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Determination: Books For Kids

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

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

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 determination, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Messy One to popular sellers like Rosie Revere, Engineer to some of our favorite hidden gems like After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again).

We hope this list of kids books about determination 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 Determination

Rosie Revere, Engineer book
#1
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty & 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.

Manjhi Moves a Mountain book
#2
Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Danny Popovici
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if your heart is big enough.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) book
#3
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
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.

Sometimes You Fly book
#4
Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This gorgeous gift book, equally perfect for preschool graduations or college commencements, baby showers or birthdays, is an inspirational tribute to the universal struggles and achievements of childhood. Beginning with a first birthday, the scenes travel through childhood triumphs and milestones, coming full circle to graduation. A magical blend of succinct text and beautiful watercolors renders each moment with tenderness and humor and encourages readers to “remember then, with every try, sometimes you fail . . . sometimes you fly.”

The Second Sky book
#5
The Second Sky
Written by Patrick Guest & illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inspiring story about finding your true element

Ever since he first hatched, Gilbert has wanted to fly. But with his big, clumsy feet and small, fluffy wings, learning to fly is a bigger challenge than Gilbert anticipated. His fellow penguins tell him to give up, but Gilbert is sure that if he keeps trying, he’ll be able to soar…

Young readers will fall in love with this sweet, motivating story about overcoming obstacles and discovering your hidden talents.

Shark Nate-O book
#6
Shark Nate-O
Written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

Cuckoo! book
#7
Cuckoo!
Written & illustrated by Fiona Roberton
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.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez book
#8
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The newest picture book from the creators of Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Ada Twist, Scientist stars Sofia Valdez, an activist and community leader who stands up for what she believes in!

Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea—the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall—only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do book
#9
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.

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes book
#10
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes
Written by Shelly Becker & illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

Even superheroes slip up and err. When that happens, do they complain or give up in despair? NO! Whether they’ve nabbed the wrong guy by mistake or bashed into a planet while zooming through space, all superheroes ‘fess up their mess-up and keep on saving the world in the most super way! This follow-up to Even Superheroes Have Bad Days teaches kids another humorous lesson in overcoming adversity.

Table of Contents
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Books About Determination and Family

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Written by Andrea Beaty & 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.

Shark Nate-O
Written by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Nate loves sharks. He reads shark books every day, watches sharks on TV, and talks about them nonstop. He even likes to pretend he’s a shark wherever he goes! However, there is one small problem. . . . Nate can’t swim. When his older brother points this out, Nate works hard to overcome his fears and learn how to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and finally swim without help, as quickly and as gracefully as a shark. Will he be able to beat his brother in a swim tryout and get his bite back? Kids will love this jawsome book complete with vibrant and whimsical art and a list of shark facts in the back!

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The newest picture book from the creators of Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Ada Twist, Scientist stars Sofia Valdez, an activist and community leader who stands up for what she believes in!

Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea—the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall—only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.

Honorable Mentions
  1. You Can Do It, Noisy Nora! - Noisy Nora is learning to play the violin, but her family isn’t sure they can survive it! The lovable heroine of Noisy Nora returns in a new book that will charm parents and children alike. Nora is determined to play the violin, but her parents, sister Kate, and brother Jack are appalled by the terrible sounds that emerge during her practice sessions. Scrape and shriek, screech and squeak--everybody holds their ears. But when a special evening comes, Nora succeeds in playing the secret song she’s struggled hard to learn.
    You Can Do It, Noisy Nora! provides the perfect way to show young children the value of persevering when trying to master a new skill. Rosemary Wells’s strong-willed heroine is as feisty and unstoppable as ever in this humorous, heartwarming story.

  2. Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge - “Vilonia must prove she is responsible enough to get a dog in order to help her mom get over her grief”—

  3. Stars and Poppy Seeds - The charming story of a girl’s greatest ambition—to count all the stars in the sky As the daughter of well-known mathematicians, Flora loves to count more than anything in the world. She counts all the things around her—the animals, grains of sand on the beach, and letters in her dad’s newspaper. When Dora looks at the Milky Way, she begins to wonder how to count the mesmerizing number of stars. Is it even possible? Is the night sky so full of stars that even all the numbers she knows would not be enough to count them? Dora soon learns that she needs to deal with such a complicated task by starting with the simplest of steps, and who knows, maybe one day she will achieve her dream.

  4. The Mozart Girl - Nannerl Mozart’s twelfth-birthday wish is to become a famous composer. She’s already considered a brilliant musician, touring eighteenth-century Europe with her little brother, Wolfgang, and playing for queens and kings in the great courts. But Papa doesn’t take her seriously as a composer, Mama usually has a list of chores for her, and Wolfi always manages to steal everybody’s attention. Can Nannerl defy everyone’s expectations and capture some of the spotlight that shines on her brilliant younger brother?

