10 Children's Books That Can Change The World

by Lantana Publishing on January 29, 2021

How can we help our children be strong even in adversity? Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of the immensely popular How to Change the World (Puffin), shares a fab list of books that will uplift, inspire and empower even the littlest child to become a world-changer.

What does it mean to change the world? To me, it’s not just big movements that hit the papers and find their way into our history books. Changing the world starts with tiny steps. And the first ones take place somewhere deep inside us when we move towards kindness, understanding, empathy, and hopefulness. Here are 10 books I think can help with that…

The Spots and The Dots by Helen Baugh and Marion Deuchars (Andersen Press)

THIS BOOK HAS TWO SIDES!!! Sorry, had to lead with that. Seriously. It’s a stunningly illustrated and very, very clever double-sided story told from two perspectives. A story about “othering” and the fear of the unknown with a beautiful message about understanding and acceptance.

It’s a No-Money Day by Kate Milner (Barrington Stoke)

This is a heart-breaking book about a child living below the poverty line. Lovingly illustrated and sensitively told, this story will encourage empathy and open up important conversations, which, sadly, with the rise of food banks and child poverty, are more relevant than ever before.

Tomorrow by Nadine Kaadan (Lantana)

A favourite in our house, this beautiful book is a window into the life of a child surrounded by war. More than this, it’s a window into this child’s feelings and all the confusion and change conflict brings with it. Make no mistake though – in spite of all of this, it’s a hopeful book bursting with love.

Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu and Zainab 'Daby' Faidhi (Old Barn Books)

For older readers (10+), this timely book is both heart-breaking and uplifting. A thought-provoking, stereotype-smashing read, it shows us how any one of us could become a refugee. An important bridge towards understanding and empathy in a world where media portrayals of refugees are so dangerously one-sided.

The Lost Homework by Richard O’Neill and Kirsty Beautyman (Child's Play) 

This gorgeous book takes us into the world of a child in the Traveller community. This is a community we rarely see in the pages of children’s books and this depiction is so lovely. And it has a very relevant message about the many skills that are learned at home.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson (Andersen)

This strikingly illustrated picture book poem shines a spotlight on some incredible people – ‘the unforgettable’. It’s a powerful book that will leave you feeling strong and inspired and ready to take on the world (in the best of ways!).  

I Am Not A Label: 34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from the past and present by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Mark Baldo (Wide Eyed Editions)

This is a beautifully illustrated collection of biographies that, in the author’s words, ‘celebrates the different ways in which people experience disability’. The stories are rich and varied and completely wonderful and showcase role models with visible as well as hidden disabilities.

Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean and Sandhya Prabhat (Simon & Schuster)

This is an amazingly joyous book about family, love, and acceptance (and that double-layered cover by Sandhya Prabhat is just WOW). It’s also an LGBTQ+ story and we could always do with more of these because every child should be able to see themselves, their families, and the people around them reflected in children’s books.

Peace and Me by Ali Winter and Mickaël El Fathi (Lantana)

This magnificent book is inspired by the lives of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. It explores what peace means, how we find it, how we make peace possible through our actions. A truly inspiring book for young world-changers.


Poems from a Green and Blue Planetedited by Sabrina Mahfouz (Hodder)

Before we can change the world, we need to understand it and appreciate it. What better way to do that than through the medium of poetry? This gorgeous collection is a celebration of life on our planet from the deepest oceans to snowy mountaintops and crystal skies. With its gloriously diverse selection of poets and forms of poetry, it’s an all-round delight.

There are many more books I could include in a list like this but 10 felt like a good number to start with. And yes, it hurt to leave so many wonders out. But this is such a happy problem to have. Tell me – what would you add to the list?

Thank you for this wonderful list, Rashmi! Follow Rashmi on Twitter and Instagram and learn more about her and her books on rashmisirdeshpande.com


Rashmi is a lawyer turned author who writes picture books and illustrated non-fiction for children. Her latest book, How To Change The World, is illustrated by Annabel Tempest (Puffin Books) and showcases 15 true stories of activism and teamwork. Her next book with Wren & Rook continues this hopeful, world-changing theme but for children aged 9+. It’s called Good News: Why The World Is Not As Bad As You Think. It’s illustrated by Adam Hayes and is out in June 2021.





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