10 Great Picture Books that Celebrate Difference
As I mentioned in a prior post, getting kids to do storybook reviews is a great way to build writing skills. In an effort to try this out, I asked (OK bribed) my 10-year old girls to write the following reviews. (Learn more about teaching your kids to write awesome book reviews with easy publishing ideas!)
10 Great Books that Celebrate Difference
As written by my 10-year-old daughters!
This post is an extension of a series I’ve been working on (forever really) to create resources for parents and educators of young children to talk about race. The following list of books celebrate difference through culture, race, appearance and interest. I’ve also included a parent/teacher note where I wanted to add my two cents. (Where I’ve been able to find a good storytelling video, I’ve included it! — Enjoy!)
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: Black, White, Just Right!
Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite Davol
Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite Davol is about a little girl. Her mom is black, and her dad is white. But even though her parents are very different, she is just right. It is told from her point of view, so you can see how she herself sees her mother and father. This is a really important book especially for beginning readers, because it shows differences are good and they aren’t all about how you look and your race. It also shows even though family members can be very different, as long as they love each other, they are still family.
Parent/teacher note: As a biracial mom, I really love how this book celebrates cultural differences and names race. It also celebrates the ways each parent can hae different, physical characteristics, interests and personality traits and serves as a great example that you don’t have to be the same to be a family.
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: The Name Jar
In the Name Jar by Yangsook Choi a little girl named UnHai (pronounced Yoon – Hi) can’t decided if she should change her name to sound like a more American sounding name or keep her Korean name. This story is good for middle to upper elementary readers and explains why having a different name can be special.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Parent/teacher note: I really love the way this book tackles being a hyphenated American, especially around one’s identity as a new immigrant. The Name Jar shares strategies for helping children pronounce different sounding names while serving as a metaphor for sharing culture and experience. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: Farfallina and Marcel
Farfallina and Marcel by Holly Keller
Farfallina and Marcel by Holly Keller is a story of a very unlikely friendship between Farfallina, a caterpillar, and Marcel, a gosling. As time passes Farfallina becomes a butterfly and Marcel becomes a goose and they think they’ve lost each other. You will have to read the book to find out what happens…Dun, Dun, Dun!!!! This book is great for young readers who like friendship stories and happy endings.
Parent/teacher note: This book is good for little ones. They will like the silly idea that a gosling can be best friends with a caterpillar. This can serve as a great introduction to the concept for sameness and difference for pre-K and Kindergarten aged kids. It could also help children discuss ways we can be friends across gender.
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: A Bad Case of Stripes
In A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, Camilla loves lima beans but never eats them because everyone else hates them and yet she wants to fit in. She gets a bad case of stripes and her skin changes color to make her stand out more. The only cure is for Camilla to learn to be herself. This great book teaches kids that no matter what, you shouldn’t follow what other people are doing. You should do what you want to do.
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Parent/teacher note: Around 1-2nd grade my girls became very focused on being like eveyone else. There was a pink explosion and then a blue explosion, Hello Kitty was IN then she was OUT. This is a great book to talk about liking what you like and being who you are–despite what your friends say.
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: Toot and Puddle
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobby
Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobby is the story of an amazing friendship. Even though Toot and Puddle are both pigs and look similar doesn’t mean they are the same. Toot wants to go see the world, and Puddle decides to stay home. No matter what they are best buds. This book is great for anyone! Families, kids and adults love it too. Everyone and anyone will love the tale of Toot and Puddle–enjoy!
Parent/teacher note: This book really resonates for me as a mom of twins. I like how both Toot and Puddle look physically the same but are so very DIFFERENT! My husband is an identical twin and was often treated like he and his twin brother were one person. NOT SO! This book would be a GREAT book for teachers and parents alike to talk with kids about the fact that just because we make look similar, doesn’t make us the same. It also shows we can like different things and still be friends.
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: The Colors of Us
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz is about colors and how diverse the world is. It states that there is no regular brown or light brown, cinnamon, cocoa, and lots more. There is lots of diversity in this book. It is good for 2 to 4-year-olds and can still be read by or to anyone!
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
Parent/teacher note: This is a great book to talk about differences in physical appearance: skin tone, eye color, hair, etc. I like the idea of mixing different colors of brown paint to introduce the concept of talking about skin tone and other differences in appearance. In this way the book creates an wonderful opportunity to talk with very young kids about diversifying their own art work and questioning the representation they see of various races and cultural groups in their own story books. Buy loads of multicultural crayons, multicultural markers or art pencils or mix your own paint and watch your children’s art work get “more colorful!”
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: Suki’s Kimono
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki is a great book about being proud to be unique. Even though her big sisters tell her not to were something “weird” or “uncool” on her first day of school, a little girl named Suki decides to wear her very favorite outfit anyway–a kimono given to her by obāsan. Here sisters avoid her at school and some kids giggle at her. But, Suki explains to other students why her kimono is so special. This is a great book to show readers that it’s important to be who you are, even if it’s different.
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki
Parent/teacher note: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. Suki decides to be hoer own unique self (e.g. she lets her freak flag fly!), and guess what happens? Everyone goes wild for her! What a great example of being yourself despite people telling you not to be different!
I Like Myself
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont is a great book in many ways. I like myself simply tells readers about self acceptance. You should accept yourself just the way you are, your looks and your personality, everything! This book is great for young readers because of its rhymes, but everyone would agree this is a great book.
Parent/teacher note: This is a funny silly read, that’s great for young readers because it celebrating what makes kids unique and different. Good for pre-K and kindergarten readers.
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: I Love My Hair
I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley is a book about Kiana’s beautiful hair. She can wear it anyway she wants and jingle it with the colorful beads. She can wear it Afro style or in her favorite winglike pigtails. This book is good for kids like Kiana, African-American girls [and any other kids interested in learning about black hair!] It definitely makes kids like her feel special about black hair.
I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Parent/teacher note: It may seem silly to folks who don’t understand, but celebrating black hair IS IMPORTANT! (Need a primer… watch this awesome clip by Melissa Harris Perry, or read my redux on why celebrating black beauty is the antidote to anti-black stereotypes.) It’s important for little Black girls (and big one’s too!) to feel beautiful. Our society sends many messages that tell us Black girls/women they are ugly and their hair is “bad” This isn’t just an important book to share with little Black girls, but with all children to demystify the fun and beauty of Black hair! #BlackGirlsRock!!!
Picture Books Celebrating Difference: One Family
One Family by George Shannon
One Family by George Shannon is about family. It shows no matter your race your age your style or your language anyone can be a family. One thing that is nice is that at the end, it displays everyone together which shows that everyone is family. It is a good for all ages and can also help children to count.
Parent/teacher note: A simple little counting book for little ones that shows you can be a family in many different ways–even if you look different.