Books that Encourage Kids to Make a Difference
Inspire your kids to affect change in their community by reading these books.
Whether children have a gift for speaking, are hard workers, innovative thinkers, or natural friend-makers, most parents hope their kids will grow up to use their gifts to make a difference in the world in some small way. This might draw some to a more public calling while others will thrive in careers behind the scenes. In the meantime, they can read books with you about all the different ways to affect change.
Raise Your Hand
by Alice Paul Tapper; illustrated by Marta Kissi
(Penguin Workshop 2019)
On a fourth-grade field trip, Alice Paul Tapper noticed that most of the boys in her class raised their hands, while most of the girls stayed quiet, even when they knew the answer. The book tells the story of how Alice’s Girl Scout troop worked together to create the Raise Your Hand pledge and patch program, to encourage girls to be more confident about using their voices.
by Leah Tinari (Aladdin 2018)
Learn about the achievements of 24 American women—including sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Native American warrior Lozen, marine biologist Rachel Carson, and soccer player Abby Wambach—through powerful portraits and quotes. “I wanted my son, Mars, and other boys to know that these women could be role models or heroes for them,” says artist Leah Tinari in a letter to readers.
Ground Breaking Guys
by Stephanie True Peters and Shamel Washington
(Little, Brown and Company 2019)
This book features 40 diverse men who all made a difference by serving their communities, treating people with respect, and lifting others up. Including Fred Rogers, Bill Gates, Yo-Yo Ma, Jonas Salk, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and others, Ground Breaking Guys is meant to inspire others to do great things.
Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights
by Rob Sanders; illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 2018)
This book shows how people can take action to make a difference for causes they believe in. Simple, sparse text, such as “Make buttons. Make banners. Make bumper stickers too,” and “Educate. Encourage. Endure,” shows how people can stand up for something peacefully.
Carl and the Meaning of Life
by Deborah Freedman
(Penguin Young Readers 2019)
Carl the earthworm spends his days happily
tunneling in the dirt, until a rabbit asks him why he does it. Carl goes in search of an answer, and discovers that the world around him is profoundly impacted when he stops his regular earthworm work. He learns that everyone can make a difference by being themselves, no matter how small.
Monday is Wash Day
MaryAnn Sundby; illustrated by Tessa Blackham
(Ripple Grove Press 2016)
Helping with household chores is a way kids can make a difference and contribute to the needs of the family. Based on her own experiences growing up on a farm, Colorado author MaryAnn Sundby takes readers back to a time when a task like doing the laundry would take all day, and children were always expected to help.
When I Pray for You
by Matthew Paul Turner; illustrated by Kimberley Barnes
Before becoming a parent, author Matthew Paul Turner didn’t realize how often he would pray for his children, or how prayer would profoundly affect him. Written in verse, the book describes all the times a mother prays for her growing child, setting the example that praying for someone is another way to a make a difference.
Book experts and librarians also recommend:
- Understanding Politics & Government by Alex Frith, Rosie Hore, and Louie Stowell; illustrated by Kellan Stover
- Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee; illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre
- A Card for my Father by Samantha Thornhill; illustrated by Morgan Clement
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael Lopez
- Everything is Connected by Jason Gruhl; illustrated by Ignasi Font
- Si, Si Puede!/Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A. by Diana Cohn; illustrated by Francisco Delgado
- Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer
- This Is the Construction Worker by Laura Godwin; illustrated by Julian Hector
- Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds; illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani
- Don’t Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton; illustrated by Gianna Marino
- The Little Rabbit by Nicola Killen
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by E.B. Lewis
- Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich
- The Little Green Girl by Lisa Anchin
- Molly Mischief Saves the World by Adam Hargreaves
- Superheroes are Everywhere by Kamala Harris; illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe
- Love, Z by Jessie Sima
- The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs by Mark Sperring; illustrated by Maddie Frost
- My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison
- Never Satisfied by Dave Horowitz
- This Little Scientist by Joan Holub; illustrated by Daniel Roode
- Ping by Ani Castillo
- Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
- The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald
- Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara
- Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colon
- Jacob’s Room to Choose by Sarah and Ian Hoffman; illustrated by Chris Case
- Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai; illustrated by Kerascoet
- I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
- When I Pray for You by Matthew Paul Turner; illustrated by Kimberley Barnes