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Self-esteem: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about self-esteem?

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

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

When it comes to children’s stories about self-esteem, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Paper Bag Princess to popular sellers like Wonder to some of our favorite hidden gems like Oh, the Places You’ll Go!.

We hope this list of kids books about self-esteem 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.

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Top 10 Books About Self-esteem

#1
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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school—and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab—by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

#2
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Little Pea
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Jen Corace
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Ten years ago, Amy Krouse Rosenthal burst into children’s books with Little Pea, a book destined to become a classic. Her witty text about a little pea who won’t eat his sweets combined with the whimsical yet warm hearted art by Jen Corace create a go-to baby gift, a hilarious read-aloud, and the perfect intervention for picky eaters.

#3
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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

#4
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You Are Special
Written by Max Lucado & illustrated by Sergio Martinez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones―those with smooth wood and fine paint―always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.

In this heartwarming children’s tale from best-selling author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is―no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.

This tale originally appeared within one of the chapters in the award-winning children’s bestseller Tell Me the Secrets.

#5
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A Bad Case of Stripes
Written & illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In order to ensure her popularity, Camilla Cream always does what is expected, until the day arrives when she no longer recognizes herself.

#6
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Petra
Written & illustrated by Marianna Coppo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself. Petra is a little rock who believes she is a mighty mountain . . . until a dog fetches her for its owner, and she is tossed into a bird’s nest. A mountain? No, Petra is now an egg! An egg of the world in a world of possibility. Until she’s flung into a pond, and becomes an amazing island . . . and, eventually, a little girl’s pet rock. What will she be tomorrow? Who knows? But she’s a rock, and this is how she rolls!

#7
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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.

Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.

But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.

#8
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The Tale of You
Written & illustrated by Beatrix Potter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

This inspirational guide to life featuring Peter Rabbit, in the same vein as the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, is the perfect graduation gift! As Peter Rabbit bounces out into the big, wide world he will face triumphs and setbacks, hopes and fears. He will meet true friends and fearsome foes, but will always have a home to return to, and a family waiting to hear stories of his adventures. Featuring a brilliantly rhythmical rhyming text with characterful new illustrations, this new book is set to become a beloved classic!

#9
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Go, Pea, Go!
Written & illustrated by Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Pea Junior has to go, go, go, go! The end feels so far away, but with his family and friends cheering him on, Pea knows he can make it and go number one! A potty chart, a sheet of stickers, and the lyrics and music notation for the “Go, Pea, Go!” song are included to make an easy, all-in-one, go-to book for parents to help ease the pressure of the race to the Pea Bowl.

#10
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Be Happy!
Written & illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Self-esteem and...

Books About Self-esteem and Disabilities

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Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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Mrs. Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets
Written by Barbara Esham & illustrated by Mike Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

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Thank You, Mr. Falker
Written & illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The real-life, classic story of a dyslexic girl and the teacher who would not let her fail. A perfect gift for teachers and for reading students of any age.

Patricia Polacco is now one of America’s most loved children’s book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we.

This inspiring story is available in a deluxe slipcased edition, complete with a personal letter to readers from Patricia Polacco herself. Thank You, Mr. Falker will make a beautiful gift for the special child who needs encouragement or any special teacher who has made a difference in the child’s life.

Honorable Mentions
Caleb and Kit book
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The Junkyard Wonders book
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Marvin's Monster Diary 2 (+Lyssa) book
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Hooway for Wodney Wat book
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  1. Caleb and Kit - From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a powerfully moving story about a magical friendship, coping with disability, and the pains of growing up and growing apart. Twelve-year-old Caleb is shorter, frailer, and more protected than most kids his age. That’s because he has cystic fibrosis, a diagnosis meaning lungs that fill with mucus and a shortened lifespan. Caleb tries not to let his disorder define him, but it can be hard with an overprotective mom and a perfect big brother. Then Caleb meets Kit—a vibrant, independent, and free girl—and his world changes instantly. Kit reads Caleb’s palm and tells him they are destined to become friends. She calls birds down from the sky and turns every day into an adventure. Her magic is contagious, making Caleb question the rules and order in his life. But being Kit’s friend means embracing deception and danger, and soon Caleb will have to decide if his friendship with Kit is really what’s best for him—or her. This new paperback edition includes a Q&A with the author as well as a sneak peek at Beth Vrabel’s next middle grade novel, The Humiliations of Pipi McGee.

  2. The Junkyard Wonders - Inspired by a teacher who believes each of them is a genius, a class of special-needs students invents something that could convince the whole school they are justifiably proud to be “Junkyard Wonders.”

  3. Marvin's Monster Diary 2 (+Lyssa) - Meet Marvin, a lovable monster with a twelve-stringed baby fang guitar, a rambunctious case of ADHD, emotions that sometimes overwhelm him (and others), and a diary to record it all. While Marvin got it together in Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks, his lab partner Lyssa’s emotional roller coaster is a bit out of control. Can he help her—and win the Science Scare-Fair—before she explodes? In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion Using the “monstercam” and “ST4” techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion teaches kids how to be mindful, observe their surroundings, and take time to think about their actions. Marvin’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle his delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the series on ADHD that kids will actually want to read! Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Emotion Explosion also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 badge reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.

  4. Hooway for Wodney Wat - Poor Rodney Rat can’t pronounce his R’s and the other rodents tease him mercilessly. But when Camilla Capybara joins Rodney’s class and announces that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than any of the other rodents, everyone is afraid. It seems she really is bigger, meaner, and smarter than all of the rest of them. Until our unwitting hero, Wodney Wat, catches Camilla out in a game of Simon Says. Read along with Wodney as he surprises himself and his classmates by single-handedly saving the whole class from the big bad bully. Children will delight as shy Rodney Rat triumphs over all and his tiny voice decides the day, R’s or no R’s.

Books About Self-esteem and Diversity

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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school—and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab—by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab—a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.

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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Written by Derrick Barnes & illustrated by Gordon C. James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, the Huffington Post , Publishers Weekly , Kirkus Reviews , the Los Angeles Times , the Boston Globe , the Horn Book Magazine , the News & Observer , BookPage , Chicago Public Library, and more

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

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The Right One for Roderic
Written & illustrated by Violeta Noy
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

What happens when one little ghost wants to stand out? All ghosts wear white sheets. That’s just what ghosts do. White sheets are good for haunting people, and they make the ghosts feel like part of one big family. But one little ghost named Roderic wants to wear something different. He tries all sorts of things: a bag, a rug, a boot. Can he find the right one for him? Find out in this colorful picture book from debut author-illustrator Violeta Noy.

Honorable Mentions
Mixed Me! book
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Sulwe book
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The Skin You Live in book
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You Matter book
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  1. Mixed Me! - Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light: “We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.” Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

  2. Sulwe - From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

  3. The Skin You Live in - With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities for all cultures, such as swimming in the ocean, hugging, catching butterflies, and eating birthday cake are also provided. This delightful picturebook offers a wonderful venue through which parents and teachers can discuss important social concepts with their children.

