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39 Must Read Progressive Childrens Books

This article showcases our top picks for the best Progressive Childrens Books. We reached out to industry leaders and experts who have contributed the suggestions within this article (they have been credited for their contributions below).

We are keen to hear your feedback on all of our content and our comment section is a moderated space to express your thoughts and feelings related (or not) to this article This list is in no particular order.

Table of Contents show

Teen Trailblazers by Jennifer Calvert

This product was recommended by Robert Johnson from Sawinery

As a father of a teenager, I highly recommend this book because it shatters the idea of stereotypes and gender roles. It encourages young women to be more empowered and always challenge the norms.


Let’s Go to Taekwondo! by Aram Kim

This product was recommended by Robert from Way of Martial Arts

Teaching children martial arts for quite some time, I have seen how important it is and how good an impact on children’s life martial arts can have. That being said, I need to recommend this book to parents that want to encourage their children to start with martial arts. And what better martial art for young children than Taekwondo? This book will certainly intrigue them about Taekwondo!


M is for Malware by Curtis Brazzell.

This product was recommended by Jeff Neal from Critter Depot

it’s been a great visual because it has fun monsters for them to look at (they are ages 3, 6 and 8). They don’t fully grasp the computer concepts yet, but since they are growing up in the digital age, it will be good to expose them to this information to protect themselves in the future.


Paths through the forest by Brothers Grimm

This product was recommended by Bram Jansen from vpnAlert

In this book, we know fairy tale retellings of the Brothers Grimm in comic books, each with its own language! These fairy tales and the beings that inhabit them have survived over the centuries because they are linked to the essence of the human being. Likewise, they bring feelings that belong to children since their first days of life, such as love, jealousy, fear, abandonment, loss. The strength of the fairy tale is undoubtedly in this encounter between the real and the imaginary. And in this book, with the comics, the tales gain yet another reading in such a way that it enriches these classics of universal literature. This book will delight the younger and the oldest, who will remember their childhood and their favorite fairy tales at the time!


Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

This product was recommended by John Stevenson from My Gre Exam Preparation

I personally have this book for my beloved 2 sons. Kids’ nature is to always ask questions repeatedly. This book does not directly answer each question but they even encourage children to have more and to have perseverance to look for answers. Being curious is next to knowing and that’s a great way to increase your children’s knowledge of things in this world.


Proud to Be Me! by Nicole Blais

This product was recommended by Charles McMillan from Stand With Main Street

This book is about accepting who you are and understanding others’ differences at such a young age. The message of this book is very strong not just for the kids but for the adults as well. Its illustrations are colorful and bright and the word conversations are easy for the kids to comprehend. It’s a good read book for kids of today, very positive.


And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell

This product was recommended by Lianne Sanders from Total Shape

I greatly recommend this book as it’s a natural and easy way to introduce to young children the importance of acceptance and inclusion when it comes to our world. It tells of the adorable story of two male penguins who fall in love and co-parent a baby penguin named Tango together. Other than being beautifully written and illustrated, it helps shape young minds into being more compassionate and understanding that love is love, no matter gender or blood.


My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

This product was recommended by Alex Thompson from Festoon House

My Princess Boy tells the story of a boy who likes pretty and sparkly things – dresses, tiaras, wands, and pink stuff. As a parent, I recommend this book because it communicates appreciation for children no matter how they express themselves. To children, it helps them come out of their shell and be comfortable with whatever they want to wear or play with. The book also discourages bullying and instead encourages acceptance of everyone’s uniqueness. And to parents, it opens our eyes to appreciating our kids and eliminating gender stereotypes as well. Overall, My Princess Boy is a book that teaches lessons to kids and parents alike.


Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey

This product was recommended by Shelly Peel from SocialMum

As the title suggests, it’s to train kids in controlling their minds and emotions. We can all agree that what they learn while they are young will affect their future. I’ve got 4 of these, which I gave to my nieces and nephews. It’s just full of helpful and healthy practices. It’s a must-read for all kids.


Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton

This product was recommended by Muhammad Mateen Khan from PureVPN

If you want to softly deconstruct gender stereotypes or explain gender transitions, Introducing Teddy is your best bet. Without getting into terminology, this story covers the basics of not feeling like the gender you’ve been assigned fits and teaches you that true friends will still love you, no matter your gender.


Just Because I Am by Lauren Murphy Payne M.S.W.

This product was recommended by Mark Stephenson from How to Shoe

All I can say is it’s a great book to boost a child’s self-esteem. If you’re looking for books to give to your young ones, you should have it on your list. As young as they are, they deserve to feel that they’re unique and special.


Dad, I Want to Start a Business by Ashea Goldson

This product was recommended by Ashea Goldson from Little Colors Of Love Books

When it comes to progressive children’s books, this one is a winner! Imagine a picture book that encourages not just children, but especially young children of color, to begin to think about and to begin to understand the basic concepts of black wealth, entrepreneurship, and community building. Seven year old Darren discusses his thoughts with his dad and receives both the knowledge and confirmation to move forward with his plan. Undoubtedly, children should start acting out their dreams early.


