Books that build resilience in children can give them a preview of the wisdom they will gain from life experience. As parents, we can let our kids learn to get back up when they fall and we can also read them stories about characters who fall and fail and who find the courage, the strength, the resilience, and the bravery to bounce back.
One thing that really sticks out in my mind from being a mom of a toddler is how amazing they are at bouncing back from the things life throws at them.
One minute they can be screaming like the world has ended just because the toast was cut in squares and not triangles, and the next moment all is right again with the world. They are resilient.
I remember that quick turn around in emotions could leave me spinning — my son had already bounced back, but I was left with the residual emotions and reminding myself a bad moment does not make a bad day.
As our kids grow, they too have a harder time shrugging off emotions. Yet, they also have less life experience to draw from when things get tough.
And even with younger children, there are times when emotions overwhelm and your child believes that how they feel right now is how they will feel forever.
Lately, I’ve been saying some form or another of this sentiment to my son:
It isn’t about what happens to you, hard things happen to everyone. It’s how you respond to those hard things. How you get up again, when you have fallen down. How you try again when you have failed.
Books are a great way to show kids that emotions come and go, that bad days turn around, that they can find ways to bounce back, and to build our children’s resilience. To give them the wisdom that they will get from life experience, but until then, they can learn from relatable characters in books that find they can not only have the courage to stand up for themselves but for others too.
These books are some of my favorites for those times when your kids are learning to navigate the stormy seas of life.
Because when you really boil it down — bravery, resilience, and bouncing back are the skills kids need to be able to have the courage to be true to themselves, to be kind to others, and to truly be able to connect with others. Above all things, isn’t this what we want most for our kids? And even ourselves?
11 Books that Build Resilience in Children
This is the story about a little tree that makes it through challenging conditions and thrives. “The moon gazed down and softly said, “Sometimes we lose our way. But with some help, we start again. That’s how life is you know.”
A little boy helps the tree and the tree learns to thrive. Compassion, resilience, and overcoming stress and strain, this book is a great one to have in your library for when kids face stress and challenging times.
This book is suitable for both preschoolers and school-aged kids.
This is a more literal book that shows how kids can learn to handle difficult feelings and solve their own problems. It is helpful for kids to see a character feel some of the things that they feel and see how the character works through it.
Children often don’t realize that their fears and doubts are normal…“I’m learning to be the very best me. When something is hard for me, it may be just what I need to grow. Or can decide to bounce back.”
Good for 4 -8-year-olds, but more helpful for the younger side of that age-span.
Written by Wendy Moss, Ph.D. this book includes stories about kids who have a faced a tough situation and have learned to bounce back. There are many vignettes and concrete examples of how to develop resilience in different kinds of situations.
“Resilience is like a bouncing ball. When the ball hits the ground, we expect it to bounce back. Resilience means you can bounce back from, or deal with, difficult times, new situations, unexpected changes, or other experiences that cause you stress.”
Kids may think that some people are just born with the ability to bounce-back, Dr. Moss makes it clear that it is something to practice.
This is a guide for older kids aged 8 -13.
This is the story of a girl named Kate who learns to overcome some of her fears. She learns that “…everyone has their own brain and can make up their own mind what to do so it can tackle any challenge with a positive attitude.”
This book shows Kate learning to regulate her behavior and her emotions by having strong positive affirmations she said in her strong mind.
For preschoolers and early elementary-aged kids.
I love this book about how a girl finds a spark of courage deep inside her that helps her overcome hard or scary situations. She not only overcomes, but she also nurtures that courage until she glows inside and out.
The use of a “spark of courage” inner light is a metaphor that will resonate well with preschool and school-aged children.
This is a great book for illustrating how courage comes in all kinds of forms — how being the first to apologize takes courage and how being a police officer takes courage… “There are many kinds of courage. Awesome kinds. And everyday kinds. Still, courage is courage — whatever kind.”
This is a great book for children in preschool and early elementary.
This book goes through all the ways a kid can be a “Brave kid.”
“A Brave kid speaks for truth. And stands for justice. A brave kid gets back up.”
There is very little text on well-illustrated pages, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
This is a beautifully illustrated and hand-lettered book that is perfect for bedtime. You have to click over to the preview to see the beauty of this book.
“Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today:
Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave.
And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK.“
Good for toddlers, preschoolers, and early-elementary aged kids.
This book is perfect for back to school. In it, a girl is teased for being different. But she has the courage to be herself and stay true to herself. And she even finds the courage to be kind to the child who was teasing her.
Kindness takes courage and this picture book shows how to be true to yourself and kind to others — with courage. This is a story of resilience.
A must for every school-aged child’s library.
This is similar to Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, it’s about feeling different and having the courage to reach out and connect even when you’re scared to do so.
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
Great for elementary school-aged kids.
This a book about kids learning to express themselves.
To “say something” when you see something beautiful, when you are angry and want to be understood, and much more.
It takes courage to express yourself, to speak up, to be heard, and ultimately to reach out and connect with your voice.
“If you see someone lonely… Say Something… by just being there with them.”
Another must for school-aged kids.
The Hugging Tree: A Story About ResilienceBounce Back!Bounce Back: How to Be a Resilient KidMy Strong Mind: A Story About Developing Mental StrengthWhen You Are BraveCourageBraveTomorrow I’ll Be BraveSpaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage To Be Who You AreThe Day You BeginSay Something