Pre-K

10 Uplifting Books That Encourage Positive Thinking for 3- to 5-Year-Olds

by Dena McMurdie

positive thinking
Image credit: eli_asenova/Getty Images

As our time under stay-at-home orders stretches on, it gets harder and harder for my children to keep their chins up — a sentiment that I’m sure many other kids are experiencing as well. But now more than ever, it’s important to stay positive and remind ourselves that the hard times shall pass.

Since most picture books are naturally positive, happy, and upbeat, reading them can help keep your family’s spirits high. Whenever my 4-year-old needs a boost, I grab from a stack of heartfelt picture books and read them with her.

Here are 10 picture books that will make kids smile and give them a boost of positivity.

  • Last Stop on Market Street

    by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

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    Hands down, this is the best picture book about keeping a positive outlook I’ve ever read. It’s about a young boy named CJ and his grandmother who ride the bus home after church every Sunday. Along the way, CJ asks his grandmother a series of questions about the inequalities he notices. His grandmother wisely and lovingly shows CJ how to look on the bright side of life and appreciate what he has.

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  • Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave

    by Jessica Hische

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    When your child needs to feel better, crack open this beautiful and inspiring picture book. Filled with positive and uplifting messages, this book reminds young readers that each day is a new opportunity to be brave, kind, and curious. The hand-lettered pages will inspire children to reach their full potential.

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  • All Are Welcome

    by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

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    If you want to read a beautiful story about a school where a diverse group of children play and learn side by side, pick up a copy of this book. It helps young children feel a sense of solidarity with the wider world and understand that we’re all in this together. It’s also a good reminder to look past our differences and be kind to one another when life returns to normal.

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  • Here We Are

    by Oliver Jeffers

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    The earth is an incredible place, and no book captures that better than this humorous and poignant picture book. Written for his own son, beloved author Oliver Jeffers shares a heartfelt guide to life on Earth. From the universe to the wonders of the planet, this book will give your child’s curiosity and optimism a boost when they need it most.

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  • High Five

    by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

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    Laughter is the best medicine, and you’ll get plenty of giggles out with this hilarious book from the creators of Dragons Love Tacos. Even though you can’t high-five your friends right now, you can get in some hand-slapping practice in the meantime. Stretch your fingers and get ready for a goofy high-five challenge that will lift your mood.

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  • When God Made You

    by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow

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    All this time alone at home is tough on everyone, but it’s especially challenging for children. Encourage them to discover how special they are with the help of this uplifting and positive picture book. Young readers will learn that they are a unique and special thread in the fabric of humanity.

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  • The Book of Mistakes

    by Corinna Luyken

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    Go on a journey through artistic mistakes and quirky fixes that combine into a celebration of inspiration and creativity. When an artist makes a mistake in her drawing, she doesn’t get flustered. Instead, she uses her mistakes to create art that is unique and special. This delightful picture book encourages readers to look on the bright side and embrace all the speed bumps along the road of life.

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  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

    by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

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    When Sam and Dave start digging, they hope to find something spectacular, but they dig up precisely nothing. At first glance, it seems like they’ve come up empty-handed, but a surprise twist at the end shows that maybe they found something subtle yet extraordinary. This clever picture book encourages the reader to watch for silver linings and appreciate little details around them.

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  • Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows

    by Jessika von Innerebner

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    Read this book when your child needs a laugh. Kevin the unicorn is having a terrible day. One thing after another goes wrong as Kevin’s day spirals downward in a cycle of misery. He tries to keep smiling, but even unicorns can’t pretend to be happy on a day as awful as this. Young readers will feel better knowing they’re not alone in their feelings and that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

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  • Happy

    by Nicola Edwards, illustrated by Katie Hickey

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    Practicing mindfulness in an unsettling time like this can be beneficial for both children and adults. This book introduces children to the concept of mindfulness and being connected to their surroundings. Use this book to teach your kids how to appreciate the sights, sounds, and noises around them and find a sense of inner peace.

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