The best books for self confidence

Many authors have picked their favorite books about self confidence and why they recommend each book.

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By Michele Borba,

Book cover of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine

Michele Borba begins her latest book by getting right to the heart and mind of what matters for optimal child development—and then she moves on to the importance of cultivating will. In total, she focuses on seven integral points—self-confidence, empathy, self-control, integrity, curiosity, perseverance, and optimism—describing why each of these attributes matters, and how to nurture them. If you want your child to be happy, resilient, and able to flourish even through adversity, then Thrivers is an excellent resource for you.

Who am I?

I write about supporting and encouraging children’s and teens’ intelligence, creativity, productivity, and well-being. I’m an educational consultant with over 35 years of experience working with parents, teachers, and students within diverse communities, and I’m the award-winning author of seven books. I focus a lot on gifted education and procrastination. Within my books, articles, and presentations, there are tons of strategies and resources to help motivate kids—and empower their learning. My books include Being Smart about Gifted Learning and Beyond Intelligence (both co-authored with Dona Matthews), ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, Bust Your BUTS, and Not Now, Maybe Later.

I wrote...

Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate

By Joanne Foster,

Book cover of Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate

What is my book about?

Bust Your BUTS helps people 10+ understand, prevent, manage, and eliminate procrastination. In this follow-up to my parenting book, Not Now, Maybe Later, I describe 28 BUTS (different reasons why kids procrastinate). I don’t judge—rather I offer concise, relatable explanations, and I share hundreds of practical tips for busting those BUTS. There’s information on motivation, and on how to confront various challenges, become organized, use time wisely, set attainable goals, and become more productive.

Bust Your BUTS received a Benjamin Franklin Award™ from the Independent Book Publishers’ Association. This is the book procrastinators need now. Plus, it’s a timely resource for parents, teachers, or anyone who wants to learn more about effort, responsibility, and fulfillment. A quick and motivating read—no BUTS about it!


By Andrew Root, Erin Kraan (illustrator),

Book cover of Nerdycorn

Fern the unicorn likes fixing and inventing more than prancing and dancing, a fact that gets her teased. When things fall apart at the party, her friends learn to see the value in her gifts. But will she want to help them after they call her names? 

I love this book because it pushes back on the idea that feminine can’t mean smart. Even better, it honors Fern’s reaction to the bullying rather than pushing the normal narrative of easy forgiveness. I admire its emotional honesty.

Who am I?

No one would ever describe me as a unicorn. I’m not graceful. My mane of hair is half an inch long. And I rarely (if ever) prance. I’m a donkey in a party hat and that’s perfectly okay with me. But sometimes it can be kinda rough in a world that tells you that you must be gorgeous instead of goofy, fabulous instead of funny. So I love stories that make me feel a little less alone in my awkwardness – that remind me that all of us, from the most beautiful unicorn to the weirdest little goblin, are not quite what they seem.  

I wrote...

First Day of Unicorn School

By Jess Hernandez, Mariano Epelbaum (illustrator),

Book cover of First Day of Unicorn School

What is my book about?

Milly is incredibly excited to go to Unicorn School, a school that accepts only the best and the brightest. There's only one problem: she isn't a unicorn! She's a donkey in a party hat. Milly first feels uncomfortable but eventually learns that she and the others at the school have more in common than it might have seemed.


By Peter H. Reynolds,

Book cover of Ish

For anyone who has kids who are perfectionists or are perfectionists themselves, this is a perfect book! It helps kids recognize that something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially with art. But in my opinion, this message can apply beyond art and help parents talk with their kids about being beautiful just as they are. This was a popular one in my house and one that we still reference even now that the kids are older.

Who am I?

As a mom of three girls, I taught my daughters to celebrate the differences in themselves and others. My older two girls were diagnosed with Celiac Disease prior to the trend of gluten-free foods being widely available. They had to bring their own food to birthday parties and food-based school events, and it was harder to be spontaneous and stay at a friends’ house for dinner or sleepover. Needless to say - they felt different. One of the things that helped them begin to appreciate their difference, was reading picture books that demonstrated that it is differences that make people special and keep life interesting. I am hopeful that my story will do the same for the kids who read it.

