Six children's books to inspire hope and optimism

Updated: May 7, 2020

“Real, true hope isn’t the promise that everything will be all right – but it’s a belief that the world has so many strangenesses and possibilities that giving up would be a mistake; that we live in a universe shot through with the unexpected.” (Katherine Rundell)

These beautiful words were written in the foreword to ‘The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown,’ a brilliant collection of stories, poems and pictures by over 100 children’s writers and illustrators, brought together by Katherine Rundell in honour of everybody working in a hospital during the Coronavirus outbreak. You can download the collection for free here.

Inspired by this amazing project, we have also compiled a list of heart-warming books to inspire hope and optimism in all of the family during darker times.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be – Emily Winfield Martin

To inspire a sense of possibility in both little ones and their grown-ups, this sweet book celebrates all the many things that little ones may go on to be and do. The detailed watercolour illustrations and soothing rhymes gently show the reader all the wonderful paths that little ones may take and how they may express what makes them unique, with the reassurance that whoever they become, they will always be cherished by their loved ones.

All The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

The Carrot Seed – Ruth Krauss & Crockett Johnson

We think planting a seed in a garden is one of the most hopeful things you can do, and this poignant classic, first published in 1945, beautifully expresses this idea. Available in paperback and board book form, the simple text and illustrations tell the story of a little boy with steely optimism who just knows that his seed will grow, no matter what anyone else says.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss & Crockett Johnson

How to Catch a Star – Oliver Jeffers

In Oliver Jeffers’ debut picture-book, we learn that if you want to catch a star, all you need is a little patience and to keep hoping. The story of a little boy who so desperately wants something and thinks of all the different ways he might achieve it, paired with Jeffers’ distinctive illustrations and sparing humorous text, make this a true modern classic.

How To Catch A Star By Oliver Jeffers

Extra Yarn – Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Amid the stark browns and whites of Annabelle’s town, hope takes the form of the bright yarn she finds and uses to knit jumpers, scarves and hats for her friends, family and eventually the whole town, including the animals and the houses! Although Annabelle faces initial doubts from the people around her and even an attempt to steal her yarn, she persists as, just like the box of yarn, her hope and determination never run out. Jon Klassen’s illustrations perfectly express the gradual transformation of the dark, dreary town into a bright, hopeful place full of colour.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Rain – Linda Ashman & Christian Robinson

This relatable story told using simple dialogue introduces the idea that sometimes a sense of optimism comes from just looking at something in a different way. Using bright colours against muted shades to highlight the different moods represented, the split pages and stylish paper-cut illustrations are perfect to help little ones understand how the grumpy man and the little boy feel. We love the boy’s exuberance and the way he passes this on to the grumpy man in the end!

Rain by Linda Ashman & Christian Robinson

Tomorrow Most Likely – Dave Eggers & Lane Smith

A bed-time story which looks beyond the night ahead and instead imagines all of the wonderful possibilities that await us the next day. This sweet book dispels any night-time fears and reassures little ones that tomorrow will be full of exciting things. The brightly dressed little boy in the story explores a vibrant painted cityscape, complete with multi-coloured skyscrapers, noticing the sounds and smells, and discovering some unexpected things on his way. We adore this whimsical book which combines a hopeful message with uplifting illustrations and a gentle dream-like quality.

Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers & Lane Smith

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