The world is a diverse place. It is important to teach kids about people outside of their immediate family and to celebrate people’s differences. A fun and easy way to introduce your little ones to these important concepts is through reading books! They are a great conversation starter for parents to talk to their kids about difference, kindness, tolerance, respect and many other important topics. We’ve put together this book list of picture books that are in the library’s collection. The list is split into five different categories: Acceptance and Self-Acceptance, Kindness and Friendship, Celebrating Differences and Inclusive Stories.
Clicking on the book title will take you to the library catalogue where you will be able to place a hold for curbside pickup. Need help? Email us at email@example.com or call us at (613)395-2837 and a staff member will be happy to help. Need a library card? Contact us and we can set one up for you!
There are many other great picture books that celebrate inclusion and diversity and if you have a suggestion for ones we should add to the library collection, please let us know!
Acceptance and Self-Acceptance
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. As budding young readers learn about numbers, counting, and primary and secondary colors, they also learn about accepting each other’s differences and how it sometimes just takes one voice to make everyone count.
My Great Big Mama by Olivier Ka
A little boy tells us proudly how big and wonderful his mother is — from how soft she is, to how loving she is, to how wonderful it is to sit on her lap on the bus. When his mother goes on a diet, “because of what other people say,” he is outraged and becomes a picky eater himself to show her how foolish she is being. There can be no doubt that for this child, his mother is great just the way she is.
This book is a remarkably life-affirming story about a young child who knows that a person should be loved for being just exactly who and what they are.
What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel-Nolan
This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special.
The kids in What I Like About Me! are as different as night and day. And, guess what? They love it. Some adore the fact that their braces dazzle and gleam, others feel distinguished when they wear their glasses. Still others wouldn’t trade their big feet for a lifetime of free video games. A mylar mirror embedded in the last page let kids take a look at themselves and decide what they like best about themselves.
I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty
Frog wants to be anything but a slimy, wet frog. A cat, perhaps. Or a rabbit. An owl? But when a hungry wolf arrives—a wolf who HATES eating frogs—our hero decides that being himself isn’t so bad after all. In this very silly story with a sly message, told in hilarious dialogue between a feisty young frog and his heard-it-all-before father, young readers will identify with little Frog’s desire to be something different, while laughing along at his stubborn yet endearing schemes to prove himself right.
Oddrey by Dave Whamond
Wanda has freckles. Lots and lots of freckles. They make her feel special, until the day in the park when a group of boys point, laugh, and tease her for having spots. All of a sudden, the freckles she’d liked become a problem. What can she do? Wanda decides that there’s only one thing: make her freckles disappear altogether!
At a time when there’s pressure to conform to someone else’s idea of perfection, this playful story has an important message: individuality and self-acceptance are to be celebrated. The ever-resourceful Wanda puts her imagination to work to try to come to peace with those troublesome freckles once and for all.
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Zero is a big round number. When she looks at herself, she just sees a hole right in her center. Every day she watches the other numbers line up to count: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . !” “Those numbers have value. That’s why they count,” she thinks. But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero feels empty inside. She watches One having fun with the other numbers. One has bold strokes and squared corners. Zero is big and round with no corners at all. “If I were like One, then I can count too,” she thinks. So she pushes and pulls, stretches and straightens, forces and flattens herself, but in the end she realizes that she can only be Zero. As budding young readers learn about numbers and counting, they are also introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills and character, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.
Kindness and Friendship
Rescue & Jessica by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
Based on a real-life partnership, the heartening story of the love and teamwork between a girl and her service dog will illuminate and inspire.
Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog – it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time.
Two by Kathryn Otoshi
Two is best friends with One. Whenever they’d get the chance, they’d dance! She’d sing and snap. He’d tappity-tap. What a pair they made! At the end of each day, they’d always say, ONE, TWO, I’ll count on you, ’til the end, we’ll be best friends.” Until Three jumps in between them . . . Suddenly One only wants to play with Three. “ONE, THREE, odds we’ll be!” they chant. Two feels left out. But what can she do? Another character-building counting book by award-winning author Kathryn Otoshi, Two is a powerful story of friendship, loss, letting go, and self-discovery.
Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka
An effective, unusual 34-word story of the beginnings of a friendship, accompanied by wild and wonderful illustrations. Against pastel backgrounds, in vibrant, colorful images, an African-American boy and a white boy meet on the street. Their one- and two-word exchanges on each spread lead to a tentative offer of friendship, sealed as both boys jump high in the air and yell Yow!” With a beautifully balanced, economical style, the book illumines the peaks and pitfalls of getting acquainted, and puts in a good word for brotherhood as well.
Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig
D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing D.J. and then saying, Just kidding!” as if it will make everything okay. It doesn’t, but D.J. is afraid that if he protests, his friends will think he can’t take a joke. With the help of his father, brother, and an understanding teacher, D.J. progresses from feeling helpless to taking positive action, undermining the power of two seemingly harmless words. Trudy Ludwig takes another look at relational aggression, the use of relationships to manipulate and hurt others, this time from the boy’s point of view.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.
