The best children’s books about perseverance

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a children’s book author, illustrator, translator, and book reviewer. I’m the author of Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema, and Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom. I was born and raised in Hefei, China, and moved to the US in my 20s. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, I love to share stories that empower children to understand the world and our connections. Children’s picture books have the potential to pass on the joy from generation to generation. As an art lover, I also find it very entertaining and soothing to simply enjoy the artwork of picture books. 


I wrote...

Long Goes to Dragon School

By Helen H. Wu, Mae Besom (illustrator),

Book cover of Long Goes to Dragon School

What is my book about?

Wrapped in Eastern and Western dragon lore, this fantasy tale celebrates perseverance, cultural inclusion, and self-discovery.

It’s the first day of Dragon School, where all the young dragons must learn how to harness their fire-breathing skills. Today’s lesson? Using it to cook food! All the dragons are excited to test their powers... except Long. Long is from the East and can only breathe out water. Long learns perseverance and self-acceptance, while his class learns a valuable lesson on cultural differences. A thoughtful author’s note draws parallels between Long’s experiences and those of immigrants navigating new cultures.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The School of Failure: A Story about Success

Helen H. Wu Why did I love this book?

It’s a fractured fairy-tale featuring three classic fairy-tale characters: Wolfred, Zinderella, and the Non-Evil Queen. This charming book provides a reassuring, empowering perspective on mistakes and perseverance. The vibrant illustrations match the humorous tone of the story, in whole it reminds kid readers to take their mistakes in stride. In The School of Failure where the trio encounter failure and disappointment, they receive support and encouragement to keep trying, and discover that with patience and persistence, mistakes can also lead to the perfect storybook ending. It sets a supporting role model for schools and classes.

By Rosie J Pova, Monika Filipina (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The School of Failure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A charming fractured fairy-tale about how the road to success is often paved with mistakes and the most important thing is to keep trying.

Once upon a time, there were three hopeful fairy-tale characters: Wolfred, Zinderella, and the Non-Evil Queen. Already rejected from classic fairy-tales, a happily-ever-after for these three seems a world away. So, the trio is headed to the School of Failure. Once there, they discover that with patience and persistence, mistakes can also lead to the perfect storybook ending.

From author Rosie J. Pova and illustrator Monika Filipina comes a sweet and sassy fractured fairy-tale about beloved…


Book cover of Opal's Springtime Birdhouse

Helen H. Wu Why did I love this book?

The girl protagonist sets a great example for kids on the power of perseverance even in the face of a setback. During a birdhouse-building contest, Opal’s friends all have endless fancy ideas. They use many fancy items, such as bells, pom-poms, basketballs—and yet Opal feels stuck. Opal chooses to make a simple birdhouse, with a sturdy piece of wood and a few nails and screws. When the judges don’t pick Opal’s birdhouse, Opa is deeply disappointed, but she may still discover that her humble home is just right for someone else. It’s a valuable lesson for young readers to learn to view events from different perspectives.

By Emily Matheis, Albert Arrayas (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Opal's Springtime Birdhouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A charming picture book tale that showcases how the rewards of our efforts can come from the most unexpected of places.

Bang! Whack! Whirr!

It’s time for a birdhouse-building contest!

Opal’s friends all have endless ideas on how to make their constructions stand out. There are bells, pom-poms, basketballs, and many more materials to use―and yet Opal still feels stuck.

Maybe a simple, sturdy piece wood…a few nails and screws will be just right. But when the judges don’t pick Opal’s birdhouse, she may still discover that her humble home is just right for someone else.

In this charming picture…


Book cover of My Dog Is Not a Scientist

Helen H. Wu Why did I love this book?

Yara is a girl with a passion for science who is determined to make new discoveries. The book has educational back matter explaining the scientific method of making new discoveries and lays out each step in the process clearly that young readers can follow. It will inspire children to start experimenting on their own. Like every good scientist, Yara starts with a question, makes observations, and comes up with a hypothesis... but each time she starts an experiment, her dog, Renzo, ruins it! Yara sets a great example for young readers to pursue scientific studies. In this humorous story, there is clear evidence that scientific method works as well for dogs as for people. 

By Betsy Ellor, Luisa Vera (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Dog Is Not a Scientist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A humorous, endearing story about a passionate, young scientist who is determined to achieve her goal--no matter what!

Yara is out to prove that she's the greatest scientist in town!

