Teaching positive thinking is important because studies show it leads to lower rates of depression, increased work productivity, and better relationships and social life. I use children’s books about positive thinking 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.
I often cover positive thinking in my lessons. I use this Lemons into Lemonade Positive Thinking Lesson to encourage positive thinking, check out this FREE sample of it. I also use Flip the Thought flop positive thinking lesson which covers changing thoughts from negative to positive. This resource is an easy print and go or digital learning tool. Looking for more ideas on how to teach positive thoughts in the classroom? Check out this blog post on Teaching about Growth Mindset in the Classroom. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about positive thinking out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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Title of Book and Author: The Whatifs by Zoe Persico
A short summary of the book: Cora is a young girl who struggles with lots of “WhatIf” questions. She feels full of worry. Her WhatIfs seem to creep up on her and fill her mind with doubts. As Cora begins to prepare for her piano recital, she experiences many anxious feelings. Throughout the story, Cora learns ways to overcome anxiety and replace her worried thoughts with positive ones.
Why I like the book: This picture book helps normalize feeling of anxiety for students. The illustrations shown help students understand the different emotions Cora feels as she experiences anxiety and provide ample opportunities for discussion about growth mindset and emotions.
The moral of the story: Anxious thoughts can be changed into positive thoughts.
Topics covered: Anxiety; Doubts; Positivity; Hopefulness; Growth Mindset
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Whatifs on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Catching Thoughts by Bonnie Clark
A short summary of the book: A little girl has negative thoughts that just will not leave her mind. She tries and tries, but it always seems like these thoughts just keep hanging on. Eventually, the girl stares these unwelcome thoughts right in the face and says hi. After confronting her negative thoughts, she begins to be able to notice the positive thoughts and beauty that surround her.
Why I like the book: The illustrations by Summer Macon help students visualize releasing their negative thoughts and capturing positive ones. It is helpful for students to see that they have the power to choose thoughts that help them feel calm and happy.
The moral of the story: You can fill your mind with whatever type of thoughts you choose.
Topics covered: Negative Thoughts; Positivity; Frustration; Discouragement; Mindfulness
Title of Book and Author: Spin by Rebecca Janni
A short summary of the book: In Spin, the reader follows a young girl as she rides her bike along many hills and valleys. She faces several challenges along the way. She becomes tired and needs to rest. She ultimately chooses to persevere and accomplish her goal. She sees that the hills are not as steep and the valleys are not as low as they appear to be from a distance.
Why I like the book: The inspirational and lyrical text found in this book highlights that the girl is able to continue on even when the ride becomes difficult. This is an easy and quick read to help teach determination and perseverance to little ones.
The moral of the story: You can accomplish any goal as long as you don’t give up!
Topics covered: Perseverance; Determination; Growth Mindset; Persistence
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Spin on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Preston’s positive thoughts by Jenelle French
A short summary of the book: Preston is having a rough day because of some negative thoughts. He thinks he is horrible at soccer when he’s at P.E. and then he makes a kick and misses the goal. In class, he thinks he’s not good at math during a quiz and is unable to finish because of these negative thoughts. Preston starts thinking about his thoughts and realizes every time he thought he couldn’t do something, he ended up struggling with it. My thoughts affected my feelings, and my feelings affected my actions.
Preston thought maybe he was not actually bad at these things, but his thoughts lead him to be bad at them. The next day, he did something different. During art class, the teacher explains a new activity and Preston starts to feel nervous about it. He says to himself “I am smart, and I can do hard things.” He ends up doing great. Same thing happens when he has a reading test, he thinks to himself “I am a good test taker” and ends up doing well. Preston learns that by changing his thoughts, he can change the outcome of his day.
Why I like the book: The illustrations are beautiful and the message is one that can be used in every classroom and home.
The moral of the story: Changing your thoughts can change the outcome of your entire day.
Topics covered: Positive thoughts; Optimism; Feelings; Growth Mindset
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Preston’s Positive Thoughts on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Awfulizer by Kristin Maher
A short summary of the book: The main character of this story is a boy named James. His life changes when he meets a strange monster named The Awfulizer. The Awfulizer follows James everywhere and constantly reminds him of all of the things he has ever done wrong. As James listens to the monster more and more, he begins to believe his lies. James begins to change as a result, but thankfully his parents notice the change in James’s behavior. His parents sit down to talk to James about his feelings, and James tells them about The Awfulizer. James’s mom shares that she too has dealt with this monster, and she tells James about the Shame Game. His dad shares ideas about how James can tune out The Awfulizer like talking to people he can trust. James can become The Awesomizer when he uses these strategies and will always win against The Awfulizer when he comes James’s way!
