Are you looking for a way to add happiness and positivity to your classroom? These children's books about happiness and positive thinking will inspire your students to be themselves, dream big, and find joy every day. Each of these titles inspires children to maintain a positive outlook and boost their mood. Plus, they're bound to put a smile on everyone's face!
Why Read Children's Books about Happiness and Positivity?
Children's books about happiness show enthusiastic characters with positive outlooks, particularly during challenging times. Your students will see that an optimistic approach leads to resilience, positive interactions and increased happiness.
The message in these children's books about positivity is that happiness comes from within, and it is possible to find silver linings even in the darkest clouds. Optimistic characters demonstrate self-confidence and belief that they can overcome whatever comes their way and see these challenges as growth opportunities.
Reading about characters who see the brighter side of life and have hope for the future demonstrates a positive coping strategy for our students rather than feeling helpless and unsure.
Questions to Use With Children's Books about Happiness and Positivity
- How does optimism impact your daily life?
- Why can it be challenging to be positive?
- How can happiness and optimism help us cope in difficult situations?
- How do optimism and positivity make a difference in achieving your goals?
- When you try something new, how does optimism help?
- What traits did [character] have that helped them think positively?
- Why was it necessary for [character] to be optimistic or positive?
- How do you know [character] is optimistic/happy/positive?
- What would have happened if [character] didn't have a positive attitude?
- Describe the challenges faced by [character]. How did they overcome them?
- What prompted [character] to be positive/happy?
- What was the character's mission? How did they achieve their goal?
- Identify characters who were positive/optimistic.
- How would the story have changed if [character] wasn't happy/positive?
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Children's Books about Happiness and Positivity
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Send a message to your students that everyone is welcome, no matter their race, religion, gender, culture or background.
Use on the first day of school to discuss inclusion, kindness, empathy, acceptance and community.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
I am Enough follows a girl as she makes positive affirmations for those who lack self-esteem and self-acceptance.
This book celebrates children for who they are and reinforces themes of acceptance, self-esteem and poetry.
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
I Am Every Good Thing celebrates and affirms young black boys. The young, black narrator confidently tells us he is creative, smart, funny, adventurous, and a good friend. We learn how he sometimes fails but always gets back up. He’s afraid when people misunderstand him and call him names.
Promotes discussions on empowerment, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-esteem, respect, being misunderstood and resilience.
Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner
Augustus, the tiger, has lost his smile. Sad, he decides to find it and searches far and wide. Through his journey, he realises all he has to do to see his smile is do the things that make him happy.
Use to discuss hope, happiness, kindness, and self-awareness.
Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman
A young girl brings together 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.
Freedom, We Sing by Amyra León
Amnesty International endorse this book about freedom. The poetic text tells the reader about the freedom to live without violence, be who we are, not experience fear and be protected and safe.
Use to discuss social justice, civil rights, human rights, hope, and empathy.
The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart
A young girl is inspired by her grandfather to plant a new forest in her village. Despite the difficulties, she preserves and the saplings peak through the earth. Just as her hard work pays off, the trees are destroyed by a storm. This tragedy brings out the villagers to help the girl recreate the forest.
Promotes discussions on hope, deforestation, inspiration, determination, resilience, optimism, and a sense of community.
The Great Realisation 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.
Happy Right Now by Julie Berry
Happy Right Now lets children know it's okay to not feel okay and find happiness in any situation. The reader learns strategies to help them overcome sadness and find moments of joy and positivity.
Read to promote discussions on emotional resilience, appreciation, happiness, mindfulness and mental health.
Hike by Pete Oswald
In this wordless book, a father and child get ready for a day in the mountains. They spend the day hiking, planting a tree, throwing snowballs and taking photographs. They return home to a glass of milk, and cookies and a look through a photo album of different generations of the family enjoying nature.
I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
Feel the positivity and enthusiasm as a young girl starts school. She shows empathy to students struggling with first-day nerves and makes new friends. Told in the first person, the girl shows how fun and exciting school can be, especially if you have a positive mindset.
Promotes self-esteem, a growth mindset, self-confidence, enthusiasm, empathy, curiosity, and relationship skills.
The Invisible by Tom Percival
Isabel has moved with her family to a poor part of town. Living on a council estate, she fades away as one sees her as a person. She notices other people are invisible, including an immigrant, the homeless and the elderly. Isabel makes a positive difference to her community and the people often ignored by society.
Joy by Corrinne Averiss
Fern decides to bring joy back to her Nanna’s life. She attempts to capture the joy she finds in her neighbourhood, but Fern learns that it is herself that brings joy to her Nanna.
Reinforces themes of empathy, love, thoughtfulness and kindness.
Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup
Grows illustrates the consequences of our actions, positive and negative. Using a visual representation of a tree, one side of the page shows it flourishing through kindness. The other side shows how negative behaviour creates unhappiness and separation. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through kindness.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
A grumpy CJ and his nana ride a city bus full of wonderful characters. He wonders aloud why he doesn’t have the things his friends do and why they have to volunteer at the soup kitchen every week. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and what he can give.
Read to promote discussions on community, poverty, volunteering, kindness, and optimism.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed A Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy
Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California. A mural artist inspires Mira to transform her grey city into colour. She, in turn, inspired the community to add their voice to the mural.
Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson
A little girl and her grandmother live and work in their general store. The grandmother is unsure of renting a shabby apartment to an interested couple. The girl intervenes, and the couple brings the building to life with their optimism and hard work. Their positivity spreads, and the grandmother slowly accepts the couple as part of the family.
Use this wordless book to discuss acceptance, different perspectives, open-mindedness, assumptions, and a positive attitude.
Pass It On by Sophy Henn
Pass It On's simple and uplifting message is to spread happiness and wonder to others and encourage the reader to pass their own joy to others.
Perfect Square 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.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave plan to dig up something spectacular, but they keep missing their prize. Their dog keeps digging until they all fall down into what seems to be their backyard. But is it?
Promote cooperation, enthusiasm, friendships, perseverance and inference.
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.
Selma by Jutta Bauer
What is happiness? Happiness to Selma the sheep is eating a little grass, playing with children, doing a little exercise, eating a little more grass, chatting with neighbour Mrs. Miller, and having a lovely long sleep. What would she do if she had more time? Exactly the same. What would she do if she won a million dollars? You guessed it!
Read this translated book to promote discussions on appreciation, happiness, routines and being balanced.
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
A teacher helps a young girl see beyond her scary feeling for her neighbourhood. She looks for beauty in her community with the help of her neighbours. Her beautiful journey helps her feel happy and hopeful.
Promotes a sense of community, poverty, responsibility and hope.
The Story of You by Lisa Ann Scott
You are the authors of your own stories. No one can tell you who you are ―it's up to you! The Story of You illustrates how the actions we take and the words we say are essential to who we are.
Promotes discussions on identity, acceptance, confidence, empowerment, kindness, perseverance, individuality, and positivity.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o
Sulwe’s skin is darker than everyone in her family and at school. She wants to lighten her skin, the colour of midnight, so she is no longer teased. Her mama empowers Sulwe by telling her a story that helps her love and accept who she is and dismisses the negative opinions of others.
This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder
An older sister explains to her baby sister how the world works. She shares her opinions on the environment, embracing our differences, the importance of imagination and how those living on this “small blue dot” are interconnected.
Promotes discussions on hope, optimism, perspectives, interconnectedness, and observations.
Umbrella by Elena Arevalo Melville
Four children share their lives under the umbrella of love. It is a reminder that our loved ones will always be there for us no matter the distance. The umbrella is a metaphor for love, acceptance, comfort, and safety.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan
Under My Hijab illustrates the cultural and religious importance of the hijab through the eyes of a young girl. She watches how the contemporary Muslim women in her family wear their hijab in different ways. She dreams about her own future and all the ways she can express herself through her hijab.
This picture book is a wonderful way to promote tolerance, self-expression and identity.
Vanishing Colors by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen
A young girl and her mother shelter in a bombed-out building of a war-torn city. As her mother sleeps, a bird from her mother’s stories visits the girl. The bird prompts the girl to remember the colours, sights and sounds of her life before the war. In the morning, the girl and her mother set out with hope and courage for a new life. This translated book reinforces immigration, war, courage and hope.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
A young girl is disappointed to receive a lemon tree from her Grandma for her birthday rather than the new robot she really wanted. She dutifully follows the instructions to take care of the tree and is rewarded with lemons! She sets up a lemonade stand and is able to buy what she really wants, with her own money.
Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland
A young child goes on a journey to discover where to find happiness. Sometimes it is near and other times far away. The child tries to chase, capture, and search for it and learns that you can always find it within when you feel like happiness has gone.
This translated book promotes discussions on self-awareness and self-management in the classroom.
You Matter by Christian Robinson
Watch unique and diverse characters working and playing together but who experience the world from their own and different perspectives.
Your Name Is a Song by J Thompkins-Bigelow
A young girl leaves school frustrated after a day of her classmates and teacher mispronouncing her name. On their walk home she tells her mother she doesn’t want to go back, who in turn tells her daughter “your name is a song.” She returns to school empowered and shares what she has learned.
Promotes themes of identity, respect, individuality, empowerment, love, confidence, and self-esteem.
Do you have any favourite picture books about happiness in your classroom or library? Let me know in the comments.