Motherhood

16 Children’s Books That Foster Acceptance

Children's Books that Foster Acceptance

Recently, the boys have been really into a new-to-us book: Julián Is a Mermaid, the story of a little boy who wants to dress up like a sparkly mermaid. The illustrations couldn’t be more beautiful, and I love how Julián’s grandmother accepts him for exactly who he is. The boys keep asking to read it. I’m so grateful for books like these that help foster acceptance and understanding from a young age. Do you have any recommendations? Here are 15 more…

Children's Books that Foster Acceptance

Red

Children's Books that Foster Acceptance

Thoughts? What would you add?

P.S. Children’s books featuring characters of color and female heroines.

(Top and bottom photos of Julián Is a Mermaid.)

  1. Lacey Wicksall says...

    Hug Time – the sweetest little book you’ll ever read.

  2. Leni Plimpton says...

    Thanks for the list! I’m ordering Julian is a Mermaid for my 14 month old son now. :) One small critique: I wish there had been a small summary of each book with this post.

  3. Chelsea says...

    Thank you for these. We are expecting our son in August (!) and I am so so over the moon excited to share my love of reading with him as he grows. It’s awesome how many more progressive (and still fun, not didactic) options there are nowadays for children!

  4. Great books! I also love books that embrace diversity. A great children’s book: Q Saves the Sun https://tigerstripepub.com/q-saves-the-sun/
    Love the publisher’s mission: “Our mission is to develop high-quality products that celebrate underrepresented people.”

  5. Magdaleba says...

    We love “Not quite Narwhal” it’s a great book about Kelp who grew up with narwhals thinking he is one too, but then discovers he is actually a unicorn. It’s beautiful and the illustrations are gorgeous.

  6. Catherine O’Connor says...

    Really loved this post. ❤️
    I have two children aged 7&5 years and I feel passionately about imparting the importance of fostering acceptance and how we can all learn from each other. I stumbled upon the “we’re all wonders book” a few months ago & it moved me to tears. My children loved it & I asked both their teachers to read it to their respective classes. I must now order a few more from your list to add to our never ending book collection ??

  7. Joanna says...

    The Junkyard Wonders, also by Patricia Polacco, is one of the best I’ve ever read. I cry when I read the epilogue. Sort of about special needs. Spectacular.

  8. Erin says...

    Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el! It’s a funny book about a dragon who disappoints and shocks his parents by not being able to breathe fire. He is accepted by various other characters throughout the book, defended by his father, and in the end appreciated by his community for what makes him different. We laugh through the book and then I tear up when reading the last line.

  9. We read “Red” to our daughter when we needed to tell her that her Bobby (non-bio parent) was going to transition from female to male. We talked about how people feel inside & how sometimes it doesn’t match the outside. It was BRILLIANT for a 4 year old. She really got the essence of what the transition meant to her Bobby. I’m really, really grateful for that book.

  10. Rebecca Politzer says...

    Sparkle boy it is an incrediblely sweet little story about a boy who wants to be just like his big sister and wear the sparkly clothes she wears she objects unill some bullies give him a hard time and she goes protective big sister and sees the erreor of his ways

  11. ne says...

    This is one of my favourite posts!!

  12. Oh! We’ve been searching out books where racial diversity intersects with other types of diversity – we really like Hello Goodbye Dog
    (http://beyondthesnowyday.blogspot.com/2018/03/hello-goodbye-dog-by-maria-gianferrari.html) and Teddy’s Favorite Toy (https://beyondthesnowyday.blogspot.com/2018/05/teddys-favorite-toy-by-christian-trimmer.html). Emmanuel’s Dream is another good one you already have listed that we’ve read a million times (and met the author at the Brooklyn Museum!).

  13. Joanna Tsay says...

    Off the top of my head, when I was young I loved The Hundred Dresses and Crow Boy. Also, even though it’s quite sad, The Fox and the Hound. Before I watched the movie I had one of those entire sets of readalong Disney books and that was one of them.

  14. Heidi says...

    Thank you so much for this. Growing up in a small town, I was one of two nonwhite students at my primary school and was teased relentlessly by my classmates because of how I looked, how my parents spoke, the food I brought for lunch, my “hard to pronounce” last name, and more. I’ll never forget my horrible nickname, “Ellis Island”, which was used even up until seventh grade even though I came to the United States over the Pacific Ocean on a plane. I’m so happy that kids growing up now have resources like this to help them open their minds – and even more grateful that more and more children can see themselves, their families, and their feelings reflected in media.

    • joanie says...

      We successfully shared this film with our middle school parents on Justice Day last year. I am a retired school nurse and support all these efforts as it is the only healthy approach to a life well lived in love and goodness.

