How to Talk to Your Child About Rejection

It’s a part of life, but these books will remind your child they’re enough through every tough scenario.

Jul 15, 2022



How to Talk to Your Child About Rejection

Jul 15, 2022

We all face rejection at some point — but overcoming rejection and transforming the experience into something useful isn’t easy. In particular, young children may not understand or be equipped to handle such situations and the emotions they provoke. For instance, your child may be confused as to why they are excluded from certain friend groups at school when they’ve made every attempt to be a good friend.

By age 5, most children have reached a stage of social and emotional growth in which they are developing close friendships, admiring others, and wanting to be admired in return. They are also interested in self-expression: singing, dancing, and performing. You can imagine how high emotions run when these impulses to be oneself and to fit in at the same time converge. It’s inevitable that your child will experience rejection in some form during the early years of student life. 

Fortunately, at this age, children are also making strides when it comes to language and literacy: They’re asking big questions they want to answer themselves and making inferences where something is not explicitly stated. It’s a great time to turn to books for sizing up real-life problems.

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For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about rejection easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

Here are two Scholastic series that will help you discuss rejection with your child. Use them to prompt conversations about your child’s life in and out of the classroom, or to give a boost of confidence and self-esteem when needed.

For children in kindergarten or beginning elementary school

In the Owly series, readers follow the adventures of the title character, a kind and good-natured owl who goes out of his way to help others but who can’t seem to get in with the woodland-creature crowd. That is, until he meets Wormy, who could also use a friend. Despite the hurdles he faces with Wormy and a chipmunk named Scampy, Owly’s faith in the goodness of others never fails.

The four books in the Owly series are perfect for young readers. With their unique combination of words, symbols, and pictures, they’re also a great introduction to graphic novels, which are shown to engage reluctant readers. Graphic novels can also help students transition from reading picture books to chapter books.

For children in or approaching middle school

Older students with a few school years behind them have more complicated relationships — rejection at this age is felt more acutely and may be more destabilizing. When that first crush ends in heartbreak and best friends disappear overnight, look no further than the Nat Enough series by Maria Scrivan. Nat Enough is one of many popular graphic novel series for third graders and above who are developing important reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Over three books, Natalie navigates middle school while she is derailed by breakups and spats with soon-to-be-ex-friends. At every juncture, she blames herself for the losses and experiences deep feelings of inadequacy. Ultimately, Natalie’s test is to believe she is enough — more than enough — just the way she is.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on rejection and other must-discuss topics.

Shop the Owly and Nat Enough series below for positive messages about handling rejection. You can shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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