and ideas provided by his family, an inventor builds a working submarine and takes his family for a ride. Includes notes about Lodner Phillips, the real inventor on whom the story is based.

Rosie Revere, Engineer book
#3
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
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.

The Most Magnificent Thing book
#4
The Most Magnificent Thing
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

Beard Boy book
#5
Beard Boy
Written by John Flannery and illustrated by Steven Weinberg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish book
#6
You Can't Win Them All, Rainbow Fish
Written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

The Little Pig, the Bicycle, and the Moon book
#7
The Little Pig, the Bicycle, and the Moon
Written by Pierrette Dube and illustrated by Orbie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Rosie the little pig is determined to learn how to ride a bike and see the world—no matter how many times she has to pick herself up and start over—in this whimsical story about following your dreams and never giving up. Rosie is a little pig who has everything she needs right on the farm: a mud bath to play in, plenty of food to eat, and a deliciously smelly pigpen. But then she sees a small, ugly animal with two feet and no tail riding a bicycle and she thinks “That’s easy. I could ride a bike too.” It is only when she sneaks out at night to try to ride the bike herself that Rosie realizes it’s not as easy as it looks. First you have to learn to pedal…but you also need to know how to balance, and braking is very important, too. Every night, watched over by her friend the moon, she tries again and again, and after each failure, she learns something new: to give a push, to wear a helmet, to ask a friend for help. And so every night she tries again, because she knows that if she could just learn how to ride a bike, why, she could travel to the other side of the world…or maybe even farther.

Lucy Fell Down the Mountain book
#8
Lucy Fell Down the Mountain
Written and illustrated by Kevin Cornell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Veteran humorist Kevin Cornell creates a hilarious and heartwarming tale about life's pitfalls—and learning how to roll with them.

Perfect Petunias book
#9
Perfect Petunias
Written by Lynn Jenkins and illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Perfect Petunias is a book especially for those little people who find it hard to make mistakes, designed to ’shape’ perfectionistic tendencies towards being a little more self-accepting and flexible. Loppy LAC is very worried about not doing his homework well enough. He is always focusing on what he hasn’t done rather then what he has, and he becomes very frustrated. So, his friend Curly teaches him about how petunias grow - in lots of different, imperfect directions that we can’t control! Loppy learns that by trying to control whether he makes mistakes or not it’s as if he’s always trying to grow ‘perfect’ petunias. Sometimes he just needs to accept that things go a certain way and to change his definition of ‘perfect’ to mean trying his absolute best. Perfect Petunias is the third book in the ‘Lessons of a LAC’ series. This gorgeous series, by an author and illustrator who are passionate about giving children ways to think about and manage common emotional difficulties, is a valuable resource for every child to help guide their emotional development.

Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters book
#10
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters
Written and illustrated by Andrea Beaty
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

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.

The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History book
#11
The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History
Written by Erik Slader, Ben Thompson and illustrated by Tim Foley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A hilarious nonfiction look at two of history's most epic "failures": the Wright brothers, whose countless crashes and biggest failures led to ultimate success. Although the Wright Brothers are now celebrated as heroes for their groundbreaking contributions to science and engineering as the first men to successfully manage powered, piloted flight, their eventual success was built on the back of a lot of nosedives. It took the self-taught engineers years of work and countless crashes before they managed to remain airborne for a mere twelve seconds! In this hilarious first installment of the Epic Fails series, Ben Thompson and Erik Slader take readers through the the Wright Brothers' many failed attempts at flight before achieving their groundbreaking success, laying the foundation for aviation as we know it today.

The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff book
#12
The Race to Space: Countdown to Liftoff
Written by Erik Slader, Ben Thompson and illustrated by Tim Foley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this second installment of the Epic Fails series, explore the many failures that made up the Space Race, paving the way for humanity’s eventual success at reaching the stars. Today, everyone is familiar with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he first set foot on the moon: “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” He made it look easy, but America’s journey to the moon was anything but simple. In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, into orbit, America had barely crossed the starting line of the great Space Race. Later that year, our first attempt was such a failure that the media nicknamed it “Kaputnik.” Still, we didn’t give up. With each failure, we gleaned valuable information about what went wrong, and how to avoid it in the future. So we tried again. And again. And each time we failed, we failed a little bit better. The Epic Fails series by Erik Slader and Ben Thompson explores the humorous backstories behind a variety of historical discoveries, voyages, experiments, and innovations that didn't go as expected but succeeded nonetheless, showing that many of mankind's biggest success stories are the result of some pretty epic failures indeed.

Swift Wings book
#13
Swift Wings
Written by Joanne LeBlanc-Haley and illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

Although he was a great solo flyer, Jake could not fly with the other swifts. Every time he tried, he bumped into one bird, knocked another into a spin, and soon destroyed the perfect formation. "Oh, no!" Jake heard behind him. "Jake's here! We'll never get it right if he's with us." Jake felt his confidence slipping away.

Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands book
#14
Happiness Doesn't Come from Headstands
Written and illustrated by Tamara Levitt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Lost. Found. book
#15
Lost. Found.
Written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

The Little Dancers: Showtime! book
#16
The Little Dancers: Showtime!
Written by Maryann Macdonald and illustrated by Mandy Sutcliffe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

The little dancers are ready to shine on stage! Miss Amy’s ballet studio is putting on a dance performance called the Butterfly Ball. Rosa and her four friends rehearse leaping, balancing, and twirling to perfect their dances for the recital! But when Rosa's audition goes awry, she is cast in a disappointing role. Rosa feels like all her hard work was for nothing, until her friends help her discover her small part is of great importance. Rosa feels as beautiful as a butterfly . . . and maybe even more special! Illustrated by Belle & Boo creator Mandy Sutcliffe, The Little Dancers is a lovely picture book about friendship, self-esteem, and the magic of dance. An Imprint Book

The Cat from Hunger Mountain book
#17
The Cat from Hunger Mountain
Written and illustrated by Ed Young
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Mango Delight book
#18
Mango Delight
Written and illustrated by Fracaswell "Cas" Hyman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

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.

Truck Stuck book
#19
Truck Stuck
Written by Sallie Wolf and illustrated by Andy Robert Davies
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Move that truck! When a truck gets stuck under a bridge, it causes a terrible traffic jam that soon turns into a block party. When attempts to remove the truck fail, two kids, some balloons, and a dog save the day. Sparse text, energetic rhyme, and clever illustrations bring depth to this simple tale.

Fantastic Failures book
#20
Fantastic Failures
Written by Luke Reynolds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Even the most well-known people have struggled to succeed! Find out what they learned and how they turned their failures into triumphs with this engaging and youthful guide on how to succeed long term. There is a lot of pressure in today’s society to succeed, but failing is a part of learning how to be a successful person. In his teaching career, Luke Reynolds saw the stress and anxiety his students suffered over grades, fitting in, and getting things right the first time. Fantastic Failures helps students learn that their mistakes and failures do not define their whole lives, but help them grow into their potential. Kids will love learning about some of the well-known people who failed before succeeding and will come to understand that failure is a large component of success. With stories from people like J. K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Sonia Sotomayor, Vincent Van Gogh, Julia Child, Steven Spielberg, and Betsy Johnson, each profile proves that the greatest mistakes and flops can turn into something amazing. Intermixed throughout the fun profiles, Reynolds spotlights great inventors and scientists who discovered and created some of the most important medicines, devices, and concepts of all time, including lifesaving vaccines and medicines that were stumbled upon by mistake.

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