Using books to teach a child about courage is a great way to introduce such a big topic. Children’s stories about courage work to teach kids through examples of courage and bravery from liked aged characters.
I have loads of book lists ripe for teaching kids big topics, but, first, let’s take a step back: how beautiful is the etymology of the word “courage”?
Middle English corage “the heart as a source of feelings, spirit, confidence,” from early French curage (same meaning), from coer “heart,” from Latin cor “heart”
This post might help to begin the conversation with children: 101 Ways to Teach Kids Courage
Related Resource: Give the Gift of Audible
Children’s Books to Teach a Child about Courage
With Memorial Day right around the corner, I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of the day and how to expose my young children to the day of honor. That exploration resulted in this list of books that teach children courage.
I thought a lot about the definition of “courage” and ended up with a wide range. I hope this list reflects that spectrum of definitions.
It took me a long time to embrace the idea that life’s imperfections are what make things exciting and worthwhile. It is how we grow.
Children will love this book as Ish, through his younger sister’s finds his way back to his art, gaining confidence and, most importantly, accepting himself.
A great courage book to ignite a conversation & teach about the myriad definitions of “courage”.
Children are encouraged to see courage in less obvious people, ways, and places in life.
This book encourages kids to be true to who they are even in challenging situations. Even though the pressures in life make being kind seem “uncool” at the moment, we must teach kids that being the best person you can be is always cool.
The illustrations alone will draw you and children into the magical Cinderella-esque folk tale about kind, sweet Blanche and her sister, bad-tempered, mean Rose.
The story reads like poetry and contains wonderful lessons for children on goodness, work ethic, honesty, and respect. Perfect for teaching character development.
My son received this book when his little brother was born. A beautiful, sweet book for children about to embark on a change in life.
Adri’s parents offer simple, yet profound advice to their child as he explores the great big world.
I adore this book for many reasons. The story of two sisters who walk through life differently. One is a courageous one. The other, a younger sister, watches her older sister in awe. She thinks she’s amazing. The true test comes during a storm when younger, Ruth Jane, must dig deep and help her older, brave sister, Velma Jean. A beautifully illustrated book with heartwarming messages about strength and courage.
This book is definitely for the younger crowd. The main character takes us on the scary, exciting journey of climbing up her dad. The book is cute and fun, not meant to dive deep into the meaning of courage but to gently introduce the idea.
This young girl may be small but she has big plans. The artwork is fun.
This book touched my heart. I mourn the loss of oral storytelling, particularly from generation to generation. The power goes out during a storm, and to combat the child’s complaint that she’s going to die without the t.v., the grandmother tells a story of a young girl lost in a blizzard. She tells the story using a string.
Courage comes through the grandmother’s story but also less obvious through believing in the art of storytelling for learning and for entertaining. The illustrations are lovely. The decorations in the back of the book will encourage children to recreate the story on their own.
We’re huge fans of Greek mythology in our home. I love the heroes, in particular, who set great examples of strength and courage. This book is a definite winner. The illustrations are extraordinary.
This book is dear to my heart. A teacher can often make or break a child. This story tells us about a teacher who made a big difference in a young girl’s life.
Rose is a strong, determined, powerful young girl. The wonderful illustrations and humorous text will make a child happy and engaged. I appreciated the range of ideas about what it means to be strong and courageous. It isn’t all about harnessing thunder and lightning.
We love Kevin Henkes in our home. This story tells us about Sheila Rae, a fearless girl. Nothing can get in her way of being brave and strong. Alas her pride doesn’t always make others feel great. So one day she is put to a true test of bravery.
This story is beautifully put together. I love the relationship between the two sisters. Henkes does a great job of taking the reader along on the emotional ups and downs.
A sweet book about a leaf not quite ready to take the leap of falling from an oak tree as the autumn season begins. Even as the leaf sees other leaves floating by, he is still not ready. This book highlights the challenge of facing the unknown.
It can be frightening. It is okay to wait until you’re ready. With the help of a scarlet leaf also still clinging onto a branch, through friendship and encouragement, the yellow leaf makes the leap. The story and its illustrations are captivating to both children and adults.
It teaches a great lesson about having the courage to “let go” and to explore an unknown world.
We’ve all been there: frozen still before “taking a leap” in life. Children facing these feelings for the first time can be caught off guard, not knowing what to do with the emotions.
With this book, children will learn a life lesson: what it takes, and how to overcome a challenge, whether a big or a small obstacle. The artwork is simple, matching the text.
A simple and beautiful book that will ignite a child’s desire to want to learn more. Although simple, this book carries big lessons to children and is, at the risk of being too dramatic, magical!
The dandelion does not want to release into the world but when he finally has no choice he understands that although frightening at times, the journey can be wonderful. The dandelion then passes on what he has learned from his experience.