Want to see books about family?

Books About Determination and Perseverance

Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Danny Popovici
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if your heart is big enough.

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes
Written by Shelly Becker & illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

Even superheroes slip up and err. When that happens, do they complain or give up in despair? NO! Whether they’ve nabbed the wrong guy by mistake or bashed into a planet while zooming through space, all superheroes ‘fess up their mess-up and keep on saving the world in the most super way! This follow-up to Even Superheroes Have Bad Days teaches kids another humorous lesson in overcoming adversity.

Zelda's Big Adventure
Written by Marie Alafaci & illustrated by Shane McG
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Zelda has big plans—she wants to be the first chicken in space. She leaves nothing to chance as she builds her spaceship, plans her experiments, and packs for the journey. All she needs now is a little help from her friends, and if they won’t step up, Zelda will just have to manage on her own! Eye-popping art and a story of perseverance and ingenuity prove that for a plucky hen, the sky is never the limit.

This modern twist on the traditional The Little Red Hen story features an endearing and resourceful chicken determined to fulfill her dream

Honorable Mentions
  1. When I Was Eight - Looks at the experiences of a strong-willed young Inuit girl who receives permission from her father to travel to a residential religious school run by non-Inuit outsiders, where she struggles to adapt to the new way of living.

  2. Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence - Whether just trying out for the team or reaching for the Olympics, there’s something for every reader in this playful poetry collection! From baseball, basketball, and football to double-dutch, mini-golf, and turning a cartwheel, these poems look at facing fears, dreaming big, and never giving up. This well-rounded collection explores sports and play across all abilities and backgrounds.

  3. Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time - In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion. Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan, reducing waterborne illness.

  4. Cindy Moo - One night on the farm, the cows overhear a fantastic tale. “Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon!” Inspired by this classic rhyme, a plucky cow named Cindy Moo sets out to prove that cows really can leap over the moon. The other cows laugh at her, but that doesn’t stop Cindy from trying—and failing—night after night . . . until a trick of nature shows Cindy a way to triumph. As delightfully silly as the original nursery rhyme, this hilarious picture book will have readers of all stripes (and spots) cheering for its determined heroine.

Books About Determination and Self-esteem And Self-reliance

Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This gorgeous gift book, equally perfect for preschool graduations or college commencements, baby showers or birthdays, is an inspirational tribute to the universal struggles and achievements of childhood. Beginning with a first birthday, the scenes travel through childhood triumphs and milestones, coming full circle to graduation. A magical blend of succinct text and beautiful watercolors renders each moment with tenderness and humor and encourages readers to “remember then, with every try, sometimes you fail . . . sometimes you fly.”

The Second Sky
Written by Patrick Guest & illustrated by Jonathan Bentley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inspiring story about finding your true element

Ever since he first hatched, Gilbert has wanted to fly. But with his big, clumsy feet and small, fluffy wings, learning to fly is a bigger challenge than Gilbert anticipated. His fellow penguins tell him to give up, but Gilbert is sure that if he keeps trying, he’ll be able to soar…

Young readers will fall in love with this sweet, motivating story about overcoming obstacles and discovering your hidden talents.

Tiny and the Big Dig
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker & illustrated by Matt Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Sniff! Sniff-sniff!

I smell a bone. A bone that’s BIG.

I’ll get it out, I’ll dig and dig.

A big, BIG bone! I know it’s there!

It will take work, but I don’t care!

Tiny may be a small dog, but don’t let that fool you. He’s a pooch with power who knows what he wants. And he’s going for it. But oh, those pesky pessimists — they’re trying to rain on Tiny’s dig-parade!

Thank goodness for one special boy who believes in Tiny, because in the end, this dog’s grit proves that he’s the little pup who could… dig up some giant surprises!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Gritty Kitty - “Gritty Kitty, stumble and fall, stand back up—no problem at all!” Young readers will see themselves in Gritty Kitty when Gritty takes a tumble on the playground, struggles to wait patiently for a turn with a favorite toy, and experiences other everyday hurdles. But through grit and resilience, Gritty Kitty learns to get right back up again. With gentle humor, this book encourages young readers to find their own inner strength.

  2. The Little Duckling Who Wouldn't Get Wet - Little Duckling will get wet. . . . but only when it’s ready! All ducks must swim, says the big duck. But the little duckling isn’t ready to swim—not yet. One by one, other animals come to try to convince the little duckling to jump in. They push and shove, but the little duckling is firm: not yet! With irresistible art and a story that builds and builds as the duckling stands firm, this is a perfect read-aloud that encourages young listeners to think about their own needs and keep healthy boundaries—and to be brave when they are ready to try something new. From the hilarious pile of animals trying to get little duckling to dive in, to the final view of little duckling swimming along happily, Gek Tessaro’s colorful, cut-paper collage art is lively and reminiscent of classics like Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. With its patterned text and unexpected, hilarious ending, this is a perfect read-aloud, sure to provide an engaging experience. A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Books About Determination and Girls And Women

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.