  4. You Matter - They All Saw a Cat meets The Important Book in this sensitive and impactful picture book about seeing the world from different points of view by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honoree Christian Robinson. In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters.

Want to see books about diversity?

Books About Self-esteem and Bravery

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The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch & illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Over five million copies in print!

When the fiercest dragon in the whole world smashes Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiancé, Prince Ronald, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. With her wits alone and nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince. But is it worth all that trouble?

Readers the world-over have fallen in love with this classic story of girl power. Now a newly designed Classic Munsch edition will introduce the tale to a new generation of young feminists.

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The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Written by Gail Carson Levine
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy. Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other. The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

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Petra
Written & illustrated by Marianna Coppo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The humorous adventures of an irresistible little rock who finds herself in constantly changing circumstances, Petra is a picture book that celebrates the power of perspective and believing in yourself. Petra is a little rock who believes she is a mighty mountain . . . until a dog fetches her for its owner, and she is tossed into a bird’s nest. A mountain? No, Petra is now an egg! An egg of the world in a world of possibility. Until she’s flung into a pond, and becomes an amazing island . . . and, eventually, a little girl’s pet rock. What will she be tomorrow? Who knows? But she’s a rock, and this is how she rolls!

Honorable Mentions
Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats book
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Not So Small at All book
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Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts book
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I Will Be Fierce book
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  1. Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats - A tale with many tails, perfect for cat lovers everywhere! Miss Hazeltine is opening a very special school for shy and fearful cats. They come from all over, and Miss Hazeltine gives them lessons in everything, from “Bird Basics” to “How Not to Fear the Broom.” The most timid of all is Crumb. He cowers in a corner. Miss Hazeltine doesn’t mind. But when she gets in trouble and only Crumb knows where she is, will he find his inner courage and lead a daring rescue? Filled with adorable illustrations and ideal for fans of Disappearing Desmond and The Invisible Boy, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a story that’s perfect for shy and fearful children as it both helps them face scary situations and accepts them just as they are.

  2. Not So Small at All - Have you ever felt like you’re just too small to do important stuff in the world at all? Well, take a closer look, and then you’ll see that the smallest of things are as AMAZING as can be! Little things are capable of giant accomplishments. Bees, butterflies, and little children too may seem small but are actually full of great strength and incredible potential! Each one is unique, and capable of making big changes in the world.

  3. Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts - There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello. From being pushed on a swing to learning how to pump your legs yourself, from riding a beloved trike to mastering your first bike ride, from leaving the comforts of home behind to venturing forth on that first day of school, milestones are exciting but hard. They mean having to say goodbye to one moment in order to welcome the next. Honest and uplifting, this cheerfully illustrated ode to change gently empowers readers to brave life’s milestones, both large and small.

  4. I Will Be Fierce - Today, I will be fierce! It’s a brand new day, and a young girl decides to take on the world like a brave explorer heading off on an epic fairytale quest. From home to school and back again, our hero conquers the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), forges new bridges (friendships), and leads the victorious charge home on her steed (the school bus). Written by Bea Birdsong and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, I Will Be Fierce is a powerful picture book about courage, confidence, kindness, and finding the extraordinary in everyday moments.

Want to see books about bravery?

Books About Self-esteem and Self-discovery

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A Bad Case of Stripes
Written & illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In order to ensure her popularity, Camilla Cream always does what is expected, until the day arrives when she no longer recognizes herself.

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Antoinette
Written by Kelly DiPucchio & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Raised in a family of talented bulldogs, Antoinette the poodle wonders what makes her special. She gets the chance to prove herself and find what she’s good at when puppy Ooh-la-la goes missing”—

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You Should, You Should!
Written & illustrated by Ginny Tilby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Hippo’s morning starts off good, until friends say, “You should! You should!” You should prance! You should sing! Wear this hat! Stretch your wing! Though Hippo wants to be a friend, he wonders when the “shoulds” will end.

Hippo and friends will soon find out that being yourself is what life’s about.

Honorable Mentions
All of Me book
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Timmy's Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress book
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  1. All of Me - Ari has body-image issues. After a move across the country, his parents work selling and promoting his mother’s paintings and sculptures. Ari’s bohemian mother needs space to create, and his father is gone for long stretches of time on “sales” trips. Meanwhile, Ari makes new friends: Pick, the gamer; the artsy Jorge, and the troubled Lisa. He is also relentlessly bullied because he’s overweight, but he can’t tell his parents—they’re simply not around enough to listen. After an upsetting incident, Ari’s mom suggests he go on a diet, and she gives him a book to help. But the book—and the diet—can’t fix everything. As Ari faces the demise of his parents’ marriage, he also feels himself changing, both emotionally and physically. Here is a much-needed story about accepting the imperfect in oneself and in life.

  2. Timmy's Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress - Meet Timmy, a lovable monster who can’t get enough of the coolest gadgets and video games. Too bad he doesn’t realize how much time he spends each day in front of a screen. In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Timmy’s Monster Diary: Screen Time Stress. Using the “Time-Telling” and “ST4” techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Timmy’s Monster Diary teaches kids how to self-monitor the amount of time they spend on technology. Timmy’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle his delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the one book that kids will want to turn off the TV and read! Timmy’s Monster Diary also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.

Books About Self-esteem and Courage

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My Brave Year of Firsts
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis & illustrated by Laura Cornell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While Frankie learns to ride a bike, tie her shoes, make new friends, try new foods, and work with her dad, she also learns that trying new things is how she grows—and that being brave enough to do so is what growing up is all about.

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

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

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

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Sheila Rae, the Brave
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, the nationally bestselling and celebrated creator of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, and Kitten’s First Full Moon, Shelia Rae, the Brave is a warm, humorous, and loving story of sibling sympathy and support. Just because Sheila Rae is older, she doesn’t always know better!

“I am very brave,” Sheila Rae said, patting herself on the back. She wasn’t afraid of anything—not thunder, not lightning, not the big black dog at the end of the block. And when she wanted to walk home a new way and Louise wouldn’t, she called her sister a scaredy-cat and set out alone. But all the bravado in the world failed to help when Sheila Rae found herself lost. Luckily, her sister was not far behind.

“Children will love it.”—School Library Journal

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Honorable Mentions
The Thing Lou Couldn't Do book
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Chicks Rule book
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Bo the Brave book
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The Boys book
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  1. The Thing Lou Couldn't Do - An endearing story about a little girl who doesnÍt think she can. ñUp there! The tree can be our ship!î one of LouÍs friends exclaims when they decide to play pirates. ñUmmm ƒî responds Lou. Usually she loves adventures. But this is new. Lou has never climbed a tree before. And she knows she canÍt do it. She doesnÍt even want to try. But this adventure does look fun, and when all her excuses run out, Lou realizes the bravest adventurers are those who TRY. An inspiring lesson for anyone whoÍs ever avoided something hard.

