Build self esteem in children: Top 5 picture books

Looking for stories for kids that will help to build self-esteem or self confidence? But not sure where to start? Or which books are high-quality? Basically, you have come to the right place!

Building self-worth from a young age is crucial. In fact, some studies have suggested that low self-esteem can be established by the age of 5. As a result, it can impact their educational outcomes. Therefore, I have written a list of the best books I have come across for young children on this topic. Taking into consideration, the Reflecting Realities research by CLPE I have compiled this list.

Books to read to children for building self esteem

The World needs who you were made to be by Joanna Gaines illustrated by Julianna Swaney

What is this book about and how does it help to build self-esteem?

This book is a celebration of how we are all different. Each child builds their own hot air balloon. Some children work best alone, however, others like to work with others. Although some children are quiet others like to chat through their ideas. Some children are scientific whereas others are creative. But in her book Joanna Gaines shows that each individual’s talents can together make something beautiful. Therefore, a wonderful book for any child struggling with self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Questions you could ask children to help build self-esteem:

  1. How are the children in the story different? The children are different because….
  2. In what ways do they all help each other? For instance…
  3. Why do you think the author reminds kids to remember who they are? Also, tells them to not hold back?
  4. What might have happened if the children had held back? If the children had held back they would have…because… for example…
I Am Enough by Grace Byers, Pictures by Keturah A. Bobo

Why should you read this book to help build a child’s self-esteem?

When have you needed to hear that you were enough? Well, Grace Byers wrote this book because when she was 8 years old she said that she needed more books that would make her believe that she could do anything.

What is the book about?

It follows a little girl (shown on the cover) who compares herself to other things in nature and man made objects. For example, like the sun I am hear to shine. Similarly, like a bird I’m here to fly. And others such as like a ladder I am here to climb. Therefore, I think these positive affirmations and a good way to introduce positive self-talk to children.

What questions could I ask a child about this book to build self-esteem?

  1. How does the little girl feel about herself and how can you tell? I can tell that the little girl feels….. about her self… for example..
  2. What do you think the message of the story is and why? I think the message of the story is….because
  3. What can you learn from the little girl in the story? From the little girl I can learn…because…
Sulwe by Lupita Ngong’o illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Sulwe is a beautiful book about self-acceptance and learning to love the skin that you are in. The little girl is upset because in her own words, her skin is the colour of midnight. But that is different to her family’s. She describes her mum and sister as beautiful and bright. However, a journey through the night sky changes her mind. In this book, together with the help of her mum Sulwe realises her own beauty.

Why should you read this book to young children?

  • Firstly, children respond to characters who they can identify with. (There is a lack of representation in children’s literature. Please see here.)
  • Secondly, to teach them about self-love and self-esteem.
  • Thirdly, to educate all children about colourism and to promote inclusion.

What questions could you ask children to build self-esteem?

  1. Why is Sulwe upset and who does she compare herself to? Unfortunately Sulwe compares herself to…
  2. Where does Sulwe go and how does she change her mind? Sulwe changes her mind beacuse…
  3. What is the meaning of Sulwe and why is it important? The meaning of this book is…. for instance….
  4. What can we learn from Sulwe’s journey?
Tomorrow I’ll be Brave, words and pictures by Jessica Hische

This is a wonderful book to help build self-esteem of children. The narrator in this book talks about all of things that they will be tomorrow. For instance, tomorrow I’ll be adventurous, I’ll play and I’ll explore. Other examples are that they will be strong, creative and brave. However, the message of this book is that if they were not one of these attributes tomorrow then that is okay. Therefore, it is a good way to promote self-love and kindness.

What questions could you ask a child about this book?

  1. Why do you think the character wants to be (insert adjective here)? How do they think they will do this? For instance…
  2. Why do you think that they say that it is okay if they cannot be like that tomorrow?
  3. What do you think you can learn from reading this story? I could learn…. because…
A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

This is a beautiful book about a chameleon. He wants to have his own colour, rather than camouflaging with the background. He is quite upset about it. That is until a friend comes along and changes his mind. A book about friendship and how to build self-esteem.

Questions to ask children

  1. Why does the chameleon want to have a colour of his own? He wants to have a colour of his own because…
  2. Why and how does the chameleon change it’s mind? The chameleon changes his mind because…
  3. What can we learn from this story? Has anything changed about the chameleon? Does he now have a colour of his own?

Looking for more?

Enjoyed reading my post? But think I’ve missed out of another example? Or would you approach this topic differently? If so, please post in the comments below.

I post a new blog article every Tuesday. But post daily recommendations on Instagram and Twitter. Also, you can see more of my articles here.

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