Celebrate Your Body by Sonya Renee Taylor

This product was recommended by Laura Rodriguez from Equitable Hiring Solutions

There are several reasons I’m suggesting this book for girls ages 8-12, the book is written and edited by women of color and is written from a body positive perspective. The book displays images of diverse body types along with girls from different cultural backgrounds. This book not only explains puberty, but it also talks about the social skills and self-care tips that girls need to feel comfortable and healthy about all the changes happening during this time period.


Am I Weird? by Jennifer Licate

This product was recommended by Jennifer Licate from Stories by Jennifer

The middle school years can be tough, especially when you feel like you don’t quite fit in. Eva is an artist with a unique style! She loves exploring new art forms, and she really enjoys crafts. People often compliment Eva on her artwork! But when Eva looks around at school and in her neighborhood, she sees most people dress similarly and enjoy the same kinds of outdoor, sporty activities. When the other girls at school gather, they tolerate Eva but they sometimes talk over her, snipe and gossip. Eva feels uncomfortable and excluded in these situations. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls and wonders… AM I WEIRD? Luckily, Eva has a best friend, Isaiah, and an understanding mom who are there to remind her that everyone is different, and as long as she is kind and caring toward others, she can be true to herself and be happy.


Little Lucy and the Little Butterflies by Jordan Corcoran

This product was recommended by Jordan Corcoran from ListenLucy

This book focuses on discussing mental health and anxiety with elementary school-aged kids. While some may shy away from conversations around mental health with kids, doing so in a digestible way is SO important to setting them up for lifelong mental wellness.


I’m Not a Girl by Maddox Lyons

This product was recommended by Katie Ziskind from Wisdom Within Counseling

This is a great book that supports transgender children and normalizes the feelings of gender dysphoria that they experience. I like using this book with parents and siblings to help them understand what is happening in the mind of their transgender child.


Pickerton’s Jiggle by Riya Aarini

This product was recommended by Riya Aarini from Riya Presents

Pickerton is a particular pig who loves to stay clean. He becomes furious after an accidental fall in the mud! But Pickerton realizes he can shake off the dirt. Pickerton’s Jiggle is being suggested because it sets an example for young readers to just shake off little upsets!


Gerome’s Rainbow by Stephanie Logsdon

This product was recommended by Courtney Sandora from Baxter’s Corner

Gerome’s Rainbow is a story about acceptance. Gerome and his classmates argue over what colors are better without realizing they are hurting each other’s feelings. It saddens Gerome that he and his friends are fighting, until he comes up with a great idea.


Lovely by Jess Hong

This product was recommended by Marissa Moss from Creston Books

Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. /Lovely/ explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!


Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield

This product was recommended by Marissa Moss from Creston Books

Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Chris Ewald Sarah E. Goode was one of the first African-American women to get a US patent. Born into slavery, she moved north once emancipation came. Working in her furniture store, she recognized a need for a multi-use bed and through hard work, ingenuity, and determination, invented her unique cupboard bed. She built more than a piece of furniture. She built a life far away from slavery, a life where her sweet dreams could come true.


No Steps Behind by Jeff Gottesfeld

This product was recommended by Marissa Moss from Creston Books

Discover the unlikely story of Beate Sirota Gordon, a young Austrian Jewish woman who grew up in Japan and returned as a translator working for the American military after WWII. Fluent in Japanese language and culture, she was assigned to work with the delegation writing the new post-war constitution. Thanks to her bravery in speaking up for the women of Japan, the new constitution ended up including equal rights for all women.


Yasmin the Builder by Saadia Faruqi

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

The Yasmin series kicks off with Yasmin the Builder, a wonderful book about a makerspace project at school that leaves Yasmin feeling stumped. Yasmin is a Pakistani-American protagonist, and the author, Saadia Faruqi, weaves the Urdu language and Muslim traditions throughout the stories while keeping vocabulary accessible for little kids. For parents and teachers looking to expand the cultural knowledge of their kids, the Yasmin series is a home run!


Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? is all about a rambunctious little girl who seeks assurance from her mother about whether or not she can truly be a princess and continue her wild ways. This book upends traditional ideas about princesses and teaches little girls that being a princess is about what’s on the inside.


Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

Turning Pages is a beautiful, kid-friendly autobiography about the first Latina supreme court justice. Sotomayor tells the story of being born and raised in NYC as a Puerto Rican with English as her second language. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 7, and lost her father at age 9. In spite of many obstacles throughout her childhood, Sotomayor found courage in books, and eventually earned her place on the US Supreme Court.


Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

Ambitious Girl is written by Meena Harris, the niece of Kamala Harris, who is inspired by all the brave women in her family tree. We can’t wait for this title to be released! It’s currently available for pre-order. According to the School Library Journal, The quick moral? Don’t let the world judge you—’You tell them who you are.’ The sneak pics of the illustrations are eye catching and filled with encouragement for brave little girls!


Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

Bilal Cooks Daal is a wonderful story about a neighborhood full of multicultural kids who are going to taste their friend Bilal’s daal at dinnertime. Daal is a hearty stew from Pakistan. The trouble is that daal takes a LONG time to prepare and requires patience. In the meantime, Bilal becomes a bit worried – will his friends think the meal is worth the wait? This book teaches kids to celebrate each other’s cultures and bravely try new foods.


Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

This book is about a birthday girl who loves playing dress up, and must find the perfect birthday party hat to go with her penguin costume. She heads out in search of hats, but gets literally carried away by a flock of penguins! Harriet needs to find her way back home in time for her birthday costume party. The illustrations show that Harriet has two dads, so adults will have the opportunity to discuss all the different ways to form a family.


President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett

This product was recommended by Whitney Rancourt from Mama Manages

This is one of our family’s favorite stories! When the rather robust President Taft gets stuck in the bath, he keeps calling in all the experts for their solutions: the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of agriculture, the secretary of war, and the list goes on. No one can solve the ridiculous problem, at least, until President Taft finally decides to heed the advice of his quiet wife, who has been trying to be heard all along.


It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr

This product was recommended by Lorie Anderson from MomInformed

This book helps children celebrate the things that make them different. The message is clear, be kind to people you don’t understand. A great reminder to everyone that it’s okay to be different.


I’m Here, I’m Here! by Valerie Carlson Pressley

This product was recommended by Valerie Pressley from Writing For Kids

I’m Here, I’m Here by Valerie Pressley, celebrates the special milestones of your baby’s first year in this playful and engaging book for newborns and their grown-ups. From grabbing toes to taking first steps, I’m Here, I’m Here! showcases the amazing things a little one can do! This is the first of a series of six books, each one celebrating a child’s age-appropriate accomplishments.


I’m One, I’m One! by Valerie Carlson Pressley

This product was recommended by Valerie Pressley from Writing For Kids

I crawl, I cruise, I walk, and I run. Better watch out, because here I come! Who knew being One could be so much fun? Celebrate a little one’s busy year of growth and discovery in this sweet and fun-to-read tribute to being the wonderful age of One! I’m One, I’m One! is the second of a series of six books by Valerie Carlson Pressley, each one celebrating a child’s age-appropriate accomplishments


I’m Two, I’m Two! by Valerie Carlson Pressley

This product was recommended by Valerie Pressley from Writing For Kids

II’m Two, I’m Two, and there’s so much to do! Determined and curious is what being Two is all about! This book for toddlers is filled with all sorts of giddy moments and special milestones that you and your little one will want to read and relive over and over. I’m Two, I’m Two! is the third of a series of six books by Valerie Carlson Pressley, each one celebrating a child’s age-appropriate accomplishments.


The Big Book of Hugs by Nick Ortner

This product was recommended by Lynell Ross from Test Prep Insight

I chose this book because Nick Ortner teaches tapping, a method of reducing pain and anxiety. In this book, The Big Book of Hugs, Nick brings his love of helping people into this lovely book teaching children how to deal with emotions by using kindness and hugs. This sweet book tells the story of Barkley the Bear and how how easy it is to help others.


Nightmare in My World by Nannie Pea

This product was recommended by Vid Lamonte’ Buggs Jr. from 4-U-Nique Publishing

Nightmare in My World, is a fun children’s book that helps children overcome their fear of math and learning in general. It teaches why math is important and how it is used daily. My daughter loves this Nightmare in My World. She definitely loves that the main character Elia is a little girl who looks like her (African-American).


SOAR! by DeAnna Lynn

This product was recommended by DeAnna Lynn from Author DeAnna Lynn

This engaging book teaches boys of color to overcome stereotypes and adversity in their environment. Children that are living in the inner-city experience both positive and negative influences in their environment. In this inspiring story, boys of color will learn to push past the negative influences in their lives and come to appreciate how unique they truly are.


Just Ask by Sonya Sontemayor

This product was recommended by Shelby Kretz from Little Justice Leaders

This book introduces kids to a number of differences and disabilities. While it’s important to stress that not everyone wants to be asked about their disability, the book offers a beautiful introduction to some common differences and disabilities for young readers.


Equality’s Call by Deborah Diesen

This product was recommended by Shelby Kretz from Little Justice Leaders

This book is a great and honest look at voting rights past and present in the United States. It is the only children’s book I’ve found that addresses the disparities that still exist in voting rights today.


Intersection Allies by Chelsea Johnson

This product was recommended by Shelby Kretz from Little Justice Leaders

This beautifully illustrated book introduces children to the concept of intersectionality in a way that is kid-friendly and easy to understand.


There Was A Baby by Rachel Devereux

This product was recommended by Rachel Devereux from Rachel Devereux

This book is written to discuss a very sensitive subject of miscarriage and still birth to young children whose parents have suffered loss before this child was born. Many parents find it difficult to broach the subject with their children and their beloved first baby becomes an inadvertent secret. This book uses simple language to open the conversation, it uses words like Died to ensure there is no confusion with the term loss. There is space to add the babies name, and add pictures or drawings for the baby so the book can become part of a family together time in remembering those who died.


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