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Being Yourself: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about being yourself?

One of the most important things we can help teach our children is the importance of being yourself. As they grow and learn, they’ll encounter peer pressure, trends, and difficulties, but having the confidence and self-esteem to be themselves will help them to know and like who they are while appreciating the differences in everyone around them.

Top 10 Books About Being Yourself

#1
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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love Molly Lou Melon! She is a fantastic girl who, despite some differences, listens to the advice her grandmother gives her to believe in herself, be proud of herself, and just be her great self. :) Even when a boy at school bullies her multiple times, she follows her grandmother's advice and shows the bully how remarkable she is, and they turn out to be friends.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do. Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn't mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart. But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
#2
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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
#3
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A Bad Case of Stripes
Written & illustrated by David Shannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In order to ensure her popularity, Camilla Cream always does what is expected, until the day arrives when she no longer recognizes herself.
#4
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The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Written & illustrated by Gemma Merino
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is a clever and witty story about a little cow who's not afraid to be a little different and explore the wide world around her, regardless of how impossible and ridiculous her sisters think her antics are. The illustrations are beautiful and unique and full of delightful little details (like a flying pig!) that add a little something extra. Her siblings eventually join her adventure (despite their initial feelings) and finishing this book I felt all sorts of warm fuzzies: endless possibilities, fulfilled dreams and siblings supporting each other.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Tina isn't like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren't convinced—and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!
#5
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Be Happy!
Written & illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Monica Sheehan has taken her bestselling book be happy. and created an irresistible little gem for people BIG & small. So open it up and get inspired to . . . Sing and dance a little! Have fun! Be kind--be brave! And be the best YOU.
#6
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Spoon
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Scott Magoon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thinking that Fork, Knife, and Chopstick have it better than he, Spoon begins to feel down about his status in the utensil world, but when others take the time to show him just how important he is, Spoon quickly comes to realize that being a spoon is the best thing to be after all!
#7
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Maurice the Unbeastly
Written by Amy Dixon & illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
Super cute book with absolutely gorgeous illustrations! I love the colors and all the cute monsters in the book. This story does a great job of showing how even when we, or someone else, might seem different, we all have special talents and abilities to offer and learn from others. Plus, this book about Maurice might help little ones who are afraid of any monsters realize that maybe monsters can be very nice. :)
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
No ordinary beast, Maurice is neat, polite, photogenic, and his roar is delightful to the ear, which leads his parents to enroll him at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts, where he realizes he has a few things he can teach his fellow beasts.
#8
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Jake and Lily
Written & illustrated by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We're twins and we're exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you'll get to see both sides of our story. But you'll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don't you? Yes!
#9
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Tacky the Penguin
Written by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.
#10
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Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch & illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I grew up loving this book, and there are so many things I love about the strong Stephanie! She knows what she likes and isn't afraid to be different. I love that she isn't phased by teasing from other kids because of her confidence in herself and her likes. She's also not afraid to think outside of the box, use her creativity, and try something new. Plus, the ending is hilarious. You might also find yourself with a new repertoire of hairstyles. ;)
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Another laugh-out-loud book from the author of The Paper Bag Princess! Everyone is copying Stephanie’s ponytail! No matter which way she wears it, the list of copycats keeps growing. But when Stephanie declares her next hair style, she tries to shake all of her followers loose. A newly designed Classic Munsch picture book introduces this tale of trend-setting hairdos to a young generation of readers.
Table of Contents
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Books About Being Yourself and Birds

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The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?
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Tacky the Penguin
Written by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.
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Harold Finds a Voice
Written & illustrated by Courtney Dicmas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Harold is an amazing mimic, and can imitate the sound of everything in his home. Tired of repeating the same old noises, he yearns to find out what other voices there are in the big, wide world. But what happens when he suddenly realises that he doesn’t yet have a voice of his own?This fantastic debut by author/illustrator Courtney Dicmas recounts Harold’s hilarious tale. It’s full of colour, humour and invention, and children will love to join in with Harold as he mimics everyday noises.
Honorable Mentions
Up and Down book
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Chicks Rule book
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The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories book
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Not So Small at All book
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  1. Up and Down - A penguin has wings for a reason . . . doesn’t he? Having a best friend with his own airplane is one thing, but actually experiencing what it feels like to fly by himself? Here is one penguin who believes this is precisely what he needs to feel complete. Only . . . if flying by himself is so wonderful, then why does he feel so empty? Because some experiences are better shared. (And penguins are much happier on the ground.) Oliver Jeffers delivers the perfect companion to his much-loved Lost and Found. Penguins everywhere will take flight in delight.

