Courage: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about courage?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to courage. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about courage.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about courage, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Quest of the Missing Map to popular sellers like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

We hope this list of kids books about courage can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Courage

Off & Away book
#1
Off & Away
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picturebook is a treasure.

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave book
#2
Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
Written and illustrated by Jessica Hische
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today- Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave. And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK. Adventure through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities—all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles book
#3
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals — the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, “oily” Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with “peace, love and a sense of fun”— apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor’s help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart’s desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

The Art of Miss Chew book
#4
The Art of Miss Chew
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She’s thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew’s special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she’s wasting time on art when she should be studying – but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for!

This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child’s life – and celebrates the power of art itself.

My Friend Maggie book
#5
My Friend Maggie
Written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Paula and Maggie are best friends until Paula starts playing with some new friends instead, but when her new playmates turn on her, it’s Maggie who rushes to Paula’s defense”

Lottie & Walter book
#6
Lottie & Walter
Written and illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water.

Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

Too Shy for Show-and-Tell book
#7
Too Shy for Show-and-Tell
Written by Beth Bracken and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Sam is so shy that nobody knows much about him, but when he must stand in front of his class for show-and-tell, he finds the courage to share.

Mary Wears What She Wants book
#8
Mary Wears What She Wants
Written and illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

Maisy Goes to a Show book
#9
Maisy Goes to a Show
Written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Are you ready for the big show? Maisy and her friends show little ones what it’s like to attend their first live performance. Today, Maisy and her friends are off to the theater to see a show starring Flora Fantastica! First they line up to show their tickets. After the usher helps them all find their seats, the lights go down, and Maisy and her friends take in a feast for the senses: dramatic flashing lights, colorful costumes, amazing songs, and lots of exciting characters. From the rise of the curtain through intermission (and snacks) to a standing ovation at the end, Maisy takes her fans on a trip to the theater that makes a new experience familiar and fun.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade book
#10
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
Written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Sally McCabe is a very little girl, and nobody notices her, although she notices everything that goes on around her—but when she speaks out about the unkindness she sees, people start to pay attention.

Table of Contents
Jump to books about Courage and...

Books About Courage and Adventure

Off & Away book
#1
Off & Away
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picturebook is a treasure.

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave book
#2
Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
Written and illustrated by Jessica Hische
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today- Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave. And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK. Adventure through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities—all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

Caterpillar Dreams book
#3
Caterpillar Dreams
Written and illustrated by Clive McFarland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The Very Hungry Caterpillar meets Giraffes Can’t Dance in this sweet coming of age story about finding one’s courage. All Henri the Caterpillar has is a dream. It’s an amazing, incredible, impossible dream. And to chase it, Henri will have to leave the safety of his garden and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Written and illustrated by the award-winning creator of A Bed for Bear, Clive McFarland, Caterpillar Dreams is the inspiring story of what can happen when you dare to believe in yourself.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. Exile - Tasked with training the magical Alicorn so that it can be revealed to the people of the lost cities as a sign of hope, Sophie is dismayed by a renewal of the dangers she believed were past, forcing her to risk her life for answers. By the author of Let the Sky Fall.

  3. Aberdeen - Aberdeen never meant to leave the yard in the first place. BUT a balloon floated by and…. He is suddenly off on an unexpected adventure! Before long, Aberdeen follows his whims and fancy to unknown territory, a little too far away from home – and from mama. Who doesn’t know the feeling of one thing leading to another leading to another – until you’re not quite sure how you ended up where you did? Aberdeen’s adorable antics will have readers excited to see where he lands next, and on the edges of their seats as he searches for a way back home.

  4. Julius Zebra: Battle with the Britons! - Think you know Julius Zebra? Think again! The handsome, fast-talking gladiatorial champion is sent on a zany new adventure — to Britannia! Before Julius Zebra can have his freedom, Emperor Hadrian sends him on one last mission. As the newly named People’s Champion, Julius must travel with his friends to a distant land to remind its people of the might of the Roman Empire. It’ll be just like a vacation! But when the motley menagerie of gladiators arrives in cold, wet Britannia, they don’t quite receive the welcome they were expecting. In fact, the Britons seem to hate the Romans. And the longer Julius and his friends stay in Britannia, the more they realize that they have a lot more in common with the Britons than they thought. After all, they’re all under Hadrian’s rule. But what can a ragtag group of fighting animals do about it?