  15. Genevieve says...

    Strictly No Elephants! I read this to a group of second graders and they loved it.

  16. Emily says...

    I may have just requested every one of these books (including those in the comments) from my library. Thanks, everyone.

    • Stacey... yes I am a librarian says...

      Yea for libraries! Check them out before purchasing them everyone! Saves money and libraries at the same time!

  17. Christina says...

    This is such a great post and I so appreciate reading all of the additional recommended books in the comments. Would anyone have any suggestions for board books for toddlers that have diverse characters as well?

    • NatalieDU says...

      Christina,
      I was given a book called Everywhere Babies which is really lovely – it’s become our bedtime book and has a lovely rhyming lilt to it. While the text doesn’t explicitly always talk about diverse characters apart really from the first page, the illustrations feature babies and parents of all kinds of skin tones, as well as same-sex couples etc. So you can talk about that with them :)

    • Erin says...

      For acceptance: Sandra Boynton’s “But Not the Hippopotamus”

      For skin color diversity: “Look at You! A Baby Body Book” by Kathy Henderson (young toddlers) and the Fisher Price Little People flap books (older toddlers/preschool)

  18. edie says...

    I’m all for for books that teach kid to be inclusive, but I’d rather my child not question his gender (or sexuality) right now. It seems like some of these books may be advocating for that type of thing, but maybe I’m just stingy and old-fashioned. Regardless he’s five and doesn’t even know where babies come from yet, so we’ll stick with Suess and Clifford.

    • Bea says...

      Edie, do you think books cause children to change their gender identity? Almost all children’s books only include cisgender characters, and yet not all children identity as cisgender. If you truly believe in inclusivity, perhaps you need to rethink your assumptions.

    • Melissa says...

      I don’t really understand your point of view. I am a mom of three boys. One of my boys likes things like mermaids and princesses while the other two prefer things like trucks and star wars. Do I think that my oldest son (who is 7) has any idea what his likes/dislikes mean for his gender/sexuality? No. But, what he does know without a doubt is that he’s different than most boys his age. His brothers know it too. So reading books where the main character is a boy that likes mermaids is good reading for ALL of my boys. It teaches them acceptance amongst a wide spectrum of differences. Not just in how we look, but what we like to do and play with.

    • Sasha says...

      Why wouldn’t you want your child to question his/her gender or sexuality right now? Do you think questioning is what leads to identity? It’s not.

      No one ever decided to be gay, or transgender because of a children’s book. That’s just not how it works. But if you’re child happens to be gay, or transgender (or just different in any way at all) wouldn’t you want them to have access to books that teach them that they are loved, accepted and valued, just as they are? It sounds like you have fears about your child being different. Call me old fashioned, but I would encourage you to really think about what unconditional love looks like. Your child deserves that.

    • edie says...

      Thanks for the feedback, ladies :)

      Sasha, I absolutely believe that a child (who isn’t questioning) could start questioning because of ideas planted in their head by a book. That’s not hard for me to believe at all. And re: the call for unconditional love – that’s exactly what I’m offering my child. I don’t mind if my kiddo is atypical, but I love them enough to not allow them to make life-altering choices at six years old. A boy is a boy and a girl is a girl….nothing can change that fact.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great to read this discussion here! personally, from my experience/reading/discussions in the past, i would never ever think a book about a child questioning gender identity would lead to another child truly questioning his or her gender identity, unless those questions were already there.

      in our personal experience: i’ve talked to our boys a lot about how people can marry someone of their same sex, or how some people know inside that they’re actually a boy (or girl) even though they were born with girl (or boy) parts, etc. etc. And my boys hear it, think about it, meet friends of ours who are gay/trans/etc, and they just accept it. they don’t get confused about their own identities. (of course, that would be okay if they did! it just doesn’t happen for them because they seem to be cisgender)

      gender identity and sexual orientation isn’t something reading a book will change. another way to think about it is that if person is gay or trans, reading all the books with straight/cisgender characters wouldn’t change them to be straight or cisgender. you just are who you are!

      these books are all about acceptance and understanding others, or feeling accepted/seen and getting a better sense of yourself — not changing people into something they aren’t.

      and a “life-altering choice” — for example, a child knowing that they’re trans — is never something that happens in one day or from one book. their gender identity is something that is true and necessary for them and that has felt true and right for years, often since they were born.

      here’s a great insight from a mother of a transgender child, in case anyone is interested:
      https://cupofjo.com/2017/02/my-son-is-transgender/

      thank you again for these discussions!

    • edie says...

