How Leo Lionni Inspires Children to Face Adversity

Picture from story, Tillie and the Wall by Leo Lionni.

How Leo Lionni Inspires Children to Face Adversity

Leo Lionni is a classic children’s author and illustrator who was inspired to draw while telling stories to his grandchildren. Little did he know, he would become famous for his beautiful artwork and classic stories that teach natural abilities of resiliency. Children as young as two learn coping and thinking styles that are modeled by parents or through stories. Here are examples of how this author is able to subtly inspire resilience while providing enjoyment in his beautifully written words and illustrations.


Cover page of Tillie and the wall written by Leo Lionni Tillie and the Wall

In this story, we see excellent examples of optimism and reaching out. Tillie, a determined little mouse, is able to turn a blind eye to negativity and see her mistakes as learning opportunities.


Cover of Swimmy, written by Leo Lionni Swimmy

Despite losing his entire family, Swimmy is able to help others using his abilities to analyze the cause of a problem and self-efficacy. He was able to feel effective about making a difference in his little corner of the sea, by accurately identifying a problem and coming up with a unique solution that also helps others.


Cover of Frederick, written by Leo Lionni Frederick

This story stars a quiet and misunderstood mouse who draws on his abilities of emotional regulation and empathy. Even though he did not help his friends with physical labour, Frederick was able to understand their needs and help them to look within themselves to find comfort when they needed it the most.


Looking for more? Here are some other great titles that illustrate resilient thinking and coping that can be found at your local library.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend by Ruth Ohi

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy by Scott Menchin

Target Age
0-3 , 3-6 , 6-12
2000 Words to Grow , Current Research , Engagement , Skill Development
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