Tuesday, June 28, 2022

7 Days of Books for Children, Day 3 Persistence, Resilience, and Inspirational Titles

Welcome back to Day 3 of #7DaysOfBooks with children's books that share stories of persistence and resilience, and can serve as spring boards for inspiration.

With both new titles and older ones, I hope today's list directs you toward some that you weren't yet aware of but are drawn to sharing with the young readers in your life. 

Perhaps what impresses me most with these titles is that the resilience and inspiration in most of them first found roots in the heart of a child. Hearts made strong with hope, courage, and the belief for a better way of living, or a belief for following one's dream, along with a sense of self-worth. Three ideas that I hope are consistently nurtured by society today rather than being squelched or extinguished.

I'll share two quotes that spoke to me for this category of books. Perhaps you'll share one of your own.

"My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon." - Mazuta Masahide

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou

As for giveaways with Day 3, there are 2 that follow below. Happy reading, shopping, and requesting at your libraries!

When Water Makes Mud, A Story of Refugee Children, written by Janie Reinart, illustrated by Morgan Taylor (Blue Whale Press 2021). 

When two young girls arrive at a refugee camp with nothing but their dreams, how many things can made from nothing? In this lyrical, achingly touching, and inspiring story, an older sister makes gifts from nothing--from a stick, a pebble, a bag, cardboard, and mud--in order to see a smile from her little sister. 

The book is dedicated to the thousands of children at the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda. The publisher's profits from the sale of this book are donated to UNICEF, which is a wonderful cause to become part of!

Up and Adam, written by Debbie Zapata, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (Kids Can Press 2022). 

A boy who sets out to help his community clean up after a storm not only lifts the hearts of his neighbors, but also will lift the hearts of all those who read it at story time. Because this book focuses on tasks that a young child is able to do, it models how even the youngest members of communities can be helpful--especially when that help is based in a shared smile. 

In addition, the authors note on the real Adam, a boy with Down's syndrome, gives room to further the discussion on abilities, as opposed to limitations that might be perceived in disabilities.  

Survivor Tree written by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2021). 

Stories that come out of the darkest moments in history have the power to resonate and instill an understanding of resilience and strength in ourselves. A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center Memorial site, and I believe that this book sensitively captures the events of 9/11 by sharing the story of the tree that survived it all to become a symbol of hope in a beautiful and powerful way. 

I highly recommend this story to share the idea that we as a people can do hard things. That all beings--are capable of doing hard things, with proper attention and care. As we move forward facing the need for social and environmental change, this book can be part of those stories that help lay the foundation for doing what needs to be done.

Be the Change. A Grandfather Ghandi Story
 written by Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016). 

As important now as it was when it was first published, this story's heart pivots on a simple, yet difficult concept--the importance of not being wasteful. Growing up as the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, a peacemaker known for effecting change without the use of violence, Arun struggled to understand a lesson that his grandfather wanted him to understand--the idea that wastefulness and violence are connected to each other. When Arun throws away the nub of a pencil (a simple example that small children will be able to relate to), eventually after he retrieves it, the connection becomes clear. The difference between passive and physical violence, and how neither can be ignored, is also shown in the story. In a world where conservative use of resources is becoming more important in order to maintain peace and harmony among nations, this book is a must-read and must-share. I'm so grateful for the connection that formed between Arun Ghandi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk in allowing this story to be created. This book is one of many that should be in every elementary classroom and on every family book shelf.

Gibberish written and illustrated by Young Vo (Levine Querido 2022). 

Dat is going to school for the first time in a new country, and everything he hears and reads sounds like gibberish. Feeling alone and embarrassed, he almost gives up, but is lifted to a sense of hope through a patient and caring friend. 

Based on my own experience as a teacher to students from other countries and having discussed their feelings and perceptions about their situation, I love the illustrations, which begin with depictions of Dat's new surroundings as being strangely cartoonish (i.e, different from him). To me, this representation makes sense, because my immigrant students described everything as being strange and weird. Since Young Vo created this story from his own experience, I feel like I've taken first steps on a bridge toward understanding based on his illustrations. With the increasing number of non-English speaking students in schools, this book could help foster empathy, understanding, patience, and acceptance in the school community.

Making a Difference, An Inspirational Book About Kids Changing the World!
Young Change Makers Series written by Stacy C. Bauer, illustrated by Emanuela Ntamack (Hop Off the Press 2022). 

In a world where role models are sought to serve as examples for inspiring children, this book is it. Here, the role models are real kids themselves who have worked toward making a difference for causes they believe in. With kid-friendly text, each spotlighted child includes a fun photo of the "change-maker," some fun facts, inspirational quotes, and the story of what each kid has accomplished. 

This book also could serve as an idea-board for community-based classroom projects. I highly recommend it for all ages--for both independent reading and story times, because each spotlight is short, easy to read, and supported with colorful graphics.

I Color Myself Different written by Colin Kaepernick, illustrated by Eric Wilkerson (Scholastic, Inc 2022). 

