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Hard Work: Books For Kids

Teaching our children the value of hard work is one of the best lessons we can help them experience. Many children's books address the topic directly or indirectly, showing children the satisfaction a character experiences from working hard to achieve a goal or overcome a challenge. This list shares some of our favorite stories sharing a message about hard work.

Top 10 Hard Work Books

To the Sea book
#1
To the Sea
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn't just any new friend: he's a blue whale, and he can't find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it's not every day you meet a new friend! This picture book about the power of friendship by new talent Cale Atkinson is brought to life by charming, dynamic illustrations.

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
#2
McToad Mows Tiny Island
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every Thursday, as a break from mowing Big Island, McToad and his tractor make their way to Tiny Island, using various modes of transportation and types of machinery to get there and back.

What Do You Do with an Idea? book
#3
What Do You Do with an Idea?
Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A young boy comes up with an idea and he keeps it safe until one day he realizes the amazing power it can have.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#4
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of The BFG and Matilda! Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

How to Catch a Star book
#5
How to Catch a Star
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes a story about wishing, persevering, and reaching for the stars. Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be. Oliver Jeffers offers a simple, childlike tale of reaching for the stars, and emerging with a friend.

Ricky, the Rock That Couldn't Roll book
#6
Ricky, the Rock That Couldn't Roll
Written by Jay Miletsky and illustrated by Erin Wozniak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Unlike the other rocks that he plays with, Ricky can't roll because he isn't round. His friends help him to overcome his challenge and find a way for him to play like everyone else.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel book
#7
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

Ike's Incredible Ink book
#8
Ike's Incredible Ink
Written and illustrated by Brianne Farley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cleaning his room and talking to his best friend while preparing to write what he knows will be an incredible story, little Ike discovers that he is missing just the right ink to get his project underway, a need that requires extraordinary effort to fulfill.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole book
#9
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

Earn It! book
#10
Earn It!
Written and illustrated by Cinders McLeod
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

I thought this was a cute book about a bunny who wants to be rich and famous. :) I loved that her mom did a fantastic job of encouraging her to follow her dreams, but gave realistic and practical advice for how she could do it. The illustrations are cute, too!

In this delightful introduction to the simple concept of earning money, an exuberant little bunny learns that fame and fortune must be earned. Bun wants to be rich and famous. She loves to sing and knows she’s meant for a career on stage. It should all be pretty easy—her mom can just drive her to the concert hall to perform! But her mom reminds her that most good things, like the garden they are growing, take time and work. At first, Bun isn’t terribly excited by the idea of singing lessons and practice, but as she does the math and daydreams about her future singing career, the more she starts to like the idea of earning her way to stardom—a feeling just as good as being rich and famous!

Books About Friendship & Hard Work

To the Sea book
#1
To the Sea
Written and illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn't just any new friend: he's a blue whale, and he can't find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it's not every day you meet a new friend! This picture book about the power of friendship by new talent Cale Atkinson is brought to life by charming, dynamic illustrations.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#2
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of The BFG and Matilda! Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel book
#3
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole - Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

  2. 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…

  3. The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

  4. The Night the Stars Went Out - Alien is very small, but it is his job to shine all the stars and make sure they keep shining, and he has no time for anything else--so when the stars go out one night he is desperate to find the solution, a quest that takes him to Earth.

Want to see even more books about hard work and friendship?

How about books about friendship?

Books About Vehicles & Hard Work

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
#1
McToad Mows Tiny Island
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every Thursday, as a break from mowing Big Island, McToad and his tractor make their way to Tiny Island, using various modes of transportation and types of machinery to get there and back.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel book
#2
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

Mighty Tug book
#3
Mighty Tug
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by David Mottram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From early in the morning until time to say, "Good night," Mighty Tug works in the busy harbor, guiding cargo ships, pulling barges, and helping with rescues.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Roadwork - Big machines and their drivers work together to build a road.

  2. Alphabet Trucks - Truck lovers find familiar and unusual trucks and learn where they work and what they do.

  3. Construction - Digging, pushing, mixing and tipping! Lift the flap to see each vehicle busy at work.

Want to see even more books about hard work and vehicles?

