Picture books about achieving your dreams

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series.

As you’re reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in bed (or in your favorite armchair), feel free to share these picture books with your children.

For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “Mommy and Me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.

5 Picture Books About Achieving Your Dreams


1. Ish (2004) | Peter H. Reynolds 

A young boy, named Ramon, draws whenever he can – even on the toilet. He’s hard on himself and thinks his drawings don’t look real enough. When his older brother laughs at his work, Ramon is ready to give up, but is urged on by his sister who’s been saving all of his crumpled, discarded artwork. This book teaches us there’s more to life than “getting it right” and pursing a dream looks different for everyone. (Age Range:  5 years and up)

How to Catch a Star

2. How to Catch a Star (2004)| Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers, a young boy and a lover of stars, wants to catch one for himself. He comes up with a variety of plans to capture his star:  waiting for the stars to get tired and fall, climbing to the top of the tallest tree, launching a paper rocket ship. One by one each approach fails, and Oliver wants to quit. In the end, he learns that things sometimes happen in ways we least expect. This book invites readers to not give up on our dreams and “reach for the stars”. (Age Range:  3-7 years)

Giraffes Can't Dance

3. Giraffes Can’t Dance (2012)| Giles Andreae

Gerald, the giraffe, desperately wants to learn how to dance, but his crooked knees and thin legs make it difficult. The other animals laugh at Gerald when he gets tripped up, but in the end he perseveres. Ultimately, Gerald learns “to dance to his own tune.” This book has a wonderful message:  follow you heart and don’t let others get you down. (Age Range:  4 years and up) 

Dream Big, Princess!

4. Dream Big, Princess! (2016)

Your daughters (and sons too!) follow the stories of their favorite Disney Princesses. Little readers draw, write, and imagine all the things they want to be, as they follow the Princesses in pursuit of their greatest dreams. (Age Range:  3-7 years)


5. The Paper Bag Princess (1980)| Robert Munsch

This isn’t your classic “damsel in distress” tale. Yes, there is a “damsel”, Princess Elizabeth. Yes, she is “in distress”. A mean dragon captures her fiancé, Prince Ronald. But no, she doesn’t need “a knight in shining armor” to save the day. This book empowers young girls to go after what they want and to make their own “happily ever afters”. (Age Range:  3-7 years)

5 Picture Book Biographies That Will Inspire Your Kids to Achieve Their Dreams


1. Me … Jane (2011) | Patrick McDonnell

This story features a young Jane Goodall, world renowned primatologist, who has a dream to one day help animals. Goodall starts off studying butterflies, then moves to small animals, and finally to chimpanzees for which she is famous. This book inspires children to have a goal and go after it. (Age Range:  1-6 years)

Sonia Sotomayor

2. Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx (2009) | Patrick McDonnell

Born and raised in a poor neighborhood of South Bronx, Sonia Sotomayor rises above her circumstances to become the first Latina Supreme Court justice. This story chronicles Sotomayor’s life as she grows up in poverty and gets an education. The book emphasizes how important a role supportive family and friends play in helping you achieve your dreams. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

Jim Thorpe

3. Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path (2008) | Joseph Bruchac

Jim Thorpe is a Native American with a tough childhood. His parents and brother all die, so Thorpe must attend an Indian boarding school, an unhappy place with people who don’t teach him to dream. (Native Americans are expected to enter society as manual laborers.) Despite a rough start, Thorpe becomes one of the greatest athletes of all time. This book reminds readers that anyone can turn a bleak present into a bright future. (Age Range: 6-11 years)

Horace Pippin

4. A Splash of Red:  The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (2013) | Jen Bryant

In this tale, Horace Pippin (b. 1888) is a self-taught African-American artist who loves to draw and paint as a child. When Pippin is in eighth grade, his father leaves the family. Consequently, Pippin quits school to support his family. He’s wounded as a solder in World War I and never regains full use of his right arm. Nevertheless, Pippin begins painting again, using his left arm to guide his right. This book teaches us that anything worth doing is difficult, but well worth the effort. (Age Range: 5-8 years)

The Boy Who Loved Math

5. The Boy Who Loved Math:  The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös (2013) Deborah Heiligman

In this story, Paul Erdös is a boy who excels at math, but struggles with everyday tasks like buttering bread. Despite being different, Erdös becomes a brilliant and sociable mathematician who travels the world sharing his love of numbers. This book inspires children who might not identify with the typical sports and adventure type heroes. (Age Range: 5-8 years)

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Keep your children dreaming.

So choose books and media that promote dreaming. (I’m in love with Disney’s Dream Big Princess campaign. Sometimes if I need a little boost, I pull up a video on YouTube.) We all want to know the secret to encouraging our children to achieve their dreams. While I can’t pretend to know the mystery, I can offer you a list of books, which will hopefully inspire you and your children to go in pursuit of their passions.

What other picture books would you add to the list?

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