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6 Books to Read About When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Teach the importance of building resilience and adaptability to children so they can face whatever life brings.

Check out these books for serious, heartfelt, and humorous suggestions for how to handle situations that don’t go as originally planned—meant for moms and dads, too.


by Oge Mora (Little, Brown and Company, 2019)

Boulder Public Library staff recommend this story of Ava, who is excited to spend Saturday with her mom on the one day of the week she doesn’t work. They have it all planned: library time, new hairdos, a picnic, and seeing a one-night-only puppet show. One by one their plans are ruined, but Ava and her mom salvage the day by remembering it was special because it was time spent together.

The Blue House

by Phoebe Wahl (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2020)

Leo and his dad are crushed when the landlord sells their old blue house to a developer, and they have to move out. The two express their anger and sadness through music, stomping, screaming, and art, then finally find a way to make their new house feel like home. Recommended by the Denver Public Library children’s librarians.

Squirrel’s Sweater

by Laura Renauld; illustrated by Jennie Poh
(Beaming Books, 2021)

Squirrel is all ready for winter, except she’s misplaced her favorite sweater made by her grandma. When she finds it, it’s way too small. The other woodland friends try to help her fix the sweater, with no luck. In the end, Squirrel learns to adapt, and creates a memory pillow out of the sweater using items her friends gave her. The book includes instructions for a no-sew memory pillow craft.

I’m Gonna Push Through

by Jasmyn Wright; illustrated by Shannon Wright (Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2020)

Inspired by a mantra written for her third grade students, the author, now the founder of the Push Through organization, invites kids to announce their resilience, regardless of setbacks: What if it’s too tough? I’m gonna push through! … What if you’re not strong enough? That’s not true! The book includes brief profiles of public figures who pushed through, too.

How To Apologize

by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Candlewick Press, 2021)

This story teaches that everyone makes mistakes, and when you do, apologizing is the next step. Read through humorous examples of insincere apologies followed by a variety of ways to appropriately ask for forgiveness.

Chapter Two is Missing

by Josh Lieb; illustrated by Kevin Cornell
(Razorbill, 2019)

From the first page of this book, a little boy announces that chapter two is missing, followed by a search to get it back, with lots of other silly things that don’t go as planned along the way. Written by an Emmy-winning comedy writer and producer.

Librarians and book experts also recommend:

Saturday: Hachette Book Group. The Blue House, Chapter Two is Missing: Penguin Random House. Squirrel’s Sweater: 1517 Media. How To Apologize: Candlewick Press. I’m Gonna Push Through: Simon & Schuster. Background: Ajwad Creative/Getty Images.

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