Top Book Picks for Inspiring Courage

In a sometimes scary world, picture books can help inspire courage. Here are some of my favourites for all kinds of fears: whether you’re afraid of the dark or afraid of making mistakes, whether you need to face a big, scary thing or you’re trying to be brave enough for a fun challenge, these books will cheer you along as you take courage.

Brave Irene by William Steig

Irene Bobbin’s brave adventure will inspire readers to press on through challenges – in her case, whipping wind and a fierce snowstorm. Her determination to deliver her mother’s handmade gown is inspiring and will remind you to keep going.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Don’t we all want a brave friend who can help us when we’re scared? Swimmy shows his friends how to be brave despite the scariest of situations.

Courage by Bernard Waber

Waber explores all kinds of courage in this beautiful book – “awesome kinds. And everyday kinds.” From firefighters rushing into a burning building to being the first to say sorry, this story will spark lots of conversations of what it means to have courage.

Max the Brave by Ed Vere

Max is a fearless, brave kitten who valiantly chases mice. Just one problem? He doesn’t know what a mouse looks like. Through a fun, adventurous story, Max learns he maybe doesn’t have to be brave all the time after all.

If I Never Forever Endeavor by Holly Meade

Is it better for this young bird to stay safe and cozy in his nest, or to give his wings a try? Children who can be hesitant to try new things will love to hear what he decides and all the beauty he finds when he’s brave.

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford

This book powerfully celebrates Ruby’s story of courage, faith, and hope as the first black child to attend an all-white school in the segregated south. Learn about Ruby’s family, the judge’s ruling to integrate students, and what happened after her historic first day of school.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

This classic book follows Ferdinand the bull, who would rather smell flowers than fight like the other bulls. This book will leave you brave enough to be yourself, no matter what others think. Just like Ferdinand.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

“Laszlo was afraid of the dark.” The dark mostly lives in his basement, but one night, it’s right in his room. Follow along as Laszlo learns to take charge and overcome his fears.

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This clever story unfolds with one mistake after another. Children (and grownups!) afraid of making mistakes will be encouraged to see how imperfection is inspiring.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari has finished his swim lessons, passed his swim test, and watched his other friends dive into the pool. Now that it’s his turn, he’s not so sure. The tender moments between father and son will have you rooting for Jabari to take the leap (and will encourage you to take leaps of your own).

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

101 thoughts that help inspire faith, develop courage, and make your heart sing. These vignettes aren’t meant to be read all at once – just once a day to help remind you of God’s love for you, how you can love him, and of things that are true.

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

The safest place for the littlest ones to process fears is in a parent’s lap.  Curl up together for this retelling of Psalm 23, reminding you that your shepherd knows where you are and that he is with you.

How about you? Do you have any book recommendations to add? I’d love to hear what books stir up courage for you. Share with me on Instagram.


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