Being brave is hard. But it’s also empowering! The imaginative, encouraging, and sometimes humorous stories in this book list can help young children learn to acknowledge and conquer their fears.

Harley
By: Star Livingstone, Molly Bang
Illustrated by: Molly Bang
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Harley is loner who just can’t seem to get along with the other llamas. But a shepherd who needs to protect his flock from coyotes sees something else inHarley. Harley not only befriends the sheep, he becomes a lovable animal hero in this short but informative and captivating book.

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
By: Rosalyn Schanzer
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Benjamin Franklin was amazing. He was a musician, a printer, a cartoonist, a shopkeeper, an inventor and more. He figured out how to solve many problems – including how to steal lightening from the sky to prevent it from starting fires in Colonial towns. Conversational text and lighthearted illustrations introduce this early American hero to a new generation.

Max
By: Bob Graham
Illustrated by: Bob Graham
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
The son of superhero parents, Max is frustrated when even his cape and encouragement from his parents aren’t enough to help him learn to fly. But everything changes on the day he saves a baby bird and discovers that he, too, is a hero. Gently lined and colored illustrations depict slightly frumpy, appealing, characters in this engaging and encouraging tale.

Minnie and Moo and the Musk of Zorro
By: Denys Cazet
Illustrated by: Denys Cazet
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Bovine buddies Minnie and Moo are inspired after reading about Zorro. Moo decides that there are just not enough heroes and so she and her friend don disguises to become Juanita del Zorro del Moo andDelores del Zorro del Minnie. The heroic team set off to save the chickens and the farmer, providing lots of laughs along the way. Young readers will enjoy this installment of the humorous series about two lovable, laughable, and valiant cows.

New York’s Bravest
By: Mary Pope Osborne, Steve Johnson
Illustrated by: Steve Johnson
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
When others ran from trouble, eight foot tall Mose Humphreys ran toward it as an extraordinary New York City firefighter. This larger-than-life story is actually a tall tale, an urban legend based on a real firefighter who lived in the 1840s. Text and illustration combine to create a fast-paced celebration of heroism and the man who earned the gratitude of an entire city.

Ninth Ward
By: Jewell Rhodes
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Orphaned at birth, Lanesha has second sight, giving her the ability to see her mother’s ghost. She also senses an impending storm which will devastate New Orleans and that her grandmother won’t survive. How Lanesha stays alive and the people she meets and helps along the way — plus a bit of magic realism — create a compelling read.

Sumo Mouse
By: David Wisniewski
Illustrated by: David Wisniewski
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
The “chubby champion” of the title is brightly-colored, larger than life and very heroic! In fact,“If Mount Fuji blows its stack, If a monster should attack, Don’t just hide inside your house! Give a call for Sumo Mouse!” Illustrations of cutout paper,placed in an almost comic book format, move this humorous parody along.

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
By: Nikki Grimes, E.B. Lewis
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
After aviator Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman is lost in a plane crash, those who knew her celebrate her life. Different voices come alive in small portraits and beautifully crafted full-page scenes as individuals tell stories in free verse to present Bessie’s unusual and heroic story. A biographical note extends the introduction to this early aviator.

Tasty Baby Belly Buttons
By: Judy Sierra, Meilo So
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Uriko is small but brave, determined, and smart. In fact, she saves the town’s children when they are kidnapped by hungry oni, the ogres of Japanese lore whose favorite food is baby belly buttons. This lively retelling of a traditional Japanese folktale reads aloud well and is complemented by the illustrations, which call to mind the tale’s Asian origin.

The Adventures of Sparrowboy
By: Brian Pinkney
Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Mild-mannered paperboy Henry collides with a sparrow and turns into Sparrowboy just like his hero, Falconman – a superhero who not only delivers the paper but also helps out the neighborhood. When Henry returns from his comic-strip fantasy, things seem just a bit better than before.

They Called Her Molly Pitcher
By: Anne Rockwell, Cynthia von Buhler
Illustrated by: Cynthia von Buhler
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
When her husband followed George Washington into battle during the war for independence, Mary “Molly” Hays followed her husband, gaining the name Molly Pitcher by carrying water to the thirsty men on the battlefield. When she took up her wounded husband’s position firing the cannon, a legend was born. The illustrations depict sturdy figures and fierce battles in this dramatic account.

Togo
By: Robert Blake
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
In 1925, dogsled teams braved a blizzard to carry much-needed diphtheria serum from Anchorage to a besieged Nome, Alaska. One remarkable husky, Togo, covered 350 of the 400 mile journey: this page-turning account dramatizes the exploits of this courageous canine.

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina
By: Rodman Philbrick
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Soon after 13-year old Zane travels from New Hampshire to visit his great-grandmother, Miss Trissy, in New Orleans, disaster strikes. He and Bandy, his dog, confront the storm and the natural and human disastrous aftermath when they are separated from Miss Trissy and make their way back to Zane’s family. This thought-provoking novel is taut and fast-paced.

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