Picture Books about Adapting to Change and Flexible Thinking

Picture Books about Adapting to Change and Flexible Thinking

These picture books about adapting to change and flexible thinking show characters dealing with obstacles and facing uncertainty and disappointment head-on.

Picture Books about Adapting to Change and Flexible Thinking

Why Read Picture Books about Adapting to Change?

Adaptability and flexibility help us look at things differently and modify our thinking and behaviour. We can develop new ideas, find new approaches to solve problems and adapt to new information. Essentially, adaptability and flexibility help with cooperation and problem-solving.

In these picture books about adapting to change and flexible thinking, your students will see characters using different strategies to deal with challenges, apprehension and disappointment. This includes starting school, moving house, changing relationships, and setbacks.

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Picture Books about Adapting to Change and Flexible Thinking

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood

In Paraguay, Ada Río grows up in poverty and can't afford to follow her dream of playing the violin. The arrival of a new music teacher made instruments out of rubbish and changed Ada's life forever. Based on the true story of the Recycled Orchestra.

After the Fall by Dan Santat

A retelling of Humpty Dumpty from the egg’s perspective. Promotes perspectives, a growth mindset, perseverance, and courage as Humpty Dumpty conquers his fear of heights.

Another by Christian Robinson

A young girl enters a topsy-turvy world that is similar but not quite the same as her own. She meets other children of many ethnicities, wearing various clothes and playing different games. Another will inspire discussion and questions and provide each reader with a different interpretation of the book. 

Use this wordless book to discuss open-mindedness, adaptability, and perspectives.

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman

A young girl bands together with a group of children to influence change in their community. They realise they have the power to change the world for the better, big and small, with their words and actions and inspire others to do the same.

This first-person narrative poetry book promotes conversations about a sense of community, change, unity, hope, cooperation, kindness, activism and a growth mindset.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

This is the first of two picture books about flexible thinking by Peter Brown. Liam’s curiosity leads him to explore an elevated train track. He discovers dying flowers and begins to nurture them. His dedication pays off when the flowers grow and start spreading over the city.

Promotes the environment, patience and a sense of community.

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies

This is the first of two picture books about adapting to change by Nicola Davies. A girl returns home to find a bombed-out hole. Alone, she follows a stream of refugees to an immigration camp. She visits a school but is turned away because there is no chair for her. That evening she is visited by a boy who brings a chair with him – a chair to sit on and learn.

Reinforces themes of courage, fears, immigration, perseverance and tolerance.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

An art teacher encourages Vashti to make a mark, a dot, prompting Vashti to create a wide range of dot paintings. She displays her work at the school art show and inspires a young boy to make his own unique mark.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales recalls her own experiences of migrating from Mexico to America with her young son. They face many cultural challenges, including learning a new language and customs. Her local library offers an opportunity to learn about this strange, new country and find a new career.

Read to discuss determination, resilience, independence, courage and hope.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina

Best friends, Evelyn and Daniela, have to say goodbye when Evelyn’s family has to move away. As her house is packed up, the two girls play with each other in their favourite places. They know they will always be best friends, no matter where they live.

Promotes themes of resilience, adaptability, and relationship skills.

Florette by Anna Walker

Mae loves gardening at her home in the countryside. When her family moves to an apartment in the concrete jungle of Paris, Mae feels lonely and longs for her garden. Through her adaptability, patience and perseverance, she creates her own green oasis in the city.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams

In a Peshawar refugee camp, both Lina and Feroza find a matching sandal. They build a friendship and share the sandals, wearing them on alternate days. Lina and her mother are chosen to emigrate to America and gives the sandal to Feroza. But Feroza hands it back telling Lina they will share the sandals again one day.

Promotes a sense of belonging, compassion, friendship and social awareness.

The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter

A young girl grieving her mother's death transforms a neglected garden into a place of beauty, love, and hope.

The Great Realization by Tomos Roberts

Tomos Roberts’ poem is in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It celebrates acts of kindness, applauding key workers for their heroic endeavours and how people everywhere coped with adapting to a new way of life.

