Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Inspirational books for elementary students can foster those dreams by inspiring young readers to see opportunity, express themselves, set goals, and accept challenges that will accentuate their talents and positively impact those around them.

There are dozens of terrific reads designed to encourage young readers—to help them take the right path in their community or spur them to turn their thoughts into creative actions. Such inspiration can manifest itself in positive social behaviors (interactions as basic as saying “please” and “thank you”), persistence in the face of failure, or the tangible results of taking an idea and running with it.

We’ve selected five books sure to cultivate the inspirational process with words, illustrations, and a touch of whimsy that younger elementary-age students will appreciate. All are available through major online book sellers. They may also be available at your local library!

Incredible You! 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through

By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Kristina Tracy

Renown for his bestsellers in the field of self-development, Dr. Wayne Dyer co-authored  this rhyming book to help kids reach their potential by finding happiness through positive thinking. Along the way, Dyer and co-author Kristina Tracy implore kids to “find what you love” and compare the heart to a magic cookie jar. “If you want it in your heart, it will come to you.”

Beautifully illustrated by Melanie Siegel, Incredible You! goes beyond positive reinforcement, offering questions for parents to discuss with children to individualize the experience.

Dyer and  Tracy also combined on the sequel: Unstoppable Me! 10 Ways to Soar Through Life, which encourages children to make the most of their dreams.

Giraffes Can’t Dance

By Giles Andreae

Not everyone dances the same way in life. Gerald the giraffe is too gawky to be graceful.  As author Giles Andreae writes: “He was very good at standing still and munching shoots off trees; but when he tried to run around, he buckled at the knees.”

But just as the warthogs can waltz, chimps can cha-cha, and the rhinos can rock, Gerald—with the help of a compassionate cricket that helps him find the right song—overcomes his frustrations and shrugs off the snickering of the other jungle beasts.

Driven by the whimsical illustrations of  Guy Parker-Rees, Giraffes Can’t Dance tangos with humor to deliver the message of individuality and the importance of self-esteem: “Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.”

A terrific read-along book that rhymes for ages four to eight. Other Andreae/Parker-Rees collaborations to consider include K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo and The Chimpanzees of Happytown.

What Do You Do With an Idea?

By Kobi Yamada

Utilizing the metaphor of an egg that slowly cracks to unveil a new wonder, a young boy nurtures his idea into something special.

The boy’s idea doesn’t bear fruit immediately. In fact, it requires a lot of attention. Some people think it’s a little crazy. Others think the young boy should give up—at least until it cracks wide open, sprouts wings and takes flight.

Winner of the Publishers Golden Book Award, Kobi Yomada’s What Do You Do With an Idea? is about the importance of creativity and the ability to alter the world with new thought. Nicely illustrated by Mae Besom.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids 

By Carol McCloud

Named one of the top ten Most Inspirational Children’s Books by the Children’s Book Guide in 2012, Carol McCloud’s work has earned numerous other awards including Best Children’s Picture Book by Behavioral Mom’s Choice Awards, Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, DIY Book Festival Awards, and Books-and-Authors.net Awards.

The theme of Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: ‘Tis better to fill a bucket (yours and others) with good deeds, smiles, and expressions of love than to be a “Bucket Dipper”—like a bully. Best of all, bucket-filling doesn’t cost a dime and, when you fill someone else’s bucket, you’re really filling yours at the same time.

Illustrated by David Messing, it’s a companion book to Fill a Bucket, Will You Fill my Bucket? and Bucket Filling From A to Z—an alphabetical look at the keys to being happy.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

By Andrea Beaty

Young readers, especially girls, will be inspired by Rosie, who takes after her  great-great aunt and namesake, Rosie the Riveter of World War II fame.

Constructing great inventions under her bed, Rosie Revere, Engineer, perseveres and overcomes her initial fears of failure and leaves the reader with the message: “We can do it.”

Ideal for young readers ages three to seven—and their parents—author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts reprise the formula that made their book Iggy Peck, Architect a huge success.

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