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Baby & Toddler

Board Books That Inspire Strength and Resilience

by Miranda Rosbach

resilience
Photo credit: Anchiy, E+ Collection/Getty Images

Babies might be the epitome of resilience. We’ve all seen children go from being immobile infants to running circles around you by their first birthday. That’s the impressive thing about babies. They keep growing. They get up when they fall, and they try something 100 times, failing each time before getting the hang of it. Resilience is that innate push to keep going, and babies succeed because they never give up. Let’s fill our babies with emotional strength and the conviction that they can do hard things, persevere, and eventually succeed.

  • I Am!: Affirmations for Resilience

    by Bela Barbosa, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez

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    Take a moment and pay attention to how your body feels. Scan each part: your legs, tummy, shoulders, hands, and heart. If you don’t like how you feel, you can change that by using affirmations, or positive phrases, like I Am Brave, I Am Calm, I Am Loved. Feelings (no matter what they are) are okay. And they can change. This hope-filled book provides young children with the tools they need to begin training their bodies and minds to connect more fully.

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  • I Feel Proud

    by DK

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    Feelings abound in young people. Besides feelings of happiness, anger, and sadness, pride is a way to feel satisfied with something you’ve done. It can come from receiving a compliment or identifying things that make you happy (a new sibling or a shiny new car). However, it’s essential not to be proud in a way that hurts others’ feelings. In short: pride is a happy feeling that showcases the multitude of ways one succeeds in the world.

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  • I am Strong

    by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

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    Part of the bestselling Ordinary People Change the World series, I am Strong captures the spirit of Rosa Parks' bravery and strength for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. With lively, cartoon-like illustrations, these petite biographies are jam-packed with information to introduce the youngest readers to influential people from history.

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  • I Look Up To… Malala Yousafzai

    by Anna Membrino, illustrated by Fatti Burke

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    What better way to inspire resilience in your little ones than by reading about powerful women? This board book about Malala Yousafzai is apart of the six-title I Look Up To... series, which appeals to babies who love the bright colors and faces of the change-makers they feature (other titles include women like Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and more). These books make fantastic gifts to give for a first birthday or baby shower.

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  • She Persisted Around the World

    by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

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    Have you heard of Caroline Herschel or Mary Verghese? I’m embarrassed to admit that I only knew three of the 13 women featured in this information-rich board book. Though longer than most traditional board books, this is a beautiful way to introduce young readers (both boys and girls) to transformative women who shaped the world. And be sure to check out the other books in this series, as they are all equally powerful.

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  • The Little Engine That Could

    by Watty Piper, illustrated by George and Doris Hauman

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    There are a few books I vividly recall from my childhood, and this is one of them. This book shares the timeless message of a Little Engine who carried a heavy load. He has doubts about his ability until POOF! — a shift in thinking makes it possible for him to make an arduous ascent. If that isn’t resilience, I don’t know what is. All these years later, this book remains a classic for a good reason.

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  • When I Grow Up

    by Emma Dodd

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    Perhaps the most frequently asked question of children is "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But maybe the answer isn’t as important as the process of arriving at adulthood. Emma Dodd masterfully captures the connection between child and caregiver using animals that ask questions and offer reassurances, helping children develop the necessary character traits to aid them through life. We always enjoy the pops of gold or silver foil flecked throughout these books.

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  • Whistle for Willie

    by Ezra Jack Keats

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    “Oh, how Peter wished he could whistle.” For over 50 years, the beloved Black boy named Peter has captured the hearts of readers. In this book (a favorite in our home), Peter hides in a cardboard box, imagining what it would be like to whistle for his dog, Willie. He practices, but nothing happens until later when he realizes his persistence has paid off. A childhood rite of passage comes to life through Peter’s undaunted resilience.

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