How about books about vehicles?

Books About Trucks & Hard Work

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
#1
McToad Mows Tiny Island
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Every Thursday, as a break from mowing Big Island, McToad and his tractor make their way to Tiny Island, using various modes of transportation and types of machinery to get there and back.

Roadwork book
#2
Roadwork
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Big machines and their drivers work together to build a road.

Alphabet Trucks book
#3
Alphabet Trucks
Written by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Truck lovers find familiar and unusual trucks and learn where they work and what they do.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Construction - Big machines and their drivers work together to build a library.

  2. Dig, Dump, Roll - Diggers, dump trucks, rollers, and more—it takes a lot of big, noisy machines to build a school! Every young child who has ever gawked at a building site will gravitate to this exciting new entry in the kid pleasing Construction Crew series.

  3. Construction - Digging, pushing, mixing and tipping! Lift the flap to see each vehicle busy at work.

  4. Dalmatian in a Digger -

Want to see even more books about hard work and trucks?

How about books about trucks?

Books About Construction & Hard Work

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel book
#1
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

Roadwork book
#2
Roadwork
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Big machines and their drivers work together to build a road.

Construction book
#3
Construction
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Big machines and their drivers work together to build a library.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Dig, Dump, Roll - Diggers, dump trucks, rollers, and more—it takes a lot of big, noisy machines to build a school! Every young child who has ever gawked at a building site will gravitate to this exciting new entry in the kid pleasing Construction Crew series.

  2. Construction - Digging, pushing, mixing and tipping! Lift the flap to see each vehicle busy at work.

Want to see even more books about hard work and construction?

How about books about construction?

Books About Teamwork & Hard Work

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole book
#1
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

Roadwork book
#2
Roadwork
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Big machines and their drivers work together to build a road.

Construction book
#3
Construction
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Big machines and their drivers work together to build a library.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Hey, Coach! - "Hey, Coach! Guess what? I m on your team." GOAL! This sprightly rhyming picture book captures all the fun and energy of very young children having a blast on the soccer field. Over the course of their first season, the players progress from unsure newcomers to enthusiastic good sports who love the game and even score! The humor and the real-kid voices will have readers rooting for this spirited and determined team."

  2. Tiger's Roar - Tiger was the champion of all the jungle. He was strong and bold and proud, and he sat at the top of the very tallest tree. But one day the winds blew, the birds shrieked, the tree shook, and...Tiger fell all the way down to the mud at the bottom of the tree, and bumped his head on a rock. What will it take for Tiger to be able to climb back to the top of the tree? A hugely entertaining picture book about teamwork and never giving up.

Want to see even more books about hard work and teamwork?

How about books about teamwork?

Books About Sports & Hard Work

The Rhino in Right Field book
#1
The Rhino in Right Field
Written and illustrated by Stacy DeKeyser
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals book
#2
How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals
Written by Michael Phelps and illustrated by Alan Abrahamson, Ward Jenkins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

With his record-breaking eight gold medals won for swimming in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Phelps became an international sensation. In this picture book, Phelps explains the mind-boggling statistics of his years of training in terms young kids can understand. Full color.

By My Brother's Side book
#3
By My Brother's Side
Written by Robert Burleigh, Ronde Barber, Tiki Barber and illustrated by Barry Root
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Introduces twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber, who worked hard to overcome obstacles and became National Football League stars, one as runningback for the New York Giants, the other as cornerback for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Fast Break - In the sixth book in the New York Times bestselling middle grade series inspired by the life of iconic New York Yankee Derek Jeter, young Derek bites off more than he can chew when he decides to enter the school talent show and try out for the basketball team. Between promising Vijay that he’ll compete in the school talent show and promising Dave that he’ll try out for the basketball team, Derek Jeter has a lot he’s trying to juggle. A commitment is a commitment, and Derek is determined to work hard and try his best, but he worries he might be in over his head and fears he’s going to let his friends or himself down. How can Derek do it all? Inspired by Derek Jeter’s childhood, Fast Break is the sixth book in Jeter Publishing’s New York Times bestselling middle grade baseball series that focuses on key life lessons from Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.