      I always appreciate how you sustain a dialogue with your audience, Jo. :)

      I understand I’m in the minority, but I think the jury is still out on a majority of transgender issues. For instance, the suicide rate is high in that community, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to bullying/discrimination. In more liberal countries (such as Sweden) the rate is still alarmingly high and studies I’ve read have shown that transition doesn’t always equal the happiness/normalcy it’s promised to bring.

      I worry we’re rushing into things. Adults are free to make their own decisions, obviously, but kids need guidance. Especially due to the fact that puberty blockers can lead to fertility issues down the road. Lots to think about! And in the end, I know we all want what’s best for our kids.

  19. Mary says...

    Yes. I love Not Quite Narwhal – it’s so sweet.

    • Carol says...

      Yes – I adore this book! It was recently available at my kids’ school book fair and it was the book I bought for me. The ending makes me all teary!

  20. Mary says...

    Another book I love is Ferdinand the Bull. The main character stays true to who he is (kind and gentle) and that’s wonderful, but there’s a short bit about his mother that always gets me. At one point towards the beginning Ferdinand’s mom is worried that he is lonely sitting under the treat all by himself so she suggests that he run and play with the other bulls. He says he doesn’t want to, and then there’s a line about how, because his mom is a understanding mother, she realizes that he’s not lonely and is actually very happy sitting by himself under the tree. As a very-extroverted mom of a very-introverted child, I always appreciate the gentle reminder in the book.

    • Nicole says...

      I could probably recite this one from memory—my anxious introvert loves Ferdinand so!

  21. Denise says...

    I love children’s books, so thanks for new suggestions. For the record, I want to be a mermaid too.

  22. Alissa says...

    I’m so grateful for parents who actively teach their children to practice acceptance- reading is such a wonderful way to do this. I’m not yet married but I am gay, so my future children will have two mothers. Whenever I feel anxious about what my kids will experience I try to remember there are so many proactive, thoughtful parents out there who are raising children who will readily accept mine. Thank you.

  23. We absolutely adore “We’re All Wonders” – a major favorite in this house. I love this post – so excited to Christmas shop in May!

  24. Lauren says...

    Giraffes Cant Dance is super cute!

    https://www.amazon.com/Giraffes-Cant-Dance-Giles-Andreae/dp/0545392551/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526402242&sr=8-1&keywords=giraffes+can%27t+dance

    My son has a physical disability and moves differently than others. This is a great book for embracing your physical abilities and promoting acceptance.

    Also, Todd Parr books are awesome!

    The Family Book give examples of different family structures: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Book-Todd-Parr/dp/0316070408/ref=pd_sim_14_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0316070408&pd_rd_r=7CJ73SW6V9K9H9MWAFGB&pd_rd_w=ws29e&pd_rd_wg=ax8ap&psc=1&refRID=7CJ73SW6V9K9H9MWAFGB

    It’s Okay to Be Different is about self-acceptance. Cute and bright illustrations too!

    https://www.amazon.com/Its-Okay-Different-Todd-Parr/dp/0316043478/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0316043478&pd_rd_r=RAPB7FWXDQBY4P0Z12FB&pd_rd_w=KKNgr&pd_rd_wg=PlZxa&psc=1&refRID=RAPB7FWXDQBY4P0Z12FB

  25. Jennifer says...

    Thank you for this post! I am so excited just purchased the book My Friend Isabelle! My daughter is six year old and has Down Syndrome. This will be a great book to read to her kindergarten class! :)

    • Molly says...

      Love seeing other COJ readers who are part of the Down Syndrome community ? And, of course, love all of these book recommendations!!

  26. Liddy says...

    Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress! This book literally changed my gender non-conforming child’s life via his self-perception. I love it all – Morris loves to wear a dress (the color reminds him of his mother’s hair, the swishy sound reminds him of the jungle…), he gets picked on, he works through it with love from his momma, a dream, and artwork, and eventually gains acceptance. It looks at some of these issues without overtly talking about gay/trans/etc. – for little kids it is often just about a dress (for now).

    • f says...

      We just borrowed this book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress too! My son is 4.5 yrs old right now, and stories at this age are a vehicle to explore ideas and thoughts and ask questions that might seem scary or intimidating. It’s just a story, but it does plant a seed to be open minded and to accept differences in play and in life. My son didn’t see anything beyond the idea of a boy wanting to wear a dress and that’s ok too. Hopefully, it well help him to be accepting the next time a girl in his class wants to dress up like a knight or a boy wants to play princess. Differences are something to be embraced and that’s something that can be taught early on.