Promotes discussions on resilience, adaptability, hope and facing challenges.

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

This is the first of two picture books about adapting to change by Oliver Jeffers. Unsure of how to cope with her grandfather's death, a girl puts her heart in a bottle. She loses all her curiosity and wonders until she meets a small child filled with the wonder she once had. She places her heart back, rediscovering her curiosity and love of the world.

Reinforces themes of wellbeing, grief and reflection.

Home is a Window by Stephanie Ledyard

The reader follows a family as they move from their beloved, comfortable home to a new one. When they move to a new house, they take everything they love from their old house to make it feel like home.

A Home for Gully by Jo Clegg

A city sweeper cleans away Gully’s home every morning. Fetch the dog, and his fleas, help Gully find a new home and meet new friends.

Promotes discussions on resilience, perseverance, homelessness and relationship skills.

How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere

Leonard's love of words and poetry help him stand up for himself when he is mocked for his quiet and gentle ways. Promotes self-awareness, acceptance, thinking and courage.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

A mother makes the unimaginable decision to escape a war with her two children. They travel by car, truck, foot and boat for their gruelling journey to safety.

Reinforces themes of conflict, immigration, compassion, independence and courage.

The Kiosk by Anete Melece

Translated from Latvian. Olga is stuck in her kiosk, physically and metaphorically. Her daily routine involves talking with customers, and selling magazines, snacks and drinks. In the evening, she lives in her kiosk and dreams of living someplace exciting with a sunset. The next morning, an accident causes Olga and her kiosk to float to a new home, with a sunset and a new business.

Discuss overcoming fears, following our dreams, and embracing change.

The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright

Kevin the Koala hates change as the consequences scare him. It is only when a woodpecker disturbs his steady way of life that Kevin has no choice but to make a big change, beginning an exciting new chapter in his life.

A book about self-management, courage and perseverance.

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

Mary courageously challenges the gender norms in the 1830s. One day she wears trousers and the townsfolk react with disapproval and they throw things at her and shout that she should not dress in boys’ clothes.

Read to promote gender roles, confidence, tolerance and open-mindedness.

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

This is the second of two picture books about flexible thinking by Peter Brown. Mr Tiger is bored with the rules of the city. He breaks with protocol, abandons his clothes and runs wild. He soon becomes lonely and returns home. He is delighted that others in the community have embraced their individuality.

Reinforces themes of individuality, identity and manners.

Mum & Dad Glue by Kes Grey

When a boy’s parents divorce, he searches for the right glue to stick them back together. Reinforces the themes of acceptance, balance, family, and harmony.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848, and at the age of 116 she learned to read. She witnessed the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and through her perseverance, she showed you’re never too old to learn.

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck

Sophia’s ‘One True Desire' is a pet giraffe. With her birthday coming up, she tries to persuade each member of her family to give her a giraffe. Will her wish come true?

Promotes adaptability, persuasion, self-management and communication.

Outside, Inside by Leuyen Pham

Celebrate essential workers and communities coming together in a book about the global pandemic. Suddenly, everyone was inside, and the outside became quieter. Connect with the emotions felt by millions and how people became stronger.

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson

Gia is fed up with hearing about her soon to arrive, new sibling. She worries her life will change, particularly her bond with her mother. She talks with her mother over pecan pie, who reassures her she isn’t being replaced and she will always love her.

Perfect by Nicola Davies

This is the second of two picture books about adapting to change by Nicola Davies. When caring for an injured bird, a young boy learns to accept and embrace his baby sister’s disability. A story of love, acceptance and disappointment.

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

This is the first of two picture books about flexible thinking by Michael Hall. Over the course of a week, a perfectly happy square is torn, punched, cut and crumpled into creative images. On Sunday, the square becomes a window looking out on all the creations made from this simple shape.

Perfect Square promotes creativity, adaptability, open-mindedness and acceptance.