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Books About Courage and Facing Fears

Lottie & Walter book
#1
Lottie & Walter
Written and illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water.

Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

Too Shy for Show-and-Tell book
#2
Too Shy for Show-and-Tell
Written by Beth Bracken and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Sam is so shy that nobody knows much about him, but when he must stand in front of his class for show-and-tell, he finds the courage to share.

Mary Wears What She Wants book
#3
Mary Wears What She Wants
Written and illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Pablo in the Snow - What is soft, fluffy, and white? Pablo’s wool, of course. But this little lamb soon discovers that there’s something else as well: SNOW! From making trails to sledding with friends, having snowball fights and crafting snowmen, there’s tons of fun to be had in the snow. But winter days grow dark very fast, and Pablo finds himself lost on his way home. Not to worry―Mama and Papa help Pablo get back to the cozy barn so he can talk about his adventures.

  2. Mighty Jack and the Goblin King - Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre. When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king! Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk.

  3. One Last Wish - A princess marries a man she loves in spite of his impending death. Due to her devotion and persistence, she is granted a wish, which she uses wisely. Themes: love, devotion, bravery.

  4. I Am Famous - Kiely knows she is famous! The paparazzi (her parents) follow her every move, documenting with cameras. It’s exhausting being famous, but someone has to do it! She even gets to perform a big song at her grandfather’s birthday. When she messes it up, she’s worried she’s lost her audience forever, but it turns out that no one is as loyal as her fans who love her.

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Books About Courage and Friendship

My Friend Maggie book
#1
My Friend Maggie
Written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Paula and Maggie are best friends until Paula starts playing with some new friends instead, but when her new playmates turn on her, it’s Maggie who rushes to Paula’s defense”

Maisy Goes to a Show book
#2
Maisy Goes to a Show
Written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Are you ready for the big show? Maisy and her friends show little ones what it’s like to attend their first live performance. Today, Maisy and her friends are off to the theater to see a show starring Flora Fantastica! First they line up to show their tickets. After the usher helps them all find their seats, the lights go down, and Maisy and her friends take in a feast for the senses: dramatic flashing lights, colorful costumes, amazing songs, and lots of exciting characters. From the rise of the curtain through intermission (and snacks) to a standing ovation at the end, Maisy takes her fans on a trip to the theater that makes a new experience familiar and fun.

Journey book
#3
Journey
Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship. A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark - Mr. Fish finds the courage to speak up for his friends when a shark comes to the park and bullies them.

  2. Skateboard Sibby - Super skateboarder Sibby Henry won’t let the loss of her board defeat her. Eleven-year-old Sibby Henry liked her old life. Now she’s living in a new town with her nan and pops, and mad at her dad for messing everything up. On her first day of school, she sees a dope skateboard park, but she’s lost her precious board. To make things worse, Freddie, a super skater and a super jerk, dominates the park. Sibby tries to stay chill, but when Freddie gets in the face of her only new friend, Charlie Parker Drysdale, things get too hot for chill. Never one to back down, Sibby accepts when Freddie challenges her to a competition on the half pipe. She won’t let anything stop her from proving herself.

  3. Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand - The Baby-Sitter’s Club meets Goosebumps as a diverse group of friends encounter supernatural problems on their babysitting gigs in this spooky new middle-grade series.

  4. Angel and Bavar - Taking inspiration from “Beauty and the Beast,” Amy Wilson’s second middle grade novel is a stunning modern fairy tale of magic, friendship, and finding the courage to fight for what matters most. After the death of her parents, Angel has a lot to get used to: a new home, a new family, a new school. The last thing she’s interested in is making new friends. Until she meets Bavar, a strange boy who slips through the shadows, a boy who might understand her nightmares. But Bavar doesn’t want to let anyone in. Everyone—and everything—in his enchanted house is already urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift and the fearsome monsters traveling through it, a responsibility he wishes he could ignore. Then Bavar discovers that the monsters are the same ones that killed Angel’s parents. Determined to stop the creatures for good, he reluctantly accepts Angel’s help. Together, Angel and Bavar must find the courage to stand up for each other and themselves to repair the rift between worlds…before it’s too late.

