Teaching self-esteem in the classroom is important because having positive self-esteem gives kids the confidence they need to face life’s challenges. Kids who value themselves are more likely to have positive relationships with others and feel confident, secure, and worthwhile. This is why it is so important to teach to kids. I use children’s books about self-esteem as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn. As you are reading, ask questions and engage the reader.
I often cover self-esteem in my lessons, I use this Self-Esteem Group Curriculum that includes everything you need to teach self-esteem in your classroom. I also use this Social-emotional learning: Self-awareness activities resource to reinforce the learning. Looking for more ideas on how to teach self-esteem in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching Confidence in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about self-esteem out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: Confidence is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego
A short summary of the book: Leonardo is a little boy who has had quite a few failures at school. He feels disappointed and sad. His parents help him realize that his superpower is his self-confidence. He changes his sad thoughts into positive affirmations like “I am loved!”, “I can choose!”, and “I am brave!”. These encouraging words help Leonardo overcome other challenging situations that come his way.
Why I like the book: This book helps students learn to believe in themselves. Students can relate to Leonardo as they see him learn to accept and love himself even through sadness. They see the ability to turn negative feelings and situations into positive ones.
The moral of the story: With self-confidence, you can face anything! You can turn your upsetting situations around for good with a positive mindset.
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Positivity; Caregiver Support; Superpowers
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Confidence is my Superpower on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
A short summary of the book: Camilla Cream’s favorite food is lima beans, but she never eats them because the kids at her school do not like them. Camilla Cream is so worried about what others think about her. She worries so much that she breaks out in a very bad case of stripes! Her parents, along with many others, try several different things to help her stripes go away for good, but nothing works until Camilla finds enough courage to be true to herself.
Why I like the book: The unique descriptions and illustrations are sure to keep children interested while reading this book. This story helps children see that not everyone will always like their choices, but the decision to be true to themselves is worth anything that may come their way.
The moral of the story: Don’t worry about what others think of you; choose to stay true to yourself!
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Peer Pressure; Worry; Identity; Bullying
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): A bad case of stripes on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
A short summary of the book: In Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Ralph teases Lucy for how she looks and the type of lunch she eats. One day, Ralph finds himself in a bad situation; he is stuck at the top of the monkey bars! Lucy wants to tell him how mean he is, but she decides to help Ralph when she realizes that he truly is afraid. Lucy overcomes her hurt feelings to be kind to her bully.
Why I like the book: This book touches on people’s differences, such as Lucy’s love for different types of foods, while highlighting the ways we are all the same on the inside with fears, the ability to choose kindness, and choosing to have courage.
The moral of the story: You can choose to be kind and courageous even when others don’t make this choice. Your example can help change the way others act.
Topics covered: Courage; Friendship; Bullying; Self-Esteem; Kindness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Spaghetti in a hot dog bun on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: How to be Comfortable in Your Own Feathers by Julia Cook
A short summary of the book: Bluebird and all of the other birds want to fly like Hummingbird, the most popular bird in their class. Hummingbird tells Bluebird that being thin is the trick to the beautiful fluttering she can do. She tells him to start to diet and work out to help achieve this goal. Bluebird takes these statements to heart and begins to develop unhealthy eating habits. His mom recognizes what is happening and begins to teach Bluebird about balance and being self-confident. The Bird Doc and the Food Voice Counselor help Bluebird to control the Food Voice living inside and learn to be comfortable in his own feathers.
Why I like the book: This book takes a creative approach to talking to children about body-image issues. All children can relate to Bluebird as they identify their own insecurities and learn how to be confident in themselves.
The moral of the story: Be confident in yourself and who you are!
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Body Image; Self-Talk; Insecurities; Caregiver Support
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): How to be comfortable in your own feathers on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
A short summary of the book: Molly Lou Melon is a spunky, short, clumsy little girl with a voice like a frog. She definitely looks and sounds different from the other children. Molly’s grandmother advises her to be proud and believe in herself. When Molly moves to a new school and is encountered by the school bully Ronald Durkin, she must remember her grandmother’s wise words. Molly is able to change all of her “flaws” into the most wonderful talents that even leave the bully amazed.
Why I like the book: Although seemingly very different, Molly is very relatable to children. They will easily be able to picture themselves in the story and follow along easily with the repetitive text. The illustrations in this book are an added bonus as they are full of silly, belly-laughing details.
The moral of the story: You can do anything you set your mind to if you make the most of your unique gifts.
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Bullying; Perseverance; Positivity; Life Changes
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Stand tall Molly Lou Melon on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis
A short summary of the book: Jamie Lee Curtis writes of the life of a boy and girl who tell about themselves as the story progresses. They talk about how they choose to like themselves in a variety of real-life good and bad situations like not running the fastest, making a card for a friend, and saying an incorrect answer in class. Even when they will be different from other people, they will choose to be true to themselves.
