Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to happiness. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about happiness.
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.
When it comes to children’s stories about happiness, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like 100 Things That Make Me Happy to popular sellers like The Secret Garden to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Pout-Pout Fish.
We hope this list of kids books about happiness 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.
After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.
As the pout-pout fish swims along in the ocean, he discovers that being glum and spreading the “dreary wearies” isn’t much fun anymore—especially when his true destiny is revealed!
This book is amazing and I love it so much! The illustrations are beyond phenomenal—gorgeous, wonderfully detailed, and absolutely expressive— and the message that happiness is a choice and best achieved by having empathy for others and helping and sharing with others is fantastic. This is definitely a favorite.
Perfect for a new generation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day readers, this charming story about a grumpy cat gently shows how far a little sharing can go.
Bernice is having a truly rotten time at her friend’s birthday party. First, everyone else gets a piece of cake with a frosting rose. But not Bernice. Then, everyone else gets strawberry-melon soda. Bernice gets the prune-grapefruit juice. And it’s warm. The last straw is the one lousy (squished) candy she gets from the piñata. So when the balloons arrive, Bernice knows just what she has to do: grab them all. And then, poor cross Bernice gets carried up, up, and away. Luckily, she figures out just how to make her way back down to the party…and she brightens lots of other animals’ days on her way.
Hannah Harrison’s gorgeous animal paintings come alive in her second picture book. Her “exceptionally polished” debut, Extraordinary Jane, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.
A hilarious book about parent and child relationships for fans of Ian Falconer and Jon Agee–a perfect gift idea for Father’s Day and beyond!
Little Jumbo just can’t understand why his dad is having such a bad day. It couldn’t be the raisins Little Jumbo spit out at the ceiling or the bath he refused to take–after all, Little Jumbo’s dad knew he hated raisins and had already taken a bath that week! Luckily, Little Jumbo is such a thoughtful elephant that he decides to turn his dad’s bad day around with some of his–ahem, his dad’s–favorite things.
How to Cheer up Dad is a standout debut featuring a charmingly oblivious little elephant with serious pluck and staying power. It turns the parent-child roles upside down is a great book for dads and the kids who make them laugh.
This book does a fantastic job of just laying it all on the table so it’s super simple and easy to understand how to make others happy, and, in turn, how it makes you happy. :) I love the message of this book and I actually love how explanatory it is, even though that’s not my usual style. There are even specific examples given. I also think the visual aid of the buckets is a great way to teach kids this concept! But any book that teaches you how to make others happy and yourself happy is a winner in my book!
“Children are not the only ones that need to learn how to be truly happy. It’s all in the bucket, that invisible bucket that follows you everywhere… teaches young readers valuable lessons about giving, sharing, and caring. This guide to daily happiness, though, is not just for kids. We all need reminders of the benefits of positive thinking and positive behavior. It’s an important lesson to teach and remind us all . . . that showing kindness and appreciation of others goes a long way to making this world a happier place for everyone, including ourselves. A classic tale, beautifully told and beautifully shared.” —Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other’s buckets by what we say and what we do. When you’re a bucket filler, you make the world a better place to be! This 32-page picture book is perfect for children, parents, grandparents, teachers and people that want to teach empathy, nurture kindness and create a positive environment in their home, classroom, workplace and community.
The Little Engine That Could - B is for Bookworm - I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone loves this classic book with a can-do message for littles and adults! I love that the little engine shows perseverance, even when things are hard, and believing in yourself. It’s such a great example of having a positive attitude, and that we are in charge of our thoughts and choose what we feel. :)
I'm Grumpy - B is for Bookworm - This cute board book does a great job talking about emotions, and grumpy cloud shows that sometimes it’s easy to get down in a funk! I love the ending where he chooses to be kind and happy to make sunny feel better, and I think that shows a great lesson about how we can choose to do something nice for someone—which will make us happy, and get us out of the dumps!
It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon - Lost balloons. Melted ice cream. Babysitters. Life as a kid can be pretty daunting. But don’t let these troubles get you down. With the right attitude, a hurdle can become a hammock and an obstacle can become an opportunity! Veteran picture book creator Jarrett J. Krosoczka teaches kids to look on the bright side of things. With lively illustrations and spot-on humor, It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon champions resilience and helps children navigate childhood indignities while making them laugh at the same time.
