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Words to Make Friends by Donna Jo Napoli
There are some things, like friendship and love, that are universal no matter where you’re from or what language you speak. In this book, a Japanese girl moves to America and is excited when she sees a girl playing outside in the snow. The only problem is that the Japanese girl and the American girl don’t speak the same language. This clever and adorable book illustrates that you don’t need to speak the same language to understand one another. Get it here n Amazon.
Ben’s Adventures by Elizabeth Gerlach
Ben uses a wheelchair, but that doesn’t define him. Strong messages of acceptance and inclusion, friendship and family make the Ben’s Adventures series perfect for introducing the concept of disabilities, and for teaching young kids that people are more similar than they are different. Get it here on Amazon.
Pink Tiara Cookies For Three by Maria Dismondy
This is a story I think most of us can relate to. It’s about two best friends whose friendship is challenged when another little girl is welcomed by one friend and not by the other. I know as a young girl I dealt with this, and it was heartbreaking. Now as a mom I have watched my children deal with this. The author does a beautiful job at recognizing the feelings of rejection, loneliness, and anger that children feel when this happens. The little girls in the story are probably a little more capable of expressing themselves than preschool-aged children, but that makes this book even more important. Get it here on Amazon.
The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff
This is a cute book about a little girl named Jennifer who is the only one in her class who celebrates Hanukkah. Soon she finds out that there are lots of “Only Ones” in her class, as the only one with red hair, the only one who wears dresses every day and the only one with a unique last name. I love that diversity is celebrated in wide and small ways. When children see that there is diversity in every group, sometimes it’s diversity you can see, sometimes it’s diversity you can’t they get the message that it’s not US vs. THEM. This books makes it clear that we should celebrate our diversity and tell our kids it’s not a bad thing to be unique. Get it here on Amazon.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. Get it here on Amazon.
All My Stripes by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
A heartwarming story about autism. “How come all that anyone sees is my autism stripe?” Zane the zebra asks his mom after a frustrating day at school. The fire drill was too loud. He had difficulty connecting with his classmates. The list goes on. His mom assures him that all of his “stripes,” or unique qualities, make up who he is. She loves his honesty stripe, caring stripe, and curiosity stripe. Autism, she explains, is just part of who he is; not all of who he is. Without his qualities, he wouldn’t be Zane.
Why I like the book: All My Stripes explores experiences that children with autism commonly face – like having trouble interacting with peers or being sensitive to loud noises – but with kid-friendly language. I love that this book could be read to younger students to begin discussing special needs in the classroom. Get it here on Amazon.
The Big Umbrella by Amy Bates and Juniper Bates
A beautifully written storybook about inclusion, hospitality and welcoming each other.
By the door, there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. Get it here on Amazon.
The Name Jar is such a lovely book. The main character is Unhei a little girl who has just immigrated from Korea. She is trying to decide on an easy to pronounce American name, and her new class helps by offering up suggestions and places them in a name jar. As she gets used to her new surroundings and develops friendships, she realizes she doesn’t need an American name after all. I loved this book because there are so many great lessons about being yourself, about being supportive of friends and about being brave in new situations. Get it here on Amazon.
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
"I know I can’t change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see"…a wonderful picture book sharing the remarkable story of Auggie – a boy who feels like any other kids but is not always seen that way. Get it here on Amazon.
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald
An award winning story sharing how people can live together despite coming from the most diverse backgrounds: one of hardship, deprivation and want, the other a place of peace, abundance and prosperity, with important messages of hope, acceptance and friendship. Get it here on Amazon.
Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun: Having The Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy
A fabulous story about differences, standing up for yourself and being proud of who you are. Get it here on Amazon.
A wonderful book about inclusion that's in a setting so many readers can relate to. Sure our kids aren’t dinosaurs, but some feel that different from their friends for all sorts of reasons. They stand out and don’t want to, they just want to be a part of the group, or in this case ballet class. The story is about a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina and while a studio initially allows her to dance it is clear that she is just too big. The story does not end there. With some help from friends who support her dream, they find a way to include everyone. Get it here on Amazon.
Sofia and Maddi are the best of friends. Everything they do, they do together: they play together, go to school together, and enjoy life together. But then Sofia finds out one day that Maddi’s fridge is almost completely bare… and that Maddi goes hungry more often than not. How can Sofia help Maddi — despite having promised her ashamed best friend that she’ll keep this discovery a secret? Brandt handles hard topics like poverty, hunger, and diversity with a sensitive, empathetic touch, and the result is a compassionate picture book that instills a true lesson about friendship and trust. Get it here on Amazon.
No, no, NO! Geraldine is NOT moving, especially NOT to a new place where she’s always the odd one out. Not to mention that she’s a giraffe with an incredibly dramatic neck, which complicates matters (and doorways)! But in this whimsical, heartwarming book about getting along with people different from you, with the help of another girl as unusual as her, Geraldine discovers just how to fit in without losing herself. Get it here on Amazon.
Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
8,000 miles might separate Elliot and Kailash, but that distance won’t stop these pen pals from writing letters and exchanging pictures with one another! The more notes that they exchange, the more they realize exactly how different their cities, their lives, their families, and their backgrounds are. But they’re also much more similar than they realize, which is where the true magic of friendship lies. Get it here on Amazon.
This Reading Rainbow favorite takes readers around the world, where kids can see other children—who look and live different than them—experiencing the things about life that remind us we're all the same. Get it here on Amazon.
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
This easy nursery-rhyme feeling picture book teaches kids about all the colors skin can come in, and also the similarities between us all (inside and out). Get it here on Amazon.
The Same But Different Too by Karl Newson
A wonderful book exploring the countless differences, big and small, between us all – with excellent rhyming text and beautifully vibrant illustrations. A great read aloud for younger children. Get it here on Amazon.
What If We Were All the Same by C.M. Harris
How boring the world would be if we were all the same! From our skin colour, interests, hair type and abilities, our differences make life interesting and unique. A celebration of our unique characteristics and abilities alongside acceptance and inclusivity for all people. Get it here on Amazon.
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
If you can’t get enough of Geraldine, check out Gerald the giraffe, who just wants to dance. As you might expect, this is quite a feat for a giraffe: his twisty neck, knobby knees, and spindly legs don’t make him the most natural fit for the stage! But there’s hope for Gerald yet, especially when he meets a little cricket who teaches him about the value of self-esteem and how to step to the rhythm of his own tune. Get it here on Amazon.
A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O'Leary
In a classroom full of diverse students, a teacher asks the children to describe their families. They are all different. Some have a mom and dad, another lives with their grandparent, another has divorced parents, another step-siblings. There are LGBTQ families, disabled parents, foster families and more. The narrator is a child listening to all of the descriptions and realizes that all families are special because they are made up of people who love each other. Get it here on Amazon.
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