by May Bleeker, updated 10 May 2017
If you are looking for guidance on how to build a strong sense of self worth then the books listed below might give you a starting point.
They either contain self esteem building activities or offer useful ideas and approaches.
Note: If you are looking for stand-alone free self-esteem activity worksheets, quotes and ideas go here instead:
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I've partnered with Powell's Books to provide the below list. Click on the book covers to find the individual books on their website or browse all of them at once in the bookshelf. Powell's is a USA based bookseller that ships to USA addresses. For Europe and elsewhere these books are available on Amazon.
If you want worksheets for kids or children's books, go here.
If you want books and games for teens, go here.
10 Days to Self Esteem
10 Days to Self Esteem is the work of Dr David D Burns, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The program is based on cognitive behavioral theory i.e. the idea that thoughts influence our moods (you feel the way you think) and that emotions and negative thought patterns can be changed.
Dr Burns indicates that this book can be used as a fast acting, safe and effective treatment for depression and/or low self esteem.
The program starts with some depression, anxiety and relationship scales (questionnaires that measure current feelings of depression, anxiety and relationship aspects). It then looks at distorted thinking and negative thought patterns as well as ways to replace unhealthy emotions with healthier ones.
To get the proven benefits of this book you will need to be prepared to answer the questionnaires and do the exercises while you are reading.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
Another book by Dr David D Burns. This one offers a drug-free alternative approach to dealing with low self esteem, anxiety, guilt and other negative feelings associated with depression.
It was used in a research project as a bibliotherapy 'treatment' for depression that did not use other medications or psychotherapy.
In a decade of study it was shown to be as effective as a course of psychotherapy or treatment with the best antidepressant drugs.
A study was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1995 by Drs Christine Jamison and Forrest Scogin showing that after the bibliotherapy treatment (using this book), more than 70% of the patients studied no longer met the criteria for major depressive episode (i.e. they were recovered according to the official diagnostic criteria).
The Self Esteem Coach: 10 Days to a Confident New You
This book by Lynda Field offers a step by step program to regain your natural confidence, balance and motivation. It combines theory and practice and is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology principles.
There is a self esteem checklist, a helpful exploration of what self esteem is, and a focus on the main areas to work with when trying to build and maintain your self esteem.
& She Sparkled
Not a book about self esteem building activities as such - but a book with a simple, but important message about happiness, hope and rediscovering the magnificent self you are and always have been. Once you know yourself that way, self esteem becomes irrelevant!
The author Joan Steffend says this book is "encouraging all of us to recognize that we are magnificent just as we are, and there is magic all around us, waiting to be seen and experienced." A lovely gift for someone you appreciate in life. This is a book for adults or young people.
It's Not About The Horse: It's About Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt
A wonderful book about a man and his horses, teaching people how to overcome fear and self doubt - the central things that block us from a joyful human experience. By Wyatt Webb, a kind of 'horse whisperer', but also for humans.
What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do - Common Horse Sense
More wisdom on how to deal with fear and self doubt, told with warmth by Wyatt Webb, creator of The Equine Experience.
Browse the full list at our Powell's bookshelf.
Find self esteem building activities and resources for kids and teens here.