Picture Books about Reflection and Self-Awareness

Picture Books about Reflection and Self-Awareness

Discover picture books about reflection, focussing on giving thoughtful consideration to our actions, and analysing personal strengths and weaknesses.

Picture Books about Reflection and Self-Awareness

Why Read Picture Books About Reflection?

According to the IBO, reflective students “thoughtfully consider the world and [their] own ideas and experience. [They] work to understand [their] strengths and weaknesses in order to support [their] learning and personal development.”

Reflection helps your students consider their actions, behaviour and learning. Using picture books about reflection lets your students see characters analysing personal strengths and weaknesses, including interpersonal skills and academic growth. Encouraging your students to reflect promotes an attitude of lifelong learning. Other benefits include:

  • understanding why they make the choices they do.
  • improving decision-making abilities.
  • letting go of negative thoughts and feelings.
  • seeing the big picture rather than focusing on trivial details.
  • developing a growth mindset.
  • developing strategies to overcome challenges.
  • creating and maintaining positive relationships.
  • focusing on the present rather than worrying about what has already happened and what may happen in the future.

Here are a few questions you can ask your students to get them started on their self-reflection:

  • How do you think other people see you? Do you think it is the same as you see yourself?
  • Do I interact with other people in positive ways? 
  • In what ways could you improve your social interactions?
  • Think about the ways you work? Are there any improvements you could make?

Picture Books about Being Reflective

Reflective characteristics reveal themselves at different times, depending on a child’s self-awareness, age, and experiences. In these picture books about reflection, your students can learn from characters who:

  • recognise and reflect on strengths and weaknesses.
  • assess the actions to take in a given situation.
  • recognise the feelings and needs of others.
  • understand how our actions affect people and the world around us.
  • learn from mistakes and make changes.
  • recognise the outcome of reflection is change.
  • understand learning never ends.
  • communicate and share feedback and ideas.
  • see constructive feedback as a positive process.

Some characters show a more unreflective attitude, including:

  • not take on board other people’s opinions.
  • struggling to admit if they are wrong.
  • unwilling to change beliefs and behaviour.
  • being impulsive rather than taking the time to think things through.
  • not seeing the need to evaluate their actions.
  • being ignorant of how their actions affect others.
  • refusing or doesn’t ask for help.
  • being unapologetic or insincere when apologising.

Questions to Use With Picture Books about Reflection

  • How did [character] change throughout the book?
  • Did [character] consider how their actions or behaviour would affect others? How could they act more positively?
  • What were [character’s] strengths and weaknesses?
  • Did [character] reflect on the consequences of their actions? Would they have acted differently?
  • What lesson did [character] learn? Do you think they have better self-awareness?
  • How could [character] reflect on their behaviour and improve?
  • What previous knowledge did [character] use in the story? How did it help them?
  • How did [character] deal with feeling [scared, anxious, etc.]?
  • What was the most important or relevant moment in the story? Why?
  • What do you think [character] learnt about themselves by the end of the book? How do you think they will use this knowledge in the future?
  • What factors prevented [character] from being successful?
  • Explain how [character] could have done things differently for a better outcome?
  • Is there anything [character] should do differently next time? Why?

FREE Learner Profile Graphic Organizers

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Picture Books about Reflection and Self-Awareness

Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona

From her home in the Dominican Republic, Anita watches dragons fly high above her. She doesn’t let them scare her, but one day she finds she will have to travel on one of them, an aeroplane, to begin a new life in “a distant land far, far away”.

Promotes immigration, thinkers, self-reflection and courage.

Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe

Avocado is feeling fine until a customer asks if it is a fruit or vegetable. Avocado has no idea how to respond and the question just won’t go away.

Reinforces asking questions, a sense of identity and being positive in your own skin.

The Bad Seed by Jory John

When a “bad seed’ overhears negative comments he decides to change his ways. He doesn’t change his behaviour overnight but takes it one day at a time.

Promotes a growth mindset, self-management, self-awareness and social awareness.

Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland

A loving bear hugs every living thing he comes across, particularly trees. When he comes across a man ready to chop down the oldest, most beautiful tree. Bear finds the perfect solution to stop the destruction.