  27. Martha says...

    I love love love Last Stop on Market Street. It’s the story of a young boy who takes the bus with his grandmother across town and encounters all different types of people. The message and the illustrations are so beautiful. One of my coolest friends recommended it and now I buy it for every baby I know!

    https://www.amazon.com/Last-Stop-Market-Street-Matt/dp/0399257748

    • Quinn says...

      Agree! That is a favourite in our house as well! His new book Love is really great too.

  28. Ashley says...

    I love this post – and all children’s book posts here. This is a bit off topic, but we are raising our 1.5 year old with both English and Spanish, and I have been having a hard time finding Spanish language children’s books that we love. Right now, we have Tren de Invierno and A que sabe la Luna? (both of which are great but bit long for her right now) as well as some translations of American children’s books, but we are looking for more. I am so frustrated when I look at Instagrams of Spanish toy stores that have such lovely books – they are just not available here. I know that there are so many great books written by native Spanish speakers for kids, I just am having trouble searching for them or purchasing them in the United States (for a reasonable price!). Wondering if anyone has encountered this problem or has a great resource for nice Spanish language picture books. TIA!

    • Sophia Cheng says...

      Can order online here or check out the brick and mortar store if you’re in Los Angeles: http://www.la-libreria.net

    • sarah says...

      Our public library has a large section of Spanish language picture books, but maybe that is a regional difference?

    • Emma says...

      Hi Ashley. We are raising our kids bilingual too. I have found Amazon and Book depository to be great, but you have to search with the “español” box in the left column ticked if you want to come across random stories. If you’re looking for specifics, our favourites are: the elefante y cerdita series (mo Willems), Buscar and Pájaro Amarillo by Olga de Dios, Elverin, the Pepe y Mila series, Ardilla Miedosa, and when they were very small they loved the spanish versions of Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see? And the very hungry caterpillar. Also Oliver jeffers’ lost and found. Good luck! And if you’d like more suggestions feel free to email me :)

    • Myfanwy says...

      I also struggle with this. As the main reader and English speaker, it’s hard for me to find good Spanish books. Some books my children have loved are Perros by Sandra Boynton (obviously translated), Buenas Noches, Gorilla (also translated), Monstruo Rosa by Olga de Dios (which actually fits in with this post’s theme) and El pequeño conejo blanco by Xosé Ballesteros. I ordered them from Amazon.
      What we have found works really well are books without words as then we can both read them. Chalk, the Journey trilogy and Monsieur Hulot by David Merveille are all great. The French and Germans do a lot of these books.

    • Erin says...

      Not quite what you’re wanting, but: One of our kids’ favorite bedtime stories at that age is/was Goodnight Gorilla. The book is word-less, except for the title, so I can imagine it working well in a bilingual environment.

      Our public library also has an expansive Spanish picture book section. One of my (pre-reading) kids is consistently picking books from it and rarely do I recognize them, so they aren’t simply translations of popular English books.

    • Some great Spanish language (and bilingual) titles:
      Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre – Juana Martinez-Neal
      Baby Happy Baby Sad/Bebè feliz bebè triste – Leslie Patricelli (she has a lot of bilingual and Spanish language titles)
      Blankie/ Mantita – Leslie Patricelli
      Mango, Abuelo, y Yo – Meg Medina
      Escalera a la Luna – Maya Soetoro-Ng

  29. Lana says...

    This isn’t book related, but I still wanted to share. Last weekend I was at a garage sale and the woman who was putting it on asked if she could give my three year old daughter a doll from the movie Frozen. I said sure, then she went on to explain that her son LOVED the movie and had a total infatuation with Elsa. She said there was a time when everything he owned was Frozen related, but he was growing out of it now and was ready for someone else to love his toy.
    It was the sweetest thing, seeing this mother embrace her child for exactly who he was and I made sure to tell her how much I admired her.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is wonderful, lana. i love that.

    • Quinn says...

      Aw, what a great story. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rebecca says...

      My almost four year old son LOVES Frozen so much that Elsa is coming to his 4h birthday party. I was worried that some of his male friends (or other parents) might make him feel embarrassed about it but so far everyone is just super excited – boys and girls!!!

  30. Julie says...

    This is great! Looking forward to checking out these books with my boys.

    I’d love any recommendations you have for read-aloud chapter books as well. I just started reading them to my four and five year old boys. They love them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes! toby really liked mercy watson, about a pig who lives with human parents: https://amzn.to/2Kr0XNv
      they’re early chapter books – still lots of pictures, easy to follow, etc.

    • Kathleen says...

      A friend recommended Dory Fantasmagory (there are four in the series) and my five year-old son and I LOVE them. The protagonist is a funny kiddo with a wild imagination and her own way of doing things. There are still lots of pictures and we flew through them.

