Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to role models. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about role models.
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 role models, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Paper Bag Princess to popular sellers like A Wrinkle in Time to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Secret Garden.
We hope this list of kids books about role models 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.
She Persisted Around the World - “Introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe”—Front jacket flap.
Rosie Revere, Engineer - 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.
Amelia Earhart - -
Malala's Magic Pencil - Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
I Am Rosa Parks - Recounts Rosa Parks’ daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.
Willow - Miss Hawthorn’s room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that’s how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn’s classroom comes young Willow. She doesn’t color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise’s other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.
Olivia - It’s everyone’s favorite pig…it’s OLIVIA! The Caldecott Honor Book and New York Times #1 bestseller is now available in a sturdy format perfect for pig-loving toddlers everywhere!
Dear Girl, - A #1 New York Times bestseller which Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb calls, “a beautiful, beautiful book” New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her daughter Paris Rosenthal collaborate to bring you the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl, Dear Girl, is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life; a gentle reminder that she’s powerful, strong, and holds a valuable place in the world. Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she’s great just the way she is—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on table tops. Dear Girl, encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out. Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved. —Amy and Paris A perfect gift for all occasions.
Harriet the Invincible - Harriet Hamsterbone is not your average princess. For one thing, she’s a hamster. For another, she prefers sword-fighting and fractions to sighing and fainting. So when Harriet finds out that she was cursed at birth to fall into a deep sleep at the age of twelve, she doesn’t exactly react the way her parents were expecting. After all, no good curse goes to waste, and so until the age of twelve, Harriet realizes she’s . . . invincible! Of courses, there is still that whole curse thing, but she’ll worry about that later.
For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for "America the Beautiful" - Katharine Lee Bates first wrote the lines to “America the Beautiful” after a stirring visit to Pikes Peak in 1893. But the story behind the song begins with Katharine herself, who pushed beyond conventional expectations of women to become an acclaimed writer, scholar, suffragist, and reformer. Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference, and in “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.
Chrysanthemum - She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. “I’m named after my grandmother,” said Victoria. “You’re named after a flower.” Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn’t improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed….
Elizabeth Warren's Big, Bold Plans - Discover the inspiring story of Senator Elizabeth Warren and her lifelong commitment to working hard and advocating for equality in this compelling and accessible picture book biography. Elizabeth Warren always has a plan. As a child, she wanted to help others by becoming a teacher. When discrimination forced her to surrender that dream, she found another path: She became a lawyer. Then life changed again, and Elizabeth became a professor of law—and she didn’t stop there. No matter her job title, Senator Elizabeth Warren has always worked to ensure that people with more power help those with less. She leads by example, inspiring young people across the nation to pursue their dreams despite obstacles like prejudice and inequality. Known for her dedication and willingness to adapt, Elizabeth Warren has persisted and become a voice for fairness and positive change. Now a presidential candidate, Senator Warren is a role model for the young people who will one day assume the mantle of leadership. And this gorgeously written, beautifully stylized picture book provides a pitch-perfect look at all they can accomplish.
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science - From nonfiction stars Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland comes a beautifully illustrated biography of Ada Lovelace, who is known as the first computer programmer. Two hundred years ago, a daughter was born to the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his mathematical wife, Annabella. Like her father, Ada had a vivid imagination and a creative gift for connecting ideas in original ways. Like her mother, she had a passion for science, math, and machines. It was a very good combination. Ada hoped that one day she could do something important with her creative and nimble mind. A hundred years before the dawn of the digital age, Ada Lovelace envisioned the computer-driven world we know today. And in demonstrating how the machine would be coded, she wrote the first computer program. She would go down in history as Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. Diane Stanley’s lyrical writing and Jessie Hartland’s vibrant illustrations capture the spirit of Ada Lovelace and bring her fascinating story vividly to life.
Unbeatable Betty - An inspiring picture book biography of the first woman to win a gold medal in track and field. Young readers intrigued by the Summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be inspired by this story. With Joanie Stone’s colorful illustrations and Allison Crotzer Kimmel’s inspirational text, this biography is a reminder of how it takes more than sheer talent to be a champion; an unbeatable spirit of determination and hard work is also needed. At only sixteen years old, Betty Robinson became the first female gold medalist in track and field in the 1928 Olympics and an overnight sensation. She was set for gold again and had her eyes on the 1932 Olympics. Her plans changed forever when a horrible plane crash left her in a wheelchair, with one leg shorter than the other. But Betty didn’t let that stop her. In less than five years, she relearned how to stand, to walk, and finally to run again and try to taste gold once more in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Perfect for Women’s History units, as well as for reports on lesser-known sports heroes, Unbeatable Betty includes an author’s note narrating Betty’s later life after her win, as well as a bibliography.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History - A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.
Matilda - From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG! Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
Courageous People from Washington Who Changed the World - From the creative vision of Merce Cunningham to the brave voice of Bernie Whitebear, Courageous People from Washington Who Changed the World is a young child’s first introduction to the brave people from their home state who made a difference. Simple text and adorable illustrations tell the contributions of more than a dozen courageous Washingtonians: Chief Seattle, George Washington, Catherine Montgomery, Bertha Knight Landes, Dixie Lee Ray, Merce Cunningham, Bernie Whitebear, Gary Locke, Bill & Melinda Gates, and Pearl Jam (of course). A quote from each hero is included on each spread along with colorful, delightful artwork.
The Best Man - Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos. Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school. But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story. In pages that ripple with laughter, there’s a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
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