Every parent dreams of raising a child who is happy, well-adjusted, and brimming with confidence. Even if that’s achieved, along the way there are bound to be some challenges. Many children experience periods of extreme shyness, self-doubt, and the feeling of not fitting in. Books can be a powerful tool in helping children to love and accept themselves during these difficult times.
Below are ten incredible stories that teach children the value and importance of self-love and help them develop a foundation for their own well-being and happiness:
by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum is a happy girl who loves her name…until she attends her first day of school. One little girl shouts, “You’re named after a flower!” Another teases, “Let’s smell her!” Now, Chrysanthemum is unsure of her name and feels very out of sorts. Can she remember how wonderful her name is and look past the mean comments?
With the help of a very special teacher, Chrysanthemum learns to love herself all over again. “Chrysanthemum” is a relatable, honest tale about self-esteem, the effects of teasing, and acceptance. This beloved picture book was named a Notable Book for Children by the American Library Association.
“The Sneetches and Other Stories”
by Dr. Seuss
A timeless picture book from the one-of-a-kind Dr. Seuss, “The Sneetches and Other Stories” is a book of four quirky tales including one about The Sneetches. Some Sneetches are born with stars on their bellies. Others are not. The ones with stars decide they are better than the ones who have none. At the end, they all learn a great lesson about appearance and self-love. Told in fun, rhyming Seuss style and accompanied by his unique illustrations.
“You Are Special”
by Max Lucado
“You Are Special” is an award-winning book about a race of wooden dolls known as the Wemmicks. Wemmicks are created by the Master Wood Carver and very much resemble Pinocchio. Using a grading system of grey dots or gold stars, each Wemmick has their worth measured. Punchinello is broken-hearted over the many grey dots he has received. The festival is on the horizon and he’s afraid he’ll receive the dreaded “Most Dots” award. Then, he meets a new friend who doesn’t have any stars or dots at all. And she is the happiest Wemmick he’s ever seen. Punchinello quickly learns that what’s inside a person is worth much more than what’s on the outside.
“Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun”
by Maria Dismondy
Despite being teased at school, Lucy loves herself and the way she looks. Plus, all the things she likes are different, and that makes them special. It hurts to be teased, but it hurts even more to see someone else on the receiving end. So, Lucy feels thankful when she gets a chance to help a little boy who is also being picked on by the other kids.
“I Like Myself”
by Karen Beaumont
As one Amazon reviewer says, “Every child should own this book. It is about loving yourself ‘inside, outside, upside down, from head to toe and all around,’ even if you have ‘beaver breath’ or ‘stinky toes’ or ‘horns protruding from your nose.’”
The little girl in “I Like Myself” loves herself to no end. Because of her self-appreciation, she’s happy, energetic, and loves the world around her. The funny phrases and colorful images are highly reminiscent of Dr. Seuss and infused with Beaumont’s own brand of creativity.
by Wayne W. Dyer
Affectionately called the “father of motivation” by his fans, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer was an internationally renowned author, speaker, and pioneer in the field of self-development. In “Unstoppable Me” Dyer’s inspirational and powerful message for children is that “you can do anything, be anything, achieve anything if you believe in yourself.” The themes include “You’re Great, No Matter What,” “Peace Begins With You,” and “Healthy Me,” among others.
by Raina Telgemeier
If you have a child struggling with braces, retainers, or headgear, “Smile” is the book for them. Based on the author’s childhood, this heartwarming and hilarious memoir tells the story of falling and injuring one’s two front teeth, and paying the consequences for years to come in the form of some heavy – and some not-so-heavy – metal.
Throw in a major earthquake, boy troubles, and two-faced friends and you have the makings of a real-life adolescent horror show. Thankfully, the author lived to tell her story and has a great message for kids about self-love.
by Judy Blume
Deenie has always lived a normal life. Then one day she receives a scary diagnosis: scoliosis. When she sees her brace for the first time she’s scared and worried. How will her friends react? What if she no longer fits in? Will she turn into one of the “outcasts” that she’s always frowned upon?
The response is unexpected, and her life and outlook is forever changed. A classic by the remarkable coming-of-age storyteller Judy Blume.
“The Skin I’m In”
by Sharon Flake
Whether struggling with identity or trying to understand the issues surrounding diversity, teens will relate to Maleeka – a girl who is taunted for her skin color by the other kids in her class. Maleeka is so wrapped up in her own problems she barely notices when a new teacher arrives. Soon, Maleeka discovers the teacher has skin issues of her own – but rather than cower behind them, the teacher exhibits the strength and courage to look beyond her students’ snickers. Will Maleeka follow in her shoes?
by Siobhan Vivian
Every year, a list is posted. One girl from each grade is chosen the prettiest and one is chosen the ugliest. In high school, the latter is every teen girl’s nightmare. “The List” tells the story of eight high school girls who must deal with their ranking while already struggling with how they see themselves. “Siobhan Vivian’s latest novel tackles the beauty myth head on. Readers will find themselves relating to each character’s struggles,” says Bookpage.
What kids’ books about self-love would you add to this list? Share in the comments!