Favorite Books on Resilience for People of All Ages

resilience reading

Books on resilience should be part of every 2021 curriculum – virtual or not. Reading books that highlight courage, overcoming adversity, and handling stress remind us of our own strength. Here are books on resilience for a range of ages and abilities.

Books on Resilience for Every Age

If we are what we read then this year let’s be reading about resilience. Many of us are anxious about the challenges we face in healthcare and the economy. Parents also worry about their children. We hope they have the ability to bounce back from disappointment and disruption.

So let’s fill our hearts and imaginations with stories of normal people handling difficulty in life. As we read, we can’t help but internalize that while pain is unavoidable, emotional resilience is a skill we can learn.

Non-Fiction Books on Resilience

Option B (Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant)

Sheryl Sandberg was the COO of Facebook and raising two young children when her husband suddenly died while they were on vacation. At his funeral, she begged friend, and psychologist, Adam Grant, to assure her that her kids would be okay. Together their journey to answering that question formed this book.

Sandberg and Grant author the book together but it is told in her voice. She chronicles her grieving process alongside Grant’s research. Option B repeatedly emphasizes that resilience is built not inborn and mental strength can be learned. And Sandberg’s gentle, authentic testimony argues that finding joy never stops being a possibility.

Promise Me (Nancy Brinker)

If you ever wondered how pink took over marketing and breast cancer research became a national initiative, read this book. Nancy Brinker made a promise to her sister Suzy in 1980. Suzy was dying of breast cancer and Brinker promised to bring cancer into the light and work to end its destruction.

Susan G. Koman, the famous global movement to end breast cancer was born out of this promise between sisters. This book is a beautiful story of how family and friendship are formed despite tragedy. Brinker’s work and witness remind us all that change begins with one person who refuses to accept life as it is.

Brené Brown Books on Resilience

Researcher and Storyteller Brené Brown writes about the human condition and the challenges we face in relating to each other and overcoming our own fears. Brown has written six bestselling books including, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong,and The Gifts of Imperfection. Each of her volumes voices a narrative of learning to be resilient through pain and vulnerability.

Brown teaches us how to build strong relationships and practice self-compassion by continually empathizing the collective experience of being human. We hurt, feel shame, forgive, and heal.  Then we can move on to care for ourselves and others more deeply and authentically.

Junior Fiction

Funny how books on unconventional schooling seem to appeal to me right now! The Year of Ms. Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill chronicles the journey of a tiny school community in rural Alaska, changed by one teacher who dared to care deeply and do more for her students. Children have been educated in extraordinary circumstances throughout history. This short novel reminds us all how one year with one teacher can form us for life.

Resilience Reading With a Child

Reading with children opens up space for them to reflect on their own stories through characters. Learning about other scared or disappointed people who find hope and purpose, guides children into doing the same.

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship ( Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes)

Jessica is injured in the Boston Marathon Bombing. She has her leg amputated which results in a long recovery and rehab process. Rescue is  Jessica’s Service Dog. Readers connect both with the overwhelming struggles of Jessica and the honest, nervous voice of Rescue. He had planned on being a Seeing Eye dog and is afraid he cannot be what Jessica needs.

A Chair for My Mother (Vera B. Williams)

Vera B. Williams won the Caldecott Honor for this book about waiting, saving, and celebrating family. Rosa’s home is destroyed in a fire.  Together with her mother, she saves coins in a jar to purchase a comfortable and cozy chair. This book is about setbacks and going forward. It also gently illustrates that family connection is the best outcome of all.

School’s First Day of School (Adam Rex and Christian Robinson)

This gentle masterpiece of a story talks about the first day of school jitters. And its told from the perspective of the school building! Children will connect with the school’s first day in which not everything goes perfectly, but he is proud that he learned to be brave.

Resilience Books for Resilience Building

Watch what you read. Especially when times feel shaky, uncertain, and fatigue has arrived. As we continue on in 2021, let’s take in stories that remind us of our strength and all the possibility still flourishing in our families and communities.

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