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Books About Being Scared and Bravery

“Big Papa and the Time Machine” by Daniel Bernstrom 

When his grandson says he is scared to go to school, Big Papa takes his grandson back through time to all the times he was afraid. “Wasn’t you scared?” his grandson asks. “Oh, I was scared,” Big Papa said. “Sometimes you gotta walk with giants if you ever gonna know what you made of. That’s called being brave.” As part of our Prime Time Cares series, “Big Papa and the Time Machine” encourages us to consider: Can you be brave and scared at the same time?  


“Thunder Cake” by Patricia Polacco  

When a young girl is scared of a thunderstorm, her grandmother decides it’s time to make thunder cake. She tells the young girl to get out from under the bed and collect the ingredients for thunder cake. As the storm arrives, the girl has forgotten her fear and the two of them enjoy the thunder cake.          


“Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall 

Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board. “Looks easy,” he says, while watching the other kids take their turns.  Jabari is afraid, but together with his father he overcomes his fear.  


“Leonardo the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems  

Leonardo thinks he is a terrible monster because he can’t scare anyone. As the story progresses, however, he learns that maybe scary isn’t what he really wants to be.  


“Brave Irene” by William Steig

Irene Bobbin is the dressmaker’s daughter. Her mother, Mrs. Bobbin, isn’t feeling so well and can’t possibly deliver the beautiful ball gown she made for the duchess to wear that very evening. So plucky Irene volunteers to get the gown to the palace on time, despite the fierce snowstorm that’s brewing – quite an errand for a little girl. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, as Irene proves in the danger-fraught adventure that follows. She must defy the wiles of the wicked wind, her most formidable opponent, and overcome many obstacles before she completes her mission. As readers cheer Irene on, we are invited to consider the various impacts of fear, bravery versus foolishness, and sacrifice.   


“Sheila Rae, the Brave” by Kevin Henkes 

Sheila Rae is proud of being brave. She shows off her courage by baring her teeth and growling at dogs and going home from school via a route that is strange and unfamiliar. When she gets lost, she no longer feels brave. Luckily her little sister has been following her and becomes the brave leader helping them both to get home.   


“Lon Po Po” by Ed Young

This version of the Red Riding Hood story features three daughters left at home when their mother goes to visit their grandmother. Lon Po Po, the granny wolf, pretends to be the girls’ grandmother, until clever Shang, the eldest daughter, suspects the greedy wolf’s real identity. Tempting him with ginkgo nuts, the girls bravely face him by pulling him in a basket to the top of the tree in which they are hiding, then let go of the ropekilling him.