Pass It on - Here’s a fun idea: When you laugh or smile–pass it on! A story about giving, sharing, and joy. When you see something terrific, smile a smile and pass it on! If you chance upon a chuckle, hee hee hee and pass it on. Should you spot a thing of wonder, jump for joy and pass it on! So begins Sophy Henn’s ode to the excitement of sharing happiness with others. With a refrain that begs to be uttered before every turn of the page, children will eagerly read alongside their parents as they discover how wonderful–and fun!–it is to share the good things in life. After all, if you spread happiness to others, even on a gray, rainy day, when you least expect it, like a bolt out of the blue, a smile or a chuckle might be passed right back to you! This heartwarming, upbeat book is the perfect way to bring a warm ray of sunshine into every reader’s life.
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.
Even though sometimes “it’s a hard-knock life,” Annie shows that you can choose to be happy and believe “the sun will come out tomorrow!”
It’s a hard-knock life for America’s favorite orphan! Everyone knows the story of the irrepressible Annie, who lives at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage until she beats the odds and finds a new life with the benevolent and wealthy Daddy Warbucks. Annie has enchanted millions of readers from her original comic strip appearance to the hit Broadway musical. Now, with a Tony-nominated revival playing on Broadway, Puffin is reissuing this novelization of the classic story, with a new introduction by Tony and Emmy Award-winning author Thomas Meehan. This is an adaptation that delves even deeper into Annie’s story, as she lives on the streets during the Great Depression, finds Sandy the dog, and encounters characters both familiar and new.
Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.
A #1 New York Times bestseller!
An Amazon Best Books of the Year So Far 2019 Selection!
From Hoda Kotb, the Today show co-anchor and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of I’ve Loved You Since Forever, comes a book about gratitude for the things in life—both big and small—that bring us happiness.
As mama bear and her cub cuddle together before closing their eyes for a good night’s sleep, they reflect on the everyday wonders of life that make them happy.
Inspired by her own nighttime routine with her daughter, Haley Joy, Kotb creates another beautiful treasure for parents and children to enjoy together. With charming and lush illustrations from bestselling artist Suzie Mason, this soothing yet playful lullaby explores the simple joy of taking a moment to be grateful.
Perfect for fans of Ainsley Earhardt, Kelly Clarkson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jimmy Fallon’s books for children.
Step into the drama filled world of Jane Austin’s Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer. Your little one will learn about the meddling Emma Woodhouse, who takes it upon herself to become the village matchmaker, creating all sorts of feelings in others. Her friend’s emotions include Mr. Elton being angry, Miss Taylor becoming happy, while Jane Fairfax is tired.
Be Happy! - Monica Sheehan has taken her bestselling book be happy. and created an irresistible little gem for people BIG & small. So open it up and get inspired to . . . Sing and dance a little! Have fun! Be kind—be brave! And be the best YOU.
Augustus and His Smile - Augustus the tiger was sad. He had lost his smile. So he did a HUGE tigery stretch, and set off to find it. Stunning illustrations celebrate the beauty of the world and the simple happiness it brings to us. An imaginative book for children who love to explore the world around them.
The Best Bear in All the World - For the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, a sequel featuring new stories and a new character from the Hundred Acre Wood. Now a New York Times Bestseller. The Trustees of the Pooh Properties have commissioned four authors to write in the timeless style of A.A. Milne to create a quartet of charming new adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall: take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a collection of tales sure to delight year-round. One story finds Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet on a quest to discover the “Sauce of the Nile” (they suspect it’s apple). And in another, all the animals rally around poor Eeyore when he thinks he sees another donkey eyeing his clover. The winter story features a new penguin character, based on a stuffed toy owned by Christopher Robin Milne himself. Readers of all ages will love rediscovering old friends and making new ones in this essential new volume of Pooh stories. The book feature beautiful color artwork in the style of Ernest H. Shepard by Mark Burgess.
