Books are a fantastic way to escape into other worlds. But they can also teach you a lot about how to cope and apply what those books have taught you when you come back to planet earth.
Our world seems more chaotic now than ever before and in this chaos, books can be a compass. They can be the guide that assures them everything’s going to be O.K. and teaches kids how they can help! So, we’ve compiled a list that will instill your children with hope and strength.
21 Books for Hope and Strength
The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkey (Little, Brown) [Ages 1-8]
“The art of Jerry Pinkey’s new picture book is commanding enough to do without the author’s name or even the title on the front cover. A jacket with no words at all? It’s been done before, but not often.” – New York Times
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) [Ages 3-5]
“That material poverty need not mean spiritual or imaginative poverty becomes beautifully clear in the quietly moving in the pages of Last Stop on Market Street.” – The Wall Street Journal
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Puffin Books) [Ages 3-5]
“Munro’s unforgettable words and Robert Lawson’s simple pen-and-ink illustrations that show Ferdinand’s soft-heartedness make this a true classic. The story shows readers that they must choose their own path, despite what others my say or think.” – Common Sense Media
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books) [Ages 3-6]
“Picture books commonly suggest that monsters, like certain bullies, are insecure and make marvelous playamates. Pint-size Leonardo, a case in point, is ‘a terrible monster’ because ‘he couldn’t scare anyone.’” – Publishers Weekly
Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick) [Ages 3-7]
“Realistic, heavily colored, and intensely detailed, the illustrations invite children to look closely and see the way people across the globe are connected: the smiles, the pets, the music. Certainly, there’s a lot to discuss here, and some adults may want kids to make connections with their own actions, but this is also just a lovely way to look at life.” – Booklist
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (Triangle Square) [Ages 3-7]
“How do you introduce the concepts of social justice, gender equality, caring for the environment, and the responsibility for citizens to fight for each other’s rights? Innosanto Nagara wrote A is for Activist.” – Slugger O’Toole
Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara (Triangle Square) [Ages 3-7]
“From the opening invitation, ‘Living in community, / it’s a lot of FUN! / Let’s count the ways. / Let’s start with ONE,’ Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy – exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in.” – Kirkus
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle (HMH Books) [Ages 4-7]
“In a tradition where boys were the only ones allowed to play the drums, Millo seemed doomed to keep her hands still and the joyous beats she heard in her head unexpressed. Fortunately, rules were bent, talents were nurtured, and an artist became internationally recognized for her skills.” – School Library Journal
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull (HMH Books) [Ages 4-7]
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“Readers meet Chavez at his grandparents’ home in Arizona where he lived happily amid a large extended family. His childhood was cut short when, dur to financial difficulties, the family was forced to move to California to seek employment.” – School Library Journal
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion) [Ages 4-8]
“This beginning reader focuses on differently abled animals as Elephant and Piggy get ready for a game of catch. Before they begin, Snake asks to join them. Simple gestures and facial expressions convey Elephant’s embarrassment at Snake’s inability to catch a ball.” – Disney-Hyperion
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson (Schwartz & Wade) [Ages 4-8]
“This powerful and winning picture book tells the story of a young man overcoming the odds…This uplifting account will resonate with readers and supplement global and culture studies. A triumph.” – School Library Journal
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (Dial Books) [Ages 4-8]
“An autobiographical picture books describes trans-youth activist Jazz Jennings’ story of embracing and asserting her transgender identity.” – Kirkus
The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez (Lee & Low Books Inc.) [Ages 4-8]
“This warm-hearted Spanish/English bilingual story adopts the perspectives of two children who are inspired by Belpré to enter a library for the very first time.” – Publishers Weekly
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray) [Ages 4-8]
“A rabbit and a mouse plant seeds that grow into food but don’t want to share with the birds. A nasty skirmish ensues, and all the animals end up covered in smashed tomato bits, looking spent and unhappy.” – Common Sense Media
The Peace Book by Todd Parr (Little, Brown) [Ages 4-8]
“Todd Parr…attempts to teach children to embrace difference and peace while struggling with some of the same issues it intends to overcome.” – Teaching for Change
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (Random House) [Ages 4-8]
“Lightly disguised as one of the old versifier’s fantastical journeys, a rueful survey of the pleasures and pitfalls along the road of life – a sort of commencement address for tots and their elders.” – Kirkus
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh (Harry N. Abrams) [Ages 6-9]
“Tonatiuh offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v Board of Education.”
Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books) [Ages 6-10]
“Known for her award-winning children’s books featuring activists working for peace and justice, Winter turns her clear eye to the valiant efforts of two children who spoke out against a society that deprived young people of their right to an education or the right to be protected from exploitation.” – New York Journal of Books
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinky (Little, Brown) [Ages 7-10]
“The latest collaboration by this husband-and-wife team recreates the renowned 1960 sit-in staged by four black college students at Greensboro ‘whites only’ lunch counter.” – Publishers Weekly
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford (Candlewick) [Ages 9-12]
“The combination of history, poetry, and brilliant watercolor illustrations makes this a picture book on the Civil Rights Movement that should not be missed.” – School Library Connection
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins)
“Shel Silverstein takes a poignant and gentle look at the art of giving and the concept of unconditional love in his deeply profound children’s book The Giving Tree. The story tells of the relationship between a young boy and a tree.”
When was the last time you opened a book and read with your kids? Try it by the end of this week! We hope that both you and they find hope and strength through one of these books.
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