88 Books That Teach Important Lessons

character building books for kids Books are my favorite teaching aid for any age. I love how books can open up children’s eyes to experiences they have never imagined, to discover places they have never been to ,and to feelings their heart has not yet felt. The very best part is that books are accessible. Books with tough lessons can be shared with a parent at home where answers can be given, feelings reassured ,and the story related to the experiences of the reader. Whether these books get shared at home at bedtime , at school at circle time ,or a child reads them alone at quiet reading time they are all filled with valuable lessons.

The books are listed alphabetically by author so it’s easy to print out and take to a library and find the books. I have included a short note next to each title to explain the lesson that the book focuses on. Books are subjective and there might be some lessons that I get from a book that you do not. I welcome your comments , your opinions ,and of course your suggestions . My 88 is just the start. All book titles in our lists include affiliate links.

  1. A Picture Book of Helen Keller (Picture Book Biography) by David  A. Adler tells readers that we are all different with different abilities but are all capable of great things.
  2. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen is about more than ballet, it’s about overcoming being different, accepting your body and even standing up for yourself.
  3. Parts by Tedd Arnold is a funny book with a great lesson about figures of speech. Young kids are very literal and this book helps kids see that language is not always what it seems.
  4. The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan and Jan Berenstain is about not giving up and playing by the rules.
  5. Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne is a story about how being yourself is important but also about when to depend on others.
  6. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is a story about living in the moment and the fleeting nature of life.
  7. The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau is a story that teaches children about giving as well as where happiness can really be found.
  8. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is great for teaching telling time but it’s also a wonderful lesson in not taking the bait when someone wants to fight.
  9. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forestby Lynne Cherry is a beautiful book that teaches children about taking care of the environment.
  10. My Mouth Is a Volcano!by Julia Cook is all about interrupting. This book finds a fun way to teach kids when it’s appropriate to speak.
  11. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney  is a inspirational lesson about how we can all make the world more beautiful in our own way.
  12. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin teaches readers about the need for good working conditions, the role of negotiation,  as well as the basics of what a strike is.
  13. Duck for President by Doreen Cronin teaches readers that being a leader isn’t about being the bossy one but rather having the most responsibility .
  14. Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis has a wonderful lesson about what is really important ( hint : it’s not the rat race) and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
  15. The Empty Pot by Demi is a lovely book about the importance of honesty.
  16. Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio doesn’t just teach us that girls should run for President it also explains the Electoral College pretty well.
  17. Pink Tiara Cookies For Three  by Maria Dismondy is all about friendship and how to make it work when your friends become friends with someone new.
  18. Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are  by Maria Dismondy is about bullying but it’s also about doing the right thing especially when it’s hard to.
  19. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson is a fairytale like book about problem solving with a creative imagination and intelligence.
  20. Everybody Cooks Rice  by Norah Dooley is a great lesson in subtle similarities amidst more obvious differences.
  21. Her Mother’s Face by Roddy Doyle teaches readers that grief isn’t something we deal with one time and move on.
  22. The Sissy Ducklingby Harvey Fierstein teaches us that all people are unique and to respect everyone for that uniqueness not for their ability to fit some societal mold.
  23. Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming is well loved at my house for its love of history and for its lesson about standing up for something when you can see it’s value even when others do not.
  24. Whoever You Are  by Mem Fox. This book is all about finding the similarities in all people which is a grand lesson in empathy.
  25. The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke teaches readers that sometimes the only person who can save you is you.
  26. Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is a lesson in resourcefulness , something in today’s disposable culture should be taught to every child!
  27. Rosa by Nikki Giovanni is a book about Rosa Parks it’s written beautifully to teach another generation about how one person can make a huge difference.
  28. All the Colors of the Earth by Shelia Hamanaka does not have a subtle lesson you will have to dig for, its lesson is simple and upfront. Children come in all different colors.
  29. Most Loved in All the World by Tonya Cherie Hegamin is a touching story that introduces children to the underground railroad as well as to sacrifices that parents make for the sake of their children.
  30. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purseby Kevin Henkes teaches children about taking responsibility for our actions and forgiveness.
  31. Shelia Rae, The Brave  by Kevin Henkes teaches us that it’s OK to let someone help you when you need it.
  32. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks is a really cute book about why trying new things is a good thing
  33. Brontorina by James Howe has a beautiful message about inclusive environments and respecting people for who they are not for who we think they should be.
  34. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston is a lesson in what makes Christmas special and more than any preachy book this story drives this lesson home.
  35. Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isadora is a wonderful book with a lesson in following your dreams even when you are the only one who can see that they are attainable.
  36. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse is all about security and how children need to know that no matter what children do their parents will love them all the same.
  37. My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis teaches kids that when other people express who they are it’s not up to us to decide if it’s OK or not just because it may not fit into our narrow expectations.
  38. The Paper Princess (Picture Puffins) by Elisa Klevin has a great lesson that imperfection is not a flaw and it shows us that in subtle ways page after page