  2. Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan - Kicking off his new series of sports biographies for young readers, journalist Dan Wetzel pens a page-turning book about the life of US Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan! Fierce competitor. World Cup winner. Role model. U.S. Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan has earned each of these impressive titles throughout her incredible career. As a young girl growing up in Southern California, she dreamed of being a professional soccer player, fighting to compete on the international stage against the world's greatest athletes. Flash forward to the present and Alex Morgan has emerged as the face of U.S. Women's soccer, famous for her clutch, late-game goals, and an inspiration to kids across the country. Just in time for the 2019 Women's World Cup, bestselling author Dan Wetzel details the rise of an American champion in this uplifting biography for young readers, complete with dynamic comic-style illustrations.

  3. Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry - Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Dan Wetzel tells the electric story of NBA superstar Steph Curry, beginning a new series of sports biographies for young readers! When you think of Stephen Curry, one word comes to mind: greatness. From shooting three-pointers with laser precision to his clutch ability to hit buzzer-beaters time and again, he has established himself as one of the best players in the pro basketball. But greatness was never a guarantee for Steph. The son of a talented NBA player, he dreamed of one day playing professionally just like his dad. Yet Steph, who was always smaller and weaker than the competition, was told over and over that he would never be talented enough to be a college star or NBA player--let alone the MVP of the entire league. Through tenacity and hard work, he proved them all wrong and went on to dismantle the record books. With the high energy of a TV commentator, and featuring dynamic comic-style illustrations, this engaging biography tells the story of an NBA All-Star and the path he took to achieve his dreams.

  4. Goodnight Hockey - A young fan cheers on his hometown hockey team, and then returns home to snuggle into bed.

Want to see even more books about hard work and sports?

How about books about sports?

Books About Female Role Models & Hard Work

Lumber Jills book
#1
Lumber Jills
Written by Alexandra Davis and illustrated by Katie Hickey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan book
#2
Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan
Written by Dan Wetzel and illustrated by Cory Thomas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Kicking off his new series of sports biographies for young readers, journalist Dan Wetzel pens a page-turning book about the life of US Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan! Fierce competitor. World Cup winner. Role model. U.S. Women's Soccer star Alex Morgan has earned each of these impressive titles throughout her incredible career. As a young girl growing up in Southern California, she dreamed of being a professional soccer player, fighting to compete on the international stage against the world's greatest athletes. Flash forward to the present and Alex Morgan has emerged as the face of U.S. Women's soccer, famous for her clutch, late-game goals, and an inspiration to kids across the country. Just in time for the 2019 Women's World Cup, bestselling author Dan Wetzel details the rise of an American champion in this uplifting biography for young readers, complete with dynamic comic-style illustrations.

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe book
#3
Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
Written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Laura Freeman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers. Wisps of cloth would fall from their worktables like confetti, and Ann would scoop them up and turn them into flowers as bright as roses in the garden. Ann’s family came from Alabama. Her great grandma had been a slave, so her family knew about working hard just to get by. As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland's dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Superheroes Are Everywhere - From Senator Kamala Harris comes a picture book with an empowering message: Superheroes are all around us–and if we try, we can all be heroes too. Before Kamala Harris became a district attorney and a United States senator, she was a little girl who loved superheroes. And when she looked around, she was amazed to find them everywhere! In her family, among her friends, even down the street–there were superheroes wherever she looked. And those superheroes showed her that all you need to do to be a superhero is to be the best that you can be. In this empowering and joyful picture book that speaks directly to kids, Kamala Harris takes readers through her life and shows them that the power to make the world a better place is inside all of us. And with fun and engaging art by Mechal Renee Roe, as well as a guide to being a superhero at the end, this book is sure to have kids taking up the superhero mantle (cape and mask optional).

  2. Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip - One day a fantastic idea pops into Professor McQuark’s head to create an ‘Oojamaflip’ but what is one and will it win her first prize at the town science fair? A fast-paced, rhyming tale superbly written by first-time author Lou Treleaven and illustrated by the talented Julia Patton.

Want to see even more books about hard work and female role models?

How about books about female role models?

