100 books like Brave in the Water

By Stephanie Wildman, Jenni Feidler-Aguilar (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Brave in the Water fans have personally recommended if you like Brave in the Water. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Rat Fair

Benjamin Giroux Author Of I Am Odd, I Am New

From my list on debut children's books of 2021.

Who am I?

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure to work with amazing authors who, like me, have debut children's books that were released in 2021. These books range in topics, from overcoming your fears to transgender to history, to cute rats that will let your imagination run wild. Being a kid myself, my parents read every night to me. These are books that like mine, are filled with representation that was lacking in those books that were read to me.

Benjamin's book list on debut children's books of 2021

Benjamin Giroux Why did Benjamin love this book?

This almost wordless picture book has some of my favorite artwork. The illustrations of the cute rats make me smile just thinking about them. This book forces you to look at every page and use your imagination to create your own story. What would a rat fair look like? Kids will love flipping through the pages to follow the rat's journey.

By Leah Rose Kessler, Cleonique Hilsaca (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rat Fair 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?

A nearly-wordless picture book about a group of rats who mix up a sign for an Art Fair, and instead create a jolly Rat Fair. A compassionate young boy steps up to save them from the humans who would sweep their festivities away.

When a group of industrious, fun-loving rats find letters fallen from an Art Fair sign, they put the sign back together—with one small adjustment—and get to work creating a spectacular RAT FAIR. Their fair is ruined when humans sweep away everything the rats have created. Undaunted, the rats switch  gears and start working on their very own…


Book cover of Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing

Benjamin Giroux Author Of I Am Odd, I Am New

From my list on debut children's books of 2021.

Who am I?

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure to work with amazing authors who, like me, have debut children's books that were released in 2021. These books range in topics, from overcoming your fears to transgender to history, to cute rats that will let your imagination run wild. Being a kid myself, my parents read every night to me. These are books that like mine, are filled with representation that was lacking in those books that were read to me.

Benjamin's book list on debut children's books of 2021

Benjamin Giroux Why did Benjamin love this book?

This book will not only teach you history about different people from diverse backgrounds, it will give you tips on how to write so that you can start changing the world with your own words. This book is a great bedtime book so that your children can learn about some of history's great writers.

By Rochelle Melander, Melina Ontiveros (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mightier Than the Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Throughout history, people have picked up their pens and wielded their words--transforming their lives, their communities, and beyond. Now it's your turn! Representing a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, Mightier Than the Sword connects over forty inspiring biographies with life-changing writing activities and tips, showing readers just how much their own words can make a difference. Readers will explore nature with Rachel Carson, experience the beginning of the Reformation with Martin Luther, champion women's rights with Sojourner Truth, and many more. These richly illustrated stories of inspiring speechmakers, scientists, explorers, authors, poets, activists, and even other kids and young…


Book cover of Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

Benjamin Giroux Author Of I Am Odd, I Am New

From my list on debut children's books of 2021.

Who am I?

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure to work with amazing authors who, like me, have debut children's books that were released in 2021. These books range in topics, from overcoming your fears to transgender to history, to cute rats that will let your imagination run wild. Being a kid myself, my parents read every night to me. These are books that like mine, are filled with representation that was lacking in those books that were read to me.

Benjamin's book list on debut children's books of 2021

Benjamin Giroux Why did Benjamin love this book?

This book, that has an amazing feeling cover, tells an important part of not only American history, but more importantly, women's history. This story is beautifully illustrated using a great color pallet. Follow along on Anne’s journey to the new world and how she changed that world forever!

By Katie Munday Williams, Tania Rex (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The inspiring story of a Puritan woman whose passion for writing poetry broke barriers.

Late at night, with her children tucked into bed and her husband away on business, Anne Dudley Bradstreet composed poems by candlelight. She let her thoughts from the day tumble out, memorizing each poem line by line before daring to shape the words onto scraps of scarce parchment. Puritan women in the 1600s weren't allowed to be writers. But when the world learned about Anne's poetry, even she was astonished by what happened next.

This charmingly illustrated picture book tells the inspiring story of how a…


Book cover of My Sister, Daisy

Carol Gordon Ekster Author Of Some Daddies

From my list on diverse families.

Who am I?

I was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, I am grateful that my writing allows me to continue communicating with children. I am always working to improve my craft, help other writers, and embrace my author life. When I am not in a critique group or at my computer I might be doing yoga or biking. 

Carol's book list on diverse families

Carol Gordon Ekster Why did Carol love this book?

This is a heartwarming and sensitive story of a change in a family when a younger brother announces a new gender identity. She is a girl. There's an author's note, telling us this is based on a true story. And the bright darling illustrations add to this needed picture book for all children.