  39. Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus is one of my favorite books to turn to when kids feel like they just can’t keep up with their peers
  40. The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll teaches kids to embrace competition but to know when cooperation is a better choice.
  41. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is about being who you are no matter what environment you are in .
  42. Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester teaches children to tolerate differences in others and how sometimes what we feel most vulnerable about isn’t all bad.
  43. Fish Is Fish  by Leo Lionni is a cute book about change and the way true friendships can withstand change.
  44. It’s Mine!  by Leo Lionni  is one of my favorite books to pull out when I hear those words… a great lesson in sharing and working together.
  45. Swimmy by Leo Lionni is one of my favorite books about bravery and teamwork.
  46. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell teaches kids to be proud of who they are just as they are.
  47. The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon is an unexpectedly tender look at being different at school.
  48. Mr. Peabody’s Applesby Madonna is an important lesson about how rumors can spread and words can really hurt people.
  49. Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is about creativity and how it never really runs out.
  50. Dinosaur Woods by George McClements is about about conservation and teamwork.
  51. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud has such an important lesson about kindness to others and the importance of treating all people with respect.
  52. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt isn’t just about unconditional love it’s also about meeting the needs of those you love.
  53. The Monster Princess by D.J. McHale is filled with lesson about doing what is right even when we are angry and hurt, discovering that what we dream about being may not be all it’s cracked up to be as well as my favorite message that there are ” All kinds of special.”
  54. Elmer by David McKee is all about self acceptance even when that means we must accept that we are very different.
  55. How the Ladies Stopped the Wind by Bruce McMillan is all about problem solving and that there is power in numbers.
  56. Mole Music by David McPhail tells us that the arts are vital and can nourish great things.
  57. The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore teaches readers that you don’t have to be the best at everything to still be proud of your hard work.
  58. Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora is about how one person can make a profound impact on a child’s life and the power of books.
  59. Makeup Mess by Robert Munsch teaches kids that they are beautiful just the way they are.
  60. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch isn’t just about girl power it’s also about being resourceful and using your brain not brawn to win.
  61. Zoom! by Robert Munsch is not a preachy book. It’s lesson is that kids that use wheelchairs aren’t helpless and can save the day!
  62. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson teaches children that enemies might just be friends you haven’t made yet.
  63. The Only One Club  by Jane Naliboff has a great message that we should celebrate our diversity and tell our kids it’s not a bad thing to be unique.
  64. The Family Book by Todd Parr has a lesson I have been teaching my 3 year old lately, that all families may not look alike but all families are made with love.
  65. The I’M NOT SCARED Book by Todd Parr teaches kids it’s OK to have fears and that they can overcome them.
  66. The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite book that teaches children that it’s OK to separate from their parents because their love goes with you wherever you go.
  67. Zip, Zip…Homework by Nancy Poydar is a book about telling the truth at home and school.
  68. Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuriis a great book that can open up a dialog about getting lost or separated from a parent.
  69. Let Them Play by Margot Theis Raven is a tough story to read because the lesson it teaches is that there is injustice in this world and kids aren’t immune.
  70. Ish by Peter H. Reynolds is a wonderful book about the beauty of imperfection and creativity. A must read for all perfectionists.
  71. A Very Big Bunny by Marisabina Russo teaches kids about being different and how it can feel to be singled out by adults as well as kids.
  72. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka is a great book to teach children about point of view and to always look at both sides of every story.
  73. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak to me is a lesson in unconditional love. You can always come home where you are loved best of all.
  74. A Bad Case Of Stripes  by David Shannon teaches children to not change themselves for others but to just be who they are.
  75. No, David! by David Shannon teaches young kids that there are consequences but that even when they mess up they are still loved.
  76. The Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein is all about entitlement and can be a great tool for teaching children about what makes a bad friend.
  77. Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer has a great lesson about effort and achievement and how sparkly beautiful things don’t usually come without it.
  78. Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley is included in this list because it’s a bang on book about the history behind Thanksgiving. I think it’s vital for kids to know this when it’s something celebrated year after year.
  79. Amos & Boris by William Steig is a lesson about the power of friendship and how when a friend needs help nothing including being small can stop you from helping them.
  80. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss teaches children about the importance of taking care of their environment.
  81. Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson teaches kids that it’s OK to go out and explore but not to forget where home is.
  82. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is the ultimate lesson about how everything won’t always go your way.
  83. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is about patience and separation anxiety. It is a good lesson for kids that those feelings are normal but that those who love them will come back.
  84. Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt is hilarious but has a great lesson about taking risks too.
  85. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!by Mo Willems teaches kids that even throwing a fit won’t change the fact that they just aren’t allowed to do some things.
  86. Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong is about living in two cultures at one time. A wonderful read for all children to better grasp what being part of an immigrant family is like.
  87. All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino is a good book to talk about how people came to the United States and why people move from country to country.
  88. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen teaches kids that even princesses don’t fit into a simple mold.

