What seems so normal within the walls of our house – eating crackers with peanut butter, mayo, and pickle relish, wearing costumes, or using family nick-names – can all be threatened by social norms when our kids go to school or play with friends. When kids are young they don’t think about other people’s opinions, but this slowly changes as they grow. These are some of my favorite books for teaching little ones how to be confident in who they are and how to treat others who are not the same as you.
by Syd Hoff
Oliver is an elephant who knows his strengths. When he is rejected from the circus he doesn’t give up. Oliver tries to follow the traffic laws as a car, he tries to be someone’s pet dog, and he tries to be a horse. But he knows this is not who he is. Oliver quickly learns that he can only be an elephant and that an elephant can bring a lot of strength and fun. When he embraces who he is he finds that his dreams come true!
by Munro Leaf
Ferdinand lives in a world where bulls are rough and tough fighters. Everyone in the city expects him to be like all the other bulls. Only Ferdinand’s mom knows who he truly is and allows him the space to explore and dream. When Ferdinand is taken to Madrid for a bull fight he stands strong in who he is, “no matter what.”
by Patty Lovell
A small girl with a giant amount of confidence, Molly Lou Mellon sings out loud in celebration, believes in who she is, and is brave in new situations. She uses comedy when being made fun of. This book ends with beautiful reconciliation between her and the boy who teased her because Molly Lou Melon “walked proudly…smiled big…sang out clear and strong,” and believed in herself.
by David Small
Imogene wakes up one morning with a head of antlers. Her mother faints and tries to cover them up. But Imogene embraces her new accessory and goes about her days as if all is normal. She celebrates her difference!
by Dan Bar-el
Crispin Blaze was not the fire breathing dragon his father hoped he would become. When his father tries to protect the family from the Knights by breathing fire he ignites the house instead. Crispin’s not-so-typical skill saves his family and his father realizes the beauty of having a son who is not like all the others. Crispin’s differences become something to celebrate among dragons and knights alike!
by Andrea Beaty
Iggy has loved architecture since he was two. When he starts school, however, his passion is not encouraged by his teacher. Iggy is disappointed and bored in school because he isn’t allowed to design and build. On a school field trip a bridge falls down and Iggy knows exactly how to save his class. To Iggy’s delight his teacher sees how wrong she was to not teach architecture. This book shows how kids’ gifts can be used to help, how they can be teachers in their own right by sharing their interests with others, and how adults need to allow kids to explore their interests!
by Maria Dismondy
Lucy takes her favorite lunch to school and soon sees that it is not the way other kids eat spaghetti. When she is teased by Ralph for being different, Lucy is sad and confides in Papa Gino who reminds her, “What a boring world it would be if we were all exactly the same.” Lucy knows she is loved and knowing that her differences make her special gives her courage to treat Ralph with kindness.
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Spoon spends his days wishing he was any other utensil in the drawer. He believes that the others are luckier than he is, for all their jobs are more useful or more exotic. While he dreams of what it would be like to be a fork, knife, or chopsticks, his friends wish they were spoons and get to be silly and solo. Spoon’s mom shows him how wonderful it is to be a spoon diving into ice cream and soaking in hot tea. With a new perspective on the importance of being himself, Spoon is excited by his abilities and differences!