Pre-K

11 Books About Bravery for Kids
Ages 3 – 5

by Lindsay Barrett

pre-k-bravery-books
Photo credit: Orbon Alija, E+ Collection/Getty Images

Bravery is one theme preschoolers have no trouble wrapping their chubby-cheeked heads around. Superheroes, firefighters, and closet-monster battling parents? All iconic to the preschool set, and all brave. Discussions about bravery-themed books help preschoolers face things that are scary or hard in their own lives. The stories on this list are full of brave characters — from bears to superheroes to spunky preschool kids themselves — perfect for showing 3- to 5-year-olds that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes.

  • The Bear Must Go On

    by Dev Petty, illustrated by Brandon Todd

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    When the forest animals decide to put on a show, shy Bear nominates himself to be “note taker” in order to avoid the spotlight. When there’s a last-minute mishap, though, Bear bravely conquers his nervousness to help the show go on. This is a sweet story for introducing the idea of stage fright and talking about how being brave can mean helping friends in need.

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  • Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon

    by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

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    Pre-K kiddos are a generally accepting bunch, but it’s never too soon to begin conversations about the importance of being an ally — and that being an ally is awesomely brave. Molly Lou Melon is proud of being herself. Her individualist spirit leads her to stick up for a new kid in school when others choose to bully him. The illustrations in this title are a delight and give preschoolers an appealing window into the antics of Molly Lou and her peers.

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  • Danbi Leads the School Parade

    by Anna Kim

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    Starting at new school requires bravery. This is especially true for Danbi, who is new to America where everything feels unfamiliar. Expect preschoolers to pore over the exuberant illustrations (and for them to make you fall in love with Danbi yourself). This story can spark conversations about approaching school, or any new challenge, with a brave and bold mindset.

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  • Orion and the Dark

    by Emma Yarlett

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    Every child finds themselves afraid of the dark at some point. For Orion, it’s a relentless worry every night at bedtime. This sweet and relatable story shows kids that being brave doesn’t mean never being afraid, but it does mean finding the strength to face your fears. When Orion finally confronts the darkness of his bedroom, it leads to an unforgettable adventure and the revelation that, “There, in the darkest place of all, I realized the Dark could be fun, and the Dark could be interesting, and the Dark could be magical, and most of all…the Dark could be my friend.” Monsters aside, this tale of taking brave steps to examine and reframe our deepest fears is a powerful example for us all.

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  • Every Little Letter

    by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz

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    All the letters live in their own walled cities, never interacting with one other. When little “h” and little “i" discover each other through a hole in the wall (appropriately forming, of course, “hi”), it takes time for the big letters to embrace their open-minded outlook. Besides the traditional themes of friendship and courage — and a helpful primer on the ABCs — this story presents the chance to talk with preschoolers about how even the smallest community members’ brave actions can make a big difference.

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  • Be Brave Like Aquaman! (DC Super Friends)

    by Laura Hitchcock, illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner

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    Grab this preschool-approved title if your kiddo needs a water-themed bravery boost. Even Aquaman had to learn to be brave around the water! Equating a superhero’s tools, tricks, and sidekicks to practical things like swim goggles, life jackets, and swimming instructors gives families a relatable way to talk about water safety and encourage hesitant kids to dip their toes in the water. If the superhero mentality is helpful for your child, also check out Be Brave Like Batman!, with plenty of hero-themed strategies for coping with a fear of the dark.

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  • How to Be a Lion

    by Ed Vere

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    Many people — including most preschoolers — might consider a lion’s fierceness to be the ultimate badge of bravery. Leonard the lion, however, prefers poetry and a quiet friendship with a duck, Marianne. He shows his bravery in a different way when he stands up for his friend and the choices that make him content. This book is enjoyable for all ages, but particularly perfect for preschoolers just learning how using words to navigate conflict can be the bravest act of all.

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  • Otis and The Kittens

    by Loren Long

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    Stories about Otis, the endlessly selfless and lovable red tractor, help preschoolers consider so many important themes. This tale of how Otis rescues kittens caught in a barn fire is definitely an ode to brave firefighters — but also a testament to brave acts of friendship. Grab a cardboard box and some stuffed animals, and this book is almost guaranteed to inspire plenty of rescue-themed pretend play — a perfectly age-appropriate way for preschoolers to explore what it means to be brave.

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  • Thank You, Helpers

    by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Michael Emmerson

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    Community helpers are real-life superheroes, and a model of bravery for all. This celebration of medical professionals, delivery workers, teachers, and more was inspired by the dedication of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It expands kids’ concept of the heroism — because what’s braver than caring for others when they need it most?

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  • A Brave Bear

    by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Emily Hughes

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    It’s natural to think big when contemplating bravery — daring acts and grand gestures. But when you’re 3, 4, or 5, sometimes being brave means taking the next step even when you’re uncomfortable, hurt, or sad. For the young bear in this book to reach the solace of a cool swim with his dad on a hot day, he must overcome a long walk, and even a hurt knee. Dad even offers to carry him, but the small bear summons up big strength and decides to push onwards on his own. The reward for his bravery is splashy and sweet.

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  • Owl Babies

    by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson

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    What requires bravery more than being separated from a loving caregiver? When fluffy white owl babies Sarah, Percy, and Bill wake up to find their mother gone, they must bravely reassure each other as they await her return. Of course, she does come back (with dinner!), encouraging anxious preschoolers to be brave when they have to be away from a loved one, too.

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