I know you have more to add ! Add the titles that help you teach your children or students important lessons in comments.

 

 

Books About Snow

winter books for kids

Yesterday we woke up to frost and my daughter was sure it was snow. After preschool I took her to the library and we gathered some new books about snow to learn more. These books about snow range from funny to touching and all will have you hoping for a snow day. All of the book titles in our book lists are affiliate links.

 the mitten

The Mitten   by Jan Brett is visually impeccable, each page is so full of details that you will find yourself staring at them long after you have read the words. The story is about a little boy who looses a mitten and what happens next. It’s a sweet retelling of a Ukrainian folk tale but the detailed and layered illustrations really steal the show! My kids love this book but when I told them this same story they told me they hate folk tales. The illustrations by Brett bring this story to life much better than I could obviously!

The lonesome  polar bear

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals and they all keep melting away. The book has an important  message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!

hollys red boots

Holly’s Red Boots by Francesca Chessa was a delight to read. Holly wants to go outside in the snow but can’t find her boots and we follow along as she looks for them.It’s a cute story and the pictures are scrumptious. My son loved that the dinosaur was wearing her boots and wanted to read that page over and over. I also loved that when she does go outside her mom has her baby sibling in a baby carrier. Fun book!

un-brella

Un-Brella by Scott Franson is such a cool book. There is not a single line of text in the book , and it’s not missing a thing! The illustrations are so vivid, so layered and tell the story perfectly. A little girl has a magical umbrella that brings sun on a snowy day and snow when her yard is green and sunny. My 2 year old was beside himself laughing and saying “No no” to the little girl wearing her swim suit in the snow. Grab this book and enjoy!

Stella Queen of the snow

Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay is my kind of book. If I were to quote all my favorite bits of this book I would write out most of it. I just love the writing, it’s simple but doesn’t talk down to the reader. The characters are sweet but not saccharine and I love how inquisitive Sam is . Stella is a know it all but not bratty about it at all! Sam has never seen snow before and Stella tells him all about it as they explore the first snow fall of the year.

snow snow snow

Snow! Snow! Snow!by Lee Harper captures the excitement of a snow day spent sledding and defying gravity for those precious few moments as you zoom down the hill. My son gave the book a thumbs up but my daughter wasn’t as into it although when the 3 dogs in the book landed with a thump both kids were giggling. Edited to add :  This morning my daughter ran to this book and smiled the whole way through loving it! Funny how 8am reading gets a different response than 5pm after a long day.

snow sounds

Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Storyby David A. Johnson is a wonderful book about onomatopoeia and even though I did not tell my son that  that was the point of the book when we were done reading and I asked for his thoughts he said ” I liked all the words that are sounds.” The teachable moment was not lost. I loved the illustrations that made me want to put the kettle on and grab some fuzzy slippers.