  2. Chicks Rule - Nerdy Chick has been waiting all day for the Rocket Club meeting. But when she gets there, she finds a disturbing sign tacked to the door: “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!!!” Puzzled, then baffled, then just plain mad, Nerdy Chick sets out to change the rules. Along the way, she meets other chicks who are just like her: passionate and determined. From Soccer Chick to Science Chick and Wordy Chick to Yoga Chick, these chicks aren’t willing to take “NO” for an answer. They rally together, march to the barn at the center of town, and—when they hear “NO” once again—chart their own path forward (or, rather, up, up, and away!). A celebration of girl power and community action, Chicks Rule! is the playful, diverse, victorious anthem chicks everywhere will love.

  3. The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories - In the second book of this lauded series, Fox and Chick are off on three new adventures involving a boat ride, a mysterious box, and an early morning trip to see the sunrise. Despite the antics ensuing from their opposite personalities, the contradictory duo always manages to find a happy center. This early chapter book in comic-book form is perfect for emerging readers, while the sweet and funny characters and captivating art hold appeal for picturebook audiences as well.

  4. Not So Small at All - Have you ever felt like you’re just too small to do important stuff in the world at all? Well, take a closer look, and then you’ll see that the smallest of things are as AMAZING as can be! Little things are capable of giant accomplishments. Bees, butterflies, and little children too may seem small but are actually full of great strength and incredible potential! Each one is unique, and capable of making big changes in the world.

Want to see books about birds?

Books About Being Yourself and Kindness

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell & illustrated by David Catrow
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I love Molly Lou Melon! She is a fantastic girl who, despite some differences, listens to the advice her grandmother gives her to believe in herself, be proud of herself, and just be her great self. :) Even when a boy at school bullies her multiple times, she follows her grandmother's advice and shows the bully how remarkable she is, and they turn out to be friends.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Be yourself like Molly Lou Melon no matter what a bully may do. Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. She doesn't mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart. But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school. A horrible bully picks on her on the very first day, but Molly Lou Melon knows just what to do about that.
Add to list
Be Happy!
Written & illustrated by Monica Sheehan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Monica Sheehan has taken her bestselling book be happy. and created an irresistible little gem for people BIG & small. So open it up and get inspired to . . . Sing and dance a little! Have fun! Be kind--be brave! And be the best YOU.
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We're All Wonders
Written & illustrated by R. J. Palacio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The unforgettable bestseller Wonder, now a major motion picture, has inspired a nationwide movement to Choose Kind. Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio. Over 6 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy. Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way. We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it 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. Praise for Wonder: A #1 New York Times Bestseller A USA Today Top 100 Bestseller An Indie Bestseller A Time Magazine 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time Selection A Washington Post Best Kids’ Book A New York Times Book Review Notable Book An NPR Outstanding Backseat Book Club Pick An Entertainment Weekly 10 Great Kids’ Books Selection “A beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.” —The Wall Street Journal “A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.” —Entertainment Weekly “Rich and memorable.” —The New York Times Book Review
Honorable Mentions
You're Here for a Reason book
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Fly Flies book
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The Boy Who Grew Flowers book
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Dazzling Travis book
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  1. You're Here for a Reason - Now available in board book, You’re Here for a Reason, from national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman, takes a universal truth and makes it accessible for readers young and old. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. In this tender and timeless read-along book, Tillman reminds us of this message in beautiful illustrations as children and animals interact with acts of kindness. “You’re here for a reason. If you think you’re not, I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . . a piece of the world that is precious and dear would surely be missing if you weren’t here. If not for your smile and your laugh and your heart this place we call home would be minus a part. Thank goodness you’re here! Thank goodness times two! I just can’t imagine a world without you.”

  2. Fly Flies - Fly just wants to have fun flying, but everyone she meets thinks she’s doing it all WRONG! Fly is happily practicing her flying in the park, doing some wibbles and some wobbles and some waveys. Blackbird, Seagull, Starling and Hawk take turns giving Fly advice about the best way to fly; fly in a straight line, glide on the wind, fly in a flock, dive onto your food…. Fly tries to take their advice on board, but each time finds that this is not HER way to fly. With a sweet, witty twist at the end, this is a delightful book about staying true to yourself in the face of people who insist they know better.

