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50 Inspirational Children’s Books to Motivate Young Minds
When it comes to dreaming big, kids are the experts! But that doesn’t mean they can’t use a little help along the way, too. As grown-ups, it’s our responsibility to foster their passions and give them a safe space to experiment — and these inspirational children’s books can help.
Take a look at our expertly curated list for every age — from toddlers to young adults — and help to foster creativity and wonder in your little reader.
Motivational Story Books for Kids, Reading Age 0 – 9
It’s never too early to inspire your little ones! These picture books are fun and engaging, making some of the best inspirational children’s books for elementary school aged kids and younger.
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream, by Kristy Dempsey. Teach your kids the value of hope and perseverance with this inspiring children’s book about a young girl growing up in Harlem who dreams of becoming a ballerina, like Janet Collins – the first African-American prima ballerina. Ages 5 – 8
The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. This motivational book for kids will empower your child to tap into their creative spirit, as it teaches the important lesson to young dreamers that there’s not a singular right way to start a new art project. Anything can be art when it’s born from inspiration! Ages 5 – 9
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson. Through this inspiring story of a boy with a disability in Africa, your kiddos will learn that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Ages 4 – 8
Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio. A particularly powerful story for young girls, this book follows Grace, who decides she wants to be the first woman president, and understands that it’ll take hard work, courage and staying true to herself. Ages 4 – 8
Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds. Teach your children the valuable lesson that there’s no one “right way” to do things — it’s ok to be creative and different! Ages 5 – 9
Odd Velvet, by Mary Whitcomb. Looking for another great example to show your kiddo that there’s no harm in being different? This motivational story is about a girl who lives to the beat of her own drum. Ages 0 – 12
Stanza, by Jill Esbaum. Your little one might have a difficult time understanding why someone might pick on others on the playground. In this thoughtful story, your child will learn the importance of empathy and discover a newfound understanding of why their fellow students may act out the way they do. Ages 4 – 7
Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller. Kindness is a skill that can never be taught too early! This thoughtful book explains the power of kindness — something every child should learn! Ages 3 – 6
Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller. Follow a curious rabbit and his friends as they embark on magical adventures, and inspire your children to explore the world around them. Ages 4 – 8
The Magical Yet, by Angela DiTerlizzi. Have a child who is frustrated by what they can’t do? Filled with rhyming and motivational learning moments, this picture book is the perfect tool to help them understand everyone has things they haven’t learned… yet! Ages 4 – 8
The Hike, by Alison Farrell. Young adventurers will love this spirited picture book that captures the beauty of the natural world and celebrates the joy of exploring — even if it’s just in your own backyard! Ages 3 – 5
All Because You Matter, by Tami Charles. This ode to black and brown children everywhere is a poetic, powerful story written in lyrical text. Young readers will enjoy the affirmations of worth as they are reassured that, no matter the circumstance, they always have — and always will — matter. Ages 4 – 8
I’ll Walk with You, by Carol Lynn Pearson. A heartfelt story with a message to encourage and guide your little ones learn to love and accept others of all identities and abilities. Ages 3 – 8
Memory Jars, by Vera Brosgol. Your littles will enjoy following the story of clever Freda, a young girl who tries to keep her favorite things — and people — close to her forever in memory jars. Ages 4 – 8
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, by Maria Dismondy. Despite Lucy being teased by a young boy at school, she strives to spread love, courage and positivity. This motivating book will help your kiddos learn about the importance of being themselves, even when it’s not easy. Ages 4 – 11
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell. Molly Lou Melon is just a little bit different than others — but she doesn’t mind. She was taught to walk proud, smile big and sing loud. Another enchanting story to remind young readers the importance of staying true to oneself and having fun. Ages 4 – 8
Inspirational Children’s Books, Reading Age 7 – 14
Is your little reader ready for more complex books to inspire them to dream bigger? Consider stocking their shelves with these inspiring and thoughtful books.
