The best kids books to inspire hope

The Books I Picked & Why

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

By Dr. Seuss

Book cover of Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Why this book?

Dr. Seuss’s writing and illustrations are both real and surreal at the same time. Oh, The Places You’ll Go encompasses the hurdles and triumphs that life involves, yet it is hopeful and optimistic. This book inspires one to use his or her innate skills, strength, and wisdom and give it their all in order to get the best out of life. This is one of my all-time favorite books. I love how I’ve read this book at many stages of my life and it has always been applicable.

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The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein

Book cover of The Giving Tree

Why this book?

The pure poetry of the story - not the words themselves, which are poetic as well, but the story - always hits me emotionally when I read this book, often evoking tears. In the book, The Giving Tree is completely selfless, giving all the time; even when it is not the best thing to do, and yet she gets nothing in return. The character of the Tree is a poignant view of human existence, elucidating how we are happiest when we give, and how we remain ever hopeful, despite all appearances. The Tree also evokes a warning of the dangers of giving selflessly with no care for oneself; we must only give that which we can afford to give, otherwise, we risk our own peril.

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The Little Engine That Could

By Watty Piper

Book cover of The Little Engine That Could

Why this book?

This book was originally published in 1930 and also goes back a long way in my own life as well. I have fond memories of my father reading this story to me when I was young, acting out all the parts of the story, using different voices, and more. Despite being little and unassuming, the Little Blue Engine uses hope and belief to get over the mountain. Without belief in ourselves we often can’t even begin to try, but the Little Blue Engine chose to trust in himself and it paid off - big time. We can all use a little more belief in our own abilities to create massive change in our lives.

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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

By Mo Willems

Book cover of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Why this book?

Okay, maybe this book isn’t as hopeful as some of the others on here, but it has two major things going for it. First, it is fun. Pure, laugh-out-loud fun, that children love and enjoy immensely. You’ll enjoy reading it to children as well. Second, it shows an admirable trait of persistence as Pigeon uses tact and wit to try to achieve what he wants – to drive the bus! The story goes on to show that even though persistence alone does not always get the outcome we want, there is still value in persevering. You can even discuss the book with your older kids, talking about ways to change some No’s to a Yes, such as taking driving lessons, or getting a license first. This positive trait of perseverance also shows how hopeful Pigeon remains the entire book that maybe now he’ll get to drive the bus.

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Love You Forever

By Robert Munsch, Sheila McGraw

Book cover of Love You Forever

Why this book?

This story shows a mother’s unconditional love for her child, no matter how old they become. It’s the kind of love that is felt, appreciated, and reciprocated. The son in the story experiences this eternal love and gives it back to his mother when she reaches old age, up to and including at the time of her death. As a grown man, we see that he has felt and absorbed his mother’s message of love all along. The son then showers that same unconditional love, hope, and care to his young daughter. This book is almost pure hope; hope for a new generation, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a loving family. While putting my kids to sleep, I coined a tune for the song in this book as well, and it quickly became an integral part of our bedtime songs each night.

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