This book is a good one for presenting big topics (such as war and the Nazi regime) to lower elementary-aged children. Everything about the book is beautiful. It will surely encourage dialogue and questions from children.
The fact this book is based on a real-life experience makes it all the more powerful. Two young girls find themselves in an unlikely situation, secretly meeting and building a friendship full of meaning, full of hope, and unconditional love.
Pure and lovely. A story that teaches about friendship and being strong in life’s most difficult circumstances.
The book, appropriate for elementary-aged children, tells the true story of a young heroine in US history. Sybil is the daughter of an American patriot in the Revolutionary War. She gets word that the British are attacking Connecticut.
So, she rides her horse, Star, through the night in Paul Revere fashion to gather the town to prepare for the attack. The illustrations are soft and inviting to the reader. The afterward contains additional detail on this heroine’s life that will be appreciated by educators.
One of the “lighter” books on this list (appropriate for 4-8-year-olds), this book tells the story of a bored, yet witty, young boy in need of adventure. Stuart relates to children because his big imagination takes him places that only a child’s mind could go.
However, when it comes down to it, Stuart is lonely and worried that he won’t make friends in his new town but he overcomes these feelings.
The illustrations tell the story on their own. However, I was captivated by this story of an extremely brave six-year old named Ruby. In 1960, a judge ordered her to attend an all-white elementary school.
There were an uproar and Ruby faced mobs and an empty classroom to begin her education. Her strength and courage are a great example of elementary-aged children.
Powerfully and effectively, the story introduces segregation through a six-year-old (I would have liked the book to be from her perspective but the narrative still worked well) dedicated to her education and graceful in the trepidation all around her.
This book deals head-on with bullying and I was impressed by the conflict resolution involving no adult intervention. Of course, the issue of bullying in most cases won’t be cured this easily but it gives 4 to 8-year-olds insight into the topic, hopefully provoking thought and questions.
In addition, the Recess Queen reads with a fun, wonderful rhythmic manner. Furthermore, children love the artwork, too. Finally, the lessons contained within its pages include self-esteem, courage, integrity, and other character building traits. A must-have for your home and classroom.
Dealing head-on with gender stereotypes, this book teaches children that young girls are capable. A young princess disguises herself as male to enter a contest that she ultimately dominates giving her freedom to be who she wants to be and live as she desires.
She stands tall, and, through hard work, overcomes her brothers’ teasing and mocking. The main character is strong, smart, and courageous. A great example for young girls and boys (ages 3+).
I find the Little Polar Bear series endearing for the stories and watercolor artwork. Always weaving a sweet lesson of friendship into his storytelling, author Hans de Beer offers us lessons of overcoming fear, facing fear in challenging moments, and ultimately being courageous.
These books are for pre-school aged children (and younger) but the lessons can certainly be applied to older children.
This book is sweet. A young bird contemplates giving his new wings a go while dealing with uncertainties like whether his wings will work at all. Facing this fear coupled with the idea that just maybe his wings will take him on a grand adventure exploring the world, he ultimately gives his wings a try.
The lesson of “you won’t know unless you try” resonates throughout the pages, while Meade’s unique artwork draws us in. The story lets children know that taking risks in life is worthwhile, and that, while sitting in your nest is easy and comfortable, it won’t take you places!
Don’t miss this useful guide for parents and teachers!
Rhyming text and vibrant, colorful drawings bring us into the story. My sons adore The Terrible Plop. Underlying the fun is a good lesson for children: that not all bumps and noises are as scary as they seem.
I love how the author gives the reader insight from the start so the animals behavior is even funnier. Pus making the little rabbit the courageous one is spot on. The Terrible Plop will be one of those books you’ll find yourself renewing again and again from the library.
So, you might as well buy it.
We love the artwork in this book. The paintings are lovely, but the expressions on the sheep’s faces are well done to say the least. Brave Charlotte often acts in ways that make her unique to her peers. She is full of adventure, daring, and courageous.
One day she uses these qualities to investigate a sound that others would not. Charlotte’s smart thinking resolves the situation and makes the other sheep appear a bit foolish and cowardly, rightfully so.
I read this book to my almost five-year-old before his first adventure away from home. It did the trick. Joey, the main character, is nervous about staying at his grandparents by himself. He imagines the worst.
In the end, however, he ultimately embraces the idea that stepping outside our comfort zones gives us new experiences & opens our eyes to the world in ways we never could imagine. Adorable addition at the end of the book, too.
I won’t ruin the surprise!
This cute book is about a young girl and her bear. They often play together. Bear is not always brave. We can’t help but wonder when he will be brave enough to do these new things? I like how this story depicts how children do often work out their fears and problems: through play. Sweet illustrations that younger children will surely love.
The artwork alone makes this book worth picking up. Furthermore, it emphasizes the joys of reading and all the adventure that comes from books. Sam and Stella have a lovely day that ends with Sam asking Stella to read to him.
