As the end of the year approaches, we start thinking about new beginnings. Just like adults, children may need some empowerment to face the fears they’d like to leave behind or the skills they want to master. Sometimes finding the courage or motivation for creating change can be found within the pages of a book. So we’ve put together a list of five books that empower children by providing them with hope and possibilities.
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh • Abrams Books for Young Readers • 2011
Ages 4 and up
This picture book brings the story of Diego Rivera to young readers, starting with his childhood and progressing through his adult life as a professional artist. Tonatiuh’s unique illustrations introduce children to some of Rivera’s artwork. But what I love most about this book is how the author asks the reader:
If Rivera were still painting today, what parts of history would he tell through his art? The end result is a book that helps children realize they have a voice and can express it through art.
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown • Children’s Book Press • 2011
Ages 4 and up
Marisol McDonald is a Peruvian-Scottish-American who likes to dress uniquely and do things her own way. When her friends complain that her clothes don’t match and they reject her way of doing things, Marisol decides to try matching for one day. It doesn’t take long for Marisol to discover that life is too boring when everything is the same, and she quickly learns that embracing her own identity is far more exciting. This is the perfect book for children struggling to fit in while keeping their own identities.
Read Related: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Reading
The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne • Random House • 1992 to present
Ages 5 and up
Of course, there are few books that can empower kids better than those in the award-winning Magic Tree House series. The story’s young heroes, Jack and Annie, a brother and sister from Fog Creek, Pennsylvania, travel through time on various adventures to help the owner of the magic tree house, Morgan le Fay. Along the way they meet historical figures and visit famous places. I think the best part of these books, though, is how they inspire children to explore and learn about other people, times, and places. They bring history to life and provide examples of other children who are always ready and willing to do the right thing and make the world a better place.
A ValueTales Treasury by Spencer Johnson, M.D. • Simon & Schuster • 2010
Ages 4 and up
An imaginography is described as being a new kind of story about a real person that helps children imagine the kind of person they want to become. Johnson masters this form of storytelling in his ValueTales series, which consists of imaginative biographies that are told in a fun new way to make them accessible to children. Each story depicts a famous person in history while highlighting a particular trait that the person embodies. If you’re looking to help build character in your child, consider purchasing the ValueTales Treasury which features five historical figures.
Growing Up with Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda • Piñata Books • 2008
Ages 6 and up
Anyone with an older sibling will enjoy this book. Zepeda tells the story from the point of view of 6-year-old Ana, who envies her older sister’s ability to complete certain tasks when the family makes tamales. She imagines how her own role will change as she grows older and is able to perform the same jobs as her sister. The ending is amusing and clever, providing hope for young readers who don’t want to live in the shadow of an older sibling.