Books About Basketball & Hard Work

The Major Eights 4: Starstruck book
#1
The Major Eights 4: Starstruck
Written by Melody Reed and illustrated by Emilie Pepin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

In book four of the Major Eights series, Becca shoots, but will she score a meet and greet with her favorite basketball player? When Becca finds out about her school's free throw competition, she is ready to put her basketball skills to the test! And if she wins, she'll get to meet her favorite basketball player! But after a series of bad practices, her nerves start to get the best of her. Can the Major Eights help Becca regain her confidence and meet her hero?

Fast Break book
#2
Fast Break
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the sixth book in the New York Times bestselling middle grade series inspired by the life of iconic New York Yankee Derek Jeter, young Derek bites off more than he can chew when he decides to enter the school talent show and try out for the basketball team. Between promising Vijay that he’ll compete in the school talent show and promising Dave that he’ll try out for the basketball team, Derek Jeter has a lot he’s trying to juggle. A commitment is a commitment, and Derek is determined to work hard and try his best, but he worries he might be in over his head and fears he’s going to let his friends or himself down. How can Derek do it all? Inspired by Derek Jeter’s childhood, Fast Break is the sixth book in Jeter Publishing’s New York Times bestselling middle grade baseball series that focuses on key life lessons from Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.

Hooray! My Butt Left the Bench! book
#3
Hooray! My Butt Left the Bench!
Written by Henry Winkler and illustrated by Lin Oliver
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

In this winning addition to the easy-to-read bestselling series, Hank has to hustle to prove he can be his basketball team's secret weapon! For two years running, Hank's school has beaten their arch rivals at the annual second grade basketball game. When his friends try out, Hank is determined to play, too. There's just one problem: Hank is terrible at basketball. Luckily Dr. Dunk (AKA Hank's dad) and Hank's friends have his back. With a little help, Hank just might be what the team needs to win their first three-peat in PS 87 history! This bestselling series written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is perfect for the transitional reader. With a unique, easy-to-read font, endless humor, and characters every kid would want to be friends with, any story with Hank is a slam dunk! From the Trade Paperback edition.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Epic Athletes: Stephen Curry - Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Dan Wetzel tells the electric story of NBA superstar Steph Curry, beginning a new series of sports biographies for young readers! When you think of Stephen Curry, one word comes to mind: greatness. From shooting three-pointers with laser precision to his clutch ability to hit buzzer-beaters time and again, he has established himself as one of the best players in the pro basketball. But greatness was never a guarantee for Steph. The son of a talented NBA player, he dreamed of one day playing professionally just like his dad. Yet Steph, who was always smaller and weaker than the competition, was told over and over that he would never be talented enough to be a college star or NBA player--let alone the MVP of the entire league. Through tenacity and hard work, he proved them all wrong and went on to dismantle the record books. With the high energy of a TV commentator, and featuring dynamic comic-style illustrations, this engaging biography tells the story of an NBA All-Star and the path he took to achieve his dreams.

  2. On Point - From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in an exciting new chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead. While his uncle’s wedding preparations turn life into a circus at home, Zayd is left on his own to figure things out. He has to decide how to still be friends with Adam and step up to fill the empty shoes he left on the court. Does Zayd have what it takes to be on point and lead his team back to victory?

Want to see even more books about hard work and basketball?

How about books about basketball?

Bonus Recommendations

  1. Ruby's Wish - Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who's full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.

  2. Salt in His Shoes - The Goodfather - This is a great book, especially for young readers who enjoy sports. It's an inspiring story of the perseverance, hard work, faith and family of a young Michael Jordan that helped him become a star athlete.

  3. The Carrot Seed - When a little boy plants a carrot seed, everyone tells him it won't grow. But when you are very young, there are some things that you just know, and the little boy knows that one day a carrot will come up. So he waters his seed, and pulls the weeds, and he waits ... First published in 1945 and never out of print, this timeless combination of Ruth Krauss's simple text and Crockett Johnson's eloquent illustrations creates a triumphant and deeply satisfying story for readers of all ages.

