The best books for self confidence

Who picked these books? Meet our 40 experts.

40 authors created a book list connected to self confidence, and here are their favorite self confidence books.
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What type of self confidence book?


Living the Confidence Code

By Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, Jillellyn Riley

Book cover of Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls. Real Stories. Real Confidence.

Catherine Thimmesh Author Of Girls Solve Everything: Stories of Women Entrepreneurs Building a Better World

From the list on you’ve-got-this-girl young readers.

Who am I?

I’m someone who believes the accomplishments of women have been glossed over for far too long. I'm passionate about sharing the stories of women and girls that the world at large still tends to ignore. It’s critical to share these stores and to give face and voice to women. Social entrepreneurship, the topic of my recent book Girls Solve Everything, has fascinated me for some time:  creative problem solving, tackling problems in our communities and the world, creating a business to find and facilitate the solution. Representation matters. I’m determined to write about and share the stories of strong, innovative, creative women and girls. Our future depends on them.

Catherine's book list on you’ve-got-this-girl young readers

Discover why each book is one of Catherine's favorite books.

Why did Catherine love this book?

It’s one thing to tell young girls (and women...and men and boys) to “be” more confident. To have confidence in themselves and their abilities. Easy to say. Harder to do. Living the Confidence Code bridges that divide in extraordinary fashion. I love how this is a compilation of real girls sharing their real stories of risk-taking, successes, and failures – and, most importantly to me – sharing their thought processes on why they did a certain thing or reacted a certain way. A very engaging and informative book. Empty platitudes are gone and what remains are relatable stories providing multiple templates for finding – and building – your own inner confidence. 

By Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, Jillellyn Riley

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living the Confidence Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


New from the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of The Confidence Code for Girls!

The best way to understand confidence is to see it in action. That's why bestselling authors Katty Kay, Claire Shipman, and JillEllyn Riley have collected 30 true stories of real girls, pursuing their passions, struggling and stumbling, but along the way figuring out how to build their own special brand of confidence.

From Bali to Brazil, South Africa to Seattle, Australia to Afghanistan, these girls took risks, doubted themselves, and sometimes failed. But…

Exactly Where You Need to Be

By Amelia Diane Coombs,

Book cover of Exactly Where You Need to Be

Sara Hosey Author Of Summer People

From the list on for those of us in the neurodiverse universe.

Who am I?

I was an adult before I realized I had ADHD. Getting a diagnosis was like getting glasses; so many things in my life immediately became clear to me, including that I wasn’t simply a sloppy, lazy, scattered person. And I also learned, like many others, that ADHD can be a challenge and a strength.

Sara's book list on for those of us in the neurodiverse universe

Discover why each book is one of Sara's favorite books.

Why did Sara love this book?

In the young adult novel, Exactly Where You Need to Be, best friends Florie and Kacey sneak off on a road trip in order to indulge their shared obsession with a true crime podcast.

Because of her O.C.D., Florie has often restricted her activities—she’s been homeschooled, doesn’t plan to go to college upon high school graduation, and has most of her life tightly controlled by her mother—and this road trip is an opportunity for her to challenge herself, as well as to test her strength and capabilities. 

I personally love this book because it is doing things I’d like to see more of in fiction: depicting a condition like O.C.D. as an important aspect of a person’s life, without either romanticizing it or making the character some sort of victim. And what’s more: Coombs’s novel showcases what supportive, accepting friendships and relationships can look like.

By Amelia Diane Coombs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exactly Where You Need to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Turtles All the Way Down meets Love and Luck in this “lively” (Publishers Weekly), romantic road trip story about a teen girl’s last chance to have an epic summer with her best friend before everything changes.

Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but…

Magnificent Homespun Brown

By Samara Cole Doyon, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Book cover of Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration

Patrice Gopo Author Of All the Places We Call Home

From the list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging.

Who am I?

