Books are magic. Read aloud time provides comfort, strengthens relationships, and prompts conversations. These children's books about hope give parents and caregivers the opportunity to provide reassurance to kids over their anxieties and complicated feelings. They offer pathways to hope and resilience when life is uncertain and things don't go according to plan.
Best of all, these books will inspire hope, kindness and make everyone smile.
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View my list of comforting books on Booklist here.
WILL IT BE OKAY? by Crescent Dragonwagon, illustrated by Jessica Love
Will It Be Okay? not only provides kids with the reassurance they need when they ask important and scary questions, it sneakily gives parents a roadmap for how to talk to their children! The narration is written as a dialogue between mother and child, with the child asking questions that are sometimes simple, such as "What if it snows?" and other times emotionally complex, like "What if I'm mad at everyone?" The parent gives straightforward answers that acknowledge but do not diminish the child's fears, but also provide suggestions for how to handle their anxieties. A must-read book. Ages 3-103.
STILL THIS LOVE GOES ON by Buffy Sainte-Marie, illustrated by Julie Flett
The calming text of this marvelous book is based on lyrics by Cree singer and songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. Cree-Métis artist, Julie Flett's illustrations are the perfect match. Each double page spread offers soaring vistas or scenes of harmonious relationships (or both!). The narrator is a child who expresses wonder at the natural world around them, periodically punctuated with the phrase, "and still this love goes on." Heartwarming. All ages.
THE COQUÍES STILL SING by Karina Nicole González, illustrated by Krystal Quiles
In 2017 Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and to many children in the area it must have seemed like there was no hope to get back to normal after such a scary event. González and Quiles' lovely book tells the story of Elena, whose family endured the storm's devastation. Elena observes the destruction, noting how the coquí frogs have gone silent in the aftermath. What follows is the comforting words of family members, the work to rebuild and finally, the return of the song of the coquíes. Ages 5 and up.
LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME by Maya Angelou, illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Editor, Sara Jane Boyers, has created a marvelous book by pairing Angelou's poem with the neo-expressionist paintings of Basquiat. Angelou's poem invites the reader to defy the frightening things one might encounter in life, drawing upon one's inner strength and a determination to succeed. The succinct and direct text is also a great introduction to poetry. Includes author's notes about the work of Angelou and Basquiat. Ages 3 and up.
I AM EVERY GOOD THING by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Children hear messages from every corner as they grow up. Some may be full of praise, others are sadly critical, or even derogatory and meant to belittle. Caring adults must counteract these negative messages with hope. The reassurance that you are "every good thing" is a powerful and hopeful message for a child. Barnes' text sings loudly to children of their worth, the validity of their dreams and their right to define themselves as they wish. Moving. Ages 3 and up.
COME WITH ME by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaître
A young girl is feeling anxious about the anger, hatred and tension she sees in the news. As a way to reassure his daughter about the goodness still in the world, a parent takes her for a walk, saying, "Come with me." On their journey, they see acts of kindness. Later on, the girl takes the dog for a walk and invites a neighbor boy to come along with her. A great book to help you talk to your kids about how to manage their anxiety in a complex world. Ages 3 and up.
MOST PEOPLE by Michael Leannah, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
The simple message of this book is that "most people are very good people." This is not a complex book but it is uplifting and I love the wide variety of families, neighbors and other communities depicted in the cheerful illustrations. Ages 3 and up.
FELIX AFTER THE RAIN by Dunja Jogan
Felix After the Rain, translated from the Slovenian, helps children understand the importance of confronting their sadness instead of burying it. Felix feels burdened by a dark and foreboding suitcase he carries around with him after the death of his grandmother. The suitcase makes him unhappy but he can't seem to get rid of it. He drags it up a hill. At the top of this hill, a small boy opens it while Felix sleeps, releasing all of Felix's fears and grief in a storm. Descending the hill, Felix now feels joy and is relieved of his cares. What prevents the ending from being too simple are the hugs he receives and gives at the end.
I CAN HELP Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Mikela Prevost
Even grown-ups can wonder if there is hope after you make a mistake, especially a mistake they may have caused hurt feelings in another. Children can easily be overwhelmed by feelings of remorse. Faruqi's books shows children that acts of kindness and compassion can give us hope that we can right our wrongs, and correct our mistakes. Zahra volunteers to help Kyle, a fellow classmate, and is proud to be a "super helper." However, when the other children tease her for being kind to the "weird" kid, she brushes Kyle off. Kyle voices his feelings and tells her she is no longer kind. Zahra doesn't actually get to apologize to Kyle because she moves to a new school. But she does act to change her behavior and become the kind of person she can be proud of. Aged 4 and up.
PEACE IS AN OFFERING by Annette LeBox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
This rhyming story takes kids on a journey to discover how simple experiences can offer individuals peace and hope. Peace can be an offering, or gratitude, or friendship, for example. Each idea is expanded upon and encourages children to find peace and hope even during life's disappointments and sorrows. Ages 3 and up.