Pom Pom Panda Gets the Grumps - An adorable story about a grumpy panda who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed–now available as a board book! One morning, Pom Pom Panda wakes up on the wrong side of the bed . . . and then nothing goes right. He can’t find his blanky, Timmington. And to make matters worse, his baby brother, Boo Boo, is playing with his favorite toy. Harrumph! By the time he arrives at school, Pom Pom is in a terrible mood. When his friends ask if he wants to play, that terrible mood comes pouring out: “LEAVE ME ALONE!” And that’s exactly what happens, much to Pom Pom’s surprise. From the creator of Where Bear? comes an adorable story that’ll be sure to cheer up any child (or parent) who woke up with a case of the grumps.
A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.
A shining new picture book about learning to appreciate the wonders in your world and within yourself, by New York Times bestselling author Patrick McDonnell and Naoko Stoop, creator of Red Knit Cap Girl, a New York Times Best Illustrated book Hoshi the sea star looks up in the sky and sees the stars shining. She wishes that she too could be in the sky amongst the brilliant stars—and as she imagines how much better it would be up in the air, she fails to appreciate the beautiful world that surrounds her underwater. It takes Hoshi’s friends, old and new, to help her realize that her shine comes from within. With gorgeous illustrations depicting colorful underwater life, Shine! teaches about the wonders that can be found inside ourselves. Naoko’s gorgeous use of plywood as the canvas for her work offers the perfect texture and pattern to evoke waves and sea currents in the underwater scenes.
Once a year, Abuelo comes from Mexico to visit his family. He brings his guitar, his music—and his memories. In this story inspired by the life of Apolinar Navarrete Diaz—author Angela Dominguez’s grandfather and a successful mariachi musician—Abuelo and his grandchildren sing through the bad times and the good. Lifting their voices and their spirits, they realize that true happiness comes from singing together.
Discover all the little things that make the Kitty Cones happy in this sweet book of illustrations from Ralph Cosentino. Life is full of happy moments, from playing on the beach to chasing rainbows, and even running outside when it sprinkles! Join best friends Miyu, Yumi, and Koko as they discover what makes them happy. Filled with clever and endearing art from author and illustrator Ralph Cosentino, this Kitty Cones book teaches kids to value friendship, help others, and enjoy the little things in life.
A board book that celebrates happiness and invites children to reflect on the little things in life that bring them joy.
The Jar of Happiness - How do you create happiness? In this story, one child finds a way. She mixes the smell of warm biscuits and the seaside with the taste of chocolate ice cream, apple juice and the warmth of sunshine. She fills the jar and visits her loved ones to share her invention. But one day her jar goes missing. She searches everywhere but cannot find it. As she retraces her footsteps she discovers there are many different ways to share happiness.
Maybe the Moon - Maybe the Moon tells the story of Eric, a little boy who loves his life in his forest home with his animal friends for company. When he moves to the city, he sets about searching for happiness in a strange new environment. Eric’s journey shows him that whatever the differences between people and places, we are all united and are never alone when we share the same moon. Frances Ives’ beautiful illustrations bring to life this charming story that features a rhyming refrain to enchant both children and parents alike.
Joy - Fern’s Nanna has not been herself of late. And when Mom remarks that all the joy seems to have gone out of her life, Fern decides to fetch the joy back. With a net, a box, and a bag to help her, she begins her search for joy. A wonderful and uplifting story that is guaranteed to bring joy to every reader.
Sweep - Ed’s bad mood begins as something really small, hardly a thing at all. But before long it grows, gathers pace, and spreads through the whole town. Can Ed sweep his troubles away?
Hear thunder crash, feel your toes touch sand, and watch leaves drift softly away on a quiet stream. The simple poems in Breathe and Be help children learn mindfulness as they connect to the beauty of the natural world.
Mindfulness teaches us how to stay calm, soothe our emotions, and appreciate the world around us. Whether we’re watching tiny colored fish darting in the water or exploring the leaves, branches, and roots of a towering tree, the thoughtful words and the lovely art of Breathe and Be remind us how much joy we can find by simply living with awareness and inner peace.
Max is a four-year-old whirlwind who doesn’t have an off switch! His socks are odd, his bedroom is chaotic, and his mind is so full of imaginative schemes that following even the simplest of instructions can end in mayhem. Max’s bedtime routine, so seemingly simple, becomes a military operation for Max with many obstacles to overcome - tidying his bedroom, putting on his pyjamas, and feeding his pet goldfish! Illustrated with non-stop energy by exciting new author/illustrator, Julia Patton.