    • Mom of Boys says...

      I’d recommend picture books with lots of words. Bill Peet was a favorite for my kiddos. The Ant and the Elephant, Buford the Little Big Horn, Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, Cock-a-Doodle Dudley, and Zella, Zack and Zodiac.

      All books about inclusiveness and love and acceptance. Yes, these are about animals, but still the stories and the pictures are great. And the vocabulary is impressive.

      As for a chapter book, The MisAdventures of the Family Fletcher–which I’ve recommended before on this blog I think. Also The Fletchers take Rock Island. Both by Dana Levy I think.

    • Michelle Avery says...

      My five-year-old absolutely loves the Kingdom of Wrenly series! He will actually sit through an entire book some days. I would highly recommend them. They have enough black and white illustrations to keep the interest of a kid just getting used to chapter books without being the sole focus. We got started with the Princess in Black books, which are also great. They have full color pictures and really short chapters, which make them a great first chapter book.

    • Annie says...

      Check out the site and app called “We Need Diverse Books” – can’t remember if they have books for kids as young as 4, but they have a searchable database and lots of lists.

  31. Oh my gosh, this is one of my favorite books of the season. I love it SO MUCH.
    For inclusion, I really love Bunnybear by Andrea Loney. About a bear who knows he’s a bunny. Its very sweet and a wonderful read for anyone, but I immediately thought it would be great for trans kids.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hi gaia! i just gave a copy of Jabari Jumps to my friend who has a new baby!

      and so sweet about bunnybear. xoxo

  32. Megan says...

    A great Instagram account that I follow is @hereweeread … she has great suggestions and reviews of diverse books for kids!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      just started following, thank you so much, megan!

    • Sarah says...

      That’s a great site. I’d also recommend @theconsciouskid.

  33. Anything by Todd Parr, but certainly The Family Book, Be Who You Are, and It’s Ok to be Different.

  34. Cait says...

    Oh my gosh, so excited to check out these books! I would love to recommend “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson. I was moved to tears reading it. It reminded me a little of “The 100 Dresses” by Eleanor Estes, which I read and loved as a child, and promptly re-read after “Each Kindness”

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0399246525/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526393237&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=each+kindness

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0152052607/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526393355&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=the+100+dresses&dpPl=1&dpID=51D19adrnlL&ref=plSrch

  35. MD says...

    We love Stargirl for early middle school!

  36. Hannah says...

    As a child I loved “Yo! Yes?” which is about two lonely boys, one African-American and one white, who meet on the street and through a series of two word exchanges form a tentative friendship that is sealed by the end of the book. I can’t wait to share it with my son.

  37. Shannon says...

    I’d recommend ‘The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade’ by Davina Bell and illustrated by Allison Colpoys. Such a nice message for kids who are nervous, shy or have anxiety.

    • Sally says...

      I LOVE The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade! What a brilliant suggestion.

  38. Kelli says...

    Thanks for the recs! We also love Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton, and Rabityness by Jo Empson.

  39. Thank you so much for this list and this post! It is *so* important that we share books that teach acceptance with our kids. My kids are in their early 20’s now and when they were little books like this were not available, so all they had was me reiterating “kindness matters” throughout situations in their young lives. I absolutely love that there are enough books to make a LIST now and am so happy that my (future) grandchildren will grow up in a kinder, more accepting world. This is a brave post to write, as not everyone, feels this way, so I wanted to be sure to comment my appreciation of a post like this. I think it is absolutely excellent! I am going to share it on my FB, and schedule it to post to my Pinterest boards. We have so many LGBTQ friends (and so do our daughters) that I just love that the world is becoming kinder for them. <3

  40. I love Thank You Mr. Faulkner, but one of the author’s (many!) other books is Junkyard Wonders and it always makes me tear up!

    Thank you for the lovely book recs.

  41. These posts are always so expensive, I can’t resist a good book. Thank you for sharing such important titles xx

  42. Courtney says...

    I look forward checking these books out. My favorite book to read with 4th and 5th graders is Out of My Mind. Even some of the more self involved students I’ve taught have been able to show empathy and recognize how challenging life can be for some kids. The discussions we had about the book were really heart warming.