  2. 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.

  3. Bo the Brave - A feisty little girl learns who the real monsters are in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure. Once, there lived a little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster. Bo is small, too small to catch a monster―or so her brothers say. But Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or has Bo got the wrong idea who the real monsters are? Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, employs her signature style in this original fairy tale with a clever twist. Readers are sure to fall in love with Woollvin’s newest vibrant and sassy protagonist.

  4. The Boys - A shy boy, seeking the courage to play baseball with the other children in a park, is coaxed out of his shell by some “old timers” sitting nearby who, in turn, discover they are still in the game.

Want to see books about courage?

Books About Self-esteem and Siblings

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Ish
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.” Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

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Florence Frizzball
Written & illustrated by Claire Freedman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-99

A funny, heart-warming sibling story from Claire Freedman, author of the bestselling Aliens Love Underpants series and picture books Oliver and Patch and The Great Snortle Hunt. Florence’s curly-whirly, wild and crazy hair couldn’t be more different from her brother Ben’s sleek and shiny do. She begs her mum to let a hairdresser try and tame it, but when she gets the restyle she’s after, will Florence be happy with the outcome? Claire Freedman’s rhyming text and Jane Massey’s gorgeous illustrations perfectly combine to create laugh-out-loud moments and deliver an important message about being comfortable in your own skin.

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Day at the Beach
Written & illustrated by Tom Booth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A day at the beach becomes a lesson in sibling bonding for Gideon in this magical picture book.

Every summer, Gideon and his younger sister Audrey build a sand castle—together. But this summer, everything changes. Gideon is going to build the most spectacular sandcastle anyone on the beach has ever seen. And he’s going to do it on his own—without any help from his sister.

But much to his surprise, Gideon discovers that building together is more fun and that everyone has their own unique talent when it comes to creativity and imagination, even Audrey.

Honorable Mentions
Ruby's Sword book
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We Dream of Space book
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One of a Kind book
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  1. Ruby's Sword - Ruby is always racing after her big brothers. But no matter how hard she tries, she can never catch up. Then one day, she discovers some sticks in the grass. Not just any sticks—swords! And suddenly the world is her kingdom. Readers will cheer on Ruby’s perseverance and creativity as they delight in the antics of the adorable animals that join her along the way. Anyone who has ever imagined themselves the star of their own swashbuckling adventure will find this sweet book irresistible.

  2. We Dream of Space -

  3. One of a Kind - In this wry and witty picture book, an only child learns that in a classroom of multiples, individuality can be awesome. All the kids in Lysander Singleton’s class are either twins or triplets, which means Lysander Singleton is the only “only child” at Twin Oaks Elementary. He tries to do what he can to fit in—making photocopies of himself, or attempting to play games with the other kids—though his efforts are usually met with unfortunate results. But when it comes time for the schoolwide Twindividuation competition, a series of events meant to encourage individuality, Lysander quickly realizes that being the only “only child” does have its advantages—and that being unique isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Books About Self-esteem and Female Role Models

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do.

Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart.

But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.

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Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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….

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Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch & illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Another laugh-out-loud book from the author of The Paper Bag Princess!

Everyone is copying Stephanie’s ponytail! No matter which way she wears it, the list of copycats keeps growing. But when Stephanie declares her next hair style, she tries to shake all of her followers loose.

A newly designed Classic Munsch picture book introduces this tale of trend-setting hairdos to a young generation of readers.

Honorable Mentions
Miss Rumphius book
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Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes book
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Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment book
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  1. Miss Rumphius - A beloved classic is lovelier than ever! Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of two-time Caldecott winner Barbara Cooney’s best-loved book, Viking has reoriginated the illustrations, going back to the original art to ensure state-of-the-art reproduction of Cooney’s exquisite artwork. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

  2. Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes - Juno Valentine’s favorite shoes don’t light up. They don’t have wheels. They are, to be perfectly honest, the tiniest bit boring. But they’re still her favorite muddy-puddle-jumping, everyday-is-an-adventure shoes. One day, when they go missing, Juno discovers something amazing: a magical room filled with every kind of shoe she could possibly imagine! Juno embarks on an epic journey through time and space, stepping into the shoes of female icons from Frida Kahlo and Cleopatra to Lady Gaga and Serena Williams. Each pair of shoes Juno tries brings a brand new adventure—and a step towards understanding that her very own shoes might be the best shoes of all. Parents and children alike will adore Instagram superstar Eva Chen’s precocious debut picture book—a story that’s equal parts fashion fairy-tale and guide to girl power—and fall in love with the brilliantly spirited Juno Valentine.

  3. Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment - When Parker Curry came face-to-face with Amy Sherald’s transcendent portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, she didn’t just see the First Lady of the United States. She saw a queen—one with dynamic self-assurance, regality, beauty, and truth who captured this young girl’s imagination. When a nearby museum-goer snapped a photo of a mesmerized Parker, it became an internet sensation. Inspired by this visit, Parker, and her mother, Jessica Curry, tell the story of a young girl and her family, whose trip to a museum becomes an extraordinary moment, in a moving picture book. Parker Looks Up follows Parker, along with her baby sister and her mother, and her best friend Gia and Gia’s mother, as they walk the halls of a museum, seeing paintings of everyone and everything from George Washington Carver to Frida Kahlo, exotic flowers to graceful ballerinas. Then, Parker walks by Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama…and almost passes it. But she stops…and looks up! Parker saw the possibility and promise, the hopes and dreams of herself in this powerful painting of Michelle Obama. An everyday moment became an extraordinary one…that continues to resonate its power, inspiration, and indelible impact. Because, as Jessica Curry said, “anything is possible regardless of race, class, or gender.” FOREWORD BY ARTIST AMY SHERALD

Books About Self-esteem and Transportation

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The Little Engine That Could: 90th Anniversary Edition
Written by Watty Piper & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Celebrate the 90th anniversary of The Little Engine That Could with this all-time classic reillustrated by Caldecott Award-winning artist Dan Santat!

The kindness and determination of the Little Blue Engine have inspired millions of children around the world since the story was first published in 1930. Cherished by readers for ninety years, The Little Engine That Could is a classic tale of a little engine that, despite her size, triumphantly pulls a train full of wonderful things to the children waiting on the other side of a mountain.

This anniversary edition features the original text, all-new reimagined artwork and an introduction from Caldecott Medal-winner Dan Santat, and a special letter from Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

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It's a Field Trip, Busy Bus!
Written by Jody Jensen Shaffer & illustrated by Claire Messer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Today is Busy Bus’s very first field trip! He takes the children to a fire house, where they meet Engine Four, a big, shiny, red firetruck. Engine Four has a hose to put out fires, a ladder to reach tall buildings, and a loud and impressive siren. Busy Bus has none of these things. Will the children still like him? This darling picture book offers a gentle exploration of jealousy and a reminder that we each have our own unique talents that make us special.