As the Black American daughter of Jamaican immigrants born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I love stories that depict the beauty of being multifaceted human beings. Stories steeped in broad understandings of place and home. Stories that encourage us to delight in being the people we are. I also believe our children are natural poets and storytellers. Lyrical picture books filled with rich language and sensory details encourage the thriving of such creativity. In addition to writing All the Places We Call Home, I'm the author of All the Colors We Will See, an essay collection about race, immigration, and belonging. 

Patrice's book list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging

Discover why each book is one of Patrice's favorite books.

Why did Patrice love this book?

Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! What a celebration indeed!! Such gorgeous, lyrical language. And the illustrations—often connected to the seasons—are vibrant and alive. This story is a poem that encourages a child to celebrate the people they come from and the color they are. I love how the specific words, the soothing alliteration, and the connections with nature and family invite us to read further. And the descriptions of the color brown sing. Finally, as someone who spent a childhood hiking trails and connecting with the outdoors, one of my favorite spreads is where the father and daughter take a mountain hike. We do not see enough brown families spending time in nature in children’s books. What a joy to see this representation. 

By Samara Cole Doyon, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magnificent Homespun Brown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Magnificent Homespun Brown is an exploration of the natural world and family bonds through the eyes of young, mixed raced heroines-a living, breathing, dazzlingly multi-faceted, exuberant masterpiece, firmly grounded in a sense of self-worth and belonging. This is a story-a poem, a song, a celebration- about feeling at home in one's own beloved skin.

If Walt Whitman were reborn as a young woman of colour, this is the book he might write. With vivid illustrations by Kaylani Juanita, Samara Cole Doyon sings a carol for the plenitude that surrounds us and the self each of us is meant to inhabit.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

By Gail Carson Levine,

Book cover of The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Anya Leigh Josephs Author Of Queen of All

From the list on fantasy to break your heart.

Who am I?

A lot of people feel intimidated by fantasy. Admittedly, the classics of the genre can be hard to get into, with their epic worldbuilding and thousand-page counts. But what made me fall in love with fantasy was the way it made me feel. Growing up queer, Jewish, fat, and chronically ill in the American South made it impossible for me to relate to the people around me. But fantasy, with its stories of outcasts becoming saviors, resonated with me. That’s why I started writing Queen of All when I was only twelve years old—I wanted to make people feel seen and understood. That’s what these books have done for me. 

Anya's book list on fantasy to break your heart

Discover why each book is one of Anya's favorite books.

Why did Anya love this book?

This fairytale fantasy for young readers is one of the most poignant books I have ever read, in any genre. My best friend, Emma, and I were both fans of Levine growing up. A few months ago, we realized we could both recite the epic poem that concludes this book word for word. Step follows step, hope follows courage. It’s a beautiful story of familial love, growing up and finding yourself, and grappling with the inevitability of illness and loss, all set in a delightfully adventurous fantasy world. The tone is playful and bright throughout, the message ultimately hopeful, but there’s no denying the heartbreak along the way.

By Gail Carson Levine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Two Princesses of Bamarre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Another fantasy adventure from the author of ELLA ENCHANTED. Two princesses in a kingdom of magic, evil and sorcerors. When Princess Meryl succumbs to the terrible Grey Death, can Princess Addie overcome her fears and embark on a dangerous quest to find the cure?

Princess Meryl and Princess Addie, two sisters as close as can be, are growing up in a world full of magic. When their mother dies of the terrible Grey Death, a mysterious illness for which there is no known cure, they must look after each other. Addie looks to Meryl for inspiration - her brave, lively…

Book cover of Broke Millennial Talks Money

Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez Author Of Overcoming Debt, Achieving Financial Freedom: 8 Pillars to Build Wealth

From the list on starting your journey to financial freedom.

Who am I?

I graduated law school in 2015 with over $200,000 of debt. As the daughter of immigrants, born and raised in a low-income community in the Bronx, I was overwhelmed by how little I knew about money. I turned to books to build healthy money management habits, improve my credit, and, importantly, pay down my debt. I have since read dozens of personal finance books, built a community of over 60,000 on social media, and spoken to audiences nationwide about personal finance. Given the impact that books have had on my journey, I wrote my own from the perspective of a first-generation Latina that went from six figures of debt to a six-figure net worth. 

