Books

Perseverance is an important lesson for any child, but these books can really help.
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty

The Best Books To Encourage Your Child To Never Give Up

You already tell them "never give up," but now you can show them what determination is really like with these books.

As parents, we want our children to be kind, resilient and strong. To be curious and empathetic. And because there will always be hard times in life, we want them to be able to persevere despite any struggles they may face along the way. We can teach all of these qualities by modeling that behavior ourselves, and also by reading to our children. Books are a gateway to the world, and as such, I wanted to share a few children's books that demonstrate perseverance. With everything going on in the United States right now, and all that our children have had to take on with remote learning and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, cuddling up with a good book that show kids how to make it through seems like a great idea right about now.

Story time is a wonderful way to bond with your child and make them feel safe, and as an added bonus, everyone knows the benefits of reading to children are plentiful. Much like the pioneers of our nation (this Laura Ingalls Wilder fan covered pioneer books for children in another post), skills of perseverance, determination, and making do with what we have are needed in this crisis. Now is as good a time as any to teach those skills to your kids.

1

An Elephant & Piggie classic

Mo Willems has always been one of my favorite children's book authors, and the Elephant and Piggie series represent wonderful (and funny!) stories of friends who are always honest with each other. In this tale, Elephant and Piggie's new friend, Snake, wants to join in a game of catch. But how can he with no arms? Snake will find a way!

2

An Inventor Learns An Important Lesson

A girl has a magnificent idea for the most wonderful invention — she just has to make it! Turns out, sometimes starting a new project can be hard. She works and works with her dog but gets so mad and frustrated that she finally quits altogether. After her dog takes her for a walk (get it?), she decides to come back and try again. Don't give up!

3

All It Takes Is A Dream (& Hard Work)

Living in NYC, this one is near and dear to my heart, as it's inspired by The Highline, one of the crown jewels of our city. A young gardener works hard to transform a dark, dreary city into a lush, green world when he discovers that he can grow a garden atop an old elevated railway.

4

Save Your Pennies, Kids

I have fond memories of reading this book to my children. This Caldecott Honor winner tells the story of a young girl, her mother, and her grandmother, who save their pennies to buy a big, comfortable chair to sit in after their home is a destroyed by a fire. Patience and perseverance all wrapped into one.

5

Learning To Fly

No matter how hard he tries, Penguin just can't learn to fly, even though he knows he can deep down inside. But what happens when you work really, really hard? You can accomplish anything. Even flying.

6

It May be Hard, But Don't Give Up

I've been trying to teach my kids how to whistle for a while now, so this one hits close to home! Ezra Jack Keats continues the story of Peter, whom we first met in The Snowy Day. A little older now, Peter wants to learn how to whistle so he can call his dog Willie, as he's seen all the older boys do with their dogs. That's not so easy, as we all know. As stated on the Ezra Keats Foundation website, "Keats creates a world in which effort yields results."

7

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Lazlo is afraid of the dark. Haven't we all been at one time or another? This universal childhood fear is dealt with cleverly and poetically by the one and only Lemony Snicket, the pen name for author Daniel Handler. (The cost of this particular book is much higher because it's a first edition and signed by the author).

8

It's OK To Wear What You Want

Mary is sick of wearing dresses during a time when pants were a "no no" for women and girls. She goes against the gender expectations of her time and is much more comfortable for doing so. This tale is inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants. Can you even imagine? I'm glad she didn't give up!

9

Outer Space Isn't So Far Away

Thanks to the hit 2017 movie, many of us are now familiar with the incredible story of four black women who helped shape the United States' role in conquering outer space. Now you can learn more about Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who were really (really!) good at math and conquering the odds stacked against them.

10

Wishes Can Come True

In old China, Ruby wants to attend university when she grows up, instead of getting married. This story is based on the author's grandmother, and is an inspiring portrait of a young girl who perseveres with hard work and courage to go against the grain.

11

Learn To Get Back Up Again

Did you know that Humpty Dumpty was bird watching when he fell off that wall? Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's inspiring tale takes up where the famous nursery rhyme ends. What happens after a terrible accident makes you afraid of heights? Will Humpty be able to summon the courage to face his fears so that he will be able to go bird watching again? I think he can do it!

12

When In Doubt, Dance!

Gerald the Giraffe wants to join in with the other animals to do the Jungle Dance. Unfortunately, he's not much of a dancer (in fact, he's terrible). The funny and sweet picture book shows how you can dance to your own tune and gain confidence in your own unique way.

May we continue to teach our children to work hard and never give up, and may difficult times be behind us soon. Happy reading!