The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart

After moving to America, Isabel describes her new life in letters to her aunt. She writes about her new school, seeing snow for the first time and her difficulties learning English. She describes her “quiet place’, as a space that comforts her as she gradually adjusts to her new life.

A book to discuss adaptability, a sense of belonging, perspectives and wellbeing.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This is the second of two picture books about flexible thinking by Michael Hall. Red’s label says red, but he can only create blue no matter how hard he tries. Red’s new friend, Berry, suggests he casts aside his label, opening a whole new world to Red.

Promotes discussions on adaptability, identity, self-awareness and acceptance.

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

This is the first of two picture books about adapting to change by Tom Percival. Ruby has a Worry. It wasn’t very big, but it stayed with her all day, so she stopped doing the things she loved. She finds discussing her worry makes it gets smaller until it is almost gone. Though the Worry appears every now and again, Ruby knows how to get rid of them.

Read to discuss adaptability, self-awareness, self-management and self-esteem.

Sakura's Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston

Sakura's family leave Japan and moved to a new home in America. She struggles to settle in until she meets a new friend who shows her the cherry blossom trees in her neighbourhood.

Saturday by Oge Mora

Ava waits for the weekend to arrive all week as Saturday means special mother and daughter time. She is disappointed when things don’t quite go as they planned, but she learns that things will work out.

Promotes themes of adaptability, making connections, and resilience.

She's Got This by Laurie Hernandez

Zoe dreams of becoming a gymnast because it looks like flying. She learns it will be harder than she ever thought during her first lesson. Zoe perseveres and shows a growth mindset to follow her dream.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant

In the late 1800s, Horace Pippin drew anyone around him. He filled notebooks while fighting during WWI, but he could not create his art when he was shot. Through practice and patience, Horace regained the use of his arm and started creating art again.

Use to teach overcoming adversity, perseverance, a growth mindset and determination.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This is the second of two picture books about adapting to change by Oliver Jeffers. When Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree, he throws his shoes to dislodge it. That doesn’t work, so Floyd attempts to use more and more outrageous objects (and people) to free the kite!

Read this cumulative story to discuss cause & effect, problem-solving, perseverance, problem & solution, character traits and resourcefulness.

Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey

Sunday Chutney is always the new girl at school but she makes the best of the situation with her independent attitude and spirit. Promotes identity, individuality and open-mindedness.

Superhero Mom by Timothy Knapman

Like many superhero moms, this mom doesn't wear a cape, but she does have superpowers all of her own. Promotes appreciation, love and commitment.

That Fruit is Mine! by Anuska Allepuz

Five elephants discover a very tall fruit tree deep in the jungle. They compete with each other to see who can reach the exotic fruit first. Their focus on being the first means they overlook a team of mice working together to reach the fruit first. But they soon realise that teamwork and communication is a better way to reach their prize.

Tilda Tries Again by Tom Percival

This is the second of two picture books about adapting to change by Tom Percival. Tilda loves her life, but she wants to give up when it is turned upside down. Everything seems so hard. She sees a ladybird stuck on its back and keeps trying until it gets back on its feet and flies away. Tilda takes inspiration from this tiny insect and adapts to the changes in her life.

Promotes resilience, problem-solving, adapting to change, different perspectives, not giving up, determination, perseverance, and belief in yourself.

Tree: A Little Story About Big Things by Danny Parker

A small sapling flourishes under the foliage of a larger tree. “Season after season, he was sheltered… and secure.” The adult tree falls during a storm, and the fragile and lonely tree fights to survive the seasons ahead.

Windblown by Édouard Manceau

Simple scraps of paper are mixed and transformed into different animals. These animals claim the bits of paper belong to them until the wind blows them away and asks the reader to create something.

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What Next?

Life is unpredictable. Teaching adaptability skills and flexible thinking helps children cope with changes, uncertainty and disappointment. Change may be difficult, but it opens up new experiences and opportunities.

What picture books about adapting to change and flexible thinking do you use in the classroom?

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Picture Books about Adapting to Change and Flexible Thinking

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