  43. Sara says...

    Harriet Gets Carries Away! I have a PhD in English Literature, and one of my major areas of research is ideology in books for children and young adults. I saw Harriet in a bookstore recently and loved it so much I ended up buying copies for everyone I know. It’s the story of a little girl who loves wearing costumes and has an adventure with penguins while getting ready for her birthday party. The story is cute and the illustrations are gorgeous, but the best part is the way the book handles representation. Harriet is a non-white, female protagonist, who is planning her birthday party with her two dads, one of whom is white and one of whom is black. The friends who come to her birthday party are all different colors and the parents who bring them are equally diverse — some dads with dads, some moms with moms, some single parents. The representation is really subtle, just built into the background of the book, which is why it works so well; rather than jumping up and down on diversity, it normalizes diverse families and experiences for child readers, and helps teach acceptance not just when you’re thinking about it but also through what you accept around you and who you are willing to see as the hero of your story about penguins. Really, really well done and highly recommended.

    • YES! Its so great!

    • Laura says...

      We have two board books that I love because of their representation of diverse kids/families- Everywhere Babies and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Both are sweet poems with wonderful illustrations that my 3.5 year old still lives to read.

  44. jillian says...

    That’s so cool. Love these suggestions!

  45. Robyn says...

    Derek the Knitting Dinosaur by Mary Blackwood is delightful.

    A little green dinosaur with a fondness for knitting, is an embarrassment to his ferocious brothers, until he uses his talents to help them out and they realize how wonderful their differences are.

  46. Kate says...

    I saw a brilliant comment on social media this week:

    What is your opinion of drag queens around children?
    “A lot could go wrong.

    Nails could be broken, wigs pulled off, someone could get knocked off her heels. Children are wild, irrational and unpredictable…Someone fabulous could get hurt.”

    I love how it shows the obstacles we put in our own way when accepting others. Children have no such qualms.

  47. Giulia says...

    Joanna, my bookmark list is entirely flooded with your posts, I keep saving for when I’ll have kids, and it’s now so so long! My gift to myself if that happens (there’s nothing I want more, and have for a while) would be to print all the posts – and comments – and make them into a book to keep and peruse (and lend!). Thank you for such grounded loveliness allround xxxx

    • Maclean Nash says...

      I would DEFINITELY buy that book!

  48. Rochelle says...

    One of the employees at a children’s book store told me if she had one book she wanted all kids to read it was “One” by Kathryn Otoshi. It’s about blue being bullied by a red. Finally, the number one stands up for blue and everyone learns a lesson about friendship.

    • Michele says...

      My son and I love this book!

    • Joanna says...

      This book MUST be in all family libraries! We love it.

  49. Those illustrations are so flowy and beautiful! I don’t think my 1 year old will get any of it’s underlying message but I bet she’d love the book for it :)

  50. Livia Ikeda says...

    My kids love a sweet little book called “Dogs don’t do ballet”.

  51. Kris says...

    10,000 dresses by Marcus Ewert

  52. Martine says...

    My friend wrote a cute children’s book called Scarlett and the Snail based on a cartoon from the New Yorker. It’s published by a Brooklyn publisher called Rockpool Children’s Books. It’s a very cute story about a snail that falls in love with a tape dispenser.

  53. Rose says...

    I love seeing El Deafo on this list! I work in an elementary classroom for kids with severe disabilities. The author’s approach to explaining what deafness is like to the hearing is so well done. I ended up donating a copy to my son’s 5th grade classroom. Weeks later he told me “oh yeah everyone’s read El deafo.” Helping kids to become inclusive in small ways makes such a huge impact. Thank you!

  54. Jenn says...

    A friend and I are doing a book drive to connect kids to literature with inclusive representation, and Julian Is a Mermaid is on on our donation list! We’re still finalizing our list, but we found We Need Diverse Books (https://diversebooks.org/) was a great resource.

    Bravery Magazine also donated some copies to us and if you haven’t heard of them, highly recommend checking them out! It’s a magazine for kids with stunning illustrations and each issue focuses on highlighting a brave woman, with the latest being Mae Jemison: https://www.braverymag.com/

    Looking forward to seeing more suggestions in the comments section!

  55. joanie says...

    Well as a (retired) school nurse, I would have every single one in my sanctuary nurse office. I was a sanctuary for all those beings that had physical reverberations because they were trying to figure out just who they were growing into as they grew. Adults were stopped at the door. Every day our little people grow up with amazing beautiful adults around them, so of course they want to try out all our beauty/power secrets and our strengths. They figure it out best if we don’t judge or control, and just love them. Brilliant list, and may we grow brilliant humans by letting them read the books and we remain quietly there and watch them grow.

  56. Kathleen says...

    We got “Julian is a Mermaid” a couple of weeks ago from Stories in Brooklyn and love it so much! I love the Spanglish, beautiful illustrations, how local it is, and how accepting his abuela is about his imagination and exploration. Such a great lesson for us all! Thank you for the other recommendations.