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Violet the Pilot
Written & illustrated by Steve Breen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Violet is a science-loving girl inventor with a flair for the air! Fans of Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer will love this classic underdog story by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Breen.

By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can engineer nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best-ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!

Honorable Mentions
Little Excavator book
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Little Toot book
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I'll Catch You If You Fall book
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Good Night, Little Engine book
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  1. Little Excavator - From New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Llama Llama books comes a new character ready to dig his way into your heart! Here come the BIG RIGS rolling down the street. Thumpa-thumpa bumpa-bumpa BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! There’s Loader and Dump Truck, Backhoe and Crane. They’re ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. And who wants to help most of all? Little Excavator! But are there any jobs for someone so small? Anna Dewdney’s signature rhyming text and inviting illustrations make this a perfect read aloud for for fans of things that go!

  2. Little Toot - Little Toot is a tugboat who does not want to tug. Instead, he wants to make figure eights in the harbor and bother all the other tugboats. But when he ends up all alone on the open water as a storm is rolling in, it’s up to him to save a stuck ocean liner. This classic story is sure to delight a whole new generation of readers!

  3. I'll Catch You If You Fall - In the spirit of Someday and Guess How Much I Love You comes a lyrical and endearing picture book about the people in our lives who are always there to look out for us. Who will keep the boy safe? “I will,” said his mother. “I will hold him close… and never let him lean too far.” Big or small, near or far, we all need someone to watch over us. This touching picture book is a reassuring tale about a journey and the people who are with us as we travel through life. It is for anyone who has wondered, Who will keep me safe? and for anyone who has answered, I will.

  4. Good Night, Little Engine - The 90th anniversary celebrations continue with this charming original title featuring everyone’s favorite little train is the perfect book for bedtime. The train yard’s still. There’s not a sound. The setting sun glows all around. After a day of play, Little Engine settles in to sleep . . . but when she hears a noise outside, she goes on a midnight ride, finding a certain someone who needs her help. Say “Good night” to Little Engine in this beautiful, rhyming picture book perfect for little ones at bedtime.

Books About Self-esteem and Multicultural

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Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg's stand to save the world
Written by Zoe Tucker & illustrated by Zoe Persico
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This inspiring picture book retells the story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg—the Swedish teenager who has led a global movement to raise awareness about the world’s climate crisis—using allegory to make this important topic accessible to young children. Greta is a little girl who lives in a beautiful forest threatened by Giants. When the Giants first came to the forest, they chopped down trees to make houses. Then they chopped down more trees and made even bigger homes. The houses grew into towns and the towns grew into cities, until now there is hardly any forest left. Greta knows she has to help the animals who live in the forest, but how? Luckily, Greta has an idea… A section at the back explains that, in reality, the fight against the “giants” isn’t over and explains how you can help Greta in her fight. This book has been printed sustainably in the US on 100% recycled paper. By buying a copy of this book, you are making a donation of 3% of the cover price to 350.org.

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There's Only One You
Written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook & illustrated by Rosie Butcher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“In all the world over, this much is true: You’re somebody special. There’s only one YOU.” Celebrate your individuality with this picture book that honors all the wonderful things that make you . . . you. This feel-good book reassures kids that, whoever and whatever they are, it’s awesome being YOU! Expertly written to include all kinds of children and families, it embraces the beauty in a range of physical types, personalities, and abilities. Kids will love discovering and recognizing themselves in these pages—and they’ll feel proud to see their special qualities acknowledged. Adorable illustrations by Rosie Butcher show a diverse community that many will find similar to their own.

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Absolutely Almost
Written by Lisa Graff
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, most athletic, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself. Simultaneous eBook.

Honorable Mentions
I Am Enough book
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Recess Rebels (Miranda and Maude #3) book
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Grandma's Girl book
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The Day You Begin book
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  1. I Am Enough - A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book winner! This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.

  2. Recess Rebels (Miranda and Maude #3) - A princess and a revolutionary form an unexpected friendship in this charming, illustrated chapter book series The girls and boys of 3B aren’t getting along. It starts with a game of tag and ends with a tug of war. In between, there are sneak attacks, a girls-only newspaper, a doughnut filled with cheese, and one stolen Frizzle chicken. Maude gets lots of opportunities to protest, but in the end, it’s Miranda who learns to stand up for what she believes in.

  3. Grandma's Girl - Nothing truly compares to the special bond between grandma and granddaughter. With heartwarming rhymes and beautiful illustrations of diverse grandmothers and granddaughters, Grandma’s Girl is the perfect way to bring generations together. It’s a touching story about all the things a young girl learns and becomes, and how Grandma understands, because she’s been there before. Of all the most marvelous things in this world
    There are few that can truly compare
    To the heartwarming, special, unbreakable bond
    That a grandma and granddaughter share.

  4. The Day You Begin - Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

Books About Self-esteem and Love

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You're All My Favorites
Written by Sam McBratney & illustrated by Anita Jeram
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Mommy and Daddy Bear convince three worried cubs that there’s plenty of love to go around in this comforting tale from the incomparable team of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram.

Every night, while tucking in their three cubs, Mommy and Daddy Bear tell them they’re the most wonderful baby bears in the whole wide world. But one day the three little bears start to wonder: How do Mommy and Daddy know this is true? And even more worrisome to each sibling: What if my parents like my brother or sister better than me? From the team who brought us the beloved Big and Little Nutbrown Hare comes a tale that answers a timeless question with the ultimate reassurance — and offers the perfect way for parents to remind their own little cubs how very much each one is loved.

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My Heart
Written & illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes comes a gorgeous picture book about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy. My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide. Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you. With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.

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You're All Kinds of Wonderful
Written & illustrated by Nancy Tillman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The beloved, bestselling Nancy Tillman returns with a picture book celebrating what makes every child special in their own way. Part of growing up is discovering—and embracing—what makes us unique. From different abilities to different personalities, we are all wonderfully made with our own bells and whistles.

Honorable Mentions
You're Here for a Reason book
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Dear Girl, book
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On the Night You Were Born book
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You and Me and the Wishing Tree book
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  1. You're Here for a Reason - Now available in board book, You’re Here for a Reason, from national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman, takes a universal truth and makes it accessible for readers young and old. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. In this tender and timeless read-along book, Tillman reminds us of this message in beautiful illustrations as children and animals interact with acts of kindness. “You’re here for a reason. If you think you’re not, I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . . a piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren’t here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you’re here! Thank goodness times two! I just can’t imagine a world without you.”

  2. 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.

  3. On the Night You Were Born - On the night you were born, you brought wonder and magic to the world. The moon stayed up till morning. Polar bears danced. Here is a book that celebrates the one and only ever you! Now available in its entirety in board book format, Nancy Tillman’s masterpiece is perfect for acknowledging the special people in our lives that they are loved.