This book reminds us of the beauty of childhood and organic exploration. If we have the courage to step away to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, great joy will come to us.
One of the more overtly “courageous” books on this list, a definite worthwhile read with elementary aged children. Based on a true story, this book will open children’s eyes to the power of education, friendship, and of love.
After Nasreen’s parents disappear, she stops speaking. Her grandmother wants to help her, which leads her to take a big risk for her granddaughter. This topic is a big one to introduce to young children. It will open dialogue.
Children will have many questions. So, be prepared to answer them!
Also set in Afghanistan, The Breadwinner delivers an important, albeit heavy, message to older elementary-aged children. The author, Deborah Ellis, highlights in a straightforward manner the truth of the circumstances and provides great detail.
The main character, Parvana, shows tremendous courage as she ventures out of her home disguised as a male in order to help her family. This heroine fights oppression and risks her life to survive.
Ellis spent months researching and interviewing young Afghan refugees. This story was born from that research. You’ll find your students and children will respond to this book and have many questions.
I love how this story is based on her family’s immigration to America. Amada journals her thoughts, fears, worries, and emotions as her family leaves Mexico for a “better life” in America.
Amada has thoughts to which any child can relate about making friends and being in a new place. Soon Amada discovers that she is strong enough to face her new life in America. The illustrations are colorful and lively.
Skellig is appropriate for 8-12-year-olds. Michael is 10 years old. His family is moving to a new home and is dealing with family trauma. Written beautifully, the book will open your imagination and will invite questions from children on a fairly big topic in life.
In any event, Skellig will certainly get you and your children to think.
Appropriate for 3-7 year olds, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble will win you over with the drawings and the beautiful language. There are many wonderful themes running throughout this book that guide children to empathy and to finding happiness without a magic pebble.
The message that having the courage to believe you don’t need more or something else to be fulfilled in life carries a lot of weight. Honestly, I could go on and on about this book. So, do yourself a favor, go pick up a copy! You’ll be happy you did so!
This book, about an unlikely friendshp that ultimnatley deepens and proves strong, brought tears to my eyes as I read it to my children for the first time. Similiarly, it also tells the tale of courage. Pete & Pickles, a pig and an elephant, have a relationship so profound that they help one another survive on many levels.
A good message for adults and children alike. Plus Berkeley Breathed writes beautifully and the illustrations captivate the audience.
We love this book because it opens eyes to the possibilities and ignited a desire to tinker around our home! Best of all, the main character is a young girl with extraordinary mechanical engineering talent.
Therefore, she will undoubtedly teach children about persevering, innovating, inventing, and staying true to your talents. Finally, a great lesson is that marching to your own beat is okay.
Rosie Revere, Engineer is a popular favorite among parents and children. This book highlights a young girl who dreams up and creates inventions for her friends and family. There are many solid messages in this book.
First, the main character is a girl. Yup, girls can build and invent too. Next, the focus is on imagination and creation. Finally, there is a lesson that failure is not only okay but necessary to truly succeed with your ideas.
The main character, Iggy Peck, begins his journey at two years old as he builds a tower from glue and diapers. Children love this story and David Roberts’ illustrations.
Iggy’s talent is not supported by his teacher until, that is, Iggy comes to the rescue and creates a plan involving his classmates to save his teacher from being stuck on a small island on a field trip.
111“““`121121From that point on, Iggy is free to grow and develop his extraordinary talent. My boys were so inspired by this book that they have wanted to build bridges even day since reading it from straws, cardboard and every day materials around our home. Their desire to learn was certainly ignited by this book.
Helen Keller’s story has a lot to give children. Lundell’s version is particularly appealing for the illustrations and simply language for young readers (lower elementary).
Keller teaches children that life hands us obstacles but that we can overcome these obstacles with strength, courage, and the help of people in our lives. The story also opens up a conversation about people with varying abilities.
Ah, Amelia Earhart was a pioneer who continues to teach generation after generation. Her message is timeless. In other words, we are all capable of doing great things.
As we often read about heroes but teaching children to seek out the hero within them is a whole new way of looking at what it means to be a hero (e.g hard work, accepting failure, not being afraid to follow your dreams).
The illustrations are cute, sure to win the hearts of children (my boys aged 3.5 and 5 liked them). The writing is geared towards lower elementary aged children.
Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds tells the Rosa Parks story. There are many versions of this story for young children but I chose this one because I liked the illustrations. In addition, the point of view is that of a child in the back of the bus.
The writing, melodic and lovely, is also worth noting. Furthermore, I hardly need to mention that Ms. Parks continues to teach children about being courageous during the most challenging circumstances in life. Thus, this book is perfect for elementary-aged children.
I hope you enjoyed this list of Children’s Books that Teach Courage! Please share your favorite books that teach a child about courage!