Being Teddy Roosevelt: A Boy, a President and a Plan, by Claudia Mills. In researching Teddy Roosevelt for school, Teddy learns valuable problem-solving skills that anyone can use to overcome obstacles. Ages 7 – 10
Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle. This tale follows a boy who has big dreams and will do anything to make them come true — even if it means going on a daring overnight adventure to New York City. Ages 9 – 13
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. This critically acclaimed author tells stories about growing up as a brown girl in the ‘60s and ‘70s through vivid and powerful poetry. Ages 10 – 13
Katerina’s Wish, by Jeannie Mobley. A story about a young girl who came to America with big aspirations, this vibrant story will teach your kids that hard work and determination are key to making a dream reality. Ages 8 – 12
Rules, by Cynthia Lord. Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. But what does it even mean to be normal? Her new friend shows her there’s no such thing. Ages 9 – 12
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. Born with a facial difference, August wants nothing more than to be treated like a normal kid. But his classmates can’t get past his differences. This book takes a deep look at empathy, compassion and acceptance. Ages 8 – 12
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza lives an affluent life on her family’s ranch in Mexico until her world is turned upside down and must move to a farm labor camp in the United States. There, Esperanza finds herself in unfamiliar territory as she and her family face challenges due to their economic status and race. Through Esperanza’s story, young readers will learn all about the importance of empathy, perseverance and overcoming challenges. Ages 8 – 14
Motivational Books for Teens, Reading Age 13 – 18
Recommend these books and novels to your teens, and keep the inspiration flowing into adulthood.
A Time to Dance, by Padma Venkatraman. An inspiring story book of a young girl’s struggle to regain passion in her life, which she eventually finds again through a spiritual awakening, art and courage. Ages 12 – 17
Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, by Laurie Ann Thompson. Following the stories of high schoolers with aspirations to create change, this read will empower your teen to make a difference in their community. Ages 12 +
Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo. This thought-provoking book for teens is a unique perspective on self-esteem, valuable friendships and the beauty that lies within us all. Ages 14 – 17
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli. Through this tale about the perils of popularity, readers will learn that nonconformity should be celebrated, not judged. Ages 12 – 17
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince. Going from an orphan in West Africa to the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Michaela DePrince teaches an important lesson about what it takes to fight for your dream. Ages 12 – 15
Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big and Believe in Yourself, by Jennie Finch. Through this autobiography, Jennie teaches young girls to believe in themselves and go for it — even if it challenges the status quo. Ages 10+
Children’s Books for Kids Who Want to Make a Difference, Reading Age 0 – 12
Does your young bookworm have dreams to change the world? These inspirational books are filled with motivating stories that will help encourage them that no dream is too big.
Dream Big, Little One, by Vashti Harrison. A board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, this inspiring book features 18 trailblazing black women in American history who did extraordinary things. Ages 0 – 3
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World, by Malala Yousafzai. A remarkable memoir about, Malala, a young Pakistani girl whose fight for girls’ education almost cost her everything. An inspiring read that is a testimony that even one person’s voice can help change the world. Ages 10 +
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. A story of a heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village, young readers will enjoy this exciting memoir about how strength, innovation and perseverance can light up the world. Ages 10 + or Picture book edition for ages 6 – 8
The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles. An inspirational true story of Ruby Bridges, a young black girl who attended an all-white school during the 1960s. Young readers will learn the power of courage, faith and hope to overcome adversity. Ages 4 – 8
Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World, by Garth Sundem. Thirty true stories of kids around the world who have helped others and done extraordinary things. A read filled with role models to inspire your young activist. Grade level 4 – 8
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, by Phil Bildner. Young readers will enjoy this heartwarming book about a charismatic garbage man and the heroic difference he made by inspiring a community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Ages 5 – 8
Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference, by Aileen Weintraub and Laura Horton. No matter how young — your child can make a difference! Through 50 stories of unstoppable kids who’ve made a difference all around the world, your young reader will be inspired and empowered to dream big! Ages 8 – 12
Diverse Children’s Books Kids Will See Themselves In, Reading Age 3 – 11+
It is important for your young dreamer to see themselves in the stories they read. These inspiring books will help readers with identity, teach about diversity and inclusion, and celebrate our differences.