Bo the Brave
Written & illustrated by Bethan Woollvin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A feisty little girl learns who the real monsters are in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure.

Once, there lived a little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster. Bo is small, too small to catch a monster―or so her brothers say. But Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or has Bo got the wrong idea who the real monsters are?

Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, employs her signature style in this original fairy tale with a clever twist. Readers are sure to fall in love with Woollvin’s newest vibrant and sassy protagonist.

Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story
Written by Nikki Tate & illustrated by Katie Kath
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this empowering picture book perfect for young feminists, a gutsy baseball-playing girl and her bricklaying mom celebrate when love and hard work triumph over nerves.

A young pitcher steps up to the plate.

A hardworking mom interviews for her biggest job yet.

Girls and women aren’t always welcome in the worlds of baseball and bricklaying. But with practice, the right gear, and a whole lot of determination, this intrepid mom and daughter thrive under pressure. Readers get to see their parallel narratives unfold in tandem, coming together at the end for a sweet reward: ice cream!

With fun, punchy writing and radiant illustrations, this touching story will be a hit for budding activists, kids who love sports, and the moms who cheer them on.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Out of Step - Last season Mercy Anderson was one of the best dancers on her school’s dance team when they almost made it to the state championship, but a sudden growth spurt has made her awkward and unsure of her moves—a personal coach would help bring her back to competition level, but can she earn enough money dog walking to pay for the training?

  2. Me and McGee - McGee is a batter to be reckoned with; he wallops every ball that’s pitched to him. Last year, he took the Catbirds to number one. But the pitcher he beat practices through the whole long winter, and the championship is once again up for grabs, with bases loaded. It’s McGee’s turn to bat. The pitcher lets go a fast ball, but is it enough to strike out McGee?

  3. She's Got This - A New York Times bestseller! From gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast and bestselling author Laurie Hernandez comes a picture book about chasing your dreams and never giving up. Even Olympians have to start somewhere. And in this charming illustrated book, Laurie Hernandez tells the story of Zoe, a little girl who dreams of flying—and becoming a gymnast. When Zoe sees a gymnast on TV, she realizes that gymnastics is just like flying. But when she first goes to class and falls off the balance beam, she discovers that following her dreams is harder and scarier than she thought. Through this heartwarming and inspirational story, featuring vibrant art from Nina Mata, Laurie imparts important lessons she learned on her way to Olympic glory: You always have to get back up and try again, and you always have to believe in yourself.

  4. 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.

Books About Determination and Friendship

Cuckoo!
Written & illustrated by Fiona Roberton
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.

Stella Diaz Never Gives Up
Written & illustrated by Angela Dominguez
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

From award-winning author Angela Dominguez, comes the novel Stella Diaz Never Gives Up, a novel about a shy Mexican-American girl who becomes an environmental activist and makes a difference in her community. Stella gets a big surprise when her mom plans a trip to visit their family in Mexico! Stella loves marine animals, and she can’t wait to see the ocean for the first time . . . until she arrives and learns that the sea and its life forms are in danger due to pollution. Stella wants to save the ocean, but she knows she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a lot of work and help from old and new friends to make a difference, but Stella Díaz never gives up! This is the second middle-grade novel from award-winning picture book author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. Based on the author’s experiences growing up Mexican-American, this infectiously charming character comes to life through relatable story-telling including simple Spanish vocabulary and adorable black-and-white art throughout.

Snail Crossing
Written & illustrated by Corey R. Tabor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a book that is as cheerful and charming as Snail himself, Corey Tabor tells a winning tale of slow but steady Snail, whose determination and kindness bring him the best reward of all: friendship.

When Snail spies a plump, crisp cabbage across the road, nothing will stop him—not a speeding car or even a hungry crow.

But then kindhearted Snail stops to help a crew of antsy ants in a rainstorm, and he loses his way. It looks like he will never get his treat—until Snail’s new friends come up with an ingenious idea. . . .

Honorable Mentions
  1. Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Stubborn Cloud - Hedgehog and Rabbit enjoy eating cabbages and looking for snails in their peaceful garden. When the sun is suddenly blocked by a stubborn cloud, the two friends need to come up with a plan to chase that cloud away.