  4. Holes - As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

  1. I Can Do Hard Things - I Can Do Hard Things is a beautiful reminder to tune into and listen to that quiet voice inside so that you can do what's right for you. I don't always feel brave, confident or strong. Sometimes it seems easier to follow others along. It's hard to navigate a world in which we get so many messages about how we should be. We pause. We listen to the quiet voice inside. I connect with the love and strength it brings. It helps me remember: I can do hard things. I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids is the perfect addition to your home or school library. (The book is available in Spanish as Yo Puedo Hacer Cosas Dificiles: Afirmaciones Concientes Para Niños).

  2. Pocket Full of Colors - From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary Blair wouldn't play by the rules. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted the world in color. Full color.

  3. Tony's Hard Work Day - Because no one will let him help renovate the family's new country house, Tony builds one of his own.

  4. Froggy Rides a Bike - Froggy just got his very first bike, and it's exactly what he wanted. Almost. Finishing touches like a bell and a horn have to be added before Froggy is ready to ride. Then, surrounded by cheering friends, Froggy starts to pedal. Oops! He falls off. He tries again. Oops! Riding a bike is hard! After a long day, and a few bumps and bruises, Froggy finally learns to ride?and once he does, he can?t wait to go again. Froggy Rides a Bike is a reassuring reminder that practice makes perfect and it's sure to make kids eager to learn to ride on their own.

  1. The Haymeadow - Fourteen-year-old John comes of age and gains self-reliance during the summer he spends up in the Wyoming mountains tending his father's herd of sheep.

  2. Matthew's Dream - A visit to an art museum inspires a young mouse to become an artist, despite the wishes of his parents, who hope that he will become a doctor. Reprint.

  3. I'm Done! - Little Beaver would rather play with friends than build a proper dam, but finally he is ready to get it done.

  4. Tinyville Town Gets to Work! - The Tinyville Town series, new from New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Brian Biggs, launches with three books: Tinyville Town Gets to Work!, a world-establishing picture book that introduces the town and its many residents, and two board books, I'm a Veterinarian and I'm a Firefighter. The series is set in a cozy community where the people are kind, everyone says hello when they're walking down the street, the bus is always on time, and all the townsfolk do their part to keep things running smoothly. Everyone has a job to do in Tinyville Town. With a nod to the busy world of Richard Scarry and the neighborhood feel of Sesame Street, this new series will become a favorite read for preschoolers and is ideal for story time and class discussions about occupations and community helpers. Tinyville Town is a growing, thriving city full of interesting people. The townsfolk can't wait to show readers around! In Tinyville Town Gets to Work!, we see the evolution of a construction project to solve a problem. When there is a traffic jam on the Tinyville Town bridge, the residents decide to work together to build a new one. By following the hard work of the engineers and construction workers, readers will get to meet many different people in the town while watching the exciting new bridge take shape. The large picture book format and Biggs's bright art brilliantly show the bridge, which was extensively researched to make it authentic for readers. Every town has a bridge, and a trip over Tinyville's new one will be fun for kids time and time again.

  1. Anything is Possible - A determined sheep and his practical wolf friend try their hand at building a flying machine together, but when their plans don't work like they wanted, they must find a new way to make their dreams come true.

  2. Blueberries for Sal - What happens when Sal and her mother meet a mother bear and her cub? A beloved classic is born! Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Sal and her mother a picking blueberries to can for the winter. But when Sal wanders to the other side of Blueberry Hill, she discovers a mama bear preparing for her own long winter. Meanwhile Sal’s mother is being followed by a small bear with a big appetite for berries! Will each mother go home with the right little one? With its expressive line drawings and charming story, Blueberries for Sal has won readers’ hearts since its first publication in 1948.