Cindy's book list on starting your journey to financial freedom

Discover why each book is one of Cindy's favorite books.

Why did Cindy love this book?

Another book by Broke Millennial! When starting your journey to financial freedom, it’s necessary to learn the practical advice on the topics you may not have learned in school—budgeting, saving, investing, etc. But something else we’re not taught is how to talk about money. This book dives into everything from how to talk to your parents about how their retirement will be funded, how to talk to coworkers about salaries, how to talk about money with your partner, to how to set boundaries with friends. I have referenced this book on several occasions and strongly believe it’s a must-have for your bookshelf.   

By Erin Lowry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broke Millennial Talks Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive guide to talking about money in every aspect of your life, including at work, with friends and family, and in relationships, from the author of the Broke Millennial series.

Let's face it--talking about money is always awkward. In this user-friendly and approachable guide, finance writer Erin Lowry helps take the stress out of these tricky conversations. With scripts, tips, and troubleshooting advice, she takes you through every possible money talk scenario, including:

how to tell your friends you can't afford the same lifestyle they can how to ask your parents if they can afford retirement and if they'll…

Professional Troublemaker

By Luvvie Ajayi Jones,

Book cover of Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual

Gia De Cadenet Author Of Not the Plan

From the list on helping romance lovers remember who they are.

Who am I?

As a long-time expat in France, a creative and a Black woman, I get othered and rejected a lot. I’ve had to learn how to own my story – of starting over, of building something from nothing, of remembering where I’ve been, and reminding myself of where I’m going. I had to learn to reject the labels that others want to put on me and draft my own personal hype mantra then embellish it with a little bombshell sparkle. The books I’ve chosen are meant to entertain while giving you the chance to remind yourself of who you are and who you can choose to be.  

Gia's book list on helping romance lovers remember who they are

Discover why each book is one of Gia's favorite books.

Why did Gia love this book?

Sometimes things happen in life that bring us to our knees – illness, relationships fail, job losses.

And we may feel small, overwhelmed, incapable. In this awesome book about living audaciously, Jones advises the reader to write their own oriki, or personal hype mantra.

When we are at our lowest, we need to look back and see how far we’ve come, remind ourselves of who we were, who we are, and who we will be.

Just as we have the power to write our own orikis, we have the power to write our own next steps. That’s pretty bad-ass.

By Luvvie Ajayi Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Professional Troublemaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of I'm Judging You, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear--that everlasting hater--and audaciously step into lives, careers, and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, and perpetual truth-telling. But even she's been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer, and nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. As she shares in Professional Troublemaker,…

Bob the Artist

By Marion Deuchars,

Book cover of Bob the Artist

Lou Kuenzler Author Of Calm Down, Zebra

From the list on artistic expression.

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...

Lou's book list on artistic expression

Discover why each book is one of Lou's favorite books.

Why did Lou love this book?

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.

By Marion Deuchars,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bob the Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bob the bird is just like all his friends, apart from his skinny legs. When Bob is teased, he decides to try and change himself to fit in. But little does he know where all his efforts will lead him...

An affirming picture book for age 3+ about the power of art and of being confident enough to be yourself.


By Peter H. Reynolds,

Book cover of Ish

Jennifer Frank Author Of The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken

From the list on building self-esteem and self-love.

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.

Jennifer's book list on building self-esteem and self-love

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

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.

By Peter H. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A creative spirit learns that a drawing doesn't have to look exactly like anything in this gentle fable from the creator of the award-winning, bestselling picture book The Dot.