When someone smiles, who knows where it goes? Baby smiles at Mommy, Mom keeps it for a while . . . and then passes it on. As the smile begins its joyful journey—moving from a first-grade class to a soccer team, from Gran to a garbage man, even to a puppy—it spreads happiness throughout the community, bringing everyone together. A sunny picture book guaranteed to make kids SMILE!
The Feelings Series are beautifully produced picture books that cover different emotional concepts for young children. The Feeling series is especially designed to help children better understand their feelings and how to identify, manage and express those feelings in an appropriate and acceptable way - both to themselves and others. These books provide an invaluable tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and contribute to a healthy emotional foundation upon which children can thrive.
Edwyn blows Grandma a kiss that brings smiles, laughter and dancing! But a rich man wants the kiss all to himself – and he’ll do anything to get it!
The Big Little Thing - From the award-winning illustrator Beatrice Alemagna, this beautiful book explores the pure pleasure of savoring the little things in life It unexpectedly arrived. It brushed passed someone in the street. It weaves its way in and out of people on the street. It catches people completely unawares. But what is this It? They call It . . . happiness! In this outstanding book, award-winning illustrator and author Beatrice Alemagna captures the pure pleasure of embracing the small things in life. Following in the footsteps of A Lion in Paris, the striking and poignant illustrations bring this sensitive story to life.
Dave's Cave - Dave loves his cave. The inside is decorated exactly the way he likes it. But what if there’s a better cave out there? Dave needs to find out for himself. This humorous romp from a celebrated author-illustrator reminds readers that sometimes there’s no place like home. Full color.
Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy - “In this book are lots of acts of kindness that kids can do to spread a little joy — with a side order of mischief and magic!” —P.  of cover.
The Fox on the Swing - Once upon a time a boy called Paul lived in a treehouse with his mother and father. One day a fox appeared in Paul’s life - and when a fox comes into your life, Anything can happen. This sensitive story about friendship, dreams and happiness was written by Evelina Daciute and illustrated by Ausra Kiudulaite. It tells the story of Paul and the fox, whom he encounters one day when out buying bread for the family, and how their relationship begins, develops and shifts as life forces change on them both. The book’s themes are friendship, change, loss and the importance of seeking happiness in the little things of life
In a deeply moving story with the hallmarks of a classic, a homeless boy’s rescue of a spindly Christmas tree sparks a glimmer of hope that has far-reaching effects. It’s late on Christmas Eve, and the little fir tree is the only tree left in the shop. What a poor thing I am, it thinks. But then a young boy enters the store, drawn in from the damp by the warmth and lights and the wonderful smell of Christmas, and he doesn’t seem to mind that the scrawny tree isn’t tall and straight like the others. . . . This magical story, beautifully illustrated by Emily Sutton, captures an unexpected and unforgettable moment of happiness that brings a whole city together.
A little girl’s smile as she skips down the street inspires a neighbor to send cookies to her grandson in Mexico, and the good will she shares soon spreads around the world. From the creator of the Caldecott Honor-winning Interrupting Chicken.
This lively, hands-on guide to meditation, mindfulness, and yoga is a perfect introduction for tweens and teens. Don’t just do something, be here. The key to happiness is being able to find comfort in this moment, here and now. When you are completely present and not distracted by regrets, worries, and plans, even for a little while, you begin to feel more confident and can deal more easily with everything you experience. This is mindfulness: paying attention to this very moment, on purpose and without judgment–simply being present with curiosity. This engaging guide, packed with simple exercises and endearing full-color artwork, provides a handy starting point for bringing mindfulness into your daily life. Chapters on meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing explain the benefits of these practices, and you are free to pick and choose what to try. There are quick exercises throughout, and a more extensive tool kit at the end of each chapter. The final chapter offers satisfying five-day challenges that map out ways to pull all of the book’s mindfulness techniques together in your day-to-day life.