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

jack frost snow

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara is another fantastic book that will have you aching for snow. A little boy is lonely after his friends have all gone into hibernation for the winter when Jack Frost shows up. They frolic and play exploring all the fun that winter has to offer friends but when the first signs of spring arrive Jack is gone. The illustrations are perfectly simple and will suck you into a wintery world that you won’t want to leave. My kids love this book and after one reading at the library we bought our own copy.

birthday snow

Birthday Snow by Kim Messinger and Michael LaLumiere is such a sweet book about believing in something even when all the facts say maybe you should give up. Daniel doesn’t give up hope waiting for the snow to come on his birthday , but who really steals the show is his mom and her continued support of her little guy and his determination. A very cute book and a new addition to my must buy list!

snowbots

Snowbots by Aaron Reynolds is funky, fun , and full of really awesome rhymes. The robot reality is a sweet one and my kids totally dug this book. We were picking favorite robots in the first few pages and loving the book more and more as we read it. The story is a familiar one but with the substitution of robots instead of humans basic snow day things get more interesting. My son loved the snowball fight and my daughter was all over the pink robot. I loved how they had cereal with gasoline and an oil bath. A huge hit with all of us.

White Snow Bright Snow

White Snow, Bright Snowby Alvin Tresselt is a total throw back to another time and it’s awesome. I love books that haven’t been updated because they offer readers a chance to go back in time and get a glimpse of the past. The story is about a town expecting a snow storm and how it’s different residents prepare and deal with it. The animals , adults , and kids all go about it very differently. The character that stood out for me was the policeman’s wife who doted on her husband and cared for his cold with a mustard plaster. I told you it was a total throw back! I didn’t know they still used mustard plasters in the 40s but that’s why these books are such treasures for kids and parents alike.

 

Picture Books About Thanksgiving

thanksgiving booksI am thankful for books. I am thankful for the ability to use them to teach , to entertain , and to deepen my children’s love of reading. I hope one of these books about Thanksgiving strikes a chord with you and your family and can be used to teach , entertain , and deepen a love of reading at your house too. All book lists contain affiliate links.

a-plump-and-perky-turkey

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the hilarious lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested when he was a toddler but he only started understanding the dark humor at around 4. I love this book because of the humor makes me giggle. My son was a little off put by the idea of the towns folk eating the turkey and was relived when he escaped before they shoved him in the oven. I like that he is starting to understand that the meat he eats is actually a cooked animal, we take that for granted but for many young kids this is a huge realization!

pete the cat thanksgiving

Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly and James Dean was underwhelming and I usually adore Pete The Cat. Sadly this book didn’t live up to my expectations. My daughter liked it but wondered when Pete was going to sing. He doesn’t. There are no catchy repetitive refrains which is what we love about Pete! My son pointed out the flaws in the history which thrilled me because they were distracting. The target audience is younger than my son so it may not even be an issue for you but seeing a pretty little house as the shelter the Pilgrims had for the first winter irked me. I realize that Pete is a cat who is in a play so realism isn’t expected but I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Pete is awfully cute as a pilgrim though.

10 fat turkeys

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!

two bad pilgrims

Two Bad Pilgrims by Kathryn Lasky is a fantastic book that some parents might not like but kids will love it and learn a lot in the process.  It’s about two boys who really did sail abroad the Mayflower and whose behavior really was bad.  There is a ton of not usually shared information about Pilgrims in this book and as someone who studied colonial history I am in LOVE with this book. The format is a mix of non fiction and comic strip like narrative. I would read it to kids 5 and older although younger children might like just the narrative. There is a ton of info in this book and it would be a wonderful tool to talk about how history books don’t always tell the whole story.

thanks for thanksgiving

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes delighted my whole family. I read it at dinner and all four of us thought the book was spot on. It’s not a story so much as a glimpse at all the things kids in a average family have to be thankful about. The illustrations by Doris Barrette are stunning. I want to frame them. I think this book does a great job at teaching children what they have to be thankful for and how everyday things can be something to be thankful for. Kids will relate so well to this book and because of that the message comes across loud and clear. My son loved that there is space on the last page to write what he is thankful for. Great find.Thanksgiving Books For Kids

This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed is a stunning gem of a book. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before, normally great books like this go through teaching circles like wildfire. The book has so many layers it will keep toddlers and preschoolers alike busy and engaged. The text explains the first Thanksgiving while counting 1-10 in rhyming poetry and the illustrations by Mark Buehner have hidden treasures, see if you can find them! After I return this to the library, I will be buying it for sure!