I wrote...

The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken

By Jennifer Frank, David Ezra Stein (illustrator),

Book cover of The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken

What is my book about?

Emma Worm is excited for her worm family to have their portrait taken. But when she sees her other friends' portraits, she gets discouraged. "We had the most beautiful smiles," Ellie the Chipmunk squeals. Abigail the Cat meows, "I looked gorgeous with my big poufy hair." The worm family doesn't have will they show their beautiful smiles? They don't have hair can it look big and poufy?! So Emma gathers wigs, giant fake teeth, and colorful clothing for her parents and sisters.

But it's only after taking off their costumes that the worm family is able to wriggle and squiggle and squeeze into a delightful pose that only a worm family can make. And Emma? She thinks it's perfectly perfect.

The Dot

By Peter H. Reynolds,

Book cover of The Dot

A familiar favorite, The Dot by author-illustrator Paul Reynolds tells the story of a young girl named Vashti who believes she cannot draw. Her art teacher, seeing Vashti struggle, helps her develop confidence in herself by telling her to try drawing just a single dot and to sign her name at the bottom. The next day, Vashti finds that her dot had been hung up above her teacher’s desk, inspiring her to try painting another dot, and then another, and then another. Soon she has created an entire collection of many different dots. And in a moving twist, Vashti’s artwork inspires children who also think they cannot draw to give it a try.

The Dot by Paul Reynolds is one of our favorite books to teach the SEL themes of self-confidence and growth mindset; showcasing all that can happen when we choose to believe in ourselves and persist in the…

Who are we?

Caroline and Katherine Brickley are twin sisters, award-winning children’s book authors, and content creators who specialize in producing literature and media that inspire children to believe in themselves and their ability to make the world a kinder, more inclusive place for everyone. Inspired by their mother, who made up stories for them each night, the sisters spent their childhood coming up with stories of their own and bringing them to life. The sisters made storytelling their full-time job in 2017 by founding Blossom Children’s Media Group from their shared college dorm room. Blossom continues to bring children, families, and educators from around the world together through wholesome stories and inclusive community experiences. 

We wrote...

The Friendly Bookshelf

By Caroline Brickley, Katherine Brickley, Daniela Pérez-Duarte (illustrator)

Book cover of The Friendly Bookshelf

What is our book about?

Once upon a time, in a library like any other, there lived a little bookshelf named Bibli who carried a BIG question on his shelves: “Could there be a story somewhere about a bookshelf like me?” Bibli is told that bookshelves are supposed to hold stories, not have ones of their own. But everything changes when he meets Cassie, a girl longing for a friend just as much as Bibli longs for a story to relate to. 

The Friendly Bookshelf is a social-emotional learning (SEL) research-based book and the first-ever picture book about a bookshelf. Written to build self-confidence and self-esteem as well as encourage inclusivity, Bibli’s story empowers children to be brave, be a friend, and always be your-shelf! Readers will be inspired to go beyond the final page of the book and share their own stories, as well as be the pioneers of a kinder, more inclusive world where everybody (and every bookshelf!) belongs.

Bob the Artist

By Marion Deuchars,

Book cover of Bob the Artist

With simple and stunning illustrations we see long-legged Bob the bird learn to celebrate himself with a relaxed and creative flourish. Once seen, you will never forget those wonderful knobbly knees! Bob’s adventures cleverly and accessibly introduce art appreciation in a whole new way as he celebrates not only his own individuality but that of great artists too.

Who am I?

As a children’s writer I have to draw on my own creativity, celebrate my own ideas and quash self-doubt every time I work on a story. I teach creative writing, run workshops, and visit schools regularly – above all, I want to instill courage and the love of bold imagination in children. Picture book age children have such fantastic creativity and joyous wonder at the world around them. How wonderful to see that creative energy reflected back in a story which will hopefully spark more journeys into wonderful invented places, spaces, pictures, and tales. Imagination has brought me such great joy, I hope I can pass a spark of that onwards...