  3. Mrs. Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets - The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each book introduces a realistic example of triumph over difficulty in a positive, humorous way that readers of all ages will enjoy! David gets scolded a lot by his teacher, Mrs. Gorski, for not paying attention in class. He wants to pay attention but it is just so hard when an exciting idea pops into his head. And he usually can't tell that he's making a mistake until after he makes them. But after a particularly big mistake, David comes up with his own plan to tone down his wiggle fidgets. This award-winning story is a simple introduction to ADHD and the creative ways of finding solutions to the challenges that ADHD can create. Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgetsis the recipient of: the Academics' Choice Gold Seal Mom's Choice Award Gold Parents' Choice Award "A masterful tale of empowering children...Esham artfully describes the gifts and challenges of children with ADHD." -Dr. Susan Baum, professor emeritus, the College of New Rochelle Praise for the series: "This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children." --Dr. Carol S. Dweck

  4. Chicks Rule - Nerdy Chick has been waiting all day for the Rocket Club meeting. But when she gets there, she finds a disturbing sign tacked to the door: “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!!!” Puzzled, then baffled, then just plain mad, Nerdy Chick sets out to change the rules. Along the way, she meets other chicks who are just like her: passionate and determined. From Soccer Chick to Science Chick and Wordy Chick to Yoga Chick, these chicks aren’t willing to take “NO” for an answer. They rally together, march to the barn at the center of town, and—when they hear “NO” once again—chart their own path forward (or, rather, up, up, and away!). A celebration of girl power and community action, Chicks Rule! is the playful, diverse, victorious anthem chicks everywhere will love.

  1. Firebird - 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.

  2. Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm - Bizzy Bear has a busy day of doing farm chores like collecting eggs and feeding the animals.

  3. A Dance Like Starlight - Little ballerinas have big dreams. Dreams of pirouettes and grande jetes, dreams of attending the best ballet schools and of dancing starring roles on stage. But in Harlem in the 1950s, dreams don’t always come true—they take a lot of work and a lot of hope. And sometimes hope is hard to come by. But the first African-American prima ballerina, Janet Collins, did make her dreams come true. And those dreams inspired ballerinas everywhere, showing them that the color of their skin couldn’t stop them from becoming a star. In a lyrical tale as beautiful as a dance en pointe, Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper tell the story of one little ballerina who was inspired by Janet Collins to make her own dreams come true.

  4. The Ant and the Grasshopper - While hard at work on her chores, an ant hears the wonderful clickety click chirrup of music coming from the distance. Although she knows she should focus on the task at hand, she can't help but explore the joyful noise! Award-winning team Rebecca and Ed Emberley bring an entertaining new twist to the classic children's. The bright, bold graphics seem to dance and leap, as a bunch of boogying bugs start a celebration of their own.

  1. What Can You Do with a Toolbox? - From HGTV stars, cousins, and best friends John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino comes a fun-filled picture book that introduces young readers to the tools in a toolbox and how to use them. A hammer. Nails. A screwdriver. How do we use them? Using simple language, cousins Anthony and John introduce kids to tools and their uses. As their construction project grows, so does the number of kids helping. At the end, they reveal exactly what you can do with a toolbox: We can build a playground!

  2. If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi - The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each book introduces a realistic example of triumph over difficulty in a positive, humorous way that readers of all ages will enjoy! Katie always thought her dad was smart--he is one of the busiest attorneys in town! People are always asking him for advice. She has been a bit confused ever since asking him for help with her weekly spelling list. How can her very smart dad struggle with one of her spelling words? This definitely didn't make sense. The word Mississippi has changed everything... This frank and thoughtful approach to dyslexia is an important exploration of the various ways people learn and that some difficulties do not have to be restrictions on what a person can achieve. "Challenges in reading and spelling are often accompanied by special abilities in areas like complex pattern recognition and spatial reasoning. If You're So Smart How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi? is a fantastic way of bringing this information to the many smart children who find reading and spelling especially difficult--especially to those who are beginning to doubt their own potential." --Drs. Brock (M.D., M.A.) and Fernette (M.D.) Eides, authors of The Mislabeled Child and founders of the Eide Neurolearning Clinic. Praise for the series: "This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children." --Dr. Carol S. Dweck

  3. Pete Moss and the Super Strong Spinach - Follow Pete Moss in this magical, beautifully illustrated story as he attends boarding school on Bloomers Island to learn about gardening and growing his own vegetables. When Professor Sage announces the Very Very Veggie Challenge, Pete immediately knows what he needs to grow spinach. It’s the one vegetable that can make him stronger. But does Pete have the patience to grow his spinach plants to win the contest? With the help of headmaster Professor Sage and his fellow Bloomers, Pete learns all about spinach, working hard toward his goals, and that good things take time to happen! The Bloomers series brings to life the world of gardening and healthy-eating to young children in new and exciting ways.

