Books that help kids' mental development

View all Recommendations by Subjects > Character development book lists; This list was last updated on 1/13/2014
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The Invisible Boy

Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource. 

Includes backmatter with discussion questions and resources for further reading. 

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Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster
Whenever Jonathan James finds himself in a new situation, he hears his Whatif Monster asking all kind of questions to stop him trying something new: What if it's scary? What if they laugh? What if it's hard?  Finally, Jonathan James has some questions of his own: What if they don't? What if it isn't? What then?
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Feel Confident!
Empower children to recognize their individual worth and develop confidence in themselves, their abilities, and the choices they make. Children learn that they can speak up, expect and show respect, try new things, and believe in themselves. Confidence-building skills of accepting yourself, asking for what you need, making decisions, solving problems, and communicating are also discussed. Young children will respond to the true-to-life situations and colorful illustrations.

Being the Best Me Series:
From the author of the popular Learning to Get Along® books comes a one-of-a-kind character-development series. Each of the first six books in the Being the Best Me! series helps children learn, understand, and develop attitudes and positive character traits that strengthen self-confidence and a sense of purpose. Each book focuses on a specific attitude or character trait—optimism, self-esteem, assertiveness, resilience, integrity, and forgiveness. Also included are discussion questions, games, activities, and additional information for adults. Filled with diversity, these social story books will be welcome in school, home, and childcare settings.


 
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Willow Finds a Way
In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate Kristabelle's demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts using the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her ?fantastic? birthday party to keep them in line, and Willow decides she's finally had enough. Surprising everyone, even herself, Willow steps up and bravely does something shocking, and it changes the entire dynamic of the classroom.
This child-friendly and relatable story about bullying is elegantly told with honesty and heart. The simple artwork by Tania Howells beautifully captures the subtleties of the story; the children are the main focus of the spare illustrations, allowing their body language and facial expressions to leap off the page and showcase exactly how they're feeling. This is a book that will have young children on the edge of their seats at storytime, deeply sympathetic to the dilemma faced by Willow and her classmates. What makes this book particularly helpful is that it presents a model for how any child, even a shy one like Willow, can find his or her own way to deal with a bossy or bullying classmate. It offers a pitch-perfect lesson on how to stand up for yourself, terrifically aligning with character education lessons on courage. The empowering message here also helps promote individual self-awareness, self-esteem and good decision making.
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Whale Shines
 
All day, Whale swims through the ocean, wearing a poster advertising the big upcoming art exhibition. He visits the eel who wriggles abstract patterns in the sand, the squid who paints with ink, and the hammerhead shark who builds sculptures from salvage. Whale sees his friends' confidence and creativity and wishes he could be an artist too, but he doesn't know what to make and insists he's too ungainly to create art. Then one day, with the unexpected help of some bioluminescent plankton, he discovers his own distinct point of view and talent.
From the award-winning author-illustrator of What Animals Really Like, hailed by School Library Journal as “sublime silliness,” comes another inspiring tale about defying expectation and finding the artist within.

Praise for Whale Shines
STARRED REVIEW
"At its core, Robinson's (What Animals Really Like) story is a tried and true tale of a wallflower realizing his potential. But her understated, offbeat voice and visuals—a mashup of classicism and graphic novel sensibilities—makes this a standout: up-to-the-minute modern in its irreverence and offhandedness, yet timeless in its understanding of a character's yearning."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Sharp contrasts between light and dark are beautiful."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Children will embrace and understand the sincere, undervalued message of art as substantive and a way to “share one's world.” This inspiring tale of artistic collaboration between the whale and bioluminescent plankton will be shared again and again."
—School Library Journal

"The watercolor and pencil art makes excellent use of the spreads' wide horizontality; while the art projects and, indeed, the underwater world are on the literal side for such an artistic-themed story, there's a murky charm to life in the briny deep... What's particularly appealing here is the casual inclusion of a wide variety of approaches to art, making this an entertaining lead-in to art projects, especially those involving the natural world."
—Bulletin of The Center for Children's Books



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The Grouchies
An appealing, read-aloud book about grumpiness and anger - and how to banish these negative emotions with positive thoughts. It takes a light-hearted approach to anger management, which is an important topic for youngsters. It repeats phrases in a way that will appeal to children - and will stick with them. It contains an extensive and useful Note to Parents, written by a psychologist.
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Knock Knock
Every morning, I play a game with my father.
He goes knock knock on my door
and I pretend to be asleep
till he gets right next to the bed.
And my papa, he tells me, "I love you."

But what happens when, one day, that "knock knock" doesn't come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams.
release date: Feb 01, 2000
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Wilma Unlimited
Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she'd run. And she did run--all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single olympiad. This dramatic and inspiring true story is illustrated in bold watercolor and acrylic paintings by Caldecott Medal-winning artist David Diaz.
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Regina's Big Mistake
When asked to draw a rain forest during art class, Regina is afraid of trying and failing, a feeling recognizable to all school-aged children.
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