An inspiring, encouraging story for budding artists everywhere, the acclaimed illustrator of The Dot, Sky Colour and the Judy Moody series tells the story of Ramon, who loves to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere. Drawing is what Ramon does. It's what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single remark by Ramon's older brother, Leon, turns Ramon's carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his…

Quick Confidence

By Selena Rezvani,

Book cover of Quick Confidence: Be Authentic, Boost Connections, and Make Bold Bets on Yourself

Todd Dewett Author Of Dancing with Monsters: A Tale About Leadership, Success, and Overcoming Fears

From the list on how people skills support great leadership.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the relationships component of leadership. I’ve worked for major service firms, taught MBAs for years, advised many teams and organizations, and educated millions via my courses on LinkedIn Learning. When I look at performance, I see the same issues popping up over and over: people issues! You can know a lot about how to run a team operationally or how to roll out a change step by step – but it’s all for nothing if you don’t know how to positively relate to and lead others. Communication, motivation, empathy, etc. – these are the essential people skills required to allow you to actually add value with your business knowledge.  

Todd's book list on how people skills support great leadership

Discover why each book is one of Todd's favorite books.

Why did Todd love this book?

I am a big fan of this book! Selena uses a voice that is warm, positive, and personal to share her ideas. 

From building confidence, to interacting with others, and dealing with challenges and setbacks, this is a career “must read.” It’s ostensibly about confidence, but really, it’s way more. I was an organizational behavior for years teaching MBA students, and this has all of the topical coverage you’d want to convey in any course related to leadership and career success. 

But instead of being boring like a textbook, it stays focused on crisp actionable advice for improving how you think, interact, and achieve. Not to mention, her use of short examples and anecdotes makes it a fast fun read too. Highly recommended.

By Selena Rezvani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quick Confidence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hands-on, bite-sized strategies for improving your confidence

In Quick Confidence: Be Authentic, Create Connections and Make Bold Bets On Yourself, best-selling author and renowned leadership speaker Selena Rezvani delivers an effective and eye-opening new approach to building confidence and presence for professionals. In the book, the author walks you through-and helps you leap over-the 9 most common obstacles that stand in the way of building authentic confidence. She offers digestible actions, behaviors, and exercises you can use to change the way you think and the way you present yourself to others.

Relying on sound, scientifically validated data, the book helps…

Hair Love

By Matthew A. Cherry, Vashti Harrison,

Book cover of Hair Love

Ty Chapman Author Of Sarah Rising

From the list on picture books with purpose.

Who am I?

In my kidlit writing, I am someone who almost exclusively writes more difficult topics, grounded in reality. My debut deals with the police-sanctioned murder of Black people. My second book deals with mental illness and how to bounce back from sad days in a way that’s accessible to young people. I thoroughly enjoy reading and writing more thoughtful picture books with much to say about our greater world. 

Ty's book list on picture books with purpose

Discover why each book is one of Ty's favorite books.

Why did Ty love this book?

Hair Love is a heartwarming and gentle book about a little girl named Zuri and her father struggling to do her hair. It is filled with an abundance of humorous and joyful moments, but where the book really shines for me is in its unabashed celebration of Zuri’s hair. In a country where Black femmes are constantly being labeled as less-than, the importance of this book cannot be overstated.

By Matthew A. Cherry, Vashti Harrison,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Hair Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on the Oscar winning short film!

It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this story of self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters.

Zuri knows her hair is beautiful, but it has a mind of its own!

It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Mum always does Zuri's hair just the way she likes it - so when Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn.

But he LOVES his Zuri, and he'll do anything to make her - and her hair…


By Andrea Zuill,

Book cover of Sweety

Phaea Crede Author Of Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat)

From the list on animals trying on new identities.

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.

Phaea's book list on animals trying on new identities

Discover why each book is one of Phaea's favorite books.

Why did Phaea love this book?

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. 

By Andrea Zuill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sweety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

From the author of WOLF CAMP comes the story of a charming, mushroom-loving, headgear-wearing, totally awkward naked mole rat who is looking for like-minded peeps.

Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She's intense and passionate--and her peers don't always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there? As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize--with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth-- that being Sweety…

Mel Fell

By Corey R. Tabor,

Book cover of Mel Fell

Maria Gianferrari Author Of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

From the list on read aloud bird books for kids.

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!

Maria's book list on read aloud bird books for kids

Discover why each book is one of Maria's favorite books.

Why did Maria love this book?

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.

By Corey R. Tabor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mel Fell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Caldecott Honor Book and ALA Notable Book of the Year! An innovative and charming tale about a plucky little bird, from the award-winning author-illustrator of Fox the Tiger.