By Adria Karlsson, Linus Curci (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Sister, Daisy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Daisy's older brother is thrilled when he gets a baby brother. They are best buddies who do everything together. But then, his younger brother realizes she is a girl and wants to be called Daisy. Daisy's brother must adjust to the change - including what it means for him and their sibling relationship. A moving, lyrical picture book based on a true story, My Sister, Daisy handles a sensitive subject with warmth and love.


Book cover of Jabari Jumps

Jeff Mack Author Of Scaredy Cats

From my list on children’s picture books about facing your fears.

Who am I?

If you want to live your best life, you’ll need to face some fears. I’ve faced a lot of my fears: great white sharks, sky-diving, caves, spiders, meat sauces. I’m still scared, but what else can I do? Stay in bed my whole life? I love writing and illustrating for kids. It’s how I’ve spent the last twenty years. I’ve written and/or illustrated almost fifty books. The scariest part is figuring out how to start. Thinking of an ending is scary too. Then there’s all that stuff in the middle. Ugh! My first books about facing fears were Hippo and Rabbit. Now, Scaredy Cats. Fear gives me ideas!

Jeff's book list on children’s picture books about facing your fears

Jeff Mack Why did Jeff love this book?

I feel like I lived this story as a kid. I’ll bet a lot of kids do. A young boy overcomes his fear of the high dive. 

Step by step, Gaia Cornwall takes us through Jabari’s jump. Jabari starts by telling his dad he’s not scared at all. He clearly is. He delays, makes excuses. Dad never pushes. He wants this to be Jabari’s decision, Jabari’s victory. It’s so relatable, the perspective even changes to first person once Jabari is high above the pool. 

Everything rings true. It’s exactly what a scared kid would say and do. It’s exactly what I said and did when I was Jabari’s age trying to summon my own courage on the high dive. Except when I hit the water, my swim trunks fell off.

By Gaia Cornwall,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Jabari Jumps 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?

Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.

In a sweet tale of overcoming your fears, debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall captures a moment at the swimming pool between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can't help but root for. Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons and passed his swimming test, and he's a great jumper, so he's not scared at all. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their…


Book cover of Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Elissa L. Perry Author Of Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager

From my list on less businessy business that can help managers.

Who am I?

In a world in which we are faced with increasing amounts of information that we have to parse (from social media, cable news channels, newspapers), it often feels hard to separate fact from fiction, and evidence-based research from junk science. In my own work, I have given a great deal of thought to how to get research-based evidence into the hands of practitioners (managers, employees) who can put it to good use. An important piece of the puzzle is helping practitioners understand the research evidence and how to apply it. The books on this list are great examples of authors who translate research into language that people can understand and use.

Elissa's book list on less businessy business that can help managers

Elissa L. Perry Why did Elissa love this book?

There are many books on effective leadership. Brown speaks to engaging the hearts and minds of leaders including skills like staying curious, having courage, empathy, and making connections. 

I appreciated that the author’s advice is based on comprehensive data she and her team collected across a number of organizational contexts. She suggests that effective leadership is teachable, observable, and measurable and abstracts from her research findings concrete and actionable steps that leaders can take to be more effective leaders. She also demonstrates how she implements her findings in her own company and with some of the companies she consults with. 

As I read this book, I often found myself stopping to think about how her principles applied to how I show up as a leader, parent, and spouse.

By Brené Brown,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dare to Lead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Don’t miss the five-part HBO Max docuseries Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart!

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and…


Book cover of Chirp

Shelly X. Leonn Author Of The Ghost and the Wolf

From my list on girl MCs who are owning life.

Who am I?

My novel choices were part of the Afterschool Literacy & Building Modules for an organization called LitShop. It encourages growth in literacy, making, building, and leadership in girls ages 10-15 in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m honored to lead the writing classes. All of the LitShop books feature strong girls who believe they can make and build their way to a better world, and I aim to include similar characters in my stories. Stories can provide us with motivation, inspiration, and companionship, and all of these books have done just that… for the girls of LitShop as well as myself.

Shelly's book list on girl MCs who are owning life

Shelly X. Leonn Why did Shelly love this book?

This pick has the distinguished honor of convincing me to try cricket flour. It also manages to present a layered storyline, one that combines an almost classic mystery plot with a traumatized character’s journey of self-healing. This book serves as a powerful reminder that we are more than the incidents that victimized us. And yes, even an insect hater like me enjoyed learning so much about the many uses of crickets! 

By Kate Messner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Chirp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"[A] deftly layered mystery about family, friendship, and the struggle to speak up." - Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Speak and Shout

From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she's recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she'd rather forget.

Mia's change in scenery brings day…


Book cover of Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Sarah Pegrum Author Of Break the Binds of Weight Stigma: Free Yourself from Body Image Struggles Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From my list on getting perspective about life and be inspired.

Who am I?

