Belief in yourself can begin before kindergarten! Browse through some suggested books for your young daughter (3-5) that’ll serve as stepping-stones to realizing and reaching for her dreams.
My Name is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?
by Jennifer Fosberry
Not your average “girls-can-do-anything” book, “My Name is Not Isabella” holds an exciting balance of empowering young girls while introducing them to real women who’ve made their mark on history by not giving up and by being themselves. With Jennifer Fosberry’s fun use of typography and Mike Litwin’s adorable pictures, this is the perfect book to teach young girls about history while inspiring them to follow their dreams.
Being Bella: Discovering How to be Proud of Your Best
by Cheryl Zuzo
Through interactions with her family, friends and teacher, Bella learns a lesson that all perfectionists must: you don’t have to be perfect to be accepted. Filled with playful and eye-catching pictures and hidden inspirational messages, “Being Bella” is an extremely relatable way to show kids that it’s okay to be happy with your best.
The Princess Knight
by Cornelia Funke
King Wilfred’s three sons are training to be respected knights. His daughter, Violetta, is being forced to get married! This doesn’t sit well with Violetta, who insists she is just as smart, brave and good at jousting as her brothers. To prove this to her uninterested father and mean older brothers, Violetta disguises herself as a boy and enters the jousting tournament. After she wins, she reveals her true identity and wins more than just the tournament.
I Love My Hair
by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
An imaginative feel-good tale of a young African American girl, “I Love My Hair” encourages African American children to be proud of their heritage and physical characteristics. Kenyana and her mother take a whimsical ride, accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations, as they liken Kenyana’s distinctive hair to other beautiful things around the world. Although they haven’t left their home, when Kenyana’s hair is finished her self-acceptance has gone to new places.
I Like Myself
by Karen Beaumont
Finally, a silly, yet serious book that celebrates being you! Karen Beaumont’s sing-song rhymes couple with David Catrow’s bubbly and lively illustrations in this ballad of self-esteem. Full of soul and sprinkled with sass, this book is dedicated to teaching kids the true meaning of self-appreciation.
by William Steig
Meet Irene Bobbin, the dressmaker’s daughter. In a fairytale plot, Irene volunteers to deliver a dress for the duchess in her ill mother’s place, despite the snowstorm brewing outside. Kids and parents alike cheer the heroine on as she braves the weather and faces obstacles on her dangerous journey to the palace.
Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen
by Linda Campbell Ernst
Sylvia Jean is a fabulous little piglet who has a costume for every occasion; whether she’s at the dentist, in ballet class, or gardening with her mother, she is dressed accordingly. Naturally, when the town announces an upcoming costume contest, everybody considers Sylvia Jean a main contender—everyone except Sylvia Jean. Instead, she locks herself in her room and cries to escape the pressure and anxiety of her peers. Children everywhere will be inspired by Sylvia Jean’s solution to dress in the most spectacular costume of all—none!
by Mary Whitcomb
Everything about Velvet is odd—including her name. When her classmates bring dolls for show-and-tell, Velvet brings a milkweed pod. When other students bring tea for the teacher, Velvet brings her an egg carton filled with rocks. After teasing Velvet about her strange quirks, the kids start to realize that being so different is what makes Velvet special and fun. For kids who are unique, or know somebody who is, Velvet is the perfect oddball role model.
I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self Esteem
by Jamie Lee Curtis
Via jubilant text and delicately scribbled pictures, actor Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrator Laura Cornell share delightfully bubbly tales of self-esteem through the eyes of a little girl and a little boy. By the end of the book, all children will celebrate themselves and the skin they’re in by letting off a little self-esteem.
What I Like About Me
by Allia Zobel Nolan
Winner of the “Mom’s Choice Book Award,” “What I Like About Me” serves as a perfect inspiration for kids to pinpoint exactly what they love about themselves. Big glasses or sparkly braces? Great! Long feet or unstoppable growth spurt? Swell! The mirror at the end provides your children with an opportunity to pick their own characteristics that make them special and unique.
Black, White, Just Right
by Marguerite W. Davol
Join a young mixed-race child as she explores her identity and physical characteristics that she is so proud of. She sees similarities to her mother, who is black, and her father, who is white; however, she also sees herself in a way that is different from both of them. Marguerite Davol combines a jubilant poem with beautiful watercolor drawings in an extraordinarily rich picture book that comes to life with opportunities for kids to join in saying, “black, white, just right.”
Priscilla McDoodlenutDoodleMcMae Asks Why?
by Janet Mary Sinke
Another winner of the “Mom’s Choice Award,” this story teaches a lesson that every person can benefit from: a change in the world starts with you. Priscilla is just a small child with resilient innocence and the natural ability to love unconditionally. Simply by asking, “Why?” she teaches us about tolerance and world peace in a nonpreachy, nonpushy way. The book’s powerful message and bubbly drawings leave a lasting imprint on children and parents alike, so hide the purple hair dye!
Amanda’s Perfect Hair
by Linda Milstein
While this book is targeted at little girls, it speaks to everyone. Amanda is a small child who is starting to think people only value her because of her long, flowing, blonde, curly hair. The colorful pictures perfectly complement the outrageous tale and Amanda’s mass of curls, including the hair-raising finale when she proves to herself and the world that she is special, even without her trademark.
The Skin You Live In
by Michael Tyler
Engaging, rhythmic and cheerful, this book shows children social acceptance, whatever the color of your skin. The simplistic pictures portray children of all cultures and ethnicities playing and having fun together. This book is a perfect platform to open conversations about multiculturalism and important social issues with your children.
by Ludwig Bemelmans
Paris’ most notorious heroine, Madeline is an irrepressibly brave little girl who stands up for what she believes in. The text, much like the strict rules in the orphanage, is rigid and structured, emphasizing Madeline’s resilient attitude. One little girl’s fearlessness and unique sense of self, in addition to illustrations meant for an art museum, secure the book’s much-deserved label as a timeless classic.
The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem
by Diane Loomans
Vibrant and intriguing illustrations bring this charming book to life. Loomans finds a genuinely original way to open the gates for children who are eager to find a positive self-image. An overall feel-good book with captivating images.
Whoever You Are
by Mem Fox
Mem Fox has done it again. Add this book to her collection of lovable children’s tales that inspire individuality and uniqueness, encourage growth, and help develop a child’s sense of self and well-being. Her message of “we’re all the same underneath our skin” rings true and is paired with whimsical and brightly colored illustrations, making this an easy favorite.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are
by Maria Dismondy
Lucy is different, and classmate Ralph will be the first to tell you! A strong-willed and courageous heroine, Lucy is a perfect example of being true to oneself, doing the right thing, and most importantly, being proud of herself and the decisions she’s made. This story will teach young kids that, despite peer pressure and bullying, being mean is not cool—standing up for what you believe in is.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
by Patty Lovell
Catrow brings bright, ripe and vibrant watercolor illustrations to Lovell’s inspirational story about Molly Lou Melon, a small but mighty little girl who can transform all of her “faults” into positive characteristics. Full of metaphors and teeming with humorous quips, this story will have your child believing in herself—and laughing out loud!
Imogene’s Last Stand
by Candace Fleming
Imogene is a bright young girl with an irrepressible passion for history. In fact, when she takes a break from reciting historical speeches and recounting past events, she fixes up the old Historical Society and transforms it into a history museum . . . that nobody visits. Fleming’s feisty little heroine stands her ground when the mayor tries to tear down the building and put in a shoelace factory. Enjoy the laughter, distinctive drawings and actual historical references as small but mighty Imogene rides through town shouting, “The bulldozers are coming! The bulldozers are coming!”