Readers will delight in turning their book sideways and upside down to follow Mel on her journey from downward fall to triumphant flight in this tale of self-confidence and taking a leap of faith.

An especially enjoyable and satisfying read-aloud!

Sometimes, you might fall




before you learn to fly




The Way of Integrity

By Martha Beck,

Book cover of The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self

Keisha Blair Author Of Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness

From the list on resilience and overcoming setbacks.

Who am I?

I'm a trained Economist and Harvard Trained Policy Expert. I was part of the Prime Minister's supporting delegation to the World Economic Forum, ASEAN, and APEC Summits in Singapore. I'm the Founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth and host of the Holistic Wealth podcast. I wrote a viral article entitled "My Husband Died At Age 34. Here Are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It". I coined the term Holistic Wealth with the publication of the first book on Holistic Wealth. I am the founder of the Holistic Wealth movement and known as the Mother of Holistic Wealth. I've written three books on Holistic Wealth (series). 

Keisha's book list on resilience and overcoming setbacks

Discover why each book is one of Keisha's favorite books.

Why did Keisha love this book?

As Martha Beck says in her book, “Integrity is the cure for psychological suffering. Period.”

I honestly believe that living in integrity is the first truth about being resilient. It’s so much harder to be resilient when we are living out of sync with our values and our most authentic selves. Living a lie causes stress and anxiety and leads to chronic illnesses.

I like how Martha spells out living purposefully and intentionally. I started reading The Way of Integrity to prepare for an interview with Martha on the Holistic Wealth podcast. In The Way of Integrity, Martha outlines a four-stage process that anyone can use to find integrity, and with it, a sense of purpose, emotional healing, and a life free of mental suffering.

Much of what plagues us—people pleasing, worry and anxiety, negative habits—all point to what happens when we are out of touch with what truly…

By Martha Beck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way of Integrity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'A roadmap on the journey to truth and authenticity... [The Way of Integrity] is filled with aha moments and practical exercises that can guide us as we seek enlightenment' Oprah Winfrey

'This radiant book will not only change your life, but perhaps even save it' Elizabeth Gilbert

'Martha Beck's genius is that her writing is equal parts comforting and challenging. A teacher, a mother, a sage, she holds our hand as she leads us back home to ourselves' Glennon Doyle


Bestselling author, life coach and sociologist Martha Beck explains why…


By Andrew Root, Erin Kraan (illustrator),

Book cover of Nerdycorn

Jess Hernandez Author Of First Day of Unicorn School

From the list on unusual unicorns.

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.  

Jess' book list on unusual unicorns

Discover why each book is one of Jess' favorite books.

Why did Jess love this book?

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.

By Andrew Root, Erin Kraan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nerdycorn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fern isn't your usual unicorn...she loves chemistry and math more than glitter or flowers-and she refuses to change who she is in this sweet and empowering picture book about being yourself-and standing up for yourself, too!

Meet Fern! She's a smart, creative unicorn who prefers building robots and coding software to jumping through shimmering rainbows and splashing in majestic waterfalls. Even though Fern is a good friend and always willing to help others, the other unicorns tease her and call her a nerdycorn.

One day, Fern has had enough and decides to stop fixing her friends' broken things. But then…

Book cover of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Landra Jennings Author Of Wand

From the list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy.

Who am I?

Middle grade always takes a big portion of my TBR pile. I love the hopefulness that kids this age have. And for a child reader, a book can be a way to work out big emotions in a place far removed from their own life. I love the function of a portal in taking the reader that much further away from their reality. As a child, the fantasy A Wrinkle in Time got me through a difficult period. This love of fantasy and children’s literature is the reason I started writing in the first place. And why I got an MFA in writing specifically for children and young adults. 

Landra's book list on middle grade with fresh takes on portal fantasy

Discover why each book is one of Landra's favorite books.

Why did Landra love this book?