Thanksgiving

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey was such a treat to read. It’s a reworking of the classic Christmas poem, with a Thanksgiving twist.  A bus full of kids head off to the turkey farm the day before Thanksgiving and are immediately enamored with the birds. When a child asks the farmer what the axe by the door is for… well let’s just say the truth is told and the kids fall apart. They don’t stay down for long though, the kids outsmart the farmer and their teacher to save the turkeys from the axe. Somehow the author finds a way to make the possible slaughter of these happy friendly, named turkey’s funny. My son was giggling while I was kinda nervous that they’d get the axe! Great rhymes throughout this hilarious book!

my little pumpkin pie

You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie by Amy E. Sklansky is a cozy book that will have you craving a pumpkin spice latte for sure. It’s simple rhyming text is a good length for toddlers but older preschoolers will enjoy it as well. The books shows babies and their parent(s) in all different fall settings from the pumpkin patch to snuggling by the fire and of course eating pumpkin pie. The illustrations by Talitha Shipman are perfect and showcase a diverse set of families. Lovely book but don’t think I was joking you will be aching for a fall treat after reading it.

thanksgiving at the tappletons

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’  by Eileen Spinelli is a really cute story that offers many opportunities for parents to talk about lying, disappointment and what really matters at Thanksgiving. The Tappleton’s Thanksgiving dinner is doomed, first the turkey falls in the pond, then there are no pies left at the bakery and then continues to get worse. No one wants to be the person to ruin the holiday dinner and keeps it a secret that the part of the meal that was their responsibility is ruined. Of course this means they end up eating liverwurst and pickles for dinner but Grandma saves Thanksgiving by reminding them all that it doesn’t matter what they are eating but who they are eating with.

Thanksgiving_on_Plymouth_Plantation_Diane_Stanley

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation (Time-Traveling Twins) by Diane Stanley . I can’t  say enough good things about this book, but I will try. The story starts with a time traveling grandmother who takes her grand kids back to the Plymouth plantation days before what is often called the 1st Thanksgiving. My son was hooked on this book with the revelation of the time traveling and I loved that it put all the common myths surrounding Thanksgiving and the pilgrims to the forefront and included the true history without wrecking any cherished views of this beloved holiday. The book is long as it should be in order to go into the depth of what life was like for the Pilgrims and how they learned with help of the local Native Americans how to survive in this new land. While reading it to my son I was so happy to hear him say ” I learned that today , that’s in my book!” to many of the text.  I am buying this book tonight, and returning it to the library in hope of many other families being able to read and love it as much as we did.

Thanksgiving-Treat

Thanksgiving Treat by Catherine Stock is a really heart warming book that will take you back to family gatherings of your childhood. The story follows the Thanksgiving day preparations of an extended family and one little boy who just wants to help. He goes from one job to the next where he is always told he is too little, or it’s too dangerous for him to do, and he should go somewhere else. Finally his Grandpa steps in with a very important job and the sad little boy is given new hope to be helpful. I remember being too little, and I know that from time to time my son is told he is too little too, this book is a kind reminder of finding ways to make even our littlest family members feel important and included. My son really liked it as well, while reading it today he stopped me and listed some of the things he is still too little to do, and the things that he has recently been able to do independently. Great book to sit down and talk about with your child.

t is for turkey

T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Storyby Tanya Lee Stone is a cute alphabet book with simple but accurate facts about Thanksgiving. I love that there is such a push for telling kids about what really happened and not just the closely held myths. The reader follows a long with a class play that covers all the important parts of the first Thanksgiving from the Mayflower landing on. This is a great introduction for young preschoolers. The illustrations are fun and rich so there is more than just the limited text to explore.

thanksgiving book

 Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland is book that explains what Thanksgiving is, and gives lots of examples of things to be thankful for. I like this book although I could go without the page where the narrator is thankful for lollipops, all the other things are wonderful like a teacher’s encouragement, grandma’s hugs, and sunny days and to me the lollipops sorta fall flat. Easily skipped over if you are not keen on it but the book as a whole is valuable teaching tool about thanksgiving. * Edited 2012 Both my kids love this book and I have no clue why I was so uptight about the lollipops reference?! I have chilled out as a mom I guess. Both my kids list what we think of as little things like lollipops on their things to be thankful for and that’s great . As a parent I just want them to be appreciative of things even if lollipops are lumped in with bedtime snuggles and family time.

