The best self esteem books

30 authors have picked their favorite books about self esteem and why they recommend each book.

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Transcend

By Scott Barry Kaufman,

Book cover of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

You’re probably familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an undergraduate psychology staple that explains how a person’s basic needs (such as security) are foundational to higher needs (such as self-actualization). But did you know Abraham Maslow never actually drew that pyramid? Popular psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman follows in Maslow’s footsteps, tracking down his later research and personal writings to uncover what the famous humanist really thought about personal development. It turns out that the image of the pyramid is both misleading and incomplete: it is missing its top level, self-transcendence.

Kaufman walks us through an updated vision of Maslow’s work, culminating in our ability to rise above everyday affairs and connect with our higher aspirations and ideals. In the process, we learn how to cultivate the proper mindset for growth and turn our aspirations into reality. Transcend is not about parenting per se, but it is chock full of insights…


Who am I?

I strongly believe that anyone who is willing to reflect thoughtfully on life can make progress toward inner peace and contentment. I have pursued my lifelong interest in human development first through a Ph.D. in applied linguistics (with a focus on individual differences in second language development) and then through the study of Stoic moral psychology and philosophy. These days I have ample opportunity to study human nature in the best laboratory of all: parenthood!


I wrote...

Tranquility Parenting: A Guide to Staying Calm, Mindful, and Engaged

By Brittany Polat,

Book cover of Tranquility Parenting: A Guide to Staying Calm, Mindful, and Engaged

What is my book about?

Parenting is stressful. For many parents, who are always busy, usually tired, and probably not trained in dealing with children, the words "tranquility" and "parenting" do not go together. Don't you just wish there was some technique out there that could help you become calm, content, and confident parent? Something that you could have on hand all the time to help you through your most challenging situations and stressful days? Well, there is something, and it comes from a wisdom tradition that has been helping people through difficult situations for about 2300 years. The psychological techniques developed by ancient Stoics have recently been rediscovered, and Stoicism is enjoying a renaissance among people from all walks of life who are looking for fulfillment, tranquility, and yes, the meaning of life. Modern Stoicism has straightforward answers to all these questions, as well as practical techniques for achieving eudaimonia (the Greek word for "human flourishing"). 

I Can Do Hard Things

By Gabi Garcia, Charity Russell (illustrator),

Book cover of I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids

Some books are pretty straightforward: this is one of them. I like it because it covers a lot of ground and includes lots of diverse kids. Sometimes you want a sweet story, and sometimes you want something more practical. I love that this book gives concrete examples about being brave, strong, and resilient. My son has autism, and when he was small he preferred concept books to stories. This would have been perfect for him—as he took things very literally. It’s a best-seller and comes in a Spanish version.


Who am I?

The best parts of my life have come when I was brave: getting married, having children, embarking on a career. The worst parts of my life have been mitigated by being brave: losing friends and relatives, dealing with illness and disability among family members. A huge part of raising my son who has autism was helping him to be brave. I've always admired brave people. Not daring or reckless, but truly brave. I've found that all the great stories include an element of bravery! I wrote my picture book as a way to help young children navigate the path to courage and resilience. I’m also the co-founder of National Be Brave Day.

I wrote...

Three Ways to Be Brave: A Trio of Stories

By Karla Clark, Jeff Östberg (illustrator),

Book cover of Three Ways to Be Brave: A Trio of Stories

What is my book about?

Three stories of triumph combine to empower young readers to look inward for strength and create their own definition of bravery.

Told in gentle, rhyming couplets, this collection of stories presents relatable moments of unease and the strength found in conquering fears. A roaring nighttime thunderstorm, the first day of preschool, and a doctor's visit, in turn, encourage young readers to forge their own paths of strength in times of distress. Illustrated in rich, emotional scenes that depict vignettes of daily life, this book provides comfort and empowerment for resilience and resolution.

The Skin You Live in

By Michael Tyler, David Lee Csicsko (illustrator),

Book cover of The Skin You Live in

Any book that represents red-headed & freckled boys as well as kids with “warm cocoa dream skin” was a hit with my kids when they were young as they saw themselves and would shout “That’s me!”. The easy rhyme and adorable art help this story share the important message of acceptance, diversity, and inclusion to young readers. Children will recognize their family members, friends, and themselves in the “wonderful hues” decorating every page.


Who am I?

As the white parent of both a white child and a child of color, the discrepancies of representation and inclusivity in children’s literature is an important conversation in our home. Seeing themselves in books allows all children to dream big, feel seen, and know there is a place in this world for them. I hope both of my books, All Bears Need Love and Little Taco Truck do exactly that. I know the list of brilliant books I’ve suggested here are wonderful examples of inclusivity and diversity that young readers need.


I wrote...