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Books About Courage and Family

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles book
#1
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals — the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, “oily” Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with “peace, love and a sense of fun”— apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor’s help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart’s desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

Herbie's Big Adventure book
#2
Herbie's Big Adventure
Written and illustrated by Jennie Poh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Herbie is a little hedgehog who is perfectly happy at home with his mother. But one day Mommy tells Herbie that it’s time to go exploring―all by himself! Herbie is so not sure, but ready or not, a westerly wind sweeps Herbie into the wide world…and Herbie’s Big Adventure begins! Little Herbie finds that he’s braver than he thinks and even makes a friend before coming safely back home to Mommy.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book
#3
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Written by C.S. Lewis and illustrated by Pauline Baynes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

Open the door and enter a new world! The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been captivating readers of all ages with a magical land and unforgettable characters for over sixty years.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Ten Cents a Pound - Ayoung girl and her mother have a loving, passionate conversation with each other. The girl is torn between her desire to stay home with her family and the familiarity of their village, and her desire to go to school and discover the world beyond the mountains that surround them. Every time the girl insists that she will stay, her mother repeats that she must go, that there is more to life than the labor in the coffee trees.

  2. The Lost Realm - Family secrets combine with fantasy in this epic tale of battle, magic, strange creatures, power, and fate, in a sweeping new middle grade series that Publishers Weekly called “Game of Thrones on a mellow day.”

  3. The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee - 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…

  4. The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee - “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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Books About Courage and History

The Youngest Marcher book
#1
The Youngest Marcher
Written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

A Picture Book of Jesse Owens book
#2
A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
Written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World’s Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a “floating wonder.” After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler’s well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note and a timeline.

Charlie Takes His Shot book
#3
Charlie Takes His Shot
Written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by John Joven
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph - What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz. When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.

  2. Pass Go and Collect $200 - Boldness, imagination, and ruthless competition combine in Tanya Lee Stone and Steven Salerno’s Pass Go and Collect $200, a riveting picture book history of Monopoly, one of the world’s most famous games. In the late 1800s lived Lizzie Magie, a clever and charismatic woman with a strong sense of justice. Waves of urban migration drew Lizzie’s attention to rising financial inequality. One day she had an idea: create a game that shows the unfairness of the landlord-tenant relationship. But game players seemed to have the most fun pretending to be wealthy landowners. Enter Charles Darrow, a marketer and salesman with a vision for transforming Lizzie’s game into an exciting staple of American family entertainment. Features back matter that includes “Monopoly Math” word problems and equations. Excellent STEM connections and resources.

  3. Be a King - You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford’s poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King’s example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.

  4. George Did It - Everyone wanted George Washington to be the president. He was responsible, led the army in a fight against the British, and helped write the Constitution. But being the president is a very important job, and George was too nervous. So, to everyone’s surprise, he said no! However, George had many supporters, and with the help of the cheering crowds and loyal advisers and dignitaries, George realized that he didn’t have time to think about how nervous he was, he just had to do his job. With little-known facts and a bit of humor, Suzanne Tripp Jurmain gives readers a glimpse into the more personal side of the first president of the United States.

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Books About Courage and Imagination

Circus Girl book
#1
Circus Girl
Written and illustrated by Clare Pernice
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When a little girl plays dress up in her leotard and socks she becomes Circus Girl star of the show. Even her toys morph into her dreamscape of circus acts. At each page turn she jumps and tumbles, flies through the air, juggles, spins, balances and contorts. Vibrant and winsome, modern and timeless the illustrations and words convey a captured childhood moment with directness and simplicity.

On a Windy Night book
#2
On a Windy Night
Written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by George Bates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

On a windy Halloween night, as a little boy makes his way home after trick-or-treating, he hears a voice: “Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours—if you look back.” As his heart flip-flops with fear, the boy dashes through woods and fields that seem full of haunting shapes—owls, ghosts, skeletons, and more. The detailed illustrations are packed with visual tricks for children to discover. Are those skeletons or cornstalks? Ghostly hands or tree branches? The playful tone of the text makes this a perfect, not-too-scary read-aloud, with an enjoyable surprise ending.