14 Fractured Fairy Tales

fractured fairy tales book listFairy tales are all the range for adults right now. Have you seen all the TV versions? Well fractured fairy tales are so much more than hip. They are great teaching tools about point of view, characterization, and of course alternate endings. They are also just really fun to read. This list like all of our book lists include affiliate links.

 

 

Princess and The PizzaThe Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza.

GoldieLocksHasChickenPox

Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox by Erin Dealy isn’t so much a fractured tale as it is a tale with very familiar characters. Goldilocks has chicken pox and throughout the rhyming text other characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Little Bo Peep and Henny Penny pop up. The story itself is more about how her little brother doesn’t think it’s at all fair that she gets so much attention and things like ice cream because she is sick. As most of us had chicken pox as kids we will relate all too well to this book, I am not so sure our kids will have the same personal connection. The illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama are fab!

little red riding hood

Little Red Riding Hood – A Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst is a cute twist on the familiar Little Red Riding Hood. In this version Granny is the type of Grandma I hope to be someday. Independent, brave, and compassionate. She doesn’t need to be saved, because she does the saving. The wolf underestimates Granny and in general is portrayed as simply misunderstood and in need of discipline . In the end works for Granny and reminds Red not to talk to strangers.three little fish

The Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Sharkby Ken Geist is a underwater version of The Three Little Pigs with fish and a mean old shark. If you remember in the original the first two pigs are eaten and the third tricks the wolf into being cooked. No fish are eaten and the shark doesn’t die either. Their seaweed and sandcastle houses do get demolished but in the end all three fish make it through and the shark’s teeth all fall out leaving him unable to chomp the little fish.The three tamamles

The Three Little Tamalesby Eric A. Kimmel is another Three Little Pig redo with a Tex- Mex flavor. In this story there is a wolf but no pigs, instead you get tamales. I loved that the third house was made our of a cactus and that after surviving the wolf the three tamales partied with runaway tortillas. The novelty of the new characters will bring this old tale back to life for your kids as well as make you seriously crave good Tex-Mex.

cinderellas rat

Cinderella’s Rat by Susan Meddaugh isn’t a retelling of Cinderella so much as a little side story readers probably have never heard before, I know I hadn’t. A pair of rats are caught by Cinderella’s fairy godmother and one is turned into a footman for her coach. The other remains a rat but after dropping Cinderella off at the ball they both go in search of a wizard to turn her into a girl. There are a few bumps a long the way that will have your kids giggling for sure but they succeed. Of course we all know that the fairy god mother’s spell only lasts until midnight…too bad the rats didn’t. See how it all ends for yourself. I like this book and it’s a great intro into writing projects about minor characters and their untold narratives.

santa claus and the three bears

Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno is a holiday version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears with Santa standing in for Goldilocks and a family of polar bears instead of grizzlies. I really liked this book. It doesn’t stray too far from the original other than the character substitutions but the changes are delightful as are the illustrations. This book will have you and your children reaching for hot cocoa and candy canes!horrid pigs

The Three Horrid Little Pigsby Liz Pichon was a great read! No big bad wolf , just a bunch of rude horrid little pigs! Unlike in the traditional telling of this story no one gets eaten in this book. The wolf is a friendly builder and even the lazy pigs learn their lesson. The illustrations are bright, fun and my three year old loved them.

three_little_pigs

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka is one of my favorite fractured fairy tales. In this book readers get to hear the wolf’s side of the story. He wasn’t trying to hurt any pigs , it was all a series of accidents and you can’t let meat go to waste so eating the pigs was just practical! I love the humor of this book but what I love even more is how it makes children consider different points of view.bb wolf

Tell the Truth, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra is a story about forgiveness and restitution. In this book B.B. Wolf is asked to tell his side of things at the library many years after the fact. His story isn’t exactly true and other library guests including the three little pigs heckle him until he admits his guilt and asks for forgiveness. It’s a really cute book with some wonderful vocabulary words and great illustrations.giant and the beanstalk

The Giant and the Beanstalk by Diane Stanley is about the giant in Jack and The Beanstalk and how he isn’t like all the other giants at all. This giant is kind and gentle and doesn’t do very well in giant school because he is anything but fierce. When he chases Jack down the beanstalk it isn’t to harm him but rather to get his hen back because he loves her not her golden eggs. On his quest to find Jack and get his hen back he meets many other Jacks from traditional nursery rhymes a long the way. I never realized how many Jacks there are in nursery rhymes until  read this book . This is a great story about not judging a book by it’s cover.ffr

