The following article comes from primary consultant Kate Heap, who shares her favourite books to build a child’s resilience.

Even in the most ordinary times, it is so important to help children build their resilience and become stronger in themselves. Recently, life has been challenging for everyone and we find ourselves in situations we’ve never had to deal with before. Now, more than ever, children need opportunities to think about how they can be resilient, brave and face new challenges head-on. These books are perfect for opening up discussions about personal strength and the characters within show children that they aren’t alone when feeling worried or overwhelmed – there is a way through every challenge.

1. The Book of Hopes

by Katherine Rundell

Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown

Compiled by the incredibly talented children’s author Katherine Rundell, The Book of Hopes is a beautiful collection of short stories and illustrations from over 100 children’s writers and illustrators. Each wonderful story and picture has been designed to make children smile, laugh, love, and find joy and hope during the Coronavirus lockdown. Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Horowitz, Axel Scheffler, Vashti Hardy, S.F. Said and Sophie Anderson are just some of the fantastic individuals involved in this project. It has been dedicated to everyone currently working in hospitals and will be published as a gift book in the autumn with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together.

You can read The Book of Hopes here.

2. Fierce, Fearless and Free

by Lari Don & illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon

Fierce, Fearless and Free is a brilliant collection of myths and legends from around the world featuring strong girls as the main characters. From Armenia to Lithuania to Scotland to Mexico, heroines in thirteen tales from across the globe will inspire children with their strength and wit.

It is reminiscent of Sophie Anderson’s The Girl Who Speaks Bear in its celebration of girls’ ability to be true to themselves and find out just what they are capable of.

Fierce, Fearless and Free

3. Little People, Big Dreams

series by Maria Isabell Sanchez Vegara

Each of these gorgeous hardcover books is a child-friendly biography of a significant person from history. Many are quite recent, engaging children in history from living memory. The stories are very relatable, starting when the individual was a child (just like the reader). The development of their passions and dreams for the future are clearly explained in an accessible but detailed manner. There is so much to learn from each biography!

The books focus on positive traits, creating wonderful role models. Resilience, hard work, determination, a positive attitude and a sense of what is right play centre stage as children see that anything is possible if you follow your dreams. The wide range of role models allows children to expand their worlds. With such a broad series, there is something to suit every child and every interest.

Little People, Big Dreams

4. Little Bird Lands

by Karen McCombie

This pioneering adventure by British author Karen McCombie is the engaging sequel to Little Bird Flies. Set in mid-nineteenth-century America, 15-year-old Bridie (Little Bird) embarks on a new life in the west, leaving her beloved homeland of Scotland behind. Inspired by pioneering classics such as the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Karen McCombie paints a vivid picture of a life of challenges, hardship, joy and, most importantly, hope. Bridie and her family seek to escape their troubled past and finally find a place they can call home.

The character of Bridie is a wonderful contrast of seeming weak but actually being so very strong. She defies expectations, limits and doubts to overcome when others would likely falter. As a result, she becomes a fantastic heroine and role model for anyone who ever feels they can’t carry on. Her daring, spunk and unstoppable determination demonstrate that life is not always easy but there is incredible value in the challenges and struggles. Through each adventure, Little Bird finds freedom and the ability to not just fly, but to soar.

Little Bird Lands

5. Bear Grylls Adventures Series

by Bear Grylls

Chief Scout and survival expert Bear Grylls is a wonderful role model for children. He inspires them to be strong, determined and to never give up. Through his Bear Grylls Adventures series, he teaches children that no matter what kind of situation they find themselves in, there is always a way out. He shows children how to stop, think, use resources around them and make a careful plan to move forward.  In each of these adventures, the main character learns so much about themselves and what they are capable of. Readers can journey with them to learn that trying their best can make all the difference and that when they rise to the challenge and find their survival spirit, they can do anything!

Bear Grylls Adventures

6. The Wild Way Home

by Sophie Kirtley (July 2020)

The Wild Way Home is a captivating story of self-discovery and realising what is truly important in life. In the stillness of the forest, twelve-year-old Charlie and his friends explore the ancient paths and walk where many people have come before. When Charlie discovers a special deer tooth, he has no idea to whom it once belonged or just how important it will prove to be. Charlie has almost everything he ever wanted and is just about to receive his greatest wish – a baby brother. However, when baby Dara is born and there are complications, Charlie doesn’t know what to do. He runs – runs so far away no one will be able to find him. Lost in the past, Charlie faces challenges he never imagined and finds strength he didn’t know he possessed. Will he be able to make his way back home to the life he always longed for?

This book should find a home on classroom and bedroom bookshelves for so many reasons. It will help children to explore difficult changes in life and learn how to cope when things are hard. It reassures children that they are not alone in their feelings or circumstances and that things can get better.


Kate Heap

Kate Heap is an experienced Primary English Consultant from Leeds. She is passionate about helping children to be inspired in their learning through adventure and imagination. Kate is also an author for teachers with her book, Reading the Classics at Key Stage Two, to be published in 2020.

Read more from Kate on her blog, Scope for Imagination, and follow her on Twitter –  @KateHeap1.

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