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books to make a difference
Raise Your Hand photo courtesy Penguin Random House; Limitless photo courtesy Simon & Schuster; Ground Breaking Guys photo courtesy Little, Brown and Company; Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights photo courtesy Simon & Schuster; Carl and the Meaning of Life photo courtesy Penguin Random House; Monday is Wash Day photo courtesy Ripple Grove Press

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
(WaterBrook 2019)

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.

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