  2. The Audition - Bunheads meets The Kicks in this first novel in a brand-new middle grade trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, dancer, model, and actress Maddie Ziegler! Twelve-year-old Harper has been dancing practically since she could walk. She loves her dance studio and team, and just won her first ever top junior solo in a regional competition. But right before the school year starts, Harper’s parents drop a bombshell—the family has to relocate from their cozy town in Connecticut to sunny Florida for their jobs. That means goodbye to her friends, dance team, trips to see shows in NYC—and did she mention dance team? When she arrives at her new dance school and new team, it feels like everyone has better feet, quicker turns and faster taps than Harper. And it doesn’t help that a group of girls, who nicknamed themselves The Bunheads, wonder how the heck she made the team if she can’t even do a simple turn sequence in front of the class. Thankfully, Harper befriends Lily, a fellow newbie in the studio who is just as eager to make her mark and find a friendly face. With a big competition coming up for the dance team, Harper is determined to show everyone—especially those Bunheads—what she’s made of. And when a very badly timed injury threatens all of the work they have done, The Bunheads, Lily, and Harper must learn to truly work together to give them their best shot at the top spot!

  3. Nipper and the Lunchbox - Nipper hates being left alone all day while his best friend Richard is at work. But when he realizes one morning that Richard has left his lunchbox behind, Nipper sets off on a difficult journey to deliver it. Will Nipper find Richard in time? Will he survive the many dangers along the way? And what will happen when he gets there? A touching story from a new talent about the power of determination and the strength of true friendship.

  4. Hedgehog and Rabbit - Hedgehog and Rabbit enjoy eating cabbages and looking for snails in their peaceful garden. But when a scary swirling wind comes up, the two must find a way to face their fears.

Want to see books about friendship?

Books About Determination and African Americans

Firebird
Written by Misty Copeland & illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.

Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention
Written by Pip Jones & illustrated by Sara Ogilvie and Pip Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this companion to the award-winning Izzy Gizmo, Izzy Gizmo returns (together with Grandpa and Fixer) in a charming and eccentric tale of ambition, perseverance, and finding your inner strength.

Izzy Gizmo has been invited to Technoff Isle’s annual convention where the inventor of the best machine will win coveted admittance to the Genius Guild. Great inventors produce gadgets that can be put to good use, so Izzy Gizmo decides to build a recycling machine that mends broken tools. But with fearsome foe Abi von Lavish getting the best of her at every turn, can Izzy Gizmo and Fixer create the winning invention?

Featuring the creative and much-loved heroine of color, this wonderfully exuberant story has serious points to make about the importance of make do and mend.

Ban This Book
Written & illustrated by Alan Gratz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

You’re Never Too Young to Fight Censorship! In Ban This Book by Alan Gratz, a fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don’t mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make you laugh and pump your fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship. Ban This Book is a stirring defense against censorship that’s perfect for middle grade readers. Let kids know that they can make a difference in their schools, communities, and lives! “Readers, librarians, and all those books that have drawn a challenge have a brand new hero…. Stand up and cheer, book lovers. This one’s for you.” —Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor-winning The Underneath “Ban This Book is absolutely brilliant and belongs on the shelves of every library in the multiverse.”—Lauren Myracle, author of the bestselling Internet Girls series, the most challenged books of 2009 and 2011 “Quick paced and with clear, easy-to-read prose, this is a book poised for wide readership and classroom use.”—Booklist “A stout defense of the right to read.” —Kirkus Reviews “Gratz delivers a book lover’s book that speaks volumes about kids’ power to effect change at a grassroots level.” —Publishers Weekly

Honorable Mentions
  1. What If... - Creativity, the power of imagination, and the importance of self-expression are celebrated in this inspiring picture book written and illustrated by real-life best friends. This girl is determined to express herself! If she can’t draw her dreams, she’ll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can’t do that, she’ll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she’ll sing, dance, and dream… Stunning mixed media illustrations, lyrical text, and a breathtaking gatefold conjure powerful magic in this heartfelt affirmation of art, imagination, and the resilience of the human spirit.

  2. Charlie Takes His Shot - 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.

  3. My Rows and Piles of Coins - “I emptied my secret money box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows . . .” The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle—and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn’t saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale set in Tanzania and illustrated with glowing watercolors that capture the warmth of Saruni’s family and the excitement of market day.

  4. Ayobami and the Names of the Animals - Winner at The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books Ayobami is an African girl who dreams of going to school. After war comes to an end, she can finally return to the schoolhouse. But in order to do so, she has to take a dangerous path through the jungle. Armed only with a piece of paper and a worn-out pencil, she embarks on a hazardous journey to fulfil her unweaving desire to learn and write. This is a tale about the importance of education, the difficulties that many children have to overcome to go to school, and the perseverance and enthusiasm of those who want to learn.

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