I had a beautiful moment with my 5-year-old daughter the other day. One of those moments that confirms that you are doing okay as a parent and that the little person you are raising is destined to make the world a better place.
We were sitting on the couch reading one of these books that celebrates diversity.
“We all have different colored skin! What color is your skin?” I asked my daughter, reading from the book.
Alice examined the fairly peachy skin on her arm for a minute, a bit confused by my question.
“Um. blonde, I guess. But who cares what color it is! It just holds my bones in, Mommy!” Alice responded, giving me a look of annoyance that I’m confident I will see many more times in her teenage years,
Guys, my heart soared.
My 5-year-old daughter is not sheltered from diversity and differences. Not in the least. She knows people look different, believe different things, come from different places, and live different ways. I don’t know if it’s because she has been told all those things up front from a young age, but she doesn’t see differences as anything notable but rather just a lovely part of how the world is.
Our reading session from that other day inspired this list.
“Being uniquely you is the best person you can be”
This is a lesson that I try to ingrain into all of the little minds that I touch. But just as each child’s unique qualities should be celebrated, so should the differences of others. Children sometimes need adults to highlight how special differences are and help them internalize why they are something to embrace instead of fear or judge. Talking is always great, but I often turn to books to help reinforce values and ideas with children.
Here are 11 books that I love and adore that celebrate differences in a kid-friendly, down-on-their-level kind of way.
1. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Hekes
This is a really lovely book about a little mouse that has a beautifully unique name. The story follows along her journey of learning it’s okay to be her unique and different self, despite what other’s may think about her.
2. Pete the Cat and The New Guy by Kimberly & James Dean
Pete is curious about his new neighbor, Gus the Platypus. Gus struggles to find something he can do as well as his friends, but with Pete’s encouragement, he is able to find his own unique and special talents.
3. I’m Like You, You’re Like Me by Cindy Gainer
This books talks about how differences make us each unique and interesting. It gives many age-appropriate examples of how people can be different and that different is actually a wonderful thing.
4. It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr
This is a super colorful and silly book that is wonderful for a lot of ages. It talks about accepting differences and being confident in your own difference in a fun and age-appropriate manner. This is a book I frequently read to my daughter and students whenever the subject of difference comes up.
5. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
This sweet book tells the store of a boy who is rejected from the local pet club for having an elephant for a pet rather than a typical pet. He bands together with other children who have atypical pets to create an all-inclusive pet club where all are welcome!
6. Olivia and The Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer
I love all of the books in the Olivia series, but this one especially strikes a special chord with me! It talks about Olivia’s struggle to decide what to be for Halloween, wanting to set herself apart from all the other little girls who wish to go as fairy princesses. My absolute favorite line from the book is “If everyone’s a princess, then princesses aren’t special anymore!”
7. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
This beautiful illustrated book follows a little girl named Lena and her noticing how many beautiful shades and hues skin comes in. She discovers we are all different and all alike in many ways, but we are all connected to one another.
8. We Are All Alike…. We Are All Different by Cheltenham Elementary Kindergarteners
This book is extra special, as it truly explores how children view differences because it is written and illustrated by a kindergarten class! Its beautiful perspective is not only valuable to children, but refreshing for adults too!
9. Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki
A sweet story about accepting yourself for who you are. Suki is a little girl who wants to wear her kimono to school on the first day of school, but her sisters are embarrassed by this idea. Suki decides to be proud of her heritage and who she is and wear her lovely kimono despite what others may think.
10. Friends by Aiko Ikegami
This brand spanking new book has quickly become a favorite of mine, my daughter and my students! A new little girl comes to school and she is different. She struggles to make friends until one friendly creature gives her a chance and soon the whole school is embracing how wonderful different can be!
11. Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
This story tells the tale of a blue crayon who is mistakenly named “Red” and struggles to find his identity because he knows he is truly blue inside. It highlights the importance of not judging people by their labels and seeing them for who they are on the inside above all else.
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