  4. You and Me and the Wishing Tree - We woke up in the usual way, but it was not a usual day. Out on the lawn, plain as could be, stood an orange wishing tree. “I wish!” I said. “I wish!” said you. And so our double wishes grew. Wishes are a magical part of childhood. Whether we wish on stars or blow out candles on a cake, our dreams matter. Nancy Tillman captures the wonder of wishes as only she can, with love.

Want to see books about love?

Books About Self-esteem and Kindness

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The Invisible Boy
Written by Trudy Ludwig & illustrated by Patrice Barton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend…

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

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Be Happy!
Written & illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

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Fly Flies
Written by Ziggy Hanaor & illustrated by Alice Bowsher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Fly just wants to have fun flying, but everyone she meets thinks she’s doing it all WRONG!

Fly is happily practicing her flying in the park, doing some wibbles and some wobbles and some waveys. Blackbird, Seagull, Starling and Hawk take turns giving Fly advice about the best way to fly; fly in a straight line, glide on the wind, fly in a flock, dive onto your food…. Fly tries to take their advice on board, but each time finds that this is not HER way to fly. With a sweet, witty twist at the end, this is a delightful book about staying true to yourself in the face of people who insist they know better.

Honorable Mentions
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? book
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The Boy Who Grew Flowers book
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Dazzling Travis book
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  1. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? - “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.

  2. The Boy Who Grew Flowers - Rink is a very unusual boy who grows beautiful flowers all over his body whenever the moon is full. In town and at school, Rink and his family are treated as outcasts although no-one knows his strange botanical secret. But one day a new girl arrives at sc

  3. Dazzling Travis - Travis sets no limits to what he enjoys doing. Shopping and football, ballet and dress-up make Travis a one of a kind boy! But when some of the kids on the playground begin to pick on him, Travis truly dazzles. This empowering story encourages both boys and girls to challenge the social norm, revealing their true selves.

Want to see books about kindness?

Books About Self-esteem and Size

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Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written & illustrated by Aidan Cassie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What Juniper lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. And her heart is dead-set on growing up and getting taller. She’s tired of having to reach for the cookie jar or use a stepping stool for the toilet. Everything in Juniper’s world seems to be made for adults. Ugh! Juniper is industrious, however, and builds several silly contraptions to help reach her goals. But it isn’t until she makes a fun new friend at school, Clove, who is even smaller than Juniper, that she is able to see her world from a new perspective — and appreciate all sizes, big or small. Aidan Cassie, the creator of Sterling, Best Dog Ever, employs her pitch-perfect humor and heartwarming illustrations here again to help little ones love themselves at any size.

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Cloudette
Written & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Sometimes being small can have its advantages. If you’re a little cloud like Cloudette, people call you cute nicknames, and you can always find a good spot to watch the fireworks. But what about when you want to do something big, like help a giant garden grow, or make a brook babble? This charming book gets at the heart of what it means to make a difference no matter your size. Young children will find much to relate to in Cloudette as they follow her on her pursuit for greatness.

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The Little Gardener
Written & illustrated by Emily Hughes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

There was once a little gardener and his garden meant everything to him. He worked hard, very hard, but he was just too little (or at least he felt he was). In this beautifully gentle tale, Emily Hughes, the celebrated author of Wild, once again transports us to a world not unlike our own, but still brimming with fantasy and wonder.

Honorable Mentions
Small Walt book
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Tiny Feet Between the Mountains book
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  1. Small Walt - Small Walt is the smallest snow plow in the fleet and he always gets picked last, but when there is a big snowstorm in the city, he will have the chance to prove his worth.

  2. Tiny Feet Between the Mountains - Soe-in is a tiny child in a village full of large people. She struggles with completing chores due to her size, but she never gives up. One day, when the sky grows dark and full of smoke, Soe-in volunteers to travel into the tall mountains to investigate. She’s surprised to find a spirit tiger there and learn he has swallowed the sun by mistake! To help the spirit tiger and her village, Soe-in must come up with a clever idea to solve this gigantic problem. And while she’s at it, she just may prove that the smallest people often have the biggest, bravest hearts.

Want to see books about size?

Books About Self-esteem and Identity

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Alma and How She Got Her Name
Written & illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be. If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; Jose, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.

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Amazing Grace
Written by Mary Hoffman & illustrated by Caroline Binch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Although a classmate says that she cannot play Peter Pan in the school play because she is black, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.

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I Like Myself!
Written by Karen Beaumont & illustrated by David Catrow
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what! Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters.

Honorable Mentions
Where Oliver Fits book
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My Shape is Sam book
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Eraser book
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A Place for Pluto book
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  1. Where Oliver Fits - Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs. Where Oliver Fits is a sweet and funny story that explores all the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn’t always the best fit.

  2. My Shape is Sam - Circles were smooth and round. Good at rolling, spinning, and pushing. They all turned together to make things go. Squares were sturdy and even. Good at stacking, steadying, and measuring. They all fit together to make things stay. In a world where everybody is a shape and every shape has a specific job, Sam is a square who longs for softer corners, rounder edges, and the ability to roll like a circle. But everyone knows that squares don’t roll, they stack. At least that’s what everyone thinks until the day Sam takes a tumble and discovers something wonderful. He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be. With playful imagery, this story considers identity and nonconformity through the eyes of Sam, a square struggling to find his true place in the world.

  3. Eraser - Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself. Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.

  4. A Place for Pluto - Shocked to be stripped of his planet status, Pluto goes on a quest to find his place in the universe. Includes educational materials.

Want to see books about identity?

Books About Self-esteem and Birds

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Tacky the Penguin
Written by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Tacky’s perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.

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Cuckoo!
Written & illustrated by Fiona Roberton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Cuckoo hatches. And all is well. But when his brothers and sisters sing out Too-too-weet! Too-too-weet! Cuckoo instead chirps Cuckoo! and no one can understand him. When he leaves his nest, Cuckoo still can’t find anyone who speaks his language. He tries to communicate with the other animals—coomooing and buckooing and cabooing along the way—but he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there! Just when he thinks all is lost, Cuckoo finds an unlikely friend who understands him perfectly.

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Teaching Eddie to Fly
Written & illustrated by Katarina Macurova
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Laugh-out-loud picture book about embracing your own unique gifts.

Eddie is a bird, but he can’t fly! His friend Ernest, a bear, decides he’s going to help Eddie learn to fly—with hilarious and unanticipated results. Along the way, both Ernest and Eddie learn some valuable lessons. Is Eddie even meant to fly? Or is there something else he’s even better at?

Quirky and fun, Teaching Eddie to Fly will have kids laughing while challenging them to think about what they’re good at, and what makes them unique.

