Looking for gift ideas for the kids on your holiday shopping list? This year, I decided to give all my young nieces and nephews books instead of toys. I think their parents will appreciate fewer gadgets and gizmos, and I love the chance to help grow their libraries.
After working for Mindset Works as an editor for the past year and seeing the power of mindset first hand, I was inspired to focus on titles that foster growth mindset, including attributes such as empathy, compassion, kindness, responsibility, and grit.
All of the books I’ve chosen were published in 2018 so there’s little chance these books will already be on kiddos’ bookshelves. There is one other theme that some older books do not include: diversity; from the authors to the themes to the main characters, I wanted my gifts to illustrate the wonderful diversity that our world offers.
If you’d like some ideas for picture books to spark a child’s imagination, encourage creativity, and inspire “spunk” in a little one, check out the list below. Let’s work together to create a new generation of engaged readers and learners!
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. From the publisher: With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie's Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. From the publisher: Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. From the publisher: There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes—and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
I Am Human by Susan Verde. From the publisher: A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds. From the publisher: In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower. From the creator of The Dot and Happy Dreamer comes a celebration of finding your own words — and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.
Snippets: A Story About Paper Shapes by Diane Alber. From the publisher: Meet Snippet, a friendly, irregular shaped piece of paper, who finds himself in a place full of perfectly sized shapes. Because he has a lopsided pointy top, the shapes think that he will ruin their symmetrical town, so they refuse to play with him. Snippet has to overcome several obstacles but in the end is able to show the shapes how wonderful everyone is in their own unique way and how great they all can become if they worked together.
I’m NOT Just a Scribble by Diane Alber. From the publisher: A story about kindness and inclusion. Scribble, the book's main character, never thought he was different until he met his first drawing. Then, After being left out because he didn't look like everyone else. Scribble teaches the drawings how to accept each other for who they are. Which enables them to create amazing art. This book not only has illustrations that any child can personally recognize but it also addresses inclusion without boundaries so that anyone can relate to it.
Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll by Jay Miletsky. From the publisher: Get ready to meet a new rock group! From zippy, little pebbles to big strong boulders, the rocks get together to play and roll around their favorite hill, only to find that one of their friends, Ricky, can't roll with them. Unlike all of the others, who are all round, Ricky can't roll because he's flat on one side. Determined not to leave their friend behind, the rocks and the ladybug set out to help Ricky roll around - one way or another. This sweet, imaginative picture book, written in verse, brings a fresh set of characters to life in a story that highlights perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity, and the power of true friendship.
Eraser by Anna Kang. From the publisher: Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself. Eraser is a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.
Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische. From the publisher: Lyrically written and beautifully illustrated by award-winning lettering artist Jessica Hische, Tomorrow I'll be Brave takes readers on a fantastic journey that encourages them to be adventurous, strong, smart, curious, creative, confident, and brave. But it also reassures them that if they haven’t been able to be all or any of those things today, there is always tomorrow, which is full of endless opportunities.