Why I like the book: This book addresses an emotion that is not often discussed with children. Kristin Maher helps children understand shame by depicting it as a monster with a name. She also helps children by teaching them strategies to deal with this emotion.
The moral of the story: Shame is an emotion with great power but can be conquered with the right help!
Topics covered: Self-worth; Shame; Negative Thoughts; Unmet Expectations
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Awfulizer on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean
A short summary of the book: Pete the Cat feels grumpy. He has never ever felt this way before. Pete encounters Grumpy Toad who was ALWAYS grumpy, but not today. Grumpy Toad shares his cool sunglasses with Pete, and Pete begins to see things in a whole new light! Another friend helps Pete understand that he doesn’t need magic glasses to have an awesome day because that power is always inside him.
Why I like the book: The fun illustrations found in Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses help keep children engaged as they learn about shifting mindsets. This book provides opportunities for discussion about the power of friendship and choosing positive thoughts even when you’re feeling grumpy.
The moral of the story: Just like Pete, you have the power to transform your day for good!
Topics covered: Negativity; Positivity; Growth Mindset; Friendship; Encouragement
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack
A short summary of the book: In this book, Jeff Mack uses only four words to show the different mindsets of two friends, Rabbit and Mouse. The story follows along as Rabbit and Mouse go on an adventure together. Rabbit views the different experiences of the day positively while his friend Mouse tends to view things more negatively.
Why I like the book: Children are able to easily identify emotions through the clear facial expressions and events illustrated in this book. The differing mindsets of the characters allows for great discussion about negative and positive outlooks on life.
The moral of the story: A positive outlook can help make any situation better.
Topics covered: Friendship; Positivity; Negativity; Optimism; Pessimism
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Good News Bad News on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: The Magic is Inside You: Positive Thinking for Confident Children by Cathy Domoney
A short summary of the book: Madeleine is a little girl who has lots of negative thoughts. Throughout this story, Madeline’s mom guides her as she has the opportunity to choose between listening to her “good voice” or “bad voice”. She eventually learns to regain power over her mind and establish positive self-talk.
Why I like the book: This relatable story book helps children identify the different types of thoughts they have and turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Cathy Domoney empowers parents and adults with strategies to help children develop positive growth mindsets and confidence.
The moral of the story: We can have power over our thoughts and choose positivity!
Topics covered: Positive Thinking; Negative Self-Talk; Mindfulness; Growth Mindset; Confidence; Self-Esteem
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): The Magic is Inside You on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Positive Ninja by Mary Nihn
A short summary of the book: Positive Ninja is the third book in the “Ninja Life Hacks” series by Mary Nihn. It is about a little girl ninja who is happy and optimistic, but she wasn’t always that way. Positive Ninja used to struggle with negative thoughts. After the advice from a kind ninja friend, she learned to let go of her negative thoughts and think positively. Her life was changed forever!
Why I like the book: This story is a great example of the impact children can have on their friends. It is also helpful for children to see that there is hope for changing their mindsets if they feel stuck in negativity.
The moral of the story: You can choose to let your negativity go!
Topics covered: Mindfulness; Positivity; Managing Negative Emotions; Friendship
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Positive Ninja on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: A Little SPOT of Optimism: A Story about Managing Thoughts and Growth Mindset by Diane Alber
A short summary of the book: In this story, Diane Alber uses a little spot to teach children how to turn their sadness and frowns into happiness and smiles. Growth mindset is modeled through the story as the little spot walks through realistic situations like making bad grades or falling off of a bike and changing the way these situations are seen and handled. The little spot shows children strategies to use when negative thoughts creep into their minds so that they can grow and become confident in themselves.
Why I like the book: A Little SPOT of Optimism: A Story about Managing Thoughts and Growth Mindset gives children and adults realistic steps to take to shift their mindsets from thoughts of negativity to ones of positivity. Many real life examples help children stay engaged as they read or listen to this book.
The moral of the story: Practicing optimism is worth doing.
Topics covered: Growth mindset; Managing Thoughts; Optimism; Negativity
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): A little spot of Optimism on Amazon
Resources about Positive Thinking
Pair your favorite children’s books about positive thinking with these SEL activities to make the perfect classroom lessons. I use this Lemons into Lemonade Positive Thinking Lesson to encourage positive thinking, check out this FREE sample of it pictured below.
Flip the Thought flop positive thinking lesson is a fantastic resource! It covers changing thoughts from negative to positive. This resource is an easy print and go or digital learning tool.
The best way to teach kids about positive thinking is to teach them how to recognize and change negative thinking. This activity below teaches how to recognize and change Automatic Negative Thoughts and is one of my most popular resources.
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