The one thing we all strive to teach our kids is that they are wonderfully unique, and that they should not only accept themselves the way they are but joyfully celebrate it. And while they are doing that, they should also equally accept the fact that everyone else is unique too. Here are some of the many, many books we have read on this topic.
1. Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival: Through simple illustrations and a sweet story, Tom Percival weaves a wonderful story on embracing yourself just the way you are because you are unique. The illustrations and concept of hiding your wings under a coat are simple enough to be understood by young toddlers.
2. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae: Not all of us have the same strengths, and not all of us dance to the same music. Some of us are born different, and like different music to dance to. This book is extremely inspiring, for both children and adults, encouraging everyone to follow their true calling, love and embrace themselves in the true sense. An absolute must have in every child’s library.
3. Thatha at School by Richa Jha: A story about a child who worries that her friends at school will laugh at her, since her grandpa wears a dhoti. It is a beautiful story about loving people for who they are, looking beyond appearances, and not really worrying about people laughing at you. The illustrations in this book are brilliant – showing grandparents wearing different forms of Indian attire. Promotes self acceptance and tolerance at its best.
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4. Boogie Bear by David Walliams: Boogie Bear is one of those books that ticks all the boxes – extremely funny, awesome illustrations, simple language, but most importantly, carries a lovely message. It is the most age appropriate book you can find to discuss how all skin colours (or bear colours!) are beautiful, and how sometimes people are prejudiced against other skin colours just because they don’t know better – the brown bears have never seen a white (polar) bear.
5. The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino: One of the simplest yet most powerful books to let a child know that not only is it okay to be different from your peer group, but sometimes it’s really awesome to be different. The crocodile who was scared of water all his life, one fine day realises that he isn’t a crocodile after all.
6. Tad: A Big Story About A Brave Minibeast by Benji Davies: A sweet story, told in simple text about the smallest among the siblings of tadpoles, and her desire to grow up, lose her tail and get out of the pond, before Big Blub gets to her just like he did with her siblings. But when she comes face to face with the scary fish, she finds the strength in her that she never knew she had. A really heartwarming story that conveys to kids two very important things – we all grow up in due course, at our own pace and that we all have the strength within us to deal with problems, even though we may not be aware of it.
7. Marmaduke The Very Different Dragon by Rachel Valentine: Another extremely powerful book to let children know the beauty in being different. Marmaduke, who has always been scared of flying and was always ridiculed by his peers, turns out to be oh so wonderfully different. The difference in this book and character is tangible as the wings Marmaduke are covered in golden, shiny stars that mesmerized my 4 year old. He wants to read it again and again only to touch that page and stare at it!
8. Birds of a Feather by Sita Singh: A beautiful story of a white peacock who feels he is not as beautiful as the others, until the night of the annual peacock dance, when there’s a storm and the moon is hidden, the other peacocks can’t be seen at all but this one shines bright in the lightning. The beauty of this book, and what sets it apart from all of the others, is that while Mo (the white peacock) lacks self confidence and feels different, the peer group (the other peacocks) keep encouraging him all through. A beautiful book to showcase exactly what friends should be like. Also, if your child is like mine and does not like to read books with hints of bullying in it, this one is perfect.
9. No Difference Between Us by Jayneen Sanders: If you want your child to know that while boys and girls can have differing choices sometimes, both genders are intrinsically just the same, feel the same things and want to play with same things, this is the best book. We read this book often to promote a sense of equality in my child and make him more accepting of his and other people’s choices, and view them merely as choices made by humans rather than a girl’s choice or a boy’s choice.
10. Dragon Loves Penguin by Debi Gliori: Sometimes one may feel like a penguin stuck in between dragons, but this heart warming book will remind everyone (children and adults) of the love, warmth and acceptance that family brings.
ADDED ON JAN 1, 2022
11. I Hate my Curly Hair by Divya Anand (for 4-8 years but 5 years+ will understand it better)
“Why worry if your hair is unruly, or if it’s spiky, oily, lanky or strung like a mop?”
If I had to pick one book every child should read, those with curly hair and straight hair, it is this. Curly hair people need to read this to be able to accept themselves, and straight haired people need to read it to understand the struggle and be more empathetic. This book has helped my child (my straight haired child) understand why his mom’s hair “stands up” all the time, and why he shouldn’t make fun of that but be more understanding of it!
Picture books like this one have the ability to change ones life.
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