What makes you unique? From Black hair and Asian eyes to glasses and hearing aids, celebrate our diversity and uniqueness with this diverse picture book list.
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Beautiful Me: Books That Celebrate Our Diversity
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Cole
An Asian girl notices that her eyes “kiss in the corners”, but also notices that her friends’ eyes don’t. At first, she struggles with this obvious difference, that is, until she notices that her eyes are the eyes passed on to her from her grandmother and her mother. She begins to understand that her eyes carry the traditions of the past and a hope for the future. Joanna Cole has written a similar book for boys called Eyes That Speak to the Stars. Both books are great for children of all nationalities.
What Happened to You? by James Catchpole
Whenever Joe meets someone new, they always stare openly at him and ask, “What happened to you?” He knows it’s a bit out of the ordinary to see a kid with only one leg, but he wishes people were more comfortable approaching him, even with this difference. This light-hearted, humorous book helps kids put themselves in the shoes (or shoe) of those who often feel ostracized.
I Can See Just Fine by Eric Barclay
Paige has been having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school, her violin sheet music, and more. However, she is insistent that her vision is just fine! After an eye checkup appointment, Paige understands why she needs glasses and gets to pick out some fancy frames. After receiving her glasses, Paige realizes she can see the world in clarity and that glasses are actually pretty great!
How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo
As a child, Temple Grandin was creative and resourceful. She loved making things and solving tough problems. She wanted to hug someone, but autism made hugs feel scratchy and restrictive, so Temple invented a squeeze machine!
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Alma, the littlest girl in her family, has a name that’s taller than she is! Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela asks her dad about how she got her name, and then she learns the stories of each of the special people for whom she was named. Alma, now filled to the top with pride, now feels her name fits her just right!
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete
An older sister introduces us to her younger and much-beloved brother Charlie. She explains that Charlie has autism and his brain doesn’t always do things the same way everyone else does. There are some things he has trouble with, but many things Charlie is very good at, like playing the piano and knowing facts about airplanes. His special brain and his autism make Charlie an interesting and unique individual.
Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You! by Sonia Sotomayor
United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor calls for a celebration of different abilities in this empowering book for children.
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson
With their grandmother’s encouragement, a brother and sister turn their boredom into a day of imagination! From then on, there’s no limit to what they can do or where they can go.
My Hair Went on Vacation by Paula Quinn
When Rosie lost her hair quickly and unexpectedly, she had to learn to be confident in her baldness. Coming to terms with her hair loss was a process, but now Rosie loves her shiny head in all its beauty!
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
Doctors never expected Temple Grandin to talk–but the girl with an amazing visual brain set out to prove everyone wrong and ended up becoming an accomplished scientist and public speaker. The pictures in Temple’s head helped her to connect with animals in a special way, and she was able to use this connection to form new advancements in farming technology to benefit animals around the globe.
Not So Different by Cyana Riley
This picture book encourages young children to recognize and celebrate the differences they see in themselves and others. Uniqueness isn’t something to be afraid of, but rather part of what makes humans so individually beautiful!
A Very Special Critter by Mercer Mayer
Little Critter makes a new friend at school with a classmate who uses a wheelchair, realizing in the end that his new friend is more than just his disability.
African American boys will love the representation they’ll get in this book about the cool cuts they can get at the barbershop. Afro-mohawks, tight cornrows, and twisty coils are just a few of the amazing ‘dos these boys can do with their happy hair!
It’s hard being the new kid, but Unhei faces especially unique challenges with her unique Korean name. When she tries out a bunch of new names, none of them quite fit. Which name will she choose?
Douglas, You Need Glasses by Ged Adamson
I wore glasses for almost my entire life, before having laser eye surgery. This funny book about Douglas, a dog who needs glasses, takes away from the stigmas associated with glasses. This one is one of my favorites!
Can Bears Ski? By Raymond Antrobus
Little Bear mostly experiences the world through sight and touch. He struggles to hear what others are saying around him and often misinterprets what they are trying to communicate. When Dad Bear takes him to an audiologist, Little Bear learns he has been experiencing hearing loss and is fitted for hearing aids. He’s a little nervous, but Little Bear knows that he can take on anything with his father by his side.
When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb
The first time Charley met Emma, a classmate with limb differences, he was full of curiosity. After taking the time to get to know her, Charley realizes he doesn’t have to be sad or mad about the differences between him and his new friend. In fact, their differences are something to celebrate!
All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimental
Jennifer Keelan was always on the go, never letting her wheelchair slow her down. When she heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act and its upcoming proposal in Congress, Jennifer knew she had to do what she could to make sure it passed.
Keep Your Ear on the Ball by Genevieve Petrillo
Davey is blind, and as a result, people are always trying to do everything for him. Davey is frustrated by this and wants to gain more independence, so he decides a kickball game is the perfect place to start!
Moses Goes to a Concert by Issac Millman
Moses’s class is off on another field trip, and this time they are headed to a orchestra concert. Moses and his deaf classmates excitedly communicate about the concert through American Sign Language and ‘listen’ to the music using vibrations and touch.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Zuri’s hair is coily, kinky, and altogether beautiful. When it’s time for a new ‘do, Zuri’s dad assures her he is up to the task. Soon he discovers he’s got a lot of learning to do, but he’s certainly willing to give his best for his little girl!
Nathan’s Autism Spectrum Superpowers by Lori Leigh Yarborough
Nathan, a superhero that also has autism, feels empowered knowing that his differences make him especially unique!
How Katie Got a Voice (and a cool new nickname) by Pat Mervine
The kids that attend Cherry Street School love assigning fun nicknames for each other based on each person’s unique talents and interests. They are having trouble figuring out what nickname to give their classmate Katie; she doesn’t talk, walk, or act like other kids at all! The class works together to find a way to include Katie in their activities and give her a fun new nickname.
All around the Boy, people live in fear of dragons and spend their days battling it out against the beasts in loud, gruesome fights. Boy can’t hear, and this “inability” quickly becomes a great asset.
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
Auggie’s much-beloved story, re-imagined for younger readers in this delightful picture book about a boy born with a facial difference. Auggie’s grit and determination to find a real friend and help others choose kind will have readers cheering him on as they turn the pages.