Building character

Ages 0–3

Picture Books

Giraffes Can’t Dance

by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Meet Gerald, a giraffe who desperately wants to dance, but can’t quite get his long, wobbly legs to cooperate. With perseverance and a little encouragement from a new friend, Gerald succeeds. Gerald’s story will inspire your kids to try, try again, and make their dreams come true, even in the face of critics. 

Little Blue Truck

by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

Plucky Blue, the star of this loveable series, is a little pick-up truck with a can-do attitude. In this book (the first of the series), Blue cheerfully comes to the rescue when a friend gets stuck in the mud; then Blue gets stuck too, and must call on his barnyard pals for help. This story shares the joy of helping others, in a kid-friendly way. 


Ages 4–6

Pre-chapter books


by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson

Endearing bulldog Gaston discovers he was accidentally switched at birth and raised with a poodle family. After trying to reverse the mix-up, Gaston learns to embrace who he is and the family he loves.

Sign Up Here: A Story About Friendship

by Kathryn Cole and Qin Leng

When Dee-Dee is excluded from several school clubs by the other kids, she decides to start a club all her own: It’s called Friendship and everyone can join. This heartwarming tale is part of the I’m a Great Little Kid series, which features diverse characters and empowers kids to seek solutions for a variety of tough situations.

Ada Twist, Scientist

by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

Inspired by scientists Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist’s tireless curiosity drives her to always ask “Why” and never stop looking for answers. Ada is a true inspiration for kids to become whoever they want to be. Other titles in the series include Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect.

Ages 7–9 

Early chapter books

Geronimo Stilton

by Geronimo Stilton 

Kids will love to follow the hilarious, action-packed tales of Geronimo, a brave mouse who can’t resist adventure. Check out this hugely popular fantasy series, which includes more than 60 titles. 

Zita the Spacegirl

by Ben Hatke

Fans of graphic novels and fantastical space creatures will adore Zita. After landing on an unknown planet, Zita becomes an accidental heroine when she must rescue her best friend, Joseph, from space aliens. This colorful epic adventure reveals the meaning of friendship through Zita’s selfless loyalty.


by R.J. Palacios

Full of heart and hope, August “Auggie” Pullman is an unforgettable character who only wants the freedom to be himself. Born with a severe facial deformity, Auggie fearlessly attends public school for the first time when he’s 10 years old. In spite of challenges, Auggie perseveres, forms friendships and teaches everyone a lasting lesson about kindness. Perfect for a family read-aloud, Auggie’s story will stick with you long after turning the last page. 

Laura Ramsborg is a licensed K-12 reading specialist, middle school teacher and freelance writer. She is a mother of two daughters and lives in Bloomington. Follow her on Twitter at @MsRamsborgReads.