  4. We Are the Gardeners - Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From failed endeavors, obstacles (bunnies that eat everything!), and lessons learned, the Gaines family shares how they grew a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn't always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward.

  1. Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon - Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her class. She can throw farther, kick higher, and hit harder than anybunny else. But her strongest weapon is her mind! This third Bunjitsu Bunny book follows Isabel as she makes friends, faces her fears, and more!

  2. Vera Jewel Is Late for School - When Vera Jewel's bike breaks one morning, she takes matters into her own hands and comes up with some ingenious--and very funny!--ways to get to school. From jumping on her space hopper to making her own catapult, Vera's ideas get more and more adventurous, but nothing seems to get her there on time. It's a good thing that she's one determined little girl who never gives up . . . Vera Jewel Is Late for School is a warm, funny, and very original story about determination and creativity, perfect for learning about standing on your own two feet--and being rewarded for hard work and inventiveness! Nicola Kent's catchy rhyming text, bright, jewel-like colors, and eye-catching illustrations make this a truly stunning picture book.

  3. Great Job, Mom! - A contemporary felted creation celebrating Mom's many jobs from the co-creator of Cozy Classics. Being a mom is eleven jobs in one! This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A general who rallies the troops (or unruly kids), a curator of modern art (or finger paintings), an archeologist looking for buried treasures (or socks) . . . when Mom gets home from her day job as a carpenter, she never knows which job will be waiting for her, but she knows it'll be fun! Each rhyming spread features intimate, familiar, comforting and humorous depictions of family life through a wholly original -- and amazing! -- needle-felted lens.

  4. My Life as a Youtuber - Book 7 of the much-loved My Life series that has the irrepressible Derek Fallon starting his own Youtube web series! Derek Fallon finally found something to get excited about at school—an extracurricular class on making videos! Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek can’t wait to create his own Youtube web series. But he soon realizes Youtube stardom is a lot of work. On top of that, it’s time for his foster monkey Frank to go to monkey college so Derek must scramble to find a reason for Frank to stay with his family—if only a little while longer. Can Derek solve both problems at once? What if Frank became a part of Derek's Youtube videos? Here's another funny and thoughtful novel in the series that centers around most every tween today’s pastime—Youtube! A Christy Ottaviano Book

  1. The Purr-fect Scoop - Sierra tries to find a way to balance all of the activities in her life in this third delicious book in the Sprinkle Sundays series from the author of the Cupcake Diaries series! Sierra does lots of things. She’s captain of the softball team, the director of the school play, and she’s on Student Council, but her favorite thing to do is work at the ice cream shop with her best friends Tamiko and Allie. But when her parents decide to foster three kittens and their mama, Sierra’s life gets a lot more catty! Can Sierra do it all—and maybe find homes for the cats, too?

  2. Bizzy Bear: Do-It-Yourself Day - Bizzy Bear has a very special DIY project planned, and he needs lots of tools and help to get the job done. Young children will love helping Bizzy and all his friends measure, hammer, saw, and paint. But whatever can they be making? An ingeniously designed book with a fun surprise ending.

  3. The Very Clumsy Click Beetle - A VERY classic from Eric Carle, creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! When a little click beetle falls onto his back, he seeks the help of a wise old click beetle. “Look at me,” says the more experienced click beetle, giving a loud CLICK and flipping onto its feet. But try as he might, the clumsy little click beetle just can’t get the hang of it–or can he? In the tradition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Carle creates a winning story of perseverance and pride in achievement complete with an ingenious fiber-optic microchip that truly gives voice to the valiant little beetle as it CLICKs its way through the colorful pages and somersaults into your heart.

  4. The Fox and the Fisherman - A gentle story of a lonely fisherman and a curious fox who develop an unexpected friendship. Barabas is a lonely fisherman. Every morning he goes out to sea on his small fishing boat, throws his net in the water and hopes to bring some fish home, where no one is waiting for him. His meager catches and gloomy home make him sad, until one day when Barabas discovers footprints near his home. Whom could they belong to?