Her annoying neighbor Eddie always wins the Science Fair, but this year is going to be HER year. Like every good scientist, Yara starts with a question, makes observations, and comes up with a hypothesis . . . but each time she starts an experiment, her dog, Renzo, ruins it!

Could Renzo be up to something more than making trouble?

From Betsy Ellor and Luisa Vera comes a humorous, endearing…


Book cover of The Most Magnificent Idea

Helen H. Wu Why did I love this book?

The girl protagonist loves to make things from her various wild ideas. Her brain is an “idea machine.” Then one day… the girl can’t come up with a single idea for what to make. She tries everything: brainstorming, gathering new supplies, even jumping to shake an idea loose. But nothing works. The author ingeniously captures the ups and downs of the creative process. This book offers a terrific character education lesson in patience and perseverance. It will inspire young makers and visionary creators and encourage them to believe that an idea is sure to come if they just give it the opportunity.

By Ashley Spires,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Most Magnificent Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

The long-awaited sequel to the runaway bestseller The Most Magnificent Thing that readers have been clamoring for!

The girl in this story, with her dog at her side, loves to make things. Her brain, she says, is an “idea machine,” so full of ideas that she can hardly keep up. But then one day … it isn’t. All of a sudden, the girl can’t come up with a single idea for what to make. She tries everything: brainstorming, gathering new supplies, even jumping up and down on one foot to shake an idea loose. But, nothing. The girl realizes, with…


Book cover of Humphrey the Egg-Splorer

Helen H. Wu Why did I love this book?

It’s a funny egg tale. Humphrey has long known the cautionary tale of his grandfather, Humpty Dumpty. Eggs are fragile and bought specifically to be cracked... but what if they don’t want to be cracked and have their own ambitions and goals for life, like becoming a great egg-splorer? Humphrey’s daring and determination to become a great explorer allows him to come up with creative solutions to his problem. His imagination knows no bounds and creates delightful spreads sure to appeal to readers. This rollicking story expands the famous tale of a fragile egg to a new story about bravery, creativity, and forging your own path.

By Nadia Ali, Valenti Gubianas (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humphrey the Egg-Splorer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A rollicking story that expands the famous tale of a fragile egg to a new story about bravery, creativity, and forging your own path.

Eggs are fragile and bought specifically to be cracked. . . but what if they don't want to be cracked and have their own ambitions and goals for life like becoming a great egg-splorer? Humphrey has long known the cautionary tale of his grandfather, Humpty Dumpty. Being an egg means he can easily slip and crack at any time . . . but what does that mean for his dreams of becoming an egg-splorer and going…


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Ernő Rubik and His Magic Cube

By Kerry Aradhya, Kara Kramer (illustrator),

Book cover of Ernő Rubik and His Magic Cube

Kerry Aradhya Author Of Ernő Rubik and His Magic Cube

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Not long ago, while rummaging through old storage containers in our garage, I came across a board game I had invented during elementary school. But I hadn’t made it for a school project or because anyone had asked me to make it. I had made it simply because I was passionate about creating…and I still am. As a children’s author, science editor, and dancer, I am fascinated by the creative process. I chose these books because they depict many of the ups, downs, and often unexpected outcomes of the creative process, all within the context of inventions for kids!

Kerry's book list on nonfiction picture books with inventions kids love

What is my book about?

This picture book biography of Ernő Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, reveals the obsession, imagination, and engineering process behind the creation of this fascinating and sometimes frustrating puzzle.

A solitary child, Ernő Rubik grew up in post-World War II Hungary, curious about puzzles, art, nature, and their underlying patterns and structures.

As a young professor of architecture, and in a quest to help his students understand three-dimensional movement, he fashioned a cube made up of smaller cubes that twisted and turned without breaking, unexpectedly inventing the most popular puzzle in history!

Ernő Rubik and His Magic Cube

By Kerry Aradhya, Kara Kramer (illustrator),

What is this book about?

This first picture book biography of Erno Rubik, creator of the Rubik’s Cube, reveals the obsession, imagination, and engineering process behind the creation of a bestselling puzzle that will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024.

In 2023, the world record for solving the Rubik’s Cube was broken by Max Park, who finished in 3.13 seconds!

And then there’s you. Did you ever get so frustrated with a Rubik’s Cube that you wanted to pull it apart and put it back together in order? Were you to do so, you’d see how cleverly one of the world’s most popular toys is…


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