Honorable Mentions
Bertie Wings It! book
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Penguin Flies Home book
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  1. Bertie Wings It! - Bertie the birdie knows: he’s ready to fly from the nest and into the sky. But whenever he’s about to take wing, his fellow feathered friends squawk at him to STOP and follow their advice instead. But not one of these “experts”—the persuasive penguin, the emu, or the kiwi—has ever actually flown! Will Bertie learn to trust his own instincts . . . and soar?

  2. Penguin Flies Home - Penguin mastered his quest to soar with the eagles in Flight School—now he’s heading home to teach his friends in this sweet and inspiring stand-alone companion story! Penguin loves everything about flying: the wind beneath his wings, the song that rises from his belly, and the sight of new and wonderful places. Still, he misses his penguin friends in the South Pole. So, he flips and flaps back home, ready to teach them the magic of flight! But when he arrives, his enthusiasm for flying doesn’t get quite the reaction he expected. Will Penguin’s friends still like him, even if they don’t share his soaring dreams?

Want to see books about birds?

Books About Self-esteem and Imagination

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What If...
Written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

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

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When You Need Wings
Written & illustrated by Lita Judge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the tradition of Where the Wild Things Are, beloved author-illustrator Lita Judge brings us a soaring story about the power of imagination.

On a day when you feel like no one is listening, and you wish you could just disappear, shut your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? That isn’t your heart. That is the sound of your very own wings beating within.

Acclaimed author-illustrator Lita Judge takes readers on a wonder-filled exploration of a child’s imagination, thoughtfully weaving in a gentle suggestion of how to explore that bountiful inner world and let it help them shine with courage in the real one.

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The Long Island
Written & illustrated by Drew Beckmeyer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Some of us like the comfort of familiarity—staying close to the home we’ve always known, making a life, building a community. For some, the intimacy of the old routine is satisfaction itself. But the known is not for everyone. When our 5 protagonists get to wondering what’s on the other side of their island, they can’t stop until they find out. What follows is an epic journey of discovery, danger, imagination, and ultimately, bittersweet fulfillment. Is this sophisticated picture book about man versus earth? Man versus man? Or man versus self? Like our protagonists, every reader will find their own right answer in this haunting and deceptively simple modern fable.

Honorable Mentions
Oh, the Places You'll Go! book
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Incredible You book
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Future Astronaut book
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Do Not Go in There book
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  1. Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss’s wonderfully wise Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is the perfect send-off for grads—from nursery school, high school, college, and beyond! From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life’s ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, “Seuss’s message is simple but never sappy: life may be a ‘Great Balancing Act,’ but through it all ‘There’s fun to be done.’” A perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life!

  2. Incredible You - Ever had a bad day and wished that you were someone else? Perhaps a mountain gorilla? Or a fierce tiger? But wait . . . just think of all the amazing things that you can do! You can sing, you can write, and you can dream. And never stop being incredible you! This picture book brings a breath of fresh air for young children, filled with positivity, zest, and energy.

  3. Future Astronaut - Ground Control to Major Baby: Could you be an astronaut? Does baby have what it takes to become an astronaut? That’s an affirmative, Houston! Discover all the incredible ways that prove baby already has what it takes to become an astronaut — from growing healthy teeth to eating from plastic packs to working in small spaces. Includes lots of fun astronaut facts to help prepare little ones for takeoff! Future Baby is an adorable new board book series that takes a playful peek into an assortment of powerful careers and shows little ones how their current skills match up with the job at hand. With Future Baby, babies can be anything!

  4. Do Not Go in There - Do Not Go in There! is an encouraging picture book from debut author Ariel Horn and illustrator Izzy Burton that highlights the power of imagination while touching on themes of anxiety, curiosity, and bravery. Monsters Morton and Bogart are best friends. But they don’t always see eye to eye. So when they encounter a closed door, anxious Bogart wants to keep it closed, because there must be something really bad on the other side. But Morton thinks it’ll be something amazing! Which is it? Through bright, expressive illustrations, readers learn that, while not knowing can be frightening, being brave can lead to new discoveries. And even though your imagination can make it easy to worry, it can also make life better, less scary, and more fun. An Imprint Book

Books About Self-esteem and Growing Up

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Tad
Written & illustrated by Benji Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From Benji Davies, the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale and illustrator of the Goodnight Already! series, comes a heartwarming and tender tale about courage and growth, featuring a special tadpole named Tad.

Tad is small. In fact, she is the smallest almost-a-frog in the whole, wide pond. That makes it hard for her to do big things like follow her tadsiblings who swim to other parts of the pond when they outgrow the nest.

As her tadbrothers and tadsisters swim up, up, up, they leave poor Tad by her lonesome. That’s until…Big Blub shows up! He’s not only bigger than Tad, but Big Blub isn’t exactly what a tadpole would consider friendly.

Swimming at her own pace, Tad soon learns how to to be bigger than her fears. Benji Davies creates a memorable and timeless tale that proves sometimes the mightiest creature comes in the smallest package.

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

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

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Stay, Little Seed
Written by Cristiana Valentini & illustrated by Philip Giordano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

For fans of Amy Rosenthal’s I wish You More and Joe Witek’s In My Heart, Cristiana Valentini’s Stay Little Seed is a moving tale of love and the courage of letting go.

“Both children and adult readers will identify with timeless themes, from the joy in comforting familial bonds to the growth that can only happen with independence.”
--Booklist

Every year when the wind blows, the tree’s seeds sail away to a mysterious place—until one little seed decides to stay. At first, the tree supposes the seed should leave. How else would it grow roots to rise tall and strong? But the tree is also lonely, and the mysterious place is far, far away. Will the seed be safe on its own?

Stay, Little Seed celebrates the rhythms of the natural world and shares a gentle message for all of us, no matter our age: Sometimes, by letting go and being brave, we begin life’s greatest adventures.

Honorable Mentions
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus book
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Just in Case You Want to Fly book
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  1. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus - “High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.” The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

  2. Just in Case You Want to Fly - The creators of the award-winning When’s My Birthday? team up again to create an inspirational book for anyone—parent or child—looking for support when facing a new challenge. just in case you want to fly here’s some wind and here’s the sky here’s a feather here’s up high and here’s a wing from a butterfly This tender, contemplative picture book is about growing up. It’s about parents giving their children the gifts, no matter how quiet or small, to succeed and to navigate the world on their own. And it’s about the connection that binds a parent and child…because no matter how far they fly or who they become, they will always have home.

Want to see books about growing up?

Books About Self-esteem and Hard Work

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

A New York Times Best Seller and award-winning book, What Do You Do With an Idea? is for anyone who’s ever had a big idea.

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.

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Ruby's Wish
Written by Shirin Yim Bridges & illustrated by Sophie Blackall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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

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

Honorable Mentions
Firebird book
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Hey, Coach! book
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Sunrise Summer book
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  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. 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.”