Why I like the book: This book helps teach children an important message. It uses rhyming words and many positive affirmations. This story format accompanied by the bright pictures by Laura Cornell are highly engaging for young readers.
The moral of the story: You can like yourself no matter what the day brings.
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Social-Emotional Learning; Positivity; Self-Empowerment
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): I’m gonna like me on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
A short summary of the book: Grace is a young African American girl who loves books. She loves to imagine things and act out the roles of characters as she reads. Her teacher shared that the class will be performing a play about Peter Pan, and Grace is so excited. At once, she sees herself as Peter Pan in her mind. Her classmates point out that she could never be Peter because she is a girl, and she has brown skin. Grace becomes discouraged by these statements and tells her mom and grandmother. Her grandmother encourages her to be herself and do what she puts her mind to. She sets out on a plan to help Grace believe in herself again. In the end, Grace ends up playing a fantastic Peter Pan in the school play.
Why I like the book: This book highlights the impact of family support as one pursues their dreams. The watercolor illustrations also provide realistic, emotional depictions of the characters throughout the story.
The moral of the story: You can be anything you set your mind to!
Topics covered: Self-esteem; Confidence; Family Support; Diversity; Social Justice
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazing Grace on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
A short summary of the book: The Proudest Blue is about two sisters on the first day of school. Faizah proudly wears her new bookbag and light-up shoes while her older sister Asiya wears a beautiful blue hijab for the first time. Unfortunately, not everyone that day sees Asiya’s hijab as stunning as Faizah does. Hurtful words are said about it. In spite of these confusing words, Faizah continues to express the beauty of her sister’s hijab and finds her strength from within.
Why I like the book: The author of this book, Ibtihaj Muhammad, was the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab during the Olympics in the 2016 summer games. She won a bronze medal as a member of the US Fencing team that year. Ibtihaj is a leader for girls playing sports and confidently expresses her culture while doing so.
The moral of the story: You should be confident in who you are and what you believe in even if it’s different from what others think.
Topics covered: Confidence; Social Justice; Diversity; Bullying
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The proudest blue on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Smart Cookie by Jory John
A short summary of the book: The story is about Cookie who grows up never feeling smart. She is afraid to talk in class because she doesn’t have the best grades but also is afraid to ask for help when she needs it. Her teacher, Ms. Biscotti creates a class assignment that requires the students to create something original; Cookie eventually writes a poem. She realizes that everyone is smart in their own ways and can be proud of their differences.
Why I like the book: This book shows children that everyone has different abilities but when finding and using their own strengths, they are able to accomplish more! This story also helps children see that they should ask for help when they are struggling.
The moral of the story: Everyone is good at something; find what makes you shine!
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Creativity; Growth Mindset
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The smart cookie on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Spoon by Amy Rosenthal
A short summary of the book: Spoon is usually a happy utensil, but recently he has felt like being a spoon just isn’t exciting anymore. He begins to think that life would be so much better and more exciting if he could only do the fun things that Fork, Knife, and the Chopsticks can do. Spoon’s mama helps him realize that he can do great things that no one else can do like diving headfirst into a delicious bowl of ice cream. He learns to love himself for who he is.
Why I like the book: This story shows children that it is normal to feel jealous of others but reminds them to acknowledge their own strengths and unique qualities. It also encourages the reader to highlight strengths seen in others to build them up when they may be feeling sad.
The moral of the story: Celebrate what makes YOU special!
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Envy; Encouragement; Caregiver Support
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Spoon on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
A short summary of the book: Thelma the Unicorn is about an ordinary pony who wishes with all her heart to be a Unicorn. After pretending to be something she was not, Thelma realizes that she was happier as her ordinary, sparkle-free self.
Why I like the book: Let’s face it, kids love Unicorns! That automatically gets them interested in the story. Plus Thelma is very relatable to kids, who always want to be someone else. I love that Thelma realizes she is amazing just the way she is and does not have to be someone else. Plus it pairs great with my activity: Unique Unicorn!
The moral of the story: Love who you are!
Topics covered: Self-Confidence; Envy; Self-Esteem
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Thelma the Unicorn on Amazon
Resources about Self-esteem
Pair your favorite children’s books about self-esteem with these SEL activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Self-Esteem Group Curriculum that includes everything you need to teach self-esteem in your classroom or in small groups for counseling. The picture below shows the Unique Unicorn activity which teaches kids to identify what makes them special and unique. Kids love the unicorn theme, it also pairs great with the book: Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey.
Social-emotional learning: Self-awareness Curriculum is a fantastic resource! It covers the SEL competency for Self-awareness which includes: identifying emotions, self-perception, recognizing strengths, self-confidence, and self-efficacy. This resource is also an easy print and go or digital learning tool.
Find Books on Different Topics
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