Little Taco Truck

By Tanya Valentine, Jorge Martin (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Taco Truck

What is my book about?

Little Taco Truck serves up tasty treats to the hungry workers on Union Street. But when Miss Falafel arrives and parks in his space, Little Taco Truck's headlights dim. What if people like falafel more than tacos?When Jumbo Gumbo, Annie’s Arepas, and Hello Gelato arrive, there's no space left for Little Taco Truck. He swishes his wipers to hide his tears and heads home. At last, with some ingenuity and help from new friends, Little Taco Truck wins back his coveted parking spot. And guess what? There is room enough for everyone!

Packed with flavor and savory smells, this irresistible read-aloud about inclusion, determination, and friendship is perfect for even the youngest truck and taco fans.

Who am I?

I am passionate about one thing: growing strong girls and books that help parents and care providers support their girls. Girls who are strong have self-belief and value. They are much less likely to struggle with mental health concerns, become addicted to social media, and be obsessed with their appearance and what others think about them. Strong girls are much more likely to be brave and bold and take chances, cultivate healthy relationships, and feel happy and healthy so they can pursue their passions and discover their purpose.

I wrote...

Growing Strong Girls: Practical Tools to Cultivate Connection in the Preteen Years

By Lindsay Sealey,

Book cover of Growing Strong Girls: Practical Tools to Cultivate Connection in the Preteen Years

What is my book about?

Full of practical advice, helpful visual cues, and poignant anecdotes from girlhood, Growing Strong Girls offers a road map to achieving better lives for our girls—and a more just society long-term as a result.

Perfectionism can take many forms, including an obsession with body size, body shape, grades, and social media likes. Addressing perfectionism from a young age is crucial to combatting the intense pressure brought on by social media. From Mean Girls to Gossip Girl, the “catty” girl is a pervasive pop culture icon, yet an extremely damaging one. There’s no such thing as a “bad girl”—just a misunderstood girl. Bravery and the ability to set boundaries are essential survival skills for girls, who absorb timidity, flexibility, and obedience from a young age. Practical advice and tips help parents teach emotional intelligence at home. Girls often confuse wanting to be “sexy” with readiness for sex. This distinction is crucial for girls to understand in a world of selfies.

The Gifts of Imperfection

By Brené Brown,

Book cover of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

For most of my life, self-doubt had been a constant companion. I was someone who looked successful on the outside, but didn’t feel that way within. I kept pushing in my career – trying to earn validation and compensate for my insecurities – until I hit severe burnout. That’s when I first read The Gifts of Imperfection. This book helped me unpack the thoughts and conditioning that were contributing to my sense of inadequacy and set me on a path to rebuilding my self-worth and confidence as a highly sensitive person. 


Who am I?

As a human behavior professor, award-winning executive coach, and trained therapist, I’ve spent the last decade helping thousands of high-achieving, highly sensitive professionals discover ways to enjoy their success without self-doubt, stress, and emotional overwhelm. I’m a highly sensitive person myself, so I intimately understand what it’s like to navigate the world as a deep thinker and feeler. Trust Yourself is the actionable guide I wish I had had as a big-feeling, driven person trying to find my way in my career and figure out how to believe in myself in the process.


I wrote...

Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

By Melody Wilding,

Book cover of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

What is my book about?

Being highly attuned to your emotions, your environment, and the behavior of others can be the keys to success, but they can also lead to overthinking everything and burnout. Trust Yourself offers concrete steps to help you break free from stress, perfectionism, and self-doubt so you can find the confidence to work and lead effectively. Learn to: achieve confidence and overcome imposter syndrome; find your voice to speak and act with assertiveness; build resilience and bounce back from setbacks; and enjoy your success without sacrificing your well-being.

Not Quite Snow White

By Ashley Franklin, Ebony Glenn (illustrator),

Book cover of Not Quite Snow White

I have always loved theater and I was in school productions of Oklahoma, Bye Bye Birdie, and Damn Yankees. I was also one of the shortest kids in my grade—always. From kindergarten through high school. So I connected with the character that tries her hardest to win a role. And I celebrated when she didn’t let comments that she was too chubby, too tall (the opposite of my problem!), or too brown to play the part of Snow White keep her from pursuing her goal. I was fortunate to hear Ashley read in person at storytime, and saw the kids fall in love.


Who am I?

A former microbiologist and attorney turned children’s book author, I’m delighted to advocate for children’s self-confidence and critical thinking skills in literature. I like to write about things that I know, to share my passion, and about things I don’t know—to learn more. Stories have been an escape and a learning tool for me and I want to share stories that do the same for children today.


I wrote...

Lola Shapes the Sky

By Wendy Greenley, Paolo Domeniconi (illustrator),

Book cover of Lola Shapes the Sky

What is my book about?

