The best children’s books on accepting imperfection

Claire A. B. Freeland Author Of What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection
By Claire A. B. Freeland

The Books I Picked & Why

Abracadabra!: The Magic of Trying

By Maria Loretta Giraldo, Nicoletta Bertelle

Abracadabra!: The Magic of Trying

Why this book?

One aspect of accepting imperfection is to recognize that new skills take practice. In this sweet tale, Little Owl believes he should automatically possess the ability to fly. His woodland friends teach him that practice and effort are required. The abracadabra magic turns out to be persistence in the face of failure. Young readers will embrace the “try, try again” message. This charming story and delightful illustrations will resonate with young children. There is also a note to parents and caregivers by a psychologist that delves into raising kids to develop perseverance.


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The Book of Mistakes

By Corinna Luyken

The Book of Mistakes

Why this book?

As an artist, Corinna Luyken knows that mistakes happen. But some children crumple their papers and toss them with each perceived error. The Book of Mistakes demonstrates how mistakes are part of learning and growing. The illustrator takes each mistake and incorporates it into an expanding drawing until, voila, there is a magnificent two-page spread. But, she doesn’t stop there. The ending will surprise and delight and leave young children with the confidence to go make their own mistakes.


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The Most Magnificent Thing

By Ashley Spires

The Most Magnificent Thing

Why this book?

The Most Magnificent Thing captures the process of trying and failing and trying and failing until irritation mounts. The story demonstrates how to manage frustration in order to persist and pursue goals. Every reader will identify with the unnamed main character’s emotional journey. And all will want a sidekick like the main character’s spunky puppy. The illustrations are marvelously compelling. Don’t be surprised if your child charges off to create their own most magnificent thing.


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Beautiful Oops!

By Barney Saltzberg

Beautiful Oops!

Why this book?

The imaginative Beautiful Oops! is a fun, artistic romp with an interactive design. There are many creative ways of engaging the child, such as lift-the-flap, look through the hole, and so forth. All are in the service of how to incorporate mistakes into your art, and presumably into your life. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be a family or a classroom that describes inconsequential mistakes as beautiful oopsies? I suspect that far fewer meltdowns would ensue.


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A Whale of a Mistake

By Ioana Hobai

A Whale of a Mistake

Why this book?

A Whale of a Mistake is written in the second person reaching into the hearts of the listener. With lyrical text and gorgeous, expansive illustrations, the author and illustrator address the feelings that accompany making mistakes and places that experience in a broader context. The aim is to help the reader gain perspective and self-acceptance, that the world isn’t perfect, and neither are you. 


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