Being a kid isn’t always easy: Along with the exciting changes of growing up are everyday embarrassments including bad dreams or a case of lice—not to mention the big life changes of getting a new sibling or moving to a different town. Fortunately, there’s a picture book that can help kids with all of these. Whether your child is competing with a classmate or tripping over his or her feet, these reads will help you take on those troubles together.
Mercer Mayer‘s classic bedtime story has a little boy suiting up with helmet and pop gun to face the nightmare in his closet—only to frighten the monster into tears! It’s an ideal way to learn that, often, the things that scare us are often terrified of us, too.
Being a copycat
Hugo the hippo is practicing his one-of-a-kind swim routine when Bella the bird starts copying him. She wants to do something cool like he is, but he’s upset because her mimicry makes him think he’s no longer special. However, he soon realizes that, together, they make a completely unique synchronized swimming duo.
Parents and kids alike are understandably self-conscious about dealing with head lice, but David Shannon‘s book will help both parties laugh at their predicament. The trick is in the bold illustrations and clever wordplay: In addition to poking fun at our denial of the situation, Shannon provides “nitpicking” insights into these “lousy” bugs.
This picture book from the author of The Phantom Tollbooth tackles the issues of moving and of finding new friends. When a young boy explores his new neighborhood for the first time, he immediately starts calling for his “best friend” named Neville. Soon all of his new neighbors have joined in, their cries of “Neville!” growing louder and louder. Their enthusiasm inspires the boy to reveal that he is Neville—and now he has a bunch of new friends.
5. Clumsy Crab
It’s not difficult for kids to identify with Nipper, who’s embarrassed by his huge claws while playing with his deep-sea friends. When he accidentally pops bubble wrap and shatters a shell, Nipper wishes he could have tentacles like Octopus or fins like Turtle. But when Octopus gets stuck in seaweed during hide-and-seek, Nipper is the only one who can save him.
Chamelia is used to being the star of the schoolyard, but suddenly it’s new kid Cooper who commands all of her classmates’ attention. Chamelia’s attempts to sabotage his show-and-tell presentation make her realize that it’s not all about her, and that other people have equally interesting stories to share.
Bad table manners
Through Jane Yolen‘s poetry and Mark Teague‘s illustrations, kids will recognize their own sloppy dinner table behavior: picking at food, shoving aside dirty dishes for others to clean up, leaving the table before they’re excused. As the dinosaurs learn how to behave during a nice meal, so will your little ones.
Hearing “no” all the time
Little Sammy gets easily frustrated when his requests for ice cream and a new pet are shot down. Rather than turn on the waterworks, however, he learns how to negotiate with his mom by being rational, managing expectations, and accepting that he’ll have to settle sometimes. The book even has a glossary in the back to aid kids in their own negotiations.
This classic book perfectly encapsulates a little kid’s fear that the arrival of a new sibling will change everything. Once baby Gloria is born, Frances feels as if living with her parents isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be. She packs a bag and runs away… to under the dining room table. But, once she hears her mom and dad talking about how much they miss her, she realizes that the thing to do is to come home and be a proper big sister to Gloria.
Death of a pet
When a small boy’s beloved cat Barney passes away, his mother suggests that he think up 10 good things about Barney. But, the boy can come up with only nine memories from Barney’s life: He was brave, cuddly, and more. It’s only when talking with his dad in the garden that he realizes the tenth good thing that illustrates the circle of life in full flower.
This piece originally ran in 2013.