7 Picture Books to Spread Joy & Hope

Ready for a feel-good read aloud? These 7 picture books will inspire your little learners to dream big, take action, and believe in themselves!

Books can transport readers to other worlds, introduce them to new ideas, and reinforce feelings such as love, acceptance, determination, and belonging.

When we read aloud to kids, we empower the next generation to envision a better future! And there’s no shortage of great titles to choose from–children’s book publishers release a steady stream of joyful and inspirational titles every year!)

Read aloud these 7 inspirational books to give little learners a reason to feel joyful and hopeful:

1. Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen by Christy Monson

The story of Love, Hugs, and Hope helps children recognize and overcome difficult emotions like sadness, anger, and despair.

Instead of feeling ashamed and hiding these emotions, the author suggests creative ways for children to let them out and find comfort, showing that love is always around the corner and hope is just “a hug away.”

2. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

We Are Water Protectors is a short book inspired by the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which caused environmental damage to the water and soil of Native American communities. It’s a story about interconnectedness, respecting what’s sacred, and the importance of doing our part to protect our land and our communities. This story instills hope that we can stand together for what is right.

3. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson

Emmanuel’s story offers readers a reminder to believe in themselves and trust their abilities, even when presented with great obstacles. This true story also reminds us that others’ perceptions of ourselves do not have to limit our abilities and that we can do great things no matter our circumstances. It’s a great read, both as a bedtime story and a conversation starter in the classroom. 

4. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

Mae Among the Stars is based on the life of Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel to space. In sharing her story, the book highlights themes such as sexism and racism, offering readers opportunities to discuss these important topics. The book also celebrates Mae’s steadfast determination, belief in herself, and many achievements. It’s a story of hope and faith in one’s ability to do great things in life, no matter what other people say.

5. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Dreamers is the story of a mother and son packing their belongings to move to a new country. Not knowing how to speak the language, they feel lost and confused, until one day they find a library and they learn to read and write, feeling empowered to make their voice heard again. The book is a celebration of resilience and a reminder that there is no hurdle one can’t overcome with time  

6. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama

In Of Thee I Sing, Barack Obama writes a loving letter to his daughters to tell them about great figures in American history, such as Albert Einstein,  Hellen Keller, and Jackie Robinson. The book connects past heroes to our future heroes–today’s children–by celebrating young people’s potential to exude the same admirable qualities of past leaders, innovators, artists, and beyond. The book inspires hope in oneself and humanity as a whole. 

7. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul

One Plastic Bag is based on the true story of Isatou Ceesay, who discovers that garbage is making her village uninhabitable. Determined to make a change, Isatou enlists her friends to collect discarded plastic bags and turn them into recycled purses to sell at the local market. Over time, the business grows, the pile of garbage shrinks, and both people and animals in the village begin to thrive again.

One Plastic Bag shows children that when you take action to solve important problems, you can make your entire community healthier, wealthier, and happier. It also raises environmental awareness, sending a hopeful message that our actions can make a difference.

The world benefits greatly from powerful stories like these, and many more are needed to empower our children. Whether these books inspire you to self-publish your own children’s book or just read more to your children, they make for important reminders of the power of storytelling to cultivate hope and joy. 

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This post was authored by Rose Atkinson-Carter, a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best self-publishing resources and professionals like editors, designers, and ghostwriters. She lives in London.

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