As in Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, our protagonist in Tristan Strong has the ability to create his own portal, versus stumbling upon one already in existence (as in the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

I love the empowerment implicit in that and haven’t seen it very often in portal fantasies. I also am from the U.S. South and lived for over a decade in Chicago so I connected with a lot of things in this novel.

By Kwame Mbalia,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

*"Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history―including the legacy of the slave trade―creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading…

I Won't Give Up

By Daniel Kenney,

Book cover of I Won't Give Up

J. L. Hunt Author Of Beautiful Boy

From the list on motivational stories for young children.

Who am I?

Growing up in a household with a large family, I recall times when it was difficult to find my voice, having to compete with multiple family members to be heard. Over the years, I developed a special compassion for children who may feel overlooked, or unseen, which also prompted my decision to become a children’s book author, catering to write empowering stories. So, I am especially passionate about this list of children’s stories that also helps to shape the trajectory of every child, by instilling in them early on their true value & infinite capabilities

J. L.'s book list on motivational stories for young children

Discover why each book is one of J. L.'s favorite books.

Why did J. L. love this book?

This book really pushes you to confront new obstacles with an attitude of mastery, which is vital in the life of a child. Facing new things is an inevitable part of life, and this story does an excellent  job of emphasizing this truth, demonstrated through typical daily child interactions & encounters

By Daniel Kenney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Won't Give Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Want your kids to learn the power of not giving up?

Parents, guardians, and mentors play the crucial role in teaching kids how to "not give up."

Thankfully, simple books with powerful language can help!

With the help of "I Won't Give Up", you and your child can work together to explore how even the most daunting challenges can be navigated with a little creativity... and alot of determination.

Help the child in your life build confidence, conviction, and a can-do attitude.

With fun and silly pictures, and a simple but positive message, "I Won't Give Up" teaches children about…

Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

By Lenore Look, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Book cover of Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Laurie Calkhoven Author Of Roosevelt Banks and the Attic of Doom

From the list on laugh-out-loud chapters.

Who am I?

I am a former book publishing professional turned full-time children’s book author. I’ve never swallowed a frog, battled imaginary bears, or had a slime war with ghosts like my character, Roosevelt Banks, but I have written more than fifty books for children. These range from beginning readers (You Should Meet Misty Copeland) and chapter books (Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training) to middle grade historical novels (Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1775).

Laurie's book list on laugh-out-loud chapters

Discover why each book is one of Laurie's favorite books.

Why did Laurie love this book?

This is the first book in a hilarious chapter book series that deals with facing your fears in a fun, kid-friend way. Alvin, who is afraid of everything from girls to elevators and especially school, channels his inner superhero, Firecracker Man, to brave the outside world. This book is great for both beginning and reluctant readers. I loved watching Alvin conquer his fears and transform into Firecracker Man!

By Lenore Look, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in a hilarious chapter book series that tackles anxiety in a fun, kid-friendly way. Perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers, and fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

A humorous and touching series about facing your fears and embracing new experiences—with a truly unforgettable character—from author Lenore Look and New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor winning illustrator LeUyen Pham.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader, is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home,…


By Lisa Fipps,

Book cover of Starfish

Jasminne Mendez Author Of Aniana del Mar Jumps In

From the list on girls seeking bodily agency and body confidence.

Who am I?

As a person who has lived with chronic illness and disability for over a decade, I've often found it difficult to advocate for myself because I was afraid and because I just didn’t know that I had a right to speak up. Not just in medical settings but also with family and friends. So often, others with “authority” think they know what’s best for us, but in the end, we know our bodies best. I’ve learned to set boundaries, say no, and advocate for myself as a means of survival. These five books are wonderful examples of strong girls and young women using their voices to protect their bodily agency and build their body confidence.

Jasminne's book list on girls seeking bodily agency and body confidence

Discover why each book is one of Jasminne's favorite books.

Why did Jasminne love this book?

Ellie has been bullied about her weight for some time and her mom insists on dragging her to doctors who can help her “manage her weight.”

Ellie wants to stand up to her bullies and her mom but sometimes she just doesn’t know how. While Ellie struggles to find the words she needs to advocate for herself, she finds solace in swimming. Because under water is where she feels the most weightless and free and it’s when she loves herself and her body the most.

