As we embark on the new year, people often set resolutions to change or improve their lives. These children’s books encourage readers to draw upon inner strength and recognize the uniqueness of personal gifts and talents. The seeds of change are planted within us.

“Happy Dreamer” by Peter H. Reynolds, 2017, Orchard Books, ages 4-8.

Dreams are creative ideas that live in our minds, that is until we bring them to life through our actions. The creative chaos of our dreams can light up our lives or leave us feeling boxed into a corner. “Happy Dreamer” encourages readers to explore their dreams for their life and their world and to recognize that dreams are unique to the dreamer. Author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and his brother, Paul, founded FableVision with the mission of promoting social change through the creation of stories that impact people’s thinking.

“Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr, 2016, Little, Brown, ages 4-8.

Author Todd Parr felt like he did not fit in while growing up. As he grew older, he realized it’s easier and more fun to just be himself. A clear message of self-acceptance is woven through “Be Who You Are” through simple, yet powerful statements and bold illustrations. Bright colors and child-like drawings will catch the attention of our youngest readers, but also entertain readers who are a bit older.

“The Lion Inside” by Rachel Bright, 2015, Scholastic Press, ages 4-7.

A tiny mouse in the jungle longs to be noticed, so he seeks advice from the lion about learning to roar. This unlikely friendship leads to the conclusion that inside each of us is the meekness of a mouse and the roar of a lion, and “if you want things to change, you have to change you.” Written in rhyme, the clever illustrations present the exaggerated personality of the animal characters in a humorous, yet purposeful way.

“Ben Draws Trouble” by Matt Davies, 2015, Roaring Book Press, ages 4-7.

Ben loves to draw. His pencil, paper, and imagination provide his mind with an escape and can liven up math class, make his writing assignments more interesting, and add comic personality to his friends and teachers. But when Ben’s sketchbook turns up missing, he panics. Luckily a resourceful teacher recognized Ben’s talent and channels it in a positive direction. Author and illustrator Matt Davies is Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist.

“Quiet Power: The Strengths of Introverts” by Susan Cain, Dial Books, ages 10 and up.

Quiet people are often mistaken for being shy, bored, or judgmental. Author Susan Cain sets out to dispel these myths by describing the inner strength and leadership potential of people who tend to be introverts. Cain has authored the New York Time bestseller for adults, “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, given a very popular TED Talk on the same subject, available online, and is the cofounder of the Quiet Revolution. In this companion book for kids and teens, readers will explore the ways introverts can harness their natural tendencies for success in the classroom, as an athlete, and in relationships with friends and family.

Image created by the author, Elizabeth Dobler.