Children absorb stress. They know about political uneasiness, weather tragedies and racial issues.

One of the best ways to combat their stress is by reading empowering, positive, thoughtful books to them. Here are a few:

Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace

By Harris J; illustrated by Ward Jenkins; Simon & Schuster; 32 pages; $17.99

Young British Muslim artist and musician Harris J aims to spread his message of peace and love to youngsters in the joyous picture book, Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace.

Salam Alaikum

“Salam alaikum” means “Peace be upon you” and is a greeting Muslims use to say hello and goodbye. Harris couples the lyrics from the hit song of the same name with energetic, happy illustrations depicting people paying it forward.

Kindness and community are focal points in Harris’ book, and his call to action goes, “Spread peace on earth ... Treasure the love, let it surround us. Always be kind, always remind one another. Peace on earth every day.”

Salam Alaikum is a loving, fun way to fight stereotypes and promote kindness, a multicultural ode to the best in humanity.

Sing, Don’t Cry

By Angela Dominguez; Henry Holt & Co.; 32 pages; $17.99

Angela Dominguez’s grandfather, Apolinar Navarrete Diaz, lost his leg in a bus accident as a child, learned to play guitar and grew up to be a popular Mexican musician. Dominguez wanted to share his optimism and song to others, so she penned Sing, Don’t Cry, a lovely picture book tale about him.

From the liner pages filled with 1940s photos of Navarette, his band, Los Aguiluchos, and guitar stills, to his message of “Sing, don’t cry,” her optimistic book is a resilience reminder for all.

Dominguez’s charming, muted illustrations show loving family members adoring their patriarch and his uplifting singsong advice to sing because it makes distances seem smaller, allows lost things to make room for new ones and “can attract someone to sing with you.”

Everybody can sing. “Sing, don’t cry,” he says. “Because singing gladdens the heart.”

Especially in times like these.

The Bad Mood and the Stick

By Lemony Snicket; art by Mathew Forsythe; Little, Brown & Books, 40 pages; $17.99

I had no idea how much I would love The Bad Mood and the Stick, and it’s truly cooler the more I read it.

Shrouded in mystery, author Lemony Snicket is known for his chapter books, but he does wonderfully here with the offbeat tale of a bad-mood cloud and a stick, and how the stick affects Curly, her mother and a man who falls in mud.

Though the mood passes on to others, the stick remains a part of the tale until an ice cream scooper sees its beauty and turns it into a work of art. The bad mood gets thwarted as well, when mud-soaked Lou meets dry cleaner Mrs. Durham, who finds Lou charming and sends the mood out the window.

Retro-cool illustrations from Matthew Forsythe make every page look like it’s out of a 1960s reader. The entire tale reminds me of an original Little Miss/Mr. Men book. It’s a surefire way to turn a frown upside down.

This Beautiful Day

By Richard Jackson; illustrated by Suzy Lee; Atheneum/Simon & Schuster; 34 pages; $15.99

“This beautiful day ... has everyone dancing and spinning and swinging around.” But not because it’s sunny outside. No, it’s pretty darn rainy and miserable, but the happy kids in This Beautiful Day don’t see it that way. They skip and sing and call aloud in puddles. They release their umbrellas to the sky once it stops raining and then climb trees, saying, “high-fiving and yes, we’re-alive-ing” in the marigold sun.

Suzy Lee’s beautiful, flowing sketches evoke the pure joy the characters have in whatever the weather is. Richard Jackson’s sparse text that’s singsongy and positive will remind young kids to take joy in every day.

Everywhere, Wonder

By Matthew Swanson; illustrated by Robbi Behr; Imprint/Macmillan; 42 pages; $17.99

In Everywhere Wonder, a little boy takes a journey, reminding himself and others that “the world is full of people and places, all of them interesting. All of them beautiful,” if you keep your eyes wide open as you go.

He visits the pyramids in Egypt, the rainforest in Brazil, the Grand Canyon and even the moon and a Sheboygan, Wis., “tractor mechanic named Shirley who has thirty-seven friends.”

Our boy acknowledges that there are other wonders “not so far from where you are now. Stop to look, and you will see them.” He finds a dime at the bottom of a pool, a balloon in a tree and one noodle unlike the others in his soup, and reminds readers, “open your eyes and open your window and let your story out into the world.”

A truly vivid, empowering, colorful, adventurous tale perfect for kids who need a reminder of how joyous life is, Everywhere, Wonder is a real gem.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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