When my daughter stepped off the bus, I could immediately tell by the pout of her lips and the little wrinkle between her eyebrows that something was wrong.
She walked to the front door looking defeated.
After a big hug and a little stroking of her hair, she was ready to launch into the epic tale of a fight with her friend. Her story was rife with drama, lies, and a heartbreak-fueled vow to never speak to the girl again.
I listened as she told her story and watched as she tried not to cry. My momma heart ached for her.
The fixer in me wanted to march right to my phone and call up the other girl’s mother to hash it all out. To explain the misunderstandings and put a Band-Aid on the emotional booboo.
But what purpose would that serve (except, of course, for making me feel better and temporarily soothing her pain)?
My daughters need to learn how to get back up when they’re knocked down—and they need to learn how to do it themselves.
As parents, we don’t want our babies to suffer heartbreak or disappointment. We just want them to be happy. But life is full of frustration and failures. That’s how we learn. And if we don’t allow our children to bounce back on their own, we’re doing them a grave disservice.
One of the ways we can help them is by exposing them to as many stories of resilience as we can. I wrote an in-depth article for A Fine Parent on the topic (including the story above) called 20 Awesome Children’s Books About Resilience (Sorted by Age). You should most definitely head over there to check it out (it includes board books through YA novels). When you’re done, come on back to check out the five bonus picture books I included below.
Children’s Books That Teach Resilience
Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland by Sujean Rim
Chee-Kee and his family move to a new land where they are very different from all of the other bears. From the way he looks to the foods he eats, Chee-Kee doesn’t quite fit in. But one day, when some other bears are in a jam, Chee-Kee’s differences are what make him able to save the day.
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
Elephant and Piggie are having a fun time playing catch when a little snake comes along and asks if he can join them. Unsure how to make the game work when the snake has no arms, the trio goes through trial and error to figure out a way they can all play catch together.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
After his entire school of fish was swallowed by a tuna, Swimmy wandered the ocean scared and alone. Noticing all of the beautiful wonders in the ocean he became happy again and eventually stumbled upon a school of fish that was just like his own. He wanted to play and explore with the other fish, but they were afraid of being eaten. Swimmy thought and thought until he figured out a way they could work together to overcome danger.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A little girl decides to make the most magnificent thing. When it doesn’t turn out quite right, she tinkers with it again and again but it’s just not what she had in mind. The girl gets angry and decides to quit. When her canine assistant suggests a walk, the girl clears her head and starts to think about the thing she made a little bit differently. It might not be magnificent yet, but some of the parts are just right. With a little bit more work, it becomes magnificent.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
Princess Violetta’s father taught her how to be a knight because he knew no other way. Teased by her brothers because she was small and not as strong, she started training secretly and learned how to be her own kind of knight. When the king decided to hold a jousting tournament with the victor winning her hand in marriage, Violetta wasn’t about to sit back and have her future decided for her. Instead, she disguised herself as Sir No-Name and entered the joust herself.
If you have any other children’s books that teach resilience to add to the list, please leave them in the comments! We are always on the prowl for new books.