  57. Kim says...

    Patricia Polacko!! My FAVORITE book growing up was by her – it was called ‘Babushka Baba Yaga.’ I am 31 years old and still have the most vivid memories of my mother taking us to the library to ‘get some books.’ I remember every tiny detail of the library (stone, built by the Carnegies, overlooking the Maumee river), the smell (books and nice old ladies), the bag my mother brought to fill with books (cream canvas), the little sculpture on the staircase leading down to the children’s room (a frog touched by a million tiny hands), and the bookshelf in the left bottom corner where Babushka Baba Yaga lived. I never ceased to be amazed by the power of nostalgia to punch you in the gut when you least expect it <3

  58. Batya Levy says...

    We love Hats of Faith at our house! It’s a board book about different head coverings people wear to express their religions, from turbans to kippahs to rasta hats. The illustrations are lovely, too!

    https://www.hatsoffaith.com

  59. Melinda says...

    I’d have to add “Captain Starfish” to this list – it’s about a little boy who wants to dress up for a school event but is overcome by shyness. It has a lovely message about accepting kids’ different levels of “readiness” to embrace certain things. And the illustrations are just lovely.

    https://www.amazon.com/Captain-Starfish-Davina-Bell/dp/1419728377

    It’s published under the name “The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade” in Australia and the UK.

    https://www.amazon.com/The-Underwater-Fancy-Dress-Parade/dp/1925106209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526352284&sr=1-1&keywords=the+underwater+fancy-dress+parade&dpID=51ugljqq4wL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

  60. Sarah says...

    Thank you so much for sharing A Boy and a Jaguar. I heard an NPR interview with the author (who the story is based on) a year or two ago and it brought me to tears. (Maybe because I’m a speech therapist?) I had no idea he wrote a book. Will be purchasing a copy for all the little ones on my caseload who struggle with stuttering, like I did when I was a kid.

  61. Mary says...

    Thanks for these recommendations!

    We recently checked out I Love My Purse by Belle DeMont from the library. Great story, fantastic illustrations!

  62. Lily says...

    Yes! Thank you for this.

  63. The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman is one recommended by a librarian when my son was asking why his best friend didn’t have a daddy. The book talks about all kinds of families with 2 mommies or 2 daddies or single parents; or how we celebrate different holidays; or live in houses or apartments.

  64. Erin says...

    I have a 5 yo transgender daughter & we’re really into the book Neither right now. The illustrations are bright & beautiful & the story is lovely. I’m more grateful now than I ever thought I would be for so many children’s books about inclusiveness ????

  65. Alissa M says...

    These are great!

    I am on the hunt for books with photographs (not illustrations) of children with congenital differences doing routine things like playing or eating or going to school. My seven-year-old twins are curious about limb differences and facial differences particularly and I would love to have some resources to explore the idea of how people are born with such different bodies but such similar wants and needs and interests.

    I recently got “Not So Different,” by Shane Burcaw, which is wonderful and I wish it were a series! We also have “We’re All Wonders,” but it’s a bit too abstract.

    If anyone is going to have helpful and thoughtful suggestions, it’s the Cup of Jo community, so please let me know if you’ve got any thoughts!

  66. Jessie says...

    “One” and “Zero” by Kathryn Otoshi. “One” deals with bullying, and “Zero” focuses on self-acceptance. Simply written with beautiful illustrations. My in-laws gave my son those 2 books when he was a toddler & he’s almost 8 now & still loves them.

  67. Wendy says...

    Everybody’s Differnt on Everybody Street by Sheree Fitch gets my vote.

    “If ever you go travelling
    On EveryBody Street
    You’ll see EveryBody’s Different
    Than EveryOne you meet…”

    • Amy says...

      I second the recommendation for George! This book was selected for an Oregon statewide reading program for 3rd-5th graders next year. Some conservative, rural school districts are chosing not to participate and put some pressure on the book selection committee (librarians, teachers and parents) to remove it. Thankfully the committee pushed back and defended its choice! I am fortunate to live in Portland where the district did not ban the book and my 9 year old can choose to read it as part if the program or not!

    • Well I just bought like 23 books. Thank you everyone who made extra suggestions, especially George, I’ve ordered it. (The idea that some schools are trying to ban it… insane!! My God, that’s just fascist. I suppose they ban dancing too, Footloose-style…)

      Gem

  68. Dagny says...

    Hey there— I’m super into the idea of this post and I’m sure a lot of the books are great. I look forward to checking them out to read to my daughter. I did want raise that 9/15 books feature white characters exclusively on the front. It would be worth it to specifically consider representation on posts like this as you do on your blog generally. I see the effort you’ve been making in recent years and appreciate it. Because of your out spoken opinions on race, gender, disability etc. I thought you’d want to know. For me, lack of representation undermines your argument and can feel exclusionary. Thanks for being willing to take the risk and talk about such important issues. Xo.