With therapy and the help of her new best friend, Ellie shows us how true body confidence and bodily agency can be achieved even when it feels like it’s impossible. 

By Lisa Fipps,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Starfish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she's been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules - like "no making waves," "avoid eating in public," and "don't move so fast that your body jiggles." And she's found her safe space - her swimming pool - where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It's also where she can get away from her pushy…

Search Inside Yourself

By Chade-Meng Tan,

Book cover of Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happines

Eric Holsapple Author Of Profit with Presence: The Twelve Pillars of Mindful Leadership

From the list on mindful leaders.

Who am I?

I experienced early success in the business world, but I found myself feeling empty. This led to a decades-long exploration of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. Now, I combine my expertise in business and my passion for mindfulness to make a greater impact on individuals and the world at large. By making mindfulness techniques accessible and relevant to professionals and executives, I teach others to transform their affluence and success into positive influence in their organizations and communities. 

Eric's book list on mindful leaders

Discover why each book is one of Eric's favorite books.

Why did Eric love this book?

This book highlights not only theory, but how Google implemented mindfulness via a program with the same name “Search Inside Yourself,” which the author instituted and ran. I was impressed with the depth of the presentation, its simplicity, and the overall theme of mindful business to act as a catalyst to save the world.

The book starts out by emphasizing a focus on breath as access to mindfulness, and that mindfulness is a practice on – and off – the cushion. Tan shows that mindfulness is in sync with running a business and making a profit and can go beyond to make a greater impact on the world. He showcases how emotions can be mastered, empathy is not a weakness, and compassion is possible for the most stoic members of our teams. 

By Chade-Meng Tan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Search Inside Yourself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google’s earliest engineers and personal growth pioneer, offers a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work.

Meng’s job is to teach Google’s best and brightest how to apply mindfulness techniques in the office and beyond; now, readers everywhere can get insider access to one of the most sought after classes in the country, a course in health, happiness and creativity that is improving the livelihood and productivity of those responsible for one of the most successful businesses in the world.

With forewords by Daniel Goleman, author of…

You'd Be Home Now

By Kathleen Glasgow,

Book cover of You'd Be Home Now

Dev Jannerson Author Of The Women of Dauphine

From the list on dark, gritty YA for the omnivorous reader.

Who am I?

Two facts about me as a reader: I like books that deal with difficult issues, and I like reading a lot of them. There’s something about watching teens, for whom everything feels new, deal with the toughest stuff imaginable and come out the other side. I love a protagonist who has been through the wringer. Some people call these stories dark or morbid. I prefer to think of them as hopeful. My own writing history is as diverse as my reading habits. I’ve published in poetry, romance, and criticism, but these days I’m all about YA, like the politically-charged thriller I’m querying or my queer New Orleans ghost story, The Women of Dauphine

Dev's book list on dark, gritty YA for the omnivorous reader

Discover why each book is one of Dev's favorite books.

Why did Dev love this book?

Bestselling Girl in Pieces author Glasgow knows her way around hard-hitting hyperrealism. (Plus, she writes beautifully about my once and future home of Tucson, Arizona.) In her latest, a modern take on Our Town, Emmy’s brother comes home from rehab, and Emmy prepares to fulfill the role she’s always had as the household rock and peacekeeper. But what about what she needs, and what if Joey has problems she can’t cover up? This novel’s depiction of drug addiction, and how its impact reverberates through families, is informed and unromanticized.

By Kathleen Glasgow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You'd Be Home Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a stunning novel that Vanity Fair calls “impossibly moving” and “suffused with light”. In this raw, deeply personal story, a teenaged girl struggles to find herself amidst the fallout of her brother's addiction in a town ravaged by the opioid crisis.

For all of Emory's life she's been told who she is. In town she's the rich one--the great-great-granddaughter of the mill's founder. At school she's hot Maddie Ward's younger sister. And at home, she's the good one, her stoner older brother Joey's babysitter. Everything was turned on…