eight of the Greatest Books for Motivated Youngsters With Large Targets

Small brown books for young readers.

Leslie Knope is running as class representative! She fights around the Pawnee Elementary with her friends Ann and Ben. However, in order to win the voters over, Leslie makes some big promises. . . that she’s not sure she can keep. Will Leslie keep her word and become the best president Pawnee Elementary has ever seen? Filled with colorful, detailed illustrations and brimming with Easter eggs and allusions to iconic moments from the show, this hilarious reinterpretation features a small cast. The story will introduce Parks and Recreation to a whole new generation and teach them the importance of being true to yourself. And waffles. Parks and Recreation © Universal Television LLC. All rights reserved.

One of the things I love about children is their ability to dream. Ask any child what they’d like to be when they grow up and you’ll hear all kinds of things including superhero, astronaut, Olympic athlete, and more. If you’ve ever seen a child fall in love with something – reading, writing, a sport, a hobby – you may see them having a goal in mind and working towards it with all their heart and soul. Small children often have big goals, and that’s great. It is important to nurture their interests and support their plans (the appropriate ones, of course) and continue to encourage them to set goals for themselves. Fortunately, there are plenty of picture books for motivated children to use to show children that with hard work, determination, help and support, big goals and big dreams are possible.

Picture books for motivated children

All the way to the top cover

To the top: How a girl’s struggle for Americans with disabilities changed everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Nabi Ali and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) wasn’t passed until 1990. This picture book tells the story of Jennifer Keelan, a young girl who was discriminated against in school because of her wheelchair. That sparked her activism, and she went to DC to take part in the Capitol Crawl to urge Congress to pass the ADA – this is her story.

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn

Simone Biles is synonymous with excellence in gymnastics, and this picture book tells the story of her growing up. We read how her grandparents adopted her and one of her sisters, how she was introduced to gymnastics, and what came next. Not only is it a great book about an Olympic champion, but it also shows off her personal triumphs and perseverance in a way that young children can understand.

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Fall) of a Climbing Master by Ashima Shiraishi and Yao Xiao

Shiraishi started climbing at the age of 6 and explains in this book that boulders are called “problems” in climbing. To solve it, you need to get to the top. She talks about falling on the way to solving the problem, but holding on until the problem is solved and continuing to work towards your goals. It’s a great book for reminding your little one not to let setbacks dissuade them from their goals.

Jabari Jumps from Gaia Cornwall

Jabari Jumps from Gaia Cornwall

Big goals can look different to different people at different times in our lives. This is a heartwarming book about a little boy ready to jump off the springboard … or is it? After all, he has a lot of things to do to prepare for his jump – he can’t rush it! It’s a gentle story about having the courage to do something that scares you a little.

Drum Dream Girl: How a Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López

Inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Sino-African Cuban who broke Cuba’s taboo against female drummers, this book tells the story of a little girl who dreams of playing the drums. On the Little Girl’s Island, it is believed that girls can’t be drummers, but she secretly kept practicing – until one day her music was heard and everything changed.

Little people, big dreams: RuPaul by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Wednesday Holmes

I love this series because of the depth and breadth of the people it portrays. This book about RuPaul was recently published and tells the story of how he got into the performing arts and found his place in drag. This was a way for him to express himself through art and he also wanted to help others find their way to express themselves while encouraging them to love themselves. It’s a colorful, fun book about how to follow your heart and make your dreams come true.

Ambitious girl from Meena Harris

Ambitious girl from Meena Harris and Melissa Valdez

It’s more than okay to have big dreams and bigger plans. It’s fabulous to be open minded and set goals for yourself. These are just some of the messages in this picture book. After seeing a strong woman on television, a teenage girl looks at the challenges girls and women face and how to reclaim their language and tell their stories proudly.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stacia Burrington

This beautifully illustrated picture book introduces Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, as a little girl writing about what she wants to be when she grows up. With her parents’ encouragement, she does not give up on her dreams even when discouraged by others. It’s a great reminder not to let anyone stop you from achieving your goals and to reach for the stars – literally sometimes!

If you’re looking for even more picture books for motivated children to inspire your little ones, check out this post on picture book biographies and this post on picture books about resilience.

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