When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.
The Flower Man by Mark Ludy
A man comes to a depressed city street and finds an old shack, long forgotten, long abandoned – its for sale. He buys it and fixes it up. Everything he touches turning to color. He plants a garden and gives away a single flower to a little girl. She in turn – turns to color. Next thing you know, every life is touched, one by one.
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you’ve only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let’s explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you’ll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else… Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering: What does it mean to be kind?
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.
Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she’ll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she’s faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi’s empty fridge. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others.
Day & Night by Teddy Newton
Day meets Night and Night meets Day in this delightful picture book based on the Pixar short, Day & Night , which premiered with Toy Story 3 in 2010. Kids will delight in the way these two characters explore their differences and eventually realize how much they like and enjoy each other. A wonderful way to experience the magic of this Pixar short again and again and rejoice in the attraction of opposites!
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
As everyone knows, nothing is sweeter than tiny baby fingers and chubby baby toes. . . . And here, from two of the most gifted picture-book creators of our time, is a celebration of baby fingers, baby toes, and the joy they-and the babies they belong to-bring to everyone, everywhere, all over the world!
This is a gorgeously simple picture book for very young children, and once you finish the rhythmic, rhyming text, all you’ll want to do is go back to the beginning . . . and read it again! The luminous watercolor illustrations of these roly-poly little ones from a variety of backgrounds are adorable, quirky, and true to life, right down to the wrinkles, dimples, and pudges in their completely squishable arms, legs, and tummies.
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr
It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence.
The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins
Some people are a little bit STRANGE or a little too LOUD, and justa little bit SCARY.But I bet, if you knew them,and knew their favorite things,you’d think that maybe, (probably) most people aren’t so scary after all.
Lily and the Paper Man by Rebecca Upjohn
Walking home with her mother one day, Lily runs into a gruff and untidy-looking man selling papers on the street. Lily is afraid of the man, but when the weather turns cold, she sees the Paper Man differently.
Dear Boy by Paris Rosenthal and Jason Rosenthal
Dear Boy, is an open love letter to the special boy in your life. Boys, too, need a gentle reminder that they are cool, clever, compassionate, and one of a kind.
With the same tenderness as Dear Girl,, Paris and Jason’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations will make any boy reading this book feel that he’s amazing just the way he is—whether he’s offering a helping hand, singing in a choir, or reaching for the stars!
Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up. Vibrant illustrations help children learn and identify the myriad colors that surround them every day, from the orange of a popsicle, to the green of a grassy field, all the way up to the wonder of a multicolored rainbow.
We’re All Wonders by R.J Palacio
Meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy. This story taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.
If I Only Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado
A green nose. How silly, thought Punchinello. It wouldn’t make him faster, stronger, or even smarter. It would only make him greener—and make him look just like all the other Wemmicks! Why would he want that when he knows Eli made each of them different for a reason?
But when Punchinello stops visiting Eli regularly, a painted nose somehow doesn’t seem as foolish anymore. Now more than ever, Punchinello needs to hear his maker say, “I’ll always help you be who I made you to be.” Just like Punchinello, we all want to fit in. To be accepted by the crowd. But at times that may mean we either have to look and act like others—or risk being rejected.
Punchinello’s hard-earned lesson shows us how important it is to be who we were created to be, and why that matters. So let this wonderful tale help you remember two things: that you were made unique for a reason, and that there is one who will always help you be you—wonderfully you.
Drawn Together by Minh Le
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.
Grow Grateful by Sage Foster-Lasser and Jon Lasser
Kiko goes on a camping trip with her class and learns about gratitude! Throughout the trip, Kiko discovers different things she appreciates about her family, friends, and opportunities. This story is based on the “theory of mind, which is the ability to take the perspective of others and recognize that each person has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Growing gratitude leads to greater happiness and stronger interpersonal relationships.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yarmulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
Talk Peace by Sam Williams and Mique Moriuchi
Illustrations and an easy-to-read text call for all people of the world, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, to talk peace. This inventive and playful book is an inspiring celebration of human possibility.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr
The Peace Book delivers positive and hopeful messages of peace in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes. Perfect for the youngest readers, this book delivers a timely and timeless message about the importance of friendship, caring, and acceptance.
The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin
Living with the use of one’s eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way.
Is There Really a Human Race? Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell
Is there really a human race?
Is it going on now all over the place?
When did it start?
Who said, “Ready, Set, Go”?
Did it start on my birthday?
I really must know.
With these questions, our hero’s imagination is off and running. Is the human race an obstacle course? Is it a spirit? Does he get his own lane? Does he get his own coach?
Written with Jamie Lee Curtis’s humor and heart and illustrated with Laura Cornell’s worldly wit, Is There Really a Human Race? Is all about relishing the journey and making good choices along the way—because how we live and how we love is how we learn to make the world a better place, one small step at a time.
A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.
One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One has many stepsiblings, and another has a new baby in the family.
As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, it is special.