Lola Shapes the Sky tells the story of a playful cloud named Lola. She isn’t like the other clouds in the sky. She would rather make shapes than weather. Rain? Nope. Shade? Nope. Snow? Nope. The other clouds bully and then abandon Lola. But the people on the ground remind Lola that there’s value in what feels right to her. Standing up for herself, Lola shows that clouds that make beautiful shapes and clouds that make weather can co-exist.

Spoon

By Amy Krause Rosenthal,

Book cover of Spoon

My girls and I loved reading this book when they were younger! The book is written in simple language and is not preachy. Spoon is feeling “bent out of shape” because he thinks his friend's fork, knife, and chopsticks have more fun than he does. Meanwhile, his friends are all feeling the same way about him. In the end, he comes to understand that he can celebrate and admire his friends while also being proud of himself and what makes him special. As a mom of three, I think this is an important concept for kids to begin to grapple with at a young age.


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 teeth...how will they show their beautiful smiles? They don't have hair either...how 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.

Dandelion

By Don Freeman,

Book cover of Dandelion

I loved this book as a child and shared it with my own kids when they were little. It really hit home when my youngest daughter was a pre-schooler. Dandelion’s friends do not recognize him when he dresses up and has his hair done. When my daughter was in pre-school, I went to the hairdresser and she dried my curly hair, straight. When I went to pick up my daughter, she started crying and was quite distressed about my new look. I had to put on a hat in order to get her to stop. Reading Dandelion helped her get over that! I also, of course, love the message about not needing to change anything about yourself for your friends because they love you just as you are.


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 teeth...how will they show their beautiful smiles? They don't have hair either...how 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.

Nigel and the Moon

By Antwan Eady, Gracey Zhang (illustrator),

Book cover of Nigel and the Moon

Nigel and the Moon is a story about a young boy who’s afraid to tell the world his dreams, so he tells them to the moon at night. This book is about children dreaming. This book allows Nigel to see himself in the world. He can dream and whisper his wishes to the moon. This book is about #Identity, #BlackBoyJoy, and children trying to find themselves and their placement in the world. Nigel has agency and autonomy. This is going to be a classic book. Mark my words.


Who am I?

I write fiction and nonfiction. I tell the truth, but on occasion, I twist the truth to create entertaining stories to feed your soul like soul food Sunday. I write for kids: for the teeny tots and rebel rousers. Stories both short and long with characters brave, bold, and strong. Settings that transport you to a world so captivating, you don’t want to leave. My stories are like quilts, threaded with themes of love, hope, family, and food. They provide comfort, keeping you hopeful through times of despair. I handle your heart, mind, and soul with care. I love seeing children have agency on the page. I love that they do them, and they are unapologetic about what they do. 

I wrote...

Soul Food Sunday

By Winsome Bingham, C.G. Esperanza (illustrator),

Book cover of Soul Food Sunday

What is my book about?

A young boy comes of age and Granny teaches him to prepare the dishes for their Sunday soul food meal. The young boy finds out how strenuous it is to prepare all these different dishes, yet he perseveres and doesn’t quit. In the end, adding a sweet concoction to the spread.

I Like Myself!

By Karen Beaumont, David Catrow (illustrator),

Book cover of I Like Myself!

This rhyming picture book is full of frolic and fun as it follows a child’s celebration of self. “I like myself! I’m glad I’m me. There’s no one else I’d rather be.” In a world constantly trying to make us into something or someone else, I Like Myself! carries a powerful message and reminder to celebrate who we are. This is a book I could read over and over with a message we all need to hear again and again.


Who am I?

I am a lover of yoga, nature, writing and all things that feed the soul. I have been practicing yoga most of my life and have been teaching yoga for almost 20 years. I have studied Yoga for Children, Yoga Safety, and I am a Certified Yoga Instructor. Over the years I have taught yoga to thousands of children and watched their delight, while building focus, balance, courage, and self-awareness. In addition, I write for children and adults. I am the author of several picture books including, The Yoga Game by the Sea and The Yoga Game in the Garden, chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s – “Best Books for Kids and Teens.” 


I wrote...

When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings

By Kathy Beliveau, Julie McLaughlin (illustrator), Jesse Holland (photographer)

Book cover of When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings

What is my book about?

“Sometimes I feel angry, so I become the sea. I breathe in deep, an ocean breath and breathe out peacefully.”

Feelings come and go and while we can’t always choose how we feel – with a little awareness, we can choose the way we manage our feelings. When I Feel: Easy Yoga for Big Feelings encourages children to recognize, acknowledge and manage emotions using simple and effective yoga practices. The rhythmic text and repetition engage young readers and support early literacy skills while the photographs layered with illustrations show readers each pose and breathing practice in a fun and playful way.

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