There is nothing much more effective that picking up a book that affects your outlook on life or motivates you to do better.  The great thing about books is the personal connection they can give an individual.  By picking up that book again and again, or placing it in a centralized location for motivating reminders, can help encourage the best in all of us!  The following books do just that!

Is Was, by Deborah Freedman, is a gorgeously painted picture book with all scenes filling the open page. The text is simple, yet very powerful, connecting how change affects nature – and ultimately life.  A young child goes through her day where she experiences weather changing quickly, a bee buzzing and then gone, a squirrel sitting in full sunshine and then a shadow of a hawk filling the sky, all shown with change happening continually.  What a great life lesson to grasp for all ages.  The spectacular pictures were rendered in watercolor and pencil.  Still, the sky is / the same sky / that was.

Wonder Women of Science: Twelve Geniuses Who Are Currently Rocking Science, Technology, and the World, by Tiera Fletcher and Ginger Rue, and wonderfully illustrated by Sally Wern.  This is an amazing and inspiring book that all kids ages nine through adult should read.  Initially, I thought this book, with over 170 pages, was too long for kids to desire to read.  But I soon discovered that the way this book is laid out will definitely draw kids into reading it.  In fact, this book is perfect for all family members!  There is a painted profile of the woman featured on one side of the open page and the opposite side has a quick fact file about her.  At the end of each of these twelve chapters, you find some interesting fact that perhaps drew that particular woman in (it sure drew me in).  Some of these twelve featured geniuses include Patricia Medici involved in saving the Tapirs, Rain Forests and more, and Kaitlin Sadtler involved in engineering Tissue Regeneration.

Unconventional Vehicles: Forty-Five of the Strangest Cars, Trains, Planes, Submersibles, Dirigibles and Rockets EVER, by Michael Hearst, and ingeniously illustrated by Hans Jenssen who envisioned these contractions onto paper perfectly, is a trip through possibilities.  As you look through these clever creations, you begin to thrill at the power of our minds.  Imagination is an important ingredient to problem solving and once you open this book, your imagination will go wild!  The principles behind each vehicle become an engineering lesson and the descriptions are easy to grasp.  The Helios Solar Aircraft is a very strange looking plane and needs no fuel.  When launched, it looks like a gigantic wing.  Each vehicle is briefly described with pictures on each open-page that are good for ages six through adult.

Kidstory: 50 Children and Young People Who Shook Up the World, by Tom Adams, and brightly illustrated in gouache, colored pencil and Photoshop by Sarah Walsh, has a kid-friendly layout with a brief biography along with quotes and photos on one open-page.  Two of these outstanding kids are inventor Ann Makosinski, who turned heat into electricity, and Afghan refugee Gulwali Passarlay, who survived against all odds.  One of his highlighted quotes is  If things had been easy for me, I would not be here now. Every day is an opportunity and I don’t want to waste it.  This book is perfect for ages nine and up.

Line and Scribble, by Debora Vogrig, and cleverly illustrated in black and red using only a crayon and fountain pen by Pia Valentines, is a picture book that brings out how people with differences in personalities can still become friends.  “Line” is very exact and precise.  “Scribble” is spontaneous and acts on the spur of the moment.  But what they both discover is they can appreciate each other’s abilities and perspective and unite.  This book also emits the world of imagination through the ingenious drawings.  There is much to learn and discuss in this simple texted book making it good for all ages.

Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration, by Donna Guthrie, and brilliantly illustrated by creating the images digitally with hand-drawn textures by Asa Gilland, is an ode to the most famous and brilliant playwright, poet and writer.  When he opens a window, words fly past him.  Throughout this magical and creative picture book, he attempts to capture them.  The most impressive subject here is how valuable words can be.  Kids of all ages might become enamored with the value of reading and increase their vocabulary which will open many doors!

The Song for Everyone, by Lucy Morris, emanates the joys and importance of music.  If you have a budding musician, this beautiful picture book will showcase how music lifts the soul.  The illustrations are buoyed up with a colored brilliance of watercolor, pencil, pencil crayon, ink and collage with digital manipulation.  The sparse, lilting text seems to sing right along with the pictures and is good for ages four through eight.

Fairy Tales of Fearless Girls and Bold Tales of Brave-Hearted Boys are two separate books by Susannah McFarlane.  Both books are reimagined to showcase strong heroines and heroes.  Both books have four stories, with pictures sprinkled throughout, and each story has three or four short chapters.  For instance, in the Fearless Girls book, you will find that Little Red Riding Hood is very smart and tricks the wolf. In Brave-Hearted Boys, the story about Jack and the Beanstalk, the giant forgives Jack even though Jack stole from him.  Both books teach the goodness in being honest, strong and standing up for what is right and good and is for ages six and up.

The Little Blue Bridge, by Brenda Maier, and vividly illustrated using recycled paper, charcoal pencil, pen, gouache and a combination of traditional and digital brushes by Sonia Sanchez, is an interesting spin from the classic The Billy Goats Gruff.  This story has Ruby trying to follow her brothers across a bridge blocked by a bully.  Read how she becomes very inventive and by using her brains she comes up with a solution. This book is good for ages four through eight.

What Will You Be?, by Yamile Said Mendez, and beautifully illustrated by Kate Alizadeh, searches many possibilities for a young girl as her Abuela helps guide and support her imaginings.  The little girl’s Abuela tells her to listen to her soul and the young girl says: I close my eyes, so I can Hear the words no ear can catch.  There are many underlying themes in this simple picture book.  However, the main theme is that there are so many possibilities in life and is good for ages four through eight.  The artist used scanned-in pencil lines, scanned-in textures and Photoshop to create the gorgeous digital illustrations.