I wrote...

Calm Down, Zebra

By Lou Kuenzler, Julia Woolf (illustrator),

Book cover of Calm Down, Zebra

What is my book about?

Gorgeously illustrated with extra shimmer and shine, Calm Down, Zebra explores artistic self-expression in a bright, bold and free-thinking way. Through funny rhyming text, the picture book story aims to inspire creativity and an appreciation of colour in every young artist. Enthusiastic Zebra is eager to get in on the act as Annie tries to teach her little brother about colours. But although things don't turn out quite the way she imagines, together they make the world a brighter and more beautiful place!

"A joy to read aloud . . . guaranteed to win the hearts of all little mischief-makers." - Lancashire Post

You Are Enough

By Margaret O'Hair, Sofia Sanchez (illustrator),

Book cover of You Are Enough: A Book about Inclusion

You Are Enough is a powerful book celebrating diversity and inclusion. I literally had goosebumps the first time I read it. Every line is poster-worthy and each page is amazingly illustrated with kids from diverse backgrounds and abilities. Working together, the text paired with the illustrations reinforce the messages that “our differences are what make us special,” “we all belong,” and “you are just right exactly as you are.” 

Who am I?

As a former middle school language arts teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles some students face trying to be accepted and the heartbreak they experience when they are not. Every child deserves to be seen and appreciated for who they are and not be excluded or ostracized due to factors over which they have little control. I write and promote picture books about friendship, acceptance, and inclusion because everyone deserves to be included…always. 

I wrote...

What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

By Norene Paulson, Camila Carrossine (illustrator),

Book cover of What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

What is my book about?

Bea has alopecia―that means she doesn't have any hair. Most days being bald doesn’t bother Bea, but some days are super hard like Silly Hair Day at school. When Bea doesn’t know what to do, her best friend, Shaleah, is determined to help. With Silly Hair Day fast approaching, they're focused on finding a way for everyone to be included in the fun.

The Practice of Groundedness

By Brad Stulberg,

Book cover of The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds--Not Crushes--Your Soul

I found Brad Stulberg’s latest book when I was researching my book and immediately toned down my prose to meet the challenge of distilling practices nearly impossible to explain in simple terms anyone can understand. Sound impossible? Brad makes it look effortless. There’s just enough science balanced by personal experience and other anecdotes that what could have been a PhD dissertation (was it?) reads with ease. The power and simplicity make it elegant and ever so useful.

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

I wrote...

How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

What is my book about?

Why bother with meditation? You’ll find freedom using the mind-body connection as you transform any movement into a powerful mindful meditation practice. What is meditation? Silent retreats? Yoga? Tai Chi? What if you could meditate during fitness or daily activities such as lifting weights, dancing with your love, or walking across a room? What if you could make every move a meditation?

In Make Every Move a Meditation, award-winning author, meditation leader, and mental health advocate Nita Sweeney offers centuries-old techniques to help readers connect with the present moment, bringing mindfulness into any activity. Studies show both exercise and meditation reduce anxiety, stabilize blood pressure, improve mood and cognition, and lead to a deeper self-relationship and wisdom. Movement is medicine, and meditation is medicine. Let’s combine the two.


By Andrea Zuill,

Book cover of Sweety

Sweety is a naked mole rat who is just…different. She’s into “weird” things, is sometimes too intense and loud, and wants desperately to find a friend. Basically, Sweety is me. I am Sweety. And I know that other kids who feel like they don’t fit in will love watching Sweety love herself and ultimately find the perfect friend. 

Who am I?

I’ve always identified as a weirdo and felt misunderstood, which led to lots of wasted time “trying to fit in.” As an adult, I’ve learned to love myself for exactly who I am, but it took a lot of work and self-reflecting. Looking back, I realize there were actually many kids who felt the same way as me and we just never managed to connect with each other! Finding people who “get you” is an important task—but I truly believe self-love and self-acceptance is the greatest goal for all humans. I hope my books speak to the “weirdos” and non-weirdos a like, and encourages all readers to love themselves just the way they are.

