Raising confident kids isn’t something that happens overnight. As our kiddos age, they begin to absorb more from the world around them—and sometimes those messages are disheartening or even damaging. Put your kids in the right frame of mind to know they can do anything, be anything, and overcome anything with the inspiring messages behind these 15 books.

photo: Random House

T. Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes

Learning new things can be hard, just ask a T-rex trying to reach down to tie his own shoes or a bee trying to ride a bicycle. The point is, no one is good at everything—but trying can be a lot more fun. This positive book by Anna Lazowski, with playful, classic illustrations by Steph Laberis teaches kids to think about all of the things they CAN do instead of all the things they can’t. Plus, it’s an alphabet teaching book, and one we think you will love reading out loud to your kids on repeat. Ages: 3-6 

Find your copy here, $18

photo: Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing

Sassafras and Her Teeny Tiny Tail 

Sassafras the squirrel loves to scamper, but her teeny tiny tail makes it harder for her to balance—and it makes her the target of teasing. But it doesn’t take long for Sassafras and the rest of the squirrels to discover that being different is a good thing, especially when you end up saving the day. We love that this book is Dyslexic inclusive: it is printed in a font that everyone can read, including people with dyslexia.  Written by Candice Marley Conner with illustrations by Heath Gray. Ages: 3-7

Get yours here, $10-15

photo: Mighty and Bright

Nothing Stays the Same (but That's Okay)

Every kid will face change: whether it's an illness, the pandemic, divorce, or moving schools. Author and child behavior expert Sara Olsher reminds kids (and their grown-ups) that it is actually okay. Facing our fears and the unknown is scary, but Olsher aims to give kids knowledge, the best defense against anxiety and fear. Whether it's a big change or something small, this book will help normalize the inevitability of change, giving kids the confidence that they can handle it. You can buy just the book or upgrade to a calendar set that gives children a visual aid for day-to-day schedules. Olsher has also written books about kids coping with divorce and illness. Ages: 4-10

Get yours here, from $3

photo: Danielle Green

Hey, Pretty Girl

Let’s face it, little girls are told they are “pretty” all the time, but what does that value actually mean? In Danielle Green’s book, part of the Hey, Girl series, Green aims to help define that word for a new generation of children. In Hey, Pretty Girl a little girl named Myah is nervous about starting school at a new place. When her teacher introduces her to class, everyone learns a lesson about how beautiful we all are in our own way. Includes a word search and coloring pages at the end. Illustrated by Bea Jackson. Ages: 4-10

Find your copy, $15

photo: Simon & Schuster

Sulwe

Written by Kenyan-born actress Lupita Nyong'o, this is as much her personal story as it is the story of young Sulwe, a girl whose skin is the color of midnight. The stunningly gorgeous illustrations by Vashti Harrison are reason enough alone to want this book in your library, but the story itself is beautifully told; it's about differences, acceptance of oneself no matter how we think others see us, it's about wanting to fit in and yet being unique. A vital message for every kid out there, regardless of race or gender. Read it today with your kids. Ages 4-8

Buy yours here, $10

photo: Nancy Paulsen Books

I Am Every Good Thing

Author Derrick Barnes captures the young and confident Black narrator of this book perfectly, demonstrating the pure joy of childhood where each day brings challenges and adventures. The exuberant and beautifully done illustrations by Gordon C. James make this book one that will inspire your kids to embrace their own beauty even if things aren't always perfect or they make mistakes, and stay true to their truth, even when they are misunderstood or called things they are not. Ages: 3-7

Get yours here, $12

photo: Mango and Marigold Press

Always Anjali

For any kid who can’t find their name on a mug or key chain at a souvenir shop, you’ll relate instantly to this beautifully written book by Sheetal Sheth, who tells the story of a little girl named Anjali. Anjali is excited to ride her bike with her friends to the fair but when she can’t find her name on the little toy license plate, it leads to taunting by some other kids. When she tells her mom she hates her name, her mom gives her reasons to love who she is. Jessica Blank’s enchanting illustrations support the message of this book: be proud of who you are, and be compassionate to those who are not like you (and who have totally boring names). Ages 3-7