Reinforces themes of nature, social awareness, problem-solving and enthusiasm.

Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme

Translated from French, Big Wolf & Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme is a touching book about the courage to make new friendships, adaptability, and open-mindedness.

Bob The Artist by Marion Deuchars

Bob is made fun of because of his skinny legs. His lack of self-esteem leaves him deflated until he visits an art gallery and gets inspired!

Promotes a growth mindset, relationship skills, creativity and appreciation.

Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt

A bug is sucked into a vacuum bag as it flies around a house. It goes through the five stages of grief as it tries to come to terms with its situation. Helps children understand the different emotions involved in unexpected and disappointing events.

Read to discuss self-management, overcoming adversity, acceptance, self-reflection and different perspectives.

Butterfly Brain by Laura Dockrill

Gus doesn’t listen to adults and after being told not to lean back in his chair, he falls and cracks his head. Out of the crack escapes memories of his mother. He realises he has been locking away his emotions about his mother’s death.

Read to discuss memories, grief, fears, self-reflection, love, and self-management.

First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch

Two boys from rival Kenyan tribes realise they have more in common than they thought when they work together to save a baby.

Reinforces themes of self-awareness, relationship skills, and social awareness.

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, to be who we are, not experience fear and be protected and safe. 

Use to discuss social justice, civil rights, human rights, hope, and empathy.

Garmann's Summer by Stian Hole

As Garmann’s summer comes to an end he experiences anxiety about starting school. He talks with his family and discovers he is not the only one who has to face their fears.

Reinforces themes of anxiety, confidence, courage, fears and risk-taker.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett

Beatrice Bottomwell has never, ever made a mistake. Until she makes one huge mistake in front of everyone. Will Beatrice realise it is okay to make mistakes and have more fun at the same time?

Reinforces themes of perfectionism, a growth mindset and a balanced life.

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.

Ish by Peter Reynolds

This is the first of two books about reflection by Peter Reynolds. In Ish, Ramon loves to draw. It is what he does. When his brother makes a negative comment on his drawing, Ramon loses his passion for drawing. It takes his little sister to show Ramon that there are more important things than being perfect.

Read to discuss appreciation, being reflective, and positivity.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

Sid invents an imaginary friend called Kevin to take the blame for his mischievous behaviour. But with Kevin’s help, Sid realises it is best to be honest and he apologises for his past behaviour.

Promotes forgiveness, honesty and being reflective.

Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup

Kindness 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 separations. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through an act of kindness.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

This is the first of two books about reflection by Mo Willems. Leonardo the Terrible Monster is not very scary. In fact, he is cute! No matter how hard he tries he can’t scare anyone, even a nervous boy called Sam. It is Sam that teaches Leonardo being a good friend is more important than trying to be mean.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

A lion visits a library every day, to the delight of the children. But the lion breaks the noise rules when it roars to help the head librarian in an emergency. What will happen to the lion now?

Promotes integrity, being principled, respect, reflection and the joy of reading.

Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana

Maia is devastated when her best friend, Nico, moves away. After some time she makes new friends, but worries she has no more room for Nico. When he returns she finds there will always be room in her heart for Nico.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly loves school, her teacher, and her purple plastic purse. When her teacher, Mr Slinger, confiscates the purse she plans her revenge. She draws a mean picture of Mr Slinger but soon feels remorse and sets out to make amends.

Promotes self-management, forgiveness, integrity, relationship skills and reflection.

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear

A family are obsessed with making lists, from the ordinary to the unusual, except on Sundays which are listless. When an unannounced visitor arrives, the family continue writing their lists except for the youngest who takes a risk and embraces the unexpected.

Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry by Samantha Berger

Martha does not apologise, ever. She soon learns that if she wants others to cooperate with her, she must apologise for her behaviour.

Promotes themes of balance, cooperation, forgiveness, honesty, manners and reflection.

Masai and I by Virginia Kroll

At school, Linda learns about the Masai people who live in East Africa. She wonders what her life would be like if she were a Masai. “Would I live in an apartment building the way I do now? Would I have a pet hamster of a new pair of sneakers? What would my family be like if I were Masai?”

Use to promote making connections, perspectives, empathy, and open-mindedness.