  3. Sunrise Summer - Sunrise Summer is a picture book by writer Matthew Swanson and illustrator Robbi Behr that celebrates self-confidence and empowerment, as a girl’s role changes in her family’s fishing expeditions. When a girl and her family travel four thousand miles from home, it’s not your typical summer vacation. Everything is different on the Alaskan tundra―where the grizzly bears roam and the sockeye salmon swim―including the rules. A girl can do things she wouldn’t, and couldn’t, do at home. She can wake up at midnight to work with her mom on a fishing crew. She can learn what it means to be an essential part of a team. She can become a braver, stronger, and ever-more capable version of herself. She can take her next big step. She’s ready for her first real sunrise. An Imprint Book

Want to see books about hard work?

Books About Self-esteem and Multigenerational

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My Mindful Walk with Grandma
Written by Sheri Mabry & illustrated by Wazza Pink
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a girl walks through the woods with her grandma, she’s so excited about reaching their destination that she misses out on what’s around her. But with Grandma’s help, she learns how to breathe, be peaceful, and notice the little surprises along the way. Find mindfulness in nature through this gentle story.

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A Way with Wild Things
Written by Larissa Theule & illustrated by Sara Palacios
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Poppy’s not flashy, but she stands out in her own way. This charming book about a girl who loves nature celebrates quieter kids.

Poppy Ann Fields loves bugs—sitting in the grass singing with cicadas, carrying on conversations with ladybugs—and feels much more at home outside with six-legged friends than with other people. Inside, Poppy prefers to disappear into the background. Some might call her a wallflower.

But when Grandma Phyllis turns 100, Poppy must go to the party. She wears a dress that blends into the garden setting, so she’s almost invisible, until a very special bug lands on Grandma Phyllis’s cake. Poppy can’t resist popping out to see it. Soon, the rest of the party guests notice this beautiful wild thing—Poppy and the dragonfly!

With a gently poetic text from newcomer Larissa Theule and wildly charming illustrations by Sara Palacios, this story shows that sometimes a wallflower is actually a wildflower.

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Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written & illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day.

A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.

Honorable Mentions
Cannonball book
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Grandparents book
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Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention book
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  1. Cannonball - He’s ready to make a splash! I’m ready to pull off the perfect cannonball, but everyone has advice.
    “You need more weight”
    “Bigger shorts!”
    “More muscles!”
    “BIGGER SHORTS!”
    All it really takes is listening to your own voice and finding the courage to make the perfect cannonball.

  2. Grandparents - In this funny and heartwarming picture book, a grandfather shows his love and appreciation for a grandmother as he persuades her to attend a local dance with him. Grandfather is tending his garden when a loudspeaker announces a dance in the local park. He asks Grandmother to join him, but she has many reasons to delay their outing: she needs to put eyeliner around her eyes—which are as sad as a moonless night—and color in her hair—which is as gray as an autumn cloud. Grandfather counters with loving arguments of his own: her sad eyes look like stars and her hair is as perfect and white as a summer cloud. Playful illustrations complement this touching banter, which culminates in a trip to the dance where Grandmother tells Grandfather, “You are as pretty as the moon.”

  3. Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention - In this companion to the award-winning Izzy Gizmo, Izzy Gizmo returns (together with Grandpa and Fixer) in a charming and eccentric tale of ambition, perseverance, and finding your inner strength. Izzy Gizmo has been invited to Technoff Isle’s annual convention where the inventor of the best machine will win coveted admittance to the Genius Guild. Great inventors produce gadgets that can be put to good use, so Izzy Gizmo decides to build a recycling machine that mends broken tools. But with fearsome foe Abi von Lavish getting the best of her at every turn, can Izzy Gizmo and Fixer create the winning invention? Featuring the creative and much-loved heroine of color, this wonderfully exuberant story has serious points to make about the importance of make do and mend.

Books About Self-esteem and Belonging

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Giant Tess
Written & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Internationally acclaimed and bestselling author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino presents a larger than life picture book about a girl with a heart as giant as she is. Tess has a BIG problem. She’s a giant with an enormous wish to be like everyone else in the city of Myth-hattan. When she gives up on ever fitting in, she meets a friend just her size, and the two team up for a daring rescue. Can these misfits save the day—and the big city parade? This reassuring and heartwarming tale will empower young readers struggling to find acceptance, and it reminds us that there’s a hero within every one of us.

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Teacup
Written by Rebecca Young & illustrated by Matt Ottley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless and bright. Some days, storms threaten to overturn his boat. And some days, the smallest amount of hope grows into something glorious. At last, the boy finds land, but it doesn’t feel complete . . . until another traveler joins him, bearing the seed to build a new home.

With lyrical text and gorgeous artwork, this poignant picture book is perfect for discussing all of life’s toughest challenges—a big move, a divorce, long-distance separation, or even the current refugee crisis—in a way that’s reassuring and inspiring for children and adults alike.

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Chocolate Me!
Written by Taye Diggs & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

Honorable Mentions
Stumpkin book
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Rumple Buttercup book
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  1. Stumpkin - Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s the perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern. There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window. As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone give Stumpkin his chance to shine?

  2. Rumple Buttercup - A charming and inspiring story written and illustrated by Criminal Minds actor/director, Matthew Gray Gubler. Rumple Buttercup has five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and his left foot is slightly bigger than his right. He is weird. Join him and Candy Corn Carl (his imaginary friend made of trash) as they learn the joy of individuality as well as the magic of belonging.

Want to see books about belonging?

Books About Self-esteem and Sports And Recreation

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Snowboard Sham
Written by Jake Maddox
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

When Will Pastora’s family arrived at the Sorenson Resort for a family vacation he did not know that there was going to be a snowboarding competition; he enjoys snowboarding, but he is embarrassed to admit that he is only a beginner so he signs up at a higher level—and soon realizes that tackling the more difficult slopes is dangerous and that he needs some help to admit his error in front of his new, more experienced acquaintances.

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

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

A young pitcher steps up to the plate.

A hardworking mom interviews for her biggest job yet.

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

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

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Me and McGee
Written by Myron Uhlberg & illustrated by Daniela Sosa
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

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

  2. Argyle Fox - Argyle Fox, with his signature style, wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: Woosh! Mama Fox tells grumpy Argyle that if he thinks long enough, he will come up with something to do. Following his mother’s suggestion and inspired by her knitting, he works all the pieces of his day together and creates the perfect solution. The story of Argyle teaches that failure is often a path to success and celebrates perseverance, creative thinking, and an old-fashioned springtime activity.

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

Books About Self-esteem and Imagination And Play

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Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple & illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles — all in their sparkly crowns!

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Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
Written & illustrated by Ian Falconer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

In this picture book starring the world’s most imaginative pig, Olivia embarks upon a quest for identity with very lofty goals—and being a princess is NOT one of them!