Falling For Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox is snort worthy. Yes this book is so funny the kids will be laughing hysterically and learning all about rhyming at the same time. Rapunzel is having a hard time hearing exactly what Prince Charming is asking her to throw down from her tower and hilarity ensues. Kids will love anticipating what she will throw down next. I won’t ruin the ending but trust me it’s hilarious and kids familiar with the traditional version will love telling you how this one is different. The illustrations by Lydia Monks add to the humor perfectly!

goldilocks and the three dinosaurs

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willemsby Mo Willems is a funny prehistoric spin on the classic Goldilocks and The Three Bears. There are so many funny details in this book that it’s as much for the adults reading it to their children as it is for the kids. The humor is mostly dry but plentiful and the story itself is engaging as all Willems stories are. If you aren’t familiar with this author you need to grab this and a handful of his other titles from the library asap.

the three pigs

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner is the most creative of all these fantastic books. In this book the three little pigs escape the wolf by escaping the story itself and being blown right off the page. They test out other pages and pick up a dragon and cat ( complete with fiddle) but ultimately want to return home. Together they face and beat the wolf and settle into the brick home of the third pig together with the dragon and cat. The illustrations will delight you. The perspective and imagination in this book is stunning and well worth many many readings.

Books About Feelings

children's books about feelings

The books that I find myself reaching for the most when my kids need help are books about feelings. When my son has a hard day but doesn’t want to talk about it I grab Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and even though it won’t always make him talk I know it does make him sleep better knowing that ” some days are like that.”  Books can tell kids they aren’t alone, they can tell them it’s OK to be angry, and that feelings can’t be controlled but actions can. I didn’t go to the library for this book list, I went to the playroom. Every book here I own and have owned for years. These are my go to books. There are lots of other books about feelings and I would love for you to add your favorites in comments. All parents can use these titles so let’s create a great resource together.

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 feelings by aliki

Feelings by Aliki is a book full of vignettes about emotions. From simple ones that make it clear what the children in them are feeling and how readers could see the situation to more complex and less clear ones that give readers a chance to discuss and decide for themselves what the people might be feeling. I love this book. Neither of my kids liked it as toddlers or preschoolers though. My son started really liking it at about 6 because that was when he could really talk about it all with experience and empathy. We rarely read it cover to cover instead picking and choosing pages and diving into the topic they are covering. It’s not a sugary sweet book but it’s an incredible tool.

when sophie gets angry really really angry

When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang is a book I bought while teaching. I had a lot of anger issues in my classroom and we spent a lot of time reading books about anger to diffuse it. When I suggest this book to parents I often get ” Really , kids like this?” as a response because the book seems much simpler than their expectations. It is simple. It is basic and yes it does include Sophie running away from the house to go be by herself which is something not all parents like. It also doesn’t include any discipline for her outburst which is also something that I hear complaints about. Here’s the thing what kids relate to is feeling angry, doing something about it , and becoming calm.  I think Sophie has great self control , she knows that she needs to go be alone for a bit to calm down and then re-join the group. It’s exaggerated for effect but really this book is about learning how to stop raging not about encouraging it. Kids LOVE it. They relate and love knowing that after you calm down you can be welcomed back into the group.

happy-hippo-angry-duck

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods by Sandra Boynton is a cute and funny board book about emotions. With funny illustrations and her fantastic rhymes Sandra Boynton covers many emotions and makes clear that emotions change and every day is different.

the way I feel

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain is a useful book. It labels feelings with a short rhyming piece of text and fanciful illustrations. While I wouldn’t suggest this as a book for a nightly read it is useful while specifically learning and talking about emotions. I like to have children show me their faces in the same feelings as the book progresses. If you are reading this with a small group or your child stop and talk about times when you felt these emotions.

very grouchy ladybug

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is more than a cute book about a crabby bug. The Lady bug is looking for a fight and each hour she finds a bigger and bigger animal to fight with until she is unintentionally slapped by a big whale’s tail! I loved using this book to teach telling time, as there is a picture of an analog clock on each page. I would use a play clock and as I read each page ask one child to come and set our classroom clock. Also don’t be put off by the fact that the lady bug tries to pick fights, no animal takes her up on her offer and you can spin that into a great lesson about not giving into people who are trying to pick fights.

