As avid readers and passionate advocates for children’s literacy and emotional well-being, we’ve scoured libraries, bookshops, and literary reviews to compile a list that’s as diverse and enriching as it is joyful. Our selection caters to a wide audience, from toddlers to young teens, ensuring there’s a book for every young reader.
This curated list isn’t just a random assortment of titles. We’ve delved into various sub-genres, from timeless classics like “The Secret Garden” to modern, thought-provoking tales like “The Jar of Happiness”. Our choices reflect a blend of cultural diversity, emotional intelligence, and sheer delight. Whether it’s a story about finding joy in the simplest of things, learning the importance of kindness, or understanding the power of positive thinking, each book offers its unique flavor of happiness.
Designed for parents, educators, and young readers alike, our list aims to be a gateway to discussions about happiness, empathy, and self-discovery. So, let’s turn the page and embark on a joyful literary journey that promises to enlighten and entertain!
The Best Children’s Books About Happiness
“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden (HarperClassics)
- This timeless classic delves into the transformative power of nature and companionship. Set in the moors of Yorkshire, it revolves around Mary Lennox, a young, neglected girl who discovers a hidden, withered garden. As she nurtures this secret garden back to life, Mary herself undergoes a profound change, finding joy, health, and happiness in the process. This novel beautifully illustrates how caring for something outside of oneself can lead to inner happiness and how even the most barren places (and hearts) can bloom with a little love and attention.
“The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna
The Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure, 1)
- In this charming and whimsical tale, Mr. Fish learns a vital lesson about choosing happiness. Known for his perpetual gloom, he believes he's destined to spread "dreary-wearies." However, through encounters with various sea creatures who challenge his outlook, Mr. Fish discovers that happiness isn't a given trait but a choice. This vividly illustrated story is a delightful reminder that a smile can change not just our mood but also the world around us.
“Bernice Gets Carried Away” by Hannah Harrison
Bernice Gets Carried Away
- Bernice, a cat who finds herself in a foul mood at a birthday party, discovers that joy often comes from the most unexpected places. This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a journey with Bernice as she learns to navigate her emotions and finds that happiness isn't about perfect circumstances but rather about perspective and attitude. This story is a wonderful tool for teaching children about managing feelings and finding happiness in small, everyday moments.
“The Happy Owls” by Celestino Piatti
The Happy Owls
- This unique story contrasts the contentment of a pair of owls with the dissatisfaction of other farm animals. The owls, happy with their simple life, perplex the other animals who constantly seek more. This tale subtly imparts the wisdom of finding contentment in one’s current circumstances and the beauty of a life unburdened by material desires. Piatti's distinctive illustrations add depth to this simple yet profound story, making it a joyous read for both children and adults.
“Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids (Bucketfilling Books)
- This book introduces the concept of invisible "happiness buckets" that we all carry. It teaches children that through kindness, appreciation, and love, we can fill others' buckets and thus, our own. The metaphor is a powerful tool to discuss empathy and the interconnectedness of our actions and feelings. It's an excellent resource for parents and educators to foster an environment of mutual respect and positivity among children.
“The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy]” by Jon J. Muth
The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy]
- This profound and beautifully illustrated book adapts Tolstoy’s classic tale into a format accessible for children. It follows young Nikolai, who seeks answers to three essential questions: the best time to do things, the most important person, and the right thing to do. Through a series of encounters and reflections, Nikolai discovers that living in the present, being attentive to those around him, and showing kindness are key to happiness. This book not only entertains but also offers deep life lessons on mindfulness and compassion.
“My Heart Fills with Happiness” by Monique Gray Smith
My Heart Fills With Happiness
- This delightful board book, featuring an Indigenous protagonist, celebrates the simple joys of life. With each page, young readers explore what happiness can look like, from the warmth of the sun to the sound of laughter. Its gentle, rhythmic text and vibrant illustrations invite children to appreciate and find contentment in everyday moments. This book is a heartwarming reminder of the many reasons we have to smile, making it a perfect read for little ones.
“The Jar of Happiness” by Alisa Burrows
The Jar of Happiness
- Meg's story in "The Jar of Happiness" is a charming exploration of self-made joy. When she loses her literal jar of happiness, filled with tangible items like chocolate and ice cream, she discovers that happiness is not something that can be contained or lost. It’s a heartwarming tale that teaches children about resilience, the power of positive thinking, and the importance of finding happiness within oneself rather than in material possessions.
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” by Jane Cabrera
If You’re Happy and You Know It (Jane Cabrera’s Story Time)
- Cabrera’s rendition of this classic children’s song is a vibrant, interactive picture book that invites young readers to participate in the story. Expanding on the familiar lyrics, the book introduces various animals and their unique sounds, encouraging children to express joy through singing and actions. This playful, engaging read-aloud book is perfect for teaching kids about expressing emotions and finding joy in music and movement.
“Anna Hibiscus’ Song” by Atinuke
Anna Hibiscus Song
- Set in modern Africa, this book features Anna Hibiscus, a character full of life and joy. Overwhelmed with happiness and unsure how to express it, Anna turns to her family for advice. Through this journey, she discovers her unique way of sharing her joy: through song. This beautifully illustrated book celebrates the importance of family, culture, and self-expression. It's a heartwarming story that teaches children about the different ways joy can manifest and the importance of embracing and expressing one's emotions.