The Things I Love series celebrates the everyday situations that form the basis of a child’s experiences.nThese special pre-school board book editions of the international bestselling The Things I Love series are perfect for introducing little ones to positive thinking about everyday experiences. Researchers of positive psychology have found that people with positive attitudes are more creative, tolerant, generous, constructive, successful and open to new ideas and new experiences than those with a negative attitude. Positive thinkers are happier, healthier, live longer, experience more satisfying relationships, and have a greater capacity for love and joy.
In the grand tradition of “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” comes an uplifting tribute to 100 everyday things worth celebrating. The list, in rhyming couplets, draws directly from a preschooler’s world—from slippery floors to dinosaurs, from goldfish to a birthday wish. Amy Schwartz weaves a masterful balance between art and text, with each of the 100 items portrayed as its own well-observed and warmly detailed vignette. While the contents provide readers with a frame of reference for the quantity of “100”—a celebratory milestone in preschools and early elementary grades—the oversized pages envelop young children in the wonderful things surrounding them.
All My Treasures - When a girl receives a beautiful porcelain box from her grandmother, she immediately wants something special to put inside it. But what could it be? What does she love best? She loves jumping in puddles on rainy days, blowing bubbles in the park, and watching her little sister s first steps. As it turns out, life s most precious treasures cannot be contained in a box! With a gentle message about the immateriality of happiness, this story reminds us to take pleasure in everyday moments. The book is beautifully packaged with a sparkly die-cut star on the cover, and flaps throughout reveal hidden surprises. “
So Happy Together! - A warm tale about brothers, sisters, and the importance of family. Brayden Bunny is grumpy. His friend Lena is playing silly games with his sisters, leaving him all alone. Then he hears there is a storm on the way, and he knows his sisters, Minnie and Millie, are frightened of thunder and lightning. Suddenly he’s not grumpy anymore. He needs to save his sisters.
A Happy Day - Katie Woo loves her life and lists the many reasons she is so happy.
Hiking Day - Beloved author Anne Rockwell celebrates nature and the outdoors with a gorgeous new picture book about a child’s first mountain hike! A young girl and her family go hiking up a nearby mountain for the very first time. As they climb up and up the path, they see everything from a friendly toad to a prickly porcupine, tall leafy trees to tiny red berries. Anne Rockwell and her daughter, artist Lizzy Rockwell, celebrate a day the little girl will never forget, especially when she reaches the mountain’s summit. With simple, lyrical text and bright illustrations that jump off the page, Hiking Day brings the joys of spending an afternoon outdoors to life.
Daniela the glassmaker’s daughter is grumpy and never smiles. Her father promises a beautiful glass palace to anyone who can make her laugh. People come from far and wide to try their luck in amusing Daniela. But mask makers, lion tamers and magicians cannot raise a smile from the princess. It is only when a young apprentice makes the first looking glass that Daniela learns to smile – at her own grumpy reflection! This beautiful fable set in sixteenth-century Venice features stunning illustrations from award-winning artist Jane Ray alongside a poetic text.
As she rides her bike up and down steep slopes, a little girl reminds herself that if she just keeps moving she will eventually climb her mountain.
Jerome the Gnome takes young readers on whimsical adventures through his garden, celebrating discovery and sowing the imagination as he introduces topics such as science, environmental awareness, and agriculture. In How to Grow Happiness, Jerome and his fellow Garden of Wonder dwellers—including Oakie, his pet acorn; Nutilda, a hyperactive squirrel; and Warble, a fast-talking bird—learn what it takes to make a happiness seed blossom. Through patience, asking for help, and teamwork, Jerome and his friends take a little black seed left on a windowsill and find ways to help it grow. They soon find that as it flourishes, their own happiness does too. Jerome the Gnome teaches young readers and listeners how a garden grows, as well as how a community comes together to make the experience more rewarding—and fun!
Show me happy. Show me helping. Show me sharing when we play. Show me NOISY, Show me quiet. Show me putting things away. From the team that created A Kiss Means I Love you, this new book of engaging photos will “show” early learners simple actions and concepts that all children learn as they begin to socialize and communicate. Lively, charming photos illustrate real kids doing common activities like helping and sharing or pushing and pulling. A perfect companion to the first book, Show Me Happy is a delightful read-aloud that will make any story time expressive and fun.