September 12, 2017

Resilience in tough times

While it would be nice to think we live in a perfect world, everyone experiences hard times, regardless of where you live. Whether your community is in the midst of tragedy or witnessing from afar, we want our libraries to serve as safe, welcoming spaces where people can come to find the information, comfort, and hope they need.

One way libraries can serve is by creating displays or booklists featuring books in which characters are called upon to show grit, resilience, and determination through tough times. This can be especially true in the children's section for parents seeking ways to discuss tough times with their kids in a way that is honest but ultimately hopeful.

Try searching for Resilience as in the gif below, then narrowing down to fiction or nonfiction for ages 0-8. Books like these can provide a good starting point for both parents and librarians looking for a wide variety of approaches.  

Other good search terms are AP Inspiring for books with “an inspirational, enlightening, or uplifting quality, which may or may not be religious in nature” and AP Moving for “emotionally resonant books that make readers feel invested in both the characters and the story.” We also have Recommended Reads Lists for young children based on feelings, including “I feel…Scared,” and a list to help parents talk to their children about death. You’ll find these lists on the left side of the home screen in NoveList.  

Books for young children on resilience

  • Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Monica Carnesi - "A dog is rescued after days afloat on a sheet of ice in the Baltic Sea (based on a true story)"
  • Eight Days: A story of Haiti by Edwide Danticat- Junior tells the games he played in his mind during the eight days he was trapped in his house after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Includes author's note about Haitian children before the earthquake and her own children's reactions to the disaster.
  • Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana Hatkoff - Describes the rescue and rehabilitation of a young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, named Winter, who received an artificial tail after being badly injured when caught in a crab trap.
  • It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon  by Jarrett Kroscoczska - Illustrations and simple text suggest ways see the positive side of difficulties, from losing one's balloon to being left with a new babysitter.
  • Bounce Back! By Cheri Meiners - Instructs young children on how to build the skills of perseverance, patience, and resilience while recovering from losses and other setbacks, outlining strategies for building a positive outlook and seeking help from supportive people.
  • Tikvah Means Hope by Patricia Polacco - After a devastating fire in the hills of Oakland, California, during Sukkoth, a Jewish family and their neighbors find symbols of hope amidst the ashes.
  • It's Not Fair by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - Assorted children, animals, creatures, and objects all wonder why life is not always fair.
  • A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson - Told in alternating voices, four friends from the same New Orleans neighborhood describe what happens to them and their community when they are separated, then reunited, as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Need handouts or display flyers for your library? We’ve made two downloadable flyers for you to use that include these books. LibraryAware customers can customize these flyers for their community needs. Search “Flyer-Books” for “resilience.” 

Your library patrons will appreciate knowing that the library is more than just a "place to get books." Through displays and book lists that highlight and reflect on what is happening in the world, we demonstrate that we both know and care about patrons’ lives outside the library walls.  


Lindsey Dunn is an Editor/Bibliographer at NoveList. She's a kidlit expert and creates resources for all the librarians out there grappling with keeping up with what books kids are reading. Want to hear more from her? Sign up for Lindsey's Book Squad email updates.





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