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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.


Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Ordered by Category

Great Reads: By Subject, Title, Author, or Illustrator

All book reviews on this site are written and revised by Cheryl Rainfield.

By Title  |  By Author  |  By Illustrator  |  By Category

Good picture books—books that are well-written, have engaging art, and contain encouraging messages—can be nurturing and healing for both children and adults.

Picture books can offer comfort, encouragement, gentle guidance, and positive messages through story—a method that makes messages easier to absorb. Books are powerful. They can help bring good feeling, boost self-esteem, remind the reader of what's important in life and how to cope with problems, all while entertaining and uplifting the reader.

I pick books that, to me, contain the most delight and healing. I hope you'll check them out.

Bedtime Soothers: Night Time Doesn't Have to Be Scary

Go to Bed, Monster! (written by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz)
Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale (written by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Alexis Deacon)
Lights Out (written by Arthur Geisert)
Marc Just Couldn't Sleep (written by Gabriela Keselman, illustrated by Noemi Villamuza)
Scaredy Squirrel at Night (written and illustrated by Melanie Watt)

Being Yourself: Accepting & Believing In You

A Bad Case of Stripes (written by David Shannon)
Bobbie Dazzler (written by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Janine Dawson)
Chowder (written by Peter Brown)
Courage of the Blue Boy (written and illustrated by Robert Neubecker)
Dog Eared: Starring Otis (written and illustrated by Amanda Harvey)
Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct (written and illustrated by Mo Willems)
Hip, Hip, Hooray for Annie McRae! (written by Brad Wilcox, illustrated by Julie Hansen Olson)
How the Moon Regained Her Shape (written by Janet Ruth Heller, illustrated by Ben Hodson)
I Like Myself! (written by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow)
I'm Special, I'm Me! (written by Ann Meek, illustrated by Sarah Massini)
Learning to Fly (written by Sebastian Meschenmoser)
Ryan's Mom is Tall (written by Heather Jopling, illustrated by Allyson Demoe)
Sink or Swim (written by Valerie Coulman, illustrated by Roge Girard)
The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear (written by David Bruins, illustrated by Hilary Leung)
The Sheep in Wolf's Clothing (written by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger)
Tudley Didn't Know (written and illustrated by John Himmelman)
Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages (written by Marla Frazee)

Encouraging Acceptance of Diversity: Lesbian/Gay Picture Books

And Tango Makes Three (written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole)

Encouraging Creativity: Thinking Outside the Box

Alligator Boy (written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode)
Art (written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell)
Flyaway Katie (written by Polly Dunbar)
Green as a Bean (written by Karla Kuskin, illustrated by Melissa Iwai)
If You Were a Parrot (written by Katherine Rawson, illustrated by Sherry Rogers)
Ish (written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds)
Jeffrey and Sloth (written by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Ben Hodson)
Not a Box (written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis)
Once Upon an Ordinary School Day (written by Colin McNaughton, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura)
The Boy from the Sun (written by Duncan Weller)
The Pink Refrigerator (written by Tim Egan)
Willow (written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan, illustrated by Cyd Moore)
Dog Loves Drawing (written and illustrated by Louise Yates)

Even Grouches Can Change: Looking Past Assumptions & Attitudes

Five Little Fiends (written by Sarah Dyer)
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (written and illustrated by Mo Willems)
Little Blue Truck (written by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry)
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (written by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz)
The Lamb Who Came for Dinner (written by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Joelle Dreidemy)
The Louds Move In! (written by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Regan Dunnick)
Mrs. Crump (written by Linda Smith, illustrated by David Roberts)

Fantasy & Magic: Let Your Imagination Soar

Billy's Bucket (written by Kes Gray, illustrated by Garry Parsons)
Clara and Asha (written by Eric Rohmann)
Dear Fish (written by Chris Gall)
Flotsam (written by David Wiesner)
Imagine a Day (written by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Rob Gonsalves)
Like a Windy Day (written by Frank Asch, illustrated by Devin Asch)
Oscar and the Mooncats (written by Lynda Gene Rymond, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli)
Rainstorm (written by Barbara Lehman)
Space Boy (written by Leo Landry)
Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Tale of Picky Eating (written by A. W. Flaherty, illustrated by Scott Magoon)
The Zoo (written by Suzy Lee)
Un-Brella (written by Scott E. Franson)

Feeling Loved & Safe: Nurturance

Goodnight, Sweet Pig (written by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Josée Masse)
Love is a Handful of Honey (written by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban)
Mama, If You Had a Wish (written by Jeanne Modesitt, illustrated by Robin Spowart)
My Beautiful Child (written by Lisa Desimini, illustrated by Matt Mahurin)
No Matter What (written by Debi Gliori)
Spuds (written by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson)
The Kiss That Missed (written by David Melling)
There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me (written by Alice Walker, illustrated by Stefano Vitale)
The Searcher and Old Tree (written and illustrated by David McPhail)

