This inspirational book, aimed at 9-14 year olds, encourages kids and teens to believe in themselves, even when facing huge obstacles.

Fantastic People who Dared to Fail (review and GIVEAWAY!)

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Here in the UK, we’re coming to the end of our school year – some of you may have already finished, while others of us have another week to go (roll on, July 19th!).

I wonder how the last year has gone for your kids? Did they work hard? Exceed expectations? Cement some fabulous friendships? Develop a prowess for science, or history, or art?

Or did they struggle with difficult friendships, a teacher they didn’t click with, academic expectations they couldn’t quite meet?

If this sounds familiar, then I’m so thrilled to be able to offer you and your child the most wonderful of encouragements this weekend.

Fantastic People who Dared to Fail is a compilation of over 30 people who ‘changed the world by falling down first’, as the book’s subtitle explains. These people have two things in common: 1) they’ve done something incredible in their field, and 2) they had to overcome massive challenges in order to get there.

We all know the story of J.K. Rowling being turned down by multiple publishers before finding success with the Harry Potter series, but how about Temple Grandin, who was expelled from school because her teachers didn’t know how to deal with a student with autism – and yet went on to develop incredibly complex cattle technology, now widely used by farms across the US and Canada?

Or how about Shamayim Harris, who lost her 2 year old son in a tragic accident, but instead of wallowing in grief, chose to fuel her loss into transforming her deprived neighbourhood, starting transformation projects galore to ensure others would have the future her son wouldn’t have?

Or Charles Dutton, who spent nine years in prison after fatally stabbing another man – but, while he was there, came across a book of plays, which inspired him, upon his release, to go back to college and study drama, eventually becoming a successful Broadway actor?

Each story is told engagingly by author Luke Reynolds, who then turns it into a challenge geared towards an older child or teenager: what can we learn from this person’s story? Is there some way we can be encouraged through what we feel we’ve ‘failed’ at, or through the difficult times we’ve been through?

I love the way Fantastic People is so diverse. Those featured come from a huge variety of different countries, and represent different disciplines: sports, politics, film and theatre, writing, visual arts and more.

Another thing I really appreciated about the book was that not all those featured are particularly well-known. Initially, I was disappointed not to see more names I recognised.

But as I read on and on, I realised this was a huge advantage. After all, not many of our kids will become famous, but this book proves that you don’t have to be known by millions in order to make a huge difference to society!

The book is aimed at 9-14s, but I’ll let you into a secret: I’ve been reading it for myself.

Yup, that’s right. And I’ve found it super inspiring too. So please don’t feel you need to have a 9-14 year old to read it to.

Many of the stories would make great bedtime reading for a younger child too (although with a little censorship, as some of the stories discuss issues like rape which might not be so appropriate for a child outside the recommended age bracket). And I reckon older teenagers would get much from this book too.

You can get your hands on a copy or three right here on The Book Depository, Amazon or Wordery – but before you do that, why not enter my giveaway?

This giveaway has now closed. Congrats to Jane and Kate who each won a copy!

But did you know I give away free books EVERY.SINGLE.MONTH? Sign up so you don’t miss another giveaway!

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  1. The book sounds great – for my kids and for me! Often feel like I “could do better”. (I’m also a member of the class of 2002 – it’s our 17th anniversary in October)

  2. Looks good – bet it would be a good book to read over the summer before starting secondary school as kind of pre-challenging-season-pep-reading – this will be going to my mum’s goddaughter who’s doing just that if we win the giveaway (otherwise might just suggest mum gets it as a good godparent gift!)

  3. Life throws so many challenges at you that at times we all need that extra inspiration when we find it hard in ourselves. Inspiring others to see they can face those challenges is why I feel you have them placed at your door. This book sounds perfect for inspiration.

  4. This sounds like a fantastic book that I’d love both my kids to read. My son has just started getting into books that tell stories of ordinary people achieving ordinary things – and as he’s uptight about upcoming tests this looks like it would be a great antidote….

  5. My 8.5 yr old boy could do with this. Although he has improved over the year, he definitely has a fear of failing and needs that reassurance. I can probably relate too!

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