Buy it now, $20

photo: Bloomsbury Publishing

A Most Clever Girl

The thread that repeats itself in nearly every "success" story is that the drive to be or do something is greater than the obstacles put befo that arise. In this tale of girl power that kids of any gender will love, A. Stirling tells the story of how Jane Austen's obsession with words defined her life, and Vesper Stemper's beautiful images capture the era perfectly. The takeaway? Having confidence in your passions can change the world. Ages: 5-9

Get it here, $17

photo: Kittle Brown

Rock What Ya Got

For any kid (or grownup) who doesn't feel like they're enough, who wishes they were a little bit taller or had different color hair, this book about body positivity will make a deep impression. Written from the perspective of a tiny version of the author and illustrator (Samantha Berger) it's a beautiful, rhythmic told story about learning to love who you are and rock it!  Ages: 4-7

Get it here. $16

photo: Sunshine Books

Olivia's Red Hair

Olivia’s Red Hair

Olivia has very red hair and it stands out in a crowd, which she doesn’t mind until she gets to school and finds no one has hair quite like hers. So she embarks on a scavenger hunt around her home and around town, to find all of the things she loves that are red too. In the end, Olivia learns to love the thing that makes her so different from everyone else. Ages 3-6

Buy it now, $11

photo: Penguin Workshop

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave

This picture book by award-winning lettering artist Jessica Hische became an instant classic. Inspired by the birth of her own daughter, Hische wanted to give kids an opportunity to reflect on their day, to understand that tomorrow is a new beginning and that self-forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. Filled with strong words like Brave, Confident, Creative, Smart, and Curious and complemented by gorgeous illustrations. Ages: 3-7

Get your copy now, $14

photo: Courtney North

Beenz and Peace Find Their Happy Place

Space creatures might not be the first characters to come to mind in a book about instilling confidence, but the two loveable creatures—Beanz and his pet, Peace—in author Courtney North’s book do just that. Beanz does not look like everyone on Saturn, so he travels the universe looking for a place to fit it. When his differences are welcomed on Jupiter, Beanz takes up the challenge to bring that inclusive attitude back to his home planet: being different from one another is a strength. Cheerfully illustrated by Yevheniia Lisova. Ages: 4-10

Get your copy here, $15

photo: Running Press

We Got Game: 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World 

Aileen Weintraub’s collection, illustrated by Sarah Green, of dynamic and diverse athletes from around the globe—from Paralympian Tatanya McFadden to Simone Biles to Bille Jean King—will inspire kids of any gender to be confident and stay strong. Ages: 8-12

Get your copy here, $14

photo: BookBaby

Pandemic 2020: A 9-Year-Old’s Perspective

This unique book's main theme isn’t about instilling confidence per se, but it’s written by a nine-year-old girl, Prisha Hedau, during the height of the 2020 lockdown and gives kids a voice of solidarity and familiarity of how things changed and what life is like. It also gives parents the perspective of what life is like for our kids, from a kid’s point of view. It will help kids feel less alone, and the fact that this little girl had the confidence to write a book at this age is a lesson in confidence we can all benefit from. We think parents and kids everywhere should give this one a read. Prisha donates a large portion of her book proceeds to support local pandemic charities. Ages: 7-12

Buy your copy here, $7

photo: Clarion Books

It Doesn’t Have to Be Awkward: Dealing with Relationships, Consent, and Other Hard-to-Talk-About Stuff

We know first-hand just how awkward it can get for parents and their kids when it comes to talking about sex, but this book by Dr. Drew Pinsky and his daughter Paulina Pinsky makes it a little less so. Honest, entertaining, and frank this guide to sex, relationships, and consent is geared toward teens but valuable to parents and educators trying to navigate topics and teach children confidence and self-worth, especially when it comes to their bodies. Ages 12 and up. 

Pre-order here, $18

 

—Amber Guetebier

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