In many situations, especially difficult ones, children’s books share messages and teach lessons better than any parent or family member could.
This holds especially true when it comes to kids learning about differences ― different races, different religions, different abilities and more. We’ve rounded up 25 children’s books that celebrate various differences in ways children can both understand and enjoy. Check them out below.
"All Are Welcome"
Penguin Random House
This New York Times best-seller celebrates various cultures and introduces little readers to hijabs, yarmulkes and patkas, as well as different family traditions. (Available here)
"A Family Is a Family Is a Family"
House of Anansi
As part of a class assignment, students describe their different families, including a classmate being raised by a grandmother, another growing up with two dads and more. (Available here)
"Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story"
Tilbury House Publishers
Although she’s nervous at first, Lailah teaches her friends at school about Ramadan and the way she fasts throughout the holy month in this book. (Available here)
"Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! Celebrating Diversity With Empathy"
Cardinal Rule Press
Kid-favorite beverage chocolate milk serves as a symbol in this book about a growing friendship between a boy and his new classmate who doesn't speak English. (Available here)
"Different Is Awesome"
Different Is Awesome is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign from Ryan Haack, who was born with one hand and set out to bring more inclusion to the children’s book world. (Available here)
"What's Cool About Braille Code School?"
Braille Code Inc.
Gracie Benedith-Cane wrote What’s Cool About Braille Code School? in honor of her son Wani, who is legally blind. In the book, she explains to readers what it’s like to navigate the world with vision impairments and teaches about the importance of Braille. (Available here)
"Giraffes Can't Dance"
Gerald the giraffe faces other animals’ relentless teasing about his lanky body when he tries to do the one thing he loves: dance. He soon learns, though, that his confidence and just the right music mean he can dance without a care in the world. (Available here)
"The Push: A Story of Friendship"
Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, the author and illustrator of this book, based its story on their own friendship. It follows Marcus and his friend, John, who uses a wheelchair, throughout their many adventures together. (Available here)
Lucy's Umbrella follows its main character, Lucy, who has vitiligo, as she admires the patterns she notices in her surroundings. (Available here)
"The Princess and the Fog"
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
The Princess and the Fog puts a spin on the usual fairy tale by introducing children to the topic of depression and offering hope to anyone affected by it. (Available here)
"Happy in Our Skin"
The title Happy in Our Skin sums up this book's message well. Readers learn about the beauty in diversity while keeping up with different families spending time together. (Available here)
"My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope"
Alongside author Erica Moroz, "Orange Is the New Black" star Diane Guerrero gets personal in this story for older readers (which was adapted from her 2016 memoir) that explains how Guerrero’s parents, who were undocumented immigrants, were detained and deported while she was at school. (Available here)
"The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin"
The Innovation Press
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures tells the life story of 71-year-old Temple Grandin who as a child was diagnosed with autism and defied doctors’ expectations by earning her Ph.D. and becoming an authority on animal science and farming. (Available here)
"Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies With Sprinkles"
Star of the Week follows Cassidy-Li, who was adopted from China as a baby, as she prepares an assignment to teach her class about her life. Inspired by author Darlene Friedman’s own family, the book includes Cassidy-Li’s concerns about missing her birth parents and her creative way of including them in her project. (Available here)
"Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome"
Inspired by her daughter who has Down syndrome, author Lisa Tompkins writes about the importance of embracing everyone's differences and taking the time to truly learn about someone. You'll likely find out you have a lot in common. (Available here)
Although economic differences can be a bit more hidden than others, Maddi’s Fridge doesn’t shy away from the topic of poverty. In the book, Sofia, who has a fridge at home full of food, learns that her friend Maddi has a fridge that’s empty and struggles with whether she should tell her parents. (Available here)
"Moses Goes to a Concert"
Moses Goes to a Concert is part of a series that follows Moses and his classmates who are deaf. In this particular book, which features American Sign Language, he and his friends learn their teacher has a fun surprise in store. (Available here)
"I'm Like You, You're Like Me"
Free Spirit Publishing
While I’m Like You, You’re Like Me might sound like a book only about similarities, this work also teaches kids how fun it is to recognize the ways everyone stands out with their differences. (Available here)
A candle is the focus of this book that celebrates various cultures and religions as it weaves its way through the lives of many families. One family includes the object in their Kwanzaa celebration, another turns to it in place of their usual Havdalah candle and another uses it in their Saint Lucia crown. (Available here)
"What's the Difference? Being Different Is Amazing"
Doyin Richards, a father of two who's known as "Daddy Doin' Work" online, breaks down race relations for kids in his book What’s the Difference? Being Different Is Amazing. His message motivates little ones to be aware of and appreciate the differences among people, instead of being “colorblind.” (Available here)
"Mango, Abuela and Me"
Penguin Random House
Mango, Abuela and Me is another story about language barriers. When her grandmother moves into her family’s home, Mia comes up with ideas to strengthen her Spanish and her grandmother’s English so they can interact with each other more. (Available here)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Princess Hair is a picture book about black hair that teaches kids the beauty that can be found in its many textures and styles. (Available here)
Author Trace Wilson's life as someone born without a right hand motivated him to share his story about learning to love his limb difference. (Available here)
"The Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair"
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society sells this book that raises awareness for childhood cancer and discusses a topic not seen in many kids' books: hair loss. (Available here)
"What I Like About Me"
Simon & Schuster
What I Like About Me helps kids acknowledge their differences and embrace their braces, glasses and many things in between. It also serves as a lesson in self-esteem and asks kids, "What is it you like best about you?" (Available here)
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