  1. The Night Job - With lyrical narration and elegant, evocative artwork, Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse and illustrator G. Brian Karas share the nighttime experience of a father and child. When the sun sets, Dad’s job as a school custodian is just beginning. What is it like to work on a Friday night while the rest of the city is asleep? There’s the smell of lilacs in the night air, the dusky highway in the moonlight, and glimpses of shy nighttime animals to make the dark magical. Shooting baskets in the half-lit gym, sweeping the stage with the game on the radio, and reading out loud to his father in the library all help the boy’s time pass quickly. But what makes the night really special is being with Dad. Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse’s quietly powerful story of a boy and his father is tenderly brought to life by G. Brian Karas in this luminous tribute to an enduring, everyday sort of love.

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

  3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize - The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each book introduces a realistic example of triumph over difficulty in a positive, humorous way that readers of all ages will enjoy! The biggest day of the year at Morecaster School is filled with ideas, hard work, and pressure--it's time for the annual science fair! Like many kids, Dylan is caught between doing his project on his own, and accepting help from his enthusiastic parents. This year he's determined to do all the work himself, even if it means his project won't be perfect. Keep Your Eye on the Prizeis an honest and humorous look at encouraging children to be independent in their work and proud of their results. "Barbara Esham deftly deals with what can be a difficult subject for students or teachers to broach. How do you help parents understand when the help they're giving is too much?...This book is as valuable for parents and teachers as it is for young people, and is a great way to help everyone understand how to give just the right amount of assistance." --Academics' Choice Foundation, Dr. Corinne Hyde, Professor of Clinical Education, University of Southern California Praise for the series: "This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children."--Dr. Carol S. Dweck

  4. Applesauce Day - Maria and her family visit an apple orchard and pick apples. Then it's time to turn the apples into applesauce! Every year they use the special pot that has been in the family for generations to make applesauce. First they wash the apples. Then Grandma cuts them into quarters. Follow each step in the process as everyone helps to make delicious applesauce!

  1. This Little Reindeer - A fun, Christmas-themed twist on the classic nursery rhyme “This Little Piggy”! This little reindeer went to market. This little reindeer loaded the sleigh. This little reindeer did some stretching. And this little reindeer mapped the way. These little reindeer have a lot of work to do to prepare for Chistmas! One goes to the market, one loads Santa's sleigh, one stretches, one cooks some treats, and one plays in the snow. Now they're all ready to deliver presents and wish you a Merry Christmas!

  2. Gracie Laroo at Pig Jubilee - It is Gracie's first time at the Pig Jubilee with her synchronized swimming team, the Water Sprites, and she is the youngest pig with a chance to win a gold medal--the trouble is that she keeps getting distracted and missing her solo part, a triple spin dive.

  3. Construction Cat - Cats in hard hats make work seem like play in this cheery, rhyming picture book about building something and having a loving family to share your accomplishments with. Construction cat wakes up at dawn, grabs her boots and tugs them on… It’s time to build! Tail high, Construction Cat kisses her family goodbye and goes to work with the other cats on a construction site. They lug lumber and pound nails, they saw, sand, and sweep the dust, all to build a truly paw-some park that they can’t wait to share with friends and family! Sydney Hanson’s lively and lovable cats combined with Barbara Odanaka’s rhythmic story create a universal story that is a joy to read again and again.

  4. You Can! Words of Wisdom From The Little Engine That Could - The classic character that has inspired generations of children to believe in themselves will now inspire readers of every age in this book filled with encouraging words of wisdom. Everybody needs a little downtime for maintenance. There will always be obstacles you don't anticipate. Wake up ready for an adventure. The Little Engine That Could is one of the most popular and enduring children's stories of all time, and for more than eighty-five years, this classic character has encouraged readers to try their hardest to achieve their dreams. This story of determination and inspiration has now been reimagined in a charming, illustrated gift book that will speak to readers no matter what the age and no matter what the challenge. This is the perfect gift for graduation, and for everyone who may need to be reminded, "You Can!"

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