I wrote...

Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat)

By Phaea Crede, Terry Runyan (illustrator),

Book cover of Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat)

What is my book about?

Jet is not like any other cat. She loves to swim! But when other animals try to convince her that she’s really a bird or a frog or a goat, she learns to embrace her unique identity. This hilarious story teaches us to celebrate our differences.

Mel Fell

By Corey R. Tabor,

Book cover of Mel Fell

You’ll fall along with the main character, Mel, a kingfisher, in this clever vertical read beginning right from the title page. The vertical format humorously highlights the action of Mel “falling,” faster and faster, as squirrels and bees, ants and the eight hands of spiders try to come to her rescue until—SPLASH! See what happens when you rotate the book. Did Mel really fall? Tabor’s art is delightful and amusing.

Who am I?

I may not be an expert ornithologist, but I am an avid “birdologist” to borrow a term from Sy Montgomery—one who is awed and fascinated by all things bird. Bird-watching is meditative—it helps me to be present and to feel joyful. I love reading, learning, and writing about birds too! I am the author of these bird books: Hawk Rising, illustrated by Brian Floca, Whoo-Ku Haiku, illustrated by Jonathan Voss, and the forthcoming You and the Bowerbird, illustrated by Maris Wicks. I love writing about the natural world and its inhabitants as well as dogs—another love of mine!

I wrote...

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

By Maria Gianferrari, Jonathan Voss (illustrator),

Book cover of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

What is my book about?

In stunning haiku and dazzling illustration, this thrilling nonfiction picture book showcases the fierce majesty of one of North America's most beloved birds, the great horned owl. Watch as a pair of great horned owlets hatch—Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking. A hole, cracking. Cracking. Crack! Pink owlet pecks out.

Mama and Papa Owl hunt for food and fend off predators while the owlets grow strong enough to hop and branch, flap and fledge, ready to explore the wild world around them.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

By Kwame Mbalia,

Book cover of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

This is a fast-paced, funny, thought-provoking, page-turner. Tristan, grieving the death of a friend, and the loss of an important boxing match, is navigating guilt, anger, and loss. But his friend’s journal sparks a high-stakes adventure to win over Anansi, the West African weaver god, with famous friends like Gum Baby and Brer Rabbit at his back. 

I loved being in this expansive new world of Tristan Strong. With characters that some kids may have heard a lot about…and some nothing at all, the story draws on African mythology as well as rich and complicated folk history to give readers tons to chew on. The adventure alone is worth the read, but what stood out most to me was the way Tristan is forced to grow. He learns what it means to be truly strong—what it takes to be strong for others and for himself—and how to let go. 

Who am I?

I had a lot of troubles as a kid, and my favorite escape was getting lost in fairy tales and mythology. For me, those stories were a window into ancient worlds full of strange rules and powers, where magic was real and nothing was outside the bounds of possibility. As an author, I get to build my own stories and worlds inspired by the tales I loved so much as a kid, and I’ve loved reading about new heroes and heroines whose tales are rooted in the powerful traditions of peoples from all over the globe. I’m happy to be sharing some of my recent favorite mythology-inspired books!

I wrote...

The Edge of Strange Hollow

By Gabrielle K. Byrne,

Book cover of The Edge of Strange Hollow

What is my book about?

Called “spookily thrilling with superlative worldbuilding,” The Edge of Strange Hollow is a mythology-inspired coming-of-age adventure about friendship, found family, and perseverance. 

Poppy Sunshine isn’t like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She’s not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like: shape-shifters, hobs, witches, Valkyrie battle maidens, and even a three-headed dog. Banned from the wood, Poppy longs to hunt the forest’s cursed magical objects with her parents, but when they disappear on a routine expedition, Poppy and her friends must break every rule to save them. She soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...and the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

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