Children’s Books That Build Resiliency


We all know that books are powerful. They can transport us to new places and times and allow us to meet new people.  They are informative and inspirational, thoughtful and therapeutic. Children’s books are no different—albeit shorter and with more pictures.  

I am sure that you are reading to your children every night (at least I hope you are) and more than likely you go through periods where you are reading the same book over and over. I used to change it up (aka leave things out) and my kids would instantly point out my mistakes. But how do you choose the books? Do your kids get to pick them out from the library or bookstore?  Is there a go-to book nook at home?

I challenge you to choose what I call “books that build resiliency.” Don’t worry, I don’t mean self help books for babies. What I mean is, if your child has a social issue (say, separation anxiety) that they are struggling with, offer a book that deals with that issue. One of my favorites for separation anxiety and loss is a book by Patrice Clark called The Invisible String. Reading the book with your child can open a door to talk about the issue, especially if you are asking specific questions. While working as a public educator for a child abuse agency, I developed these questions to use that can help navigate what might otherwise be a tough conversation to have. There are 14 other books I chose along with questions I wrote that can help you address everything from bullying to creating a bedtime routine.

Books that build specific skills are a safe, non-confrontational way to ask your child “what if”?  Having your child think through certain social situations before they occur builds their self-esteem. For example, when faced with a bully, if they have already talked with you about how they would handle the situation, the words or actions will come easier. If you have a toddler, you can read these books, too. You may not get into the “what if” situations, but you are developing a familiarity with that book and the illustrations that you can always come back to.

And don’t overlook the more basic resiliency skill you are building just by spending time with your child.  The routine of reading every night along with the exposure to books is invaluable.

The number of children’s books that are out there is overwhelming.  Talk to other parents about their favorites, ask your librarian, or ask your child’s teacher. And once you find a book that tackles a particular social issue, be sure to share it with others. Books make great gifts!

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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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