pink tiara cookies for three

Pink Tiara Cookies For Three  by Maria Dismondy is a story I think most of us can relate to . It’s about two best friends who’s friendship is challenged when another little girl is welcomed by one friend and not by the other. I know as a young girl I dealt with this and it was heartbreaking. Now as a mom I watch my son and his two closest friends deal with this often. The author does a beautiful job at recognizing the feelings of rejection, loneliness and anger that children feel when this happens. The little girls in the story are probably a little more capable at expressing themselves than our children but that makes this book even more important. As my son and I read it today we took a lot of breaks for me to ask if he’d ever felt like any of the characters and that got him talking, relating and connecting not only to one side of the issue but to both. Oh and please don’t think it’s a girly book, it’s not my son loved it. His exact words were ” This would be really good for teachers to read to classes. ” I agree.

The Grumpy Morning

The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a great book. I think I got it as a freebie with a scholastic order years ago, either way I am so glad I have it. The book follows all the animals on a farm as they wake up grumpy and hungry and needing attention from the farmer. As a teacher I love this book because I could talk about whining, and demanding and ask my students if there are better ways to get what you want. As a parent I love this books because it’s a lighthearted way to talk about being grumpy instead of only bringing it up in the heat of the moment.

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes is a book about a little mouse who is about as anxious as possible. She worries about everything, and it makes her family worried too. This is a fantastic book to read before starting anything new! I read it for the children’s time at my church right before school started in the fall. It was a great opener for a talk about anxiety. We all have worries and even though we may not worry as often or as fiercely as Wemberly this book makes it seem okay and normal to feel those feelings. The way the author illustrates both through words and pictures the intensity of her feelings really creates compassion in the reader for this little mouse. The ability to understand what another is feeling is something that I desperately want to instill in my own children.

Swimmy

Swimmy by Leo Lionni has been a favorite of mine for many years. I love Lionni and how he can weave multiple layers of meaning into a simple story for children. Swimmy is a story about a little fish who lost his family to a giant tuna fish and  After grieving he is reminded of all the beautiful things in the ocean and goes on. When he came across a school of fish just like his former one hiding afraid of the big fish he knew he couldn’t let them miss out on all the wonders of the ocean and he rallied them to work as a team. This is a great book for teaching children about the power of bravery and working as a group to combat challenges.

aggie the brave

Aggie the Brave by Lori Ries is a really wonderful book that combines lessons about worry and bravery. Aggie is getting spayed and both she and her owner go through various emotions from the time they drop her off at the vet until her stitches are removed weeks later. Not only is this just a really great book to teach kids about what happens to their pets when they go into to be payed or neutered it’s also a wonderful book about worry and what it means to be brave. The love between the little boy and his dog jumps off the pages and I got chocked up when the little boy cried on the drive home after dropping the dog off for surgery. We can all relate to that feeling of driving away filled with worry. Great book!

Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst was a childhood favorite that I have enjoyed sharing with my own kids. This book is beautiful, even though it may take a few reads to see it’s not a story about a whining little boy so much a lesson that sometimes things do not go our way. Days can suck. It’s just the way it is. As a child I related to Alexander’s feelings of frustration and things being unfair. How often to you hear a child say “No Fair!” probably a lot. This book taps into that feeling, being little is hard but just because you are mad, or your day was bad doesn’t mean you get your way. Great book to talk about anger and frustration with your child, and it’s funny too.

dont-let-the-pigeon-drive-the-bus

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems might not need much of a review as I don’t know many parents who haven’t laughed along with their kids reading this book. But if you have never read this book let me tell you about it and why so many of us think it’s hilarious. The book opens with a bus driver asking readers to do him a favor and not let the pigeon drive the bus, easy right? Well just like my 5 year old son who is practicing for the negotiator of the year award this pigeon is relentless.  When I asked my son what his favorite part of the book was he giggled loudly while telling me that he loves the tantrum the pigeon has. Kids know what it’s like to be frustrated. They know what it’s like to not be allowed to do something and the exasperation that comes with it. Pigeon is frustrated and this book is a great and hilarious tool for parents to talk about that feeling.

 Which book would you add to our list?