New Year, New You!: Books That Encourage Trying New Things

It’s always fun to learn a new skill, but it can be a little scary at times. From birth, children begin to learn new skills at a rapid rate, and gain the confidence to implement their newfound talents. Sometimes we all need a little extra encouragement to get out there and try something new. In addition to exposing young children to new experiences, there are several ways we can help them to be successful with each new opportunity. The following titles showcase great examples of setting goals, praising resilience, and accepting minor setbacks while still maintaining the self-esteem needed to try again.

One of the first, and most important new skills we learn in life is how to use the bathroom all by ourselves! Tiger Tales makes this strive for self-reliance fun and easy with Time to Go Potty! Author Becky Davies uses rhyming text for little ones paired with tips and tricks for parents that will aid in a less stressful experience for all. Combine this with interactive sound button that plays 6 different sounds and illustrator Rosalind Maroney’s adorable and diverse characters, and you have yourself a “Number 1” hit!

Learning to swim can seem quite daunting to little ones ready to try. Sometimes, taking your time and having patience is the best way to go about it. That concept is front and center in I Will Swim Next Time from Floris Books title where we meet a young child who warms up to the waves, gradually and in their own time. While hesitating to embrace the waters of the oceans, lakes, and rivers their fears are subdued by the uplifting encouragement and support of their mother. The gorgeously illustrated spreads by Matilda Ruta are connected with the gentle, rippling, words from author Emily Joof. Young readers will want to dive into this inspiring book about facing fears and building the confidence to achieve personal goals.

One of the tough things about trying something new is that we don’t always succeed on the first try. This picture book from Tiger Tales, The Owl Who Dared, showcases that sometimes you have to pick yourself up, dust off your wings, and try again! Little Owl is reluctant to learn to fly. Every time they try, they just end up on the forest floor. Mommy Owl explains to the little fledgling that every failed attempt teaches them something as long as they have the courage not to give up. This motivational tale from Stephanie Stansbie takes flight when combined with the soft, dreamy illustrations of Frances Ives and helps teach young readers and grownups alike that celebrating the journey to success is just as important as achieving it.

Getting older means you’re able to try all sorts of new and exciting things! Like finally being able to ride the “big kid rides” at the fair. In Big Kids Don’t Get Butterflies, a child is eager to head to the fair this fall as they’ve grown two whole inches and can finally ride the more thrilling attractions. They patiently wait while their younger sibling enjoys the smaller, tamer teacups and airplanes. There are no butterflies or tummy-flutters in sight as they climb aboard their first “big kid ride” ever. This coming-of-age tale from Soaring Kite Books’ Ceece Kelley and illustrator Sawyer Cloud is a great example that even though we have the confidence to try unfamiliar things, doesn’t mean we have to give up the things we love.

Sometimes we find we have new talents by accident. That’s the case in Loud! from Scallywag Press. Abigail is having a hard time concentrating in her writing class. She’s bored, fidgety, and causing a disturbance. Soon it’s time for music class and Abigail just can’t find her rhythm with any of the instruments. Overcome with pent-up feelings from an emotionally frustrating day, Abigail belts out a very loud scream. Prepared for punishment from her teacher, Abigail is surprised to instead be encouraged to use her powerhouse of a voice to lead the music class band as their singer. With the support from her classmates, Abigail is inspired to write her very first song all about being loud! Author/illustrator Rose Robbins’ relatable portrayal of a restless student pairs harmoniously with the bright graphic illustrations. Included is a QR code that allows readers to rock out to Abigail’s tune.

Maybe starting your own business is on the books for the year! This addition to the How Do series from Flowerpot Press, How Do Kids Make Money?: A Book for Young Entrepreneurs, introduces future entrepreneurs to amazing ideas and facts of how to make their own moolah. From house, pet, or plant-sitting to mowing lawns and raking leaves there’s a kid-friendly career option for every season of the year. Author Kate Hayes provides over 20 applicable tips and tricks on how to market yourself to the needs of the neighborhood. Pair this with the cleverly comical graphs, diagrams, and illustrations of Srimalie Bassani, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Not only will young readers get a visual representation of the job opportunities that await them, but also find a wealth of resources to manage, save, and budget that cold, hard lemonade stand money. Invest in a copy today!

New house, new school, new bullies…new crush. Middle grader, Ellie has just enough “new” to last her a lifetime in this heartwarming graphic novel from Marble Press, Ellie in First Position. While coping with her parents’ recent divorce, Ellie is faced with starting at a new school. Her mom is convinced that the only thing Ellie needs to do to fit in is join a sports team. Volleyball, tennis, archery! Ellie tries them all, but nothing feels as natural as dance, so why is her mom so against it? On top of it all, Ellie’s new school comes with some unexpected relationships. Like the athletic bullies, Lisa and Anna, who seem determined to make Ellie’s life harder than it already is. Then there’s the kind and thoughtful new boy in town, Nicholas. Can Ellie navigate her way through these new experiences? Will her mom ever let her take dance lessons? The relatable writing from Brian Freschi and translated from Italian by Nanette McGuinness compliment the expressive and hilarious graphic panel art from Elena Triolo to create this comforting middle grade story about resilience, self-love, and following your heart.

There’s a whole year ahead of us with ample opportunity to get out there and try something new! Utilize any of these fantastic titles for the added motivation or encouragement for new skill building, whether it’s learning to ride a bike, taking up a new hobby, or even starting a new school. Books can be a great way to showcase examples of trial and error, set-back and success. Bonus: Get started with trying something new with this Snowy Owl Craft Project!

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