Olivia is having an identity crisis! There are too many ruffly, sparkly princesses around these days, and Olivia has had quite enough. She needs to stand out! She has to be special! She wants to do more than just fit in! So what will she be? Join Olivia on a hilarious quest for individuality, and rest assured, you won’t find THIS pig pleased to be in pink!

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Why Are You So Quiet?
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Into a world where it often seems nobody is listening comes a poignant story that celebrates the power of silence.

"Why are you so quiet?" Her teacher implores it, her classmates shout it, even her mom wonders it. Everyone, it seems, is concerned for Myra Louise. So, in search of an answer to the tiresome question nobody will stop asking, she invents a listening machine. If the raindrops, or the crickets, or the dryers at the laundromat can tell her why they're so quiet, maybe Myra Louise can finally make everybody understand. But the more she listens, the less interested she becomes in finding any answer at all. Because Myra Louise comes to realize that all she really needs is someone else to listen alongside her.

With gorgeous illustrations from Risa Hugo, Jaclyn Desforges's first picture book champions introversion and the value of being a listener, a thinker, and an observer in our increasingly loud world.

Honorable Mentions
A Thousand No's book
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Kindergarten Luck book
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  1. A Thousand No's - This empowering picture book teaches readers that even great ideas sometimes get a NO―but that NO can actually help great ideas become the best ideas! There was a little girl who had a great idea. She had the most amazing, superb, best idea ever!
    NO? Wait, what do you mean NO? NO again?
    What is she supposed to do with all these NO’s?
    NO after NO after NO come the little girl’s way, twisting and squishing her idea. But by persevering, collaborating and using a little imagination, all those NO’s become the building blocks for the biggest YES ever! A Thousand NO’s is a story about perseverance and innovation. It shows what amazing things can happen if we work with others and don’t give up, and teaches kids not to let expectations of how things should be get in the way of what could be.

  2. Kindergarten Luck - What makes a lucky day?
    One gloomy morning, Theodore found a bright, shiny penny on the way down to breakfast. There was Abraham Lincoln, face up. What luck! “Oh THANK you, Mr. Famous President!” Theodore said. And he tucked that shiny, new penny in his pocket.
    Follow Theodore through a day bursting with the simple joys and endless verve of young children—a reminder of how much luck abounds in the world, and how sometimes, it’s just waiting to be found.

Books About Self-esteem and Facing Fears

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The Red Boat
Written & illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.

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Madeline Finn and the Library Dog
Written & illustrated by Lisa Papp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. But she DOES want a gold star from her teacher. But, stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words, and for saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad; when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. With endearing illustrations, Lisa Papp brings an inspiring and comforting book to all new readers who just need a little confidence to overcome their fears.

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Marc's Mission
Written by Jocko Willink & illustrated by Jon Bozak
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

New York Times-bestselling author Jocko Willink delivers a second powerful and empowering Way of the Warrior Kid book about finding your inner strength and being the best you can be, even in the face of adversity in Marc’s Mission.

Honorable Mentions
Harriet's Monster Diary book
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Musical Mac book
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  1. Harriet's Monster Diary - Meet Harriet, a lovable monster who is just sick at the thought of giving a report in front of her class! Her heart pounds, her chest gets tight, and her stomach twists in painful knots. She can’t even bear to get started on it! What is she going to do? In the same humorous spirit of Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes Harriet’s Monster Diary: Awful Anxiety (But I Squish It, Big Time). Using the “furmometer” and ST4 techniques developed by Dr. Raun Melmed of the Melmed Center in Arizona, Harriet’s Monster Diary teaches kids how to monitor how they feel and respond to stressful situations. Harriet’s hilarious doodles and diary entries chronicle her delightful adventures, misadventures, and eventual triumph in a funny, relatable way. It’s the one book that stressed kids will want to calm down to read! Harriet’s Monster Diary also includes a resource section to help parents and teachers implement Dr. Melmed’s methods, plus ST4 reminders that kids can remove, color, and place around the house.

  2. Musical Mac - Mac the millipede loves to make music. He dreams of playing in a talent show with a band, but wherever he auditions, everyone says NO. No one wants him . . . until Mac comes up with an ingenious one-millipede solution to his problem! Brendan Kearney’s funny picture book will inspire kids who like to march to the beat of their own drum.

Epilogue

9 books that are just too good to leave off of our self-esteem list.
Maurice the Unbeastly book
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The Dot book
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Cinderella Liberator book
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Giraffes Can't Dance book
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  1. Maurice the Unbeastly - No ordinary beast, Maurice is neat, polite, photogenic, and his roar is delightful to the ear, which leads his parents to enroll him at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts, where he realizes he has a few things he can teach his fellow beasts.

  2. The Dot - Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher’s encouragement leads her to change her mind.

  3. Cinderella Liberator - In her debut children’s book, Rebecca Solnit reimagines a classic fairytale with a fresh, feminist Cinderella and new plot twists that will inspire young readers to change the world, featuring gorgeous silhouettes from Arthur Rackham on each page. In this modern twist on the classic story, Cinderella, who would rather just be Ella, meets her fairy godmother, goes to a ball, and makes friends with a prince. But that is where the familiar story ends. Instead of waiting to be rescued, Cinderella learns that she can save herself and those around her by being true to herself and standing up for what she believes.

  4. Giraffes Can't Dance - Gerald the giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds the right music. On board pages.

Dasher book
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The Second Sky book
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The Crown on Your Head book
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Tiara's Hat Parade book
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  1. Dasher - From the celebrated creator of Red and Lulu comes the story of a brave little doe who meets Santa and changes Christmas forever. Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.

  2. The Second Sky - An inspiring story about finding your true element Ever since he first hatched, Gilbert has wanted to fly. But with his big, clumsy feet and small, fluffy wings, learning to fly is a bigger challenge than Gilbert anticipated. His fellow penguins tell him to give up, but Gilbert is sure that if he keeps trying, he’ll be able to soar… Young readers will fall in love with this sweet, motivating story about overcoming obstacles and discovering your hidden talents.

  3. The Crown on Your Head - Celebrates each child’s unique individuality, symbolized by a crown that each are born with and which will always be there.

  4. Tiara's Hat Parade - Tiara has a gift for storytelling; her momma has a gift for making hats. When a new store opens that sells cheaper hats, Momma has to set her dreams aside, but Tiara has an idea for helping Momma’s dreams come true again.

Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse book
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  1. Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse - T. L. McBeth’s Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse is the hilarious picture book tale of a child’s terribly illustrated creation who (never having seen himself) thinks he’s beautiful. Randy knows he’s a beautiful horse―everyone says so. From his silky coat to his perfect smile to his very name, reserved only for the most special of creatures, Randy is beyond compare. This laugh-out-loud picture book plays with expectations and takes you inside a child’s imaginary world, through construction-paper mountains, popsicle-stick forests, and sandpaper deserts. Readers are sure to fall for this maybe-not-so-beautiful but wholly endearing character.

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