I’m a clinical psychologist, which gifts me the experience of being part of people's journey of looking at their lives differently and transforming. Early in my career, throughout my academic studies, I was particularly curious about and drawn to existential perspectives. Sadly, with multiple losses of close loved ones, I was pushed into grappling with existential questions at a more personal level. Yet the pain of loss created shifts in perspective that have helped shape who I am, and the work that I do. I have found that connecting with people, travel, and books are avenues that help me continue to ask questions about life and inspire new directions. 

Sarah's book list on getting perspective about life and be inspired

Sarah Pegrum Why did Sarah love this book?

Braving the Wilderness sparked a shift in my perspective on self and relationships.

What struck me most was the separation of belonging and fitting in. I realized how much energy I had put into fitting in, all the while betraying what was true to me. Not only did Braving the Wilderness get me thinking, but it also provided practical steps on how to do things differently.

Since reading the book I have changed how I interact with others, steering away from connection through shared enemies, and instead moving towards connection through authenticity and vulnerability.

My favorite quote: “We can spend our entire life betraying ourself and choosing fitting in over standing alone. But once we've stood up for ourself and our beliefs, the bar is higher. A wild heart fights fitting in and grieves betrayal.”

By Brene Brown,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Braving the Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A timely and important new book that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture, from the #1 bestselling author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection.

'True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.' Social scientist Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives - experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an…


Book cover of Do Not Go in There

Brian Russo Author Of A Friend for Yoga Bunny

From my list on children's stories about the value of friendship.

Who am I?

I feel passionate about the topic of friendship because I haven’t been a great friend to all the people that have mattered to me. I’ve learned the value of friendship by making a lot of mistakes. I’m very lucky to be in my 40’s, have an amazing family, and still have a few individuals that I’ve known my entire adult life, who I still talk to on a regular basis. These people are really good friends, because, to be honest, they’ve seen me at my worst, and still love me. I consider myself a wealthy man, in no small part because of my friends. 

Brian's book list on children's stories about the value of friendship

Brian Russo Why did Brian love this book?

I was friends with the author in high school, and we co-edited the comedy section of the school paper together. Reading her book as an adult is such a joy. Her irreverent sense of humor really shines through. It's a very simple story about two (monster) friends who find a red door. One imagines all the worst things that could be behind it, while another imagines all the best. It's a great example of how different points of view make for the best teams. Also, the illustrations by Burton are both playful and breathtaking, with colors and characters that really pop!

By Ariel Horn, Izzy Burton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Go in There 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?

Monsters Morton and Bogart are best friends. But they don't always see eye to eye. So when they encounter a closed door, anxious Bogart wants to keep it closed, because there must be something really bad on the other side. But Morton thinks it'll be something amazing! Which is it?

Readers learn that, while not knowing can be frightening, being brave can lead to new discoveries. And even though your imagination can make it easy to worry, it can also make life better, less scary, and more fun.


Book cover of The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

Mary Cay Ricci Author Of Nothing You Can't Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets

From my list on help kids develop stick-to-itiveness.

Who am I?

I am a mom and life-long educator who has often scratched my head and wondered why kids give up so easily when things become a little challenging. I learned about fixed and growth mindset principles and decided to apply them to an education setting. What I realized during this time is that both adults and kids give up too easily and demonstrate fixed mindset thinking way too often! As a result, I wrote a few books for teachers, parents, and kids about ways to develop a growth mindset! I am sharing some of my favorite books that can be a catalyst for discussing resiliency and perseverance with the kids in our life!

Mary's book list on help kids develop stick-to-itiveness

Mary Cay Ricci Why did Mary love this book?

One of the reasons that I love this book is because it doesn’t end with success. It ends with a “not yet” and maybe I will be back tomorrow to try again. That is what life is about-we don’t always have success, but we can persevere and try new things without always succeeding. Lou and her friends have great imaginations when they are playing and they decide to climb a tree and pretend it is a pirate ship. The challenge is that Lou has never climbed a tree before. Her excuses are funny: “The cat needs a walk,” “I stepped on a slug and his funeral is in 5 minutes,” and the one many of us recognize, “My tummy hurts.” She thinks of lots of ways to get up the tree without climbing - but they don’t work. She finally tries, gets a few feet up, and falls. She decides…

By Ashley Spires,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thing Lou Couldn't Do 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?

An endearing story about a little girl who doesn’t think she can.

“Up there! The tree can be our ship!” one of Lou’s friends exclaims when they decide to play pirates. “Ummm …” responds Lou. Usually she loves adventures. But this is new. Lou has never climbed a tree before. And she knows she can’t do it. She doesn’t even want to try.

But this adventure does look fun, and when all her excuses run out, Lou realizes the bravest adventurers are those who TRY. An inspiring lesson for anyone who’s ever avoided something hard.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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