Finding Friends: That Sense of Belonging

A Friend (written by Anette Bley)
Chicken, Pig, Cow (written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi)
Duck at the Door (written and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic)
Katie Loves the Kittens (written and illustrated by John Himmelman)
McDuff Moves In (written by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers)
Octavia And Her Purple Ink Cloud (written by Donna Rathmell and Doreen Rathmell, illustrated by Connie McLennan)
Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley (written by Aaron Blabey)
Penguin (written by Polly Dunbar)
Skinny Brown Dog (written by Kimberly Willis Holt, illustrated by Donald Saaf)
The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum (written by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli)
The Red Book (written by Barbara Lehman)
When Giants Come to Play (written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes)

How to Feel Better: Coping & Working With Emotion

A Good Day (written by Kevin Henkes)
Augustus and His Smile (written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner)
Courage (written by Bernard Waber)
Fly, Little Bird (written by Tina Burke)
Is a Worry Worrying You? (written by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by Marie Le Tourneau)
Mrs. Biddlebox (written by Linda Smith, illustrated by Marla Frazee)
Oliver Has Something to Say! (written by Pamela Edwards, illustrated by Louis Pilon)
Red Sled (written by Patricia Thomas, illustrated by Chris L Demarest)
Sebastian (written by Jean de Deu Prats, illustrated by Francesc Rovira)
Silly Billy (written by Anthony Browne)
Some Dog! (written by Mary Casanova, illustrated by Ard Hoyt)
Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life (written and illustrated by Rebecca Doughty)
Sometimes Bad Things Happen (written by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Shelley Rotner)
The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up (written by Bradley Trevor Greive)
The Day Leo Said I Hate You! (written by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Molly Bang)
The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night (written and illustrated by Roslyn Schwartz)
The Red Tree (written by Shaun Tan)
There's NO Such Thing as a Dragon (written by Jack Kent)
The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley (written by Colin Thompson, illustrated by Amy Lissiat)
What Elephant? (written by Geneviève Côté)
When I Feel Sad (The Way I Feel Books) (written by Cornelia Maude Spelman, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson)

Inner Strength: Strong Girls--And Boys, Too

Ella, Of Course! (written by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Doug Cushman)
Guji Guji (written and illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen)
How to Heal a Broken Wing (written and illustrated by Bob Graham)
Jane and the Dragon (written and illustrated by Martin Baynton)
Monkey with a Tool Belt (written by Chris Monroe)
My Cat Copies Me (written by Yoon-duck Kwon)
Not So Tall for Six (written by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Frank W. Dormer)
Princess Smartypants (written and illustrated by Babette Cole)
The Child Cruncher (written by Mathilde Stein, illustrated by Mies van Hout)
You're Mean, Lily Jean (written by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton)

Love of Words: Celebrating Books, Writing, & Language

Born to Read (written by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Marc Brown)
Do Not Open This Book (written by Michaela Muntean, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre)
Library Lion (written by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes)
Martha Speaks (written by Susan Meddaugh)
Max's Words (written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Boris Kulikov)
Monkey Business (written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards)
My Book Box (written by Will Hillenbrand)
My First... (written by Eva Montanari)
The Best Book to Read (written by Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom, illustrated by Michael Garland)
The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (written by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed)
The Incredible Book-Eating Boy (written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers)

Pure Fun: Laughter And Joy

Chester (written and illustrated by Melanie Watt)
Chester's Back! (written and illustrated by Melanie Watt)
Chickens to the Rescue! (written and illustrated by John Himmelman)
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin)
Estelle Takes a Bath (written by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma)
Good Boy, Fergus! (written by David Shannon)
Hippo! No, Rhino (written by Jeff Newman)
My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World (written by Gilles Bachelet)
My Favorite Sounds from A to Z (written by Peggy Snow, illustrated by Brian Barber)
My First Flip-Flap Book of Numbers (written by , illustrated by Robert Salanitro)
No! That's Wrong! (written by Zhaohua Ji, illustrated by Cui Xu)
Peanut (written by Linas Alsenas)
Pssst! (written by Adam Rex)
Slugs in Love (written by Susan Pearson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley)
Splat the Cat (written and illustrated by Rob Scotton)
The Bears We Know (written by Brenda Silsbe, illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen)
You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum (written by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser)

Super Heroes: Feeling Strong Through Hero Identification

Another Perfect Day (written and illustrated by Ross MacDonald)
Dex: The Heart of a Hero (written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner)
Max (written by Bob Graham)
Superhero (written and illustrated by Marc Tauss)
SuperHero ABC (written and illustrated by Bob McLeod)
Jay and the Bounty of Books (written by Randall Ivey, illustrated by Chuck Galey)

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