Fly Bread: A Native American Family Story, by Kevin Noble Maillard. Young readers will be transfixed by this story told in lively, powerful verse — a first-person narration speaking to Indigenous children to explain the cultural, historical and familial significance of fry bread. Ages 3 – 6
A Very Special Critter, by Gina and Mercer Mayer. The new critter at school uses a wheelchair, and the other critters don’t know how to treat him. But they soon find out he’s not so different than them. Ages 3 – 7
Wishes, by Muon Thi Van. The story of a Vietnamese family searching for a new home on the other side of the world. Readers will follow this poetic journey from the perspective of a young Vietnamese girl whose life changes as she travels to new, unknown places. Ages 4 – 8
Watercress, by Andrea Wang. A moving autobiography of the daughter of Chinese immigrants, young readers will follow the journey of Andrea Wang as she moves to a small Ohio town and, while overcoming trials and adversity, learns about her history and connects with her heritage. Ages 6 – 8
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor. A story about maintaining integrity, pride and independence in the face of racism during the height of the Depression. Little bookworms will be inspired by the development of the narrator, who draws strength from her sense of dignity and self-respect. Ages 11 +
Just Like Me, Vanesa Brantley-Newton. Bursting with positivity, this collection of poetry is filled with engaging prose about girls of all kinds, inviting young readers to discuss issues of friendship, diversity and self-esteem. Ages 4 – 8
Inspirational Books for Kids Who Love Sports, Reading Age 4 – 8
Your little athletes will enjoy these inspirational stories of some of the world’s most well-known competitors — and be motivated to never give up on their dreams!
Dream Big, by Deloris Jordan. Written by Michael Jordan’s mom, this picture book tells the inspirational story of a child’s dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist. Any young sport lover with big aspirations will enjoy! Ages 4 – 8
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Sportsmanship: Winning Isn’t Everything, by Howard Binkow. Accompanied by tips and lesson for parents to teach teamwork, respect and comraderies, this story will help little athletes enjoy learning how to be a good sport. Ages 4 – 7
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Your young sports fan will love this beautifully illustrated book telling the story of tennis legends and sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. An inspiring read encouraging young dreamers to persevere and work hard. Ages 4 – 8
She’s Got This, by Laurie Hernandez. Written by Olympic gymnast and gold medal winner Laurie Hernandez, you’ll enjoy this gymnastics picture book encouraging your little tumbler to never give up on their dreams. Ages 4 – 8
Books for Kids Who Love Music, Reading Age 4 – 12
Is your child a music lover? These motivational story books will encourage them to follow the beat of their own drum.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Rafael López. Though the rule was girls cannot be drummers, Millo dreamed of pounding congas and tapping bongos. Inspired by a true story, dreamers everywhere will enjoy the tenacity of young Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers. Ages 4 – 7
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, by Margarita Engle and Rafael López. A revolution in Venezuela forced young Teresa Carreño, a piano prodigy, and her family to flee to the United States during the Civil War. Discover how one’s passion can help during times of adversity. Ages 4 – 8
On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas. Bri dreams of being one of the greatest rappers of all time. Her story demonstrates the power of perseverance to fight for your dreams — even when the odds are stacked against you. Grade level 8 – 12
Finding Yvonne, Brandy Colbert. Yvonne is a young violinist who realizes she might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school. Through her story, we learn that sometimes following your own path comes with difficult choices. Grade level 9 – 12
And there you have it! No matter what books your child gravitates towards, remember that books open a world of opportunities to explore thoughts and ideas they might not have thought of before.
Our advice? Make sure to have conversations with your little reader after they finish — was there anything that confused them? Did the book change their perception on anything or teach them something new? Exploring these topics after reading can further instill the important lessons each book serves. A great place to have convos about the books your kids are reading is through connecting at the dinner table!
Want more tips and motivation? Our collection of self-improvement tools and resources will help support and guide you (and your family) along any dream pursuit. Happy dreaming!