  69. Em says...

    “Merman, dad. Merman”!

  70. Liz says...

    When they are a little older, read them the chapter book George by Alex Gino. It’s about a transgender child who wants to play Charlotte in a Charlotte’s Web play.

  71. Hannah says...

    My friend just published a really wonderful children’s book called Jamie is Jamie. https://www.amazon.com/Jamie-About-Being-Yourself-Playing/dp/1631981390
    She literally just had book launch last weekend.
    My 4 year old loves it. Jamie is new to school and plays with both “boys” things and “girls” things. Then the classmates get confused if Jamie is a boy or girl. Really sweet, well-done book I’d definitely add to this list.

  72. This is great Joanna! I can’t wait to check these out. I am the author of a children’s book about Ramadan (the holy month of Muslim fasting which happens this week!!) in which my main character Lailah struggles to tell her peers why she has “forgotten” her lunchbox(she’s fasting!) and in the end she feels accepted, safe, and welcomed!

    Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Lailahs-Lunchbox-Ramadan-Reem-Faruqi/dp/0884484319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526070369&sr=8-1&keywords=lailah%27s+lunchbox

    Or if you want.me to.mail you one, Please send an address. It would be lovely to have a feature books on immigrant characters (like Lailah!) My book was fratured by the American Library Association in 2016 as a notable book :)

  73. NC says...

    It’s Julián, no?

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yes, thank you!

    • NC says...

      You’re welcome, Stella! I was happy to see this change made. Always good to see an acento added where it’s needed.

  74. Erika says...

    A friend recently gifted Thank You, Mr. Faulk to us. It’s been a great way to discuss dyslexia challenges with our recently-diagnosed son.

    We also like Sarabella’s Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner (the same author as Skippyjon Jones.) It highlights the gift of imagination and creativity and, I think, helps children understand that kids in their class don’t all operate the same.

  75. Melissa says...

    Yes yes, thank you for this post. I know my son will love this mermaid book! We also love the books Same, Same, but Different and Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun!

  76. Nina says...

    We just discovered Amazing Grace. Its fantastic!

  77. Abbey says...

    Also: The Big Orange Splot by Pinkwater is on heavy rotation in our house. Oldie but goodie ;)

  78. Abbey says...

    Love this post. Along the same lines, I would add: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

  79. Sarah says...

    We are obsessed with Julián! Such a beautiful book, in every way.

  80. Tiffany says...

    We love One by Kathryn Otoshi. It ends with acceptance and but goes through a beautiful journey to get there. My 70 year old dad teared up as he read it for the first time to my kids. My daughter said to him, it’s okay, I’ll always be your one.

  81. Jessica says...

    I am Ivan Crocodile! by Rene Gouichoux, Illustrated by Julia Neuhaus is a wonderful book about a boy who communicates, behaves, and moves differently than the other kids in class. I read it to my first graders and they gave the sweetest answers about how they would include Ivan if he were in our classroom. I recommend it!

  82. Sarah says...

    Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman is also great!

  83. Katherine says...

    These are great! A few others I’d suggest are The Big Orange Splot and Ruby the Copycat. Give me a minute and I’ll be sure to think of more! I’m a former elementary school teacher and books are magic when it comes to teaching themes like this. I just bought Oliver Jeffers’ new book, Here We Are, for my daughter, who is due in November, and I can’t wait to share it with her. So beautiful, both the message and the illustrations. He also wrote The Day the Crayons Quit, which was a go-to in my classroom when it came to teaching acceptance.

    I follow @theconsciouskid on IG and FB and she’s been a godsend when it comes to discovering inclusive books by authors of #ourownvoices. Highly recommend giving her accounts a follow.

    • Kate says...

      I think The Big Orange Splot should be required reading for all adults buying houses!!!

  84. Shannon says...

    I’ve recently started following Raising Luminaries: Books for Littles which has amazing lists of books on different topics such as disabilities, self-acceptance, books that are stereotype free about different populations, empowerment, etc. It’s amazing and I would recommend all parents, educators, or anyone who works with kids to take a look! http://www.booksforlittles.com

  85. Amelia says...

    Yes! I got this book recently and am in love with it. Would add to this list, “Jacob’s New Dress” and “I’m Jay Let’s Play” – both about diversity in gender expression.

  86. Erin says...

    We love Not Quite Narwhal, it’s such a cute story and I’m a sucker for good illustrations!

    • RIght? Its so sweet. And she has a new book out too, Harriet Gets Carried Away! :)