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Inspiring Kids’ Books That Celebrate Everyday Heroes

by Jennifer Clare

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Background credit: studiostoks/Shutterstock

When I was 12 years old, my sister and I spent a lot of time sitting in the hospital waiting room while my mom visited our sick grandmother. Our visits were mostly uneventful, but there is one moment that has stuck with me through the years. Sprawled across the couch in boredom, I recall a nurse walking past. She strode briskly, likely off to provide care and comfort for her patients. But not five minutes later she was back, unloading a pile of snacks and sodas on my lap and rushing off again before I even realized what was happening. So surprised by this random act of kindness, I stumbled over words of thanks as she disappeared around a corner.

It was such a small thing for her to do – loading us up with treats – but the fact that this moment holds strong in my memory shows that what we do, no matter how seemingly insignificant, affects somebody, somehow. Those simple acts of kindness and service to others can be so powerful, and it’s important that we teach kids to recognize these harbingers for good as role models.

These kids’ books celebrate those everyday heroes who have touched our lives, be they community helpers risking their personal safety for others or influential leaders actively working for change. Use them to inspire your reader to be a force for good themselves. Their future acts of bravery and kindness could transform the world in ways big and small.

  • Superheroes Are Everywhere

    by Kamala Harris, illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe

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    Written by Kamala Harris herself, Superheroes Are Everywhere reflects on the individuals who inspired the first Black female VP-elect as a young girl: the ordinary, everyday people in her life. This wonderful picture book teaches kids to recognize everyday heroes while encouraging them to be their best selves.
    (Ages 3 - 7)

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  • Thank You, Helpers

    by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Michael Emmerson

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    This rhyming read-aloud is a wonderful way to honor the many kinds of helpers within a community, and the work they do to keep us all safe, fed, educated, and healthy. Featuring teachers, healthcare workers, delivery drivers, and grocery store employees, Thank You, Helpers is a joyous celebration of these everyday heroes.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb

    by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker

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    This picture book-biography is about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress who sought the democratic nomination for president in 1972. Chisholm was a doer, famously saying: "If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair." This inspiring biography gives young readers a look at her early life, time as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, presidential candidacy, and lasting legacy.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • Malala: Activist for Girls' Education

    by Raphaële Frier, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty

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    This Pakistani teen won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating for the education of girls, work that led to her attempted murder by the Taliban. Her bravery and conviction are sure to inspire young readers in this beautifully-illustrated biography.
    (Ages 6 - 9)

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  • Who Was Ida B. Wells?

    by Sarah Fabiny and Who HQ, illustrated by Ted Hammond

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    This title in the Who Was? series dives into the inspiring life of Ida B. Wells, who used her voice to speak out against racism and prejudice. As one of the most prominent Black female journalists of her time, she fought for gender equality and civil rights.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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  • The Hero Next Door

    edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

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    This delightful collection of short stories for middle grade readers features a diverse group of award-winning kid-lit authors. Their tales showcase ordinary people doing the extraordinary — changing the world through small acts of kindness — and inspire readers to become everyday heroes, too.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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  • Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

    by Patricia Brennan Demuth and Who HQ, illustrated by Jake Murray

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    There’s so much to admire about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Having served on the federal bench for over 25 years, she continues to be a leading voice for gender equality, civil rights, and other liberties.
    (Ages 8 - 12)

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