Elizabeth and Zenobia book
#3
Elizabeth and Zenobia
Written by Jessica Miller and illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend Zenobia for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago. Elizabeth and Zenobia is a wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

Honorable Mentions
  1. A Little Courage - Through the eyes of a child, the world is full of adventure! A teacup-sized little girl discovers a playground in a potted plant, and the perfect swimming pool in a glass of water. Then when she sees a mysterious shadow lurking beyond her books and paper clips, she must summon her courage. But wait! Could this fluffy, purring creature be a friend? Taltal Levi’s evocative text and illustrations tell an inventive story about courage, imagination, and friendship.

  2. Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers? - A picture book biography of Ada Lovelace, the woman recognized today as history’s first computer programmer—she imagined them 100 years before they existed! In the early nineteenth century lived Ada Byron: a young girl with a wild and wonderful imagination. The daughter of internationally acclaimed poet Lord Byron, Ada was tutored in science and mathematics from a very early age. But Ada’s imagination was never meant to be tamed and, armed with the fundamentals of math and engineering, she came into her own as a woman of ideas—equal parts mathematician and philosopher. From her whimsical beginnings as a gifted child to her most sophisticated notes on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, this book celebrates the woman recognized today as the first computer programmer. A Christy Ottaviano Book

  3. Ella and Penguin Stick Together - Sometimes all you need is a good friend to help you be brave. Ella has a surprise for Penguin—glow-in-the-dark stickers! But to see the stickers glow, Ella and Penguin must be in the dark. And the dark is so . . . dark! If only they could see the stickers glow in the light—but that won’t work. Soon Ella and Penguin find out that if they stick together, they can face anything. Megan Maynor’s sweet and lively text, paired with Rosalinde Bonnet’s irresistible illustrations, will have readers clamoring for more Ella and Penguin.

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Books About Courage and Rescue

The Unicorn Quest book
#1
The Unicorn Quest
Written by Kamilla Benko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor . . . until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.

There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other, the beloved unicorns have disappeared, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes in the night, it will take all of Claire’s courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns’ greatest secret.

How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth book
#2
How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth
Written and illustrated by Paul Noth
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Popular New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth continues his illustrated middle grade series about a boy, his wacky family, and an out-of-this-world adventure in this laugh-out-loud sequel to How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens. Happy Conklin Jr. is still the only 10-year-old who has to shave three times a day, thanks to being tested on by his inventor father. And it’s safe to say Hap is the only 10-year-old who accidentally sold his entire family to aliens. The good news is that Hap managed to save his family—including his tyrannical Grandma—but now the Conklins face a problem that might put the whole world in danger . . . Hap wants a girl in his sixth-grade science class to be his lab partner but lacks the courage to even talk to her. Through the mysterious powers of Squeep! the lizard, he finds a way to overcome this fear but also, unfortunately, opens a black hole in his middle school that will swallow the solar system unless he’s able to stop it. In his race against time to save everything, he’s helped by his sister Kayla, greatly hindered by his sister Alice, and uncovers the truth about Grandma’s plan to take over the Galaxy.

Freddie Ramos Zooms to the Rescue book
#3
Freddie Ramos Zooms to the Rescue
Written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Miguel Benitez
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A very unusual squirrel is spotted in and around Starwood Elementary School, and when Freddie uses his Zapato Power to chase it, he finds more than one opportunity to be a hero.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Adventures of Henry Whiskers - Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle. Twenty-five generations of Whiskers have lived in Windsor Castle’s most famous exhibit: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. For young, book-loving Henry Whiskers and his family, this is the perfect place to call home. But when the dollhouse undergoes unexpected repairs and Henry’s youngest sister, Isabel, goes missing, he risks everything in a whisker-whipping race against time to save her. His rescue mission will take him to the murky and scary world of Rat Alley, and Henry will have to dig deep and find the courage he never knew he had in order to bring his sister back home.

  2. River Runs Deep - Twelve-year-old Elias is sent to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky to fight a case of consumption—and ends up fighting for the lives of a secret community of escaped slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad.

  3. Into the Night to Save the Day! - Go into the night to save the day with Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko in this 8x8 storybook based on PJ Masks, the hit preschool series airing on Disney Junior! It’s a Cat-astrophe! When Romeo kidnaps Amaya and Greg and steals their pajamas, it’s up to Catboy to save his friends! But can Catboy do it on his own, or will it take teamwork to save the day? PJ Masks © Frog Box / Entertainment One UK Limited / Walt Disney EMEA Productions Limited 2014

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Did you enjoy our courage book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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