Told in the first person from Colin's point of view, he shares his experience of having to explain why his hand-drawn family picture shows him as the only one with brown skin. This story does a wonderful way of sharing Colin's story of adoption, while Colin's voice effuses with self-confidence and self-love for how he looks and how he feels as a person, (which is unique and different from everyone else--they way we hope all kids feel). 

This book would be a great introduction to share in the classroom for those days when students are guided through sharing a little of who they are in pictures and/or words. Like the other titles here, I highly recommend it.

Freedom Bird. A Tale of Hope and Courage
 written by Jerdine Nolan, illustrated by James E Ransome (Simon & Schuster 2020). 

This historical fiction story about two children born into slavery and who find their way to freedom is told through the embedded metaphor of getting help from a large, injured, and mysterious heron-like bird that they help to protect and heal. With roots in the tradition of American black folktales, this lyrical and emotionally powerful story is a good one for sharing insight on the effect of slavery on children, families, community, and a nation.

Float written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Simon & Schuster 2015). 

This wordless picture book is about a boy who builds a paper boat from newspaper. In the rainy day adventure they take, resilience and imagination rise from disappointment and apparent disaster in order to create a new and different adventure to be enjoyed. The use of limited colors of grays, white, yellow, pale red and pale blue bring the reader into a world of belief where anything is possible, even when faced with obstacles.

The Oldest Student. How Mary Walker Learned to Read,
 written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by Oge Mora (Anne Schwartz Books 2020). 

This book could have been placed in the history or nonfiction categories, but I'm placing it with these other inspiring titles because I am blown away with profound admiration for Mary Walker's achievements. Born into slavery, and having survived it, as well as endured the hardships she faced after emancipation--Mary Walker was the epitome of hard work, selflessness, love, and determination. Author Rita Hubbard's narrative and Oge Mora's illustrations weave together a wonderful tale that I hope all young learners will be motivated and empowered by for whatever personal struggles they face in their own lives.

Exquisite. The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Abrams Books for Young Readers 2020). 

This Robert Sibert Honor Book tells the story of the first black woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry. What I love about this book is the powerful message it shares in the importance of following your passion and not giving up on your dreams, made especially impactful since Gwendolyn started writing poetry when she was seven years old and saw her first poems published in a local newspaper when she was eleven. What a wonderful and inspiring story to share with young readers! 

It begs reconsideration of the oft-asked question, What do you want to be when you grow up? Because honestly, why put off going for one's dreams, when really, the roots can start growing deep while young?

Emmanuel's Dream. The true story of Emanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Schwartz & Wade 2015). 

There is so much to admire in this true story of a boy who not only was born with one good leg and one deformed one, but who also was raised by a single mother and by age 13 had to start working to support his family after his mother became ill. Overcoming all odds stacked against him, Emmanuel went on to bike around his country--traveling over 400 miles with only one good leg--in order to show that being disabled does not make a person unable

A powerful and inspirational addition for any book collection  that shows change can start with just one person.

And now for the giveaways! They are awesome!

Follow the Rafflecopter to make your entries. You'll see both giveaways with the side-arrows in the copter.

1) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom visit with author Janie Reinart

2) A 20-minute zoom Q&A about writing or 1 classroom with author Debbie Zapata

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Such important stories to capture other children's realities and give all children a world outside themselves

    1. I love what you've written here. So true! What a wonderful perspective

  2. I recognize several of these titles but I'm excited to check out the others! SEL books are so important.

    1. Absolutely! What I love about PBs is there are so many layers. Tomorrow I'll be sharing books that I grouped into the "SEL" category, although these here connect with that as well.

  3. These are important lessons for kids to learn. Thanks for sharing. I have not read most of these. But I want to!

    1. I'm glad I was able to share new titles with you!

  4. Wish I had GIBBERISH when I was still teaching ESL. Great list!

    1. I agree, it would be especially helpful and reassuring for ELL students

  5. Wish I had GIBBERISH when I was teaching ESL. Great list!

  6. I just had Gibberish last week from a library haul. That book has the most incredibly cool text/illustration combo. A great example of picture books doing their thing!

    1. I absolutely love the whole package of text/illustration combination as well. Definitely unique yet representative

  7. Jane Martin here. I'm inspired by art and music as well as nature and all the wild things (especially little kids)!

  8. I adore all these books and just added the one I haven't read. These lessons are so very important!

  9. Love the themes of day 3 especially inspiration. A great blog post to honour all of these essential books in the one place

    1. Thank you, Sharon. I love being inspired by books, especially those we can share and feel that with kids.

  10. What a wonderful theme! And SO many great books!

  11. I love the idea of empowering young children to make a difference.

    1. Absolutely! Kids can be wonderful seeds for change and making positive contributions to the world around them. I especially always feel lifted by the power of a child's smile.

  12. I love books with heart. ❤️

    I just realized I’ve been commenting anonymously lol and I can’t copy and paste Twitter url, but I’m doing everything!

  13. These are all inspiring and heartfelt stories. Resilience can start at a young age. Thanks so much for sharing.


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