  3. The Boy Who Grew Flowers - Rink is a very unusual boy who grows beautiful flowers all over his body whenever the moon is full. In town and at school, Rink and his family are treated as outcasts although no-one knows his strange botanical secret. But one day a new girl arrives at sc

  4. Dazzling Travis - Travis sets no limits to what he enjoys doing. Shopping and football, ballet and dress-up make Travis a one of a kind boy! But when some of the kids on the playground begin to pick on him, Travis truly dazzles. This empowering story encourages both boys and girls to challenge the social norm, revealing their true selves.

Want to see books about kindness?

Books About Being Yourself and Siblings

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The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Written & illustrated by Gemma Merino
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom
This is a clever and witty story about a little cow who's not afraid to be a little different and explore the wide world around her, regardless of how impossible and ridiculous her sisters think her antics are. The illustrations are beautiful and unique and full of delightful little details (like a flying pig!) that add a little something extra. Her siblings eventually join her adventure (despite their initial feelings) and finishing this book I felt all sorts of warm fuzzies: endless possibilities, fulfilled dreams and siblings supporting each other.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Tina isn't like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren't convinced—and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!
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Jake and Lily
Written & illustrated by Jerry Spinelli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
This is a story about me, Lily. And me, Jake. We're twins and we're exactly alike. Not exactly! Whatever. This is a book we wrote about the summer we turned eleven and Jake ditched me. Please. I just started hanging out with some guys in the neighborhood. Right. So anyway, this is a book about goobers and supergoobers bullies clubhouses true friends things getting built and wrecked and rebuilt and about figuring out who we are. We wrote this together (sort of) so you'll get to see both sides of our story. But you'll probably agree with my side. You always have to have the last word, don't you? Yes!
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Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written & illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day. A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.
Honorable Mentions
One of a Kind book
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Tough Chicks book
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Fearless Mirabelle and Meg book
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Stardust book
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  1. One of a Kind - In this wry and witty picture book, an only child learns that in a classroom of multiples, individuality can be awesome. All the kids in Lysander Singleton’s class are either twins or triplets, which means Lysander Singleton is the only “only child” at Twin Oaks Elementary. He tries to do what he can to fit in—making photocopies of himself, or attempting to play games with the other kids—though his efforts are usually met with unfortunate results. But when it comes time for the schoolwide Twindividuation competition, a series of events meant to encourage individuality, Lysander quickly realizes that being the only “only child” does have its advantages—and that being unique isn’t such a bad thing after all.

  2. Tough Chicks - From the moment Penny, Polly, and Molly hatch from their eggs, the whole farm knows they are truly tough chicks. They wrestle worms, rope roosters, and are often found under the hood of the tractor. All the other animals and even the farmer himself tell Mama Hen to make her chicks good. “They are good!” Mama Hen replies. But her chicks are different. They’re tough and smart and strong in a good way.

  3. Fearless Mirabelle and Meg - A fun and exuberant picture book about twin sisters with very different talents. Mirabelle and Meg Moffat are twins, and their mom and dad are famous circus acrobats. Mirabelle is fearless. She promises to be the most topsy-turvy, upside-down acrobat of all. Unlike Meg, who is afraid of heights. But with a grand new show featuring Mirabelle about to open, it soon becomes clear that there is at least one thing that does scare Mirabelle. Could it be time for Meg’s talent to shine?

  4. Stardust - One little girl dreams of being a star. But whether it’s finding Mom’s lost wedding ring or winning the costume prize, her big sister always shines brighter. A story about how everything and everyone is made of stardust and we all shine in different ways

Want to see books about siblings?

Books About Being Yourself and Talents

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Spoon
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Scott Magoon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thinking that Fork, Knife, and Chopstick have it better than he, Spoon begins to feel down about his status in the utensil world, but when others take the time to show him just how important he is, Spoon quickly comes to realize that being a spoon is the best thing to be after all!
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The Jellybeans and the Big Dance
Written by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Friendship comes in many flavors in the launch of a charming new series by a bestselling author and illustrator team! Laura Numeroff, Nate Evans, and Lynn Munsinger bring readers a fun new group of sweet friends. Just as jellybeans are different colors and flavors, each character in this heartwarming friendship story has a personality and pizzazz that young readers will love. Emily loves to dance and can’t wait to meet the other girls in her class, who are sure to be just like her. But instead she meets Nicole, a tomboy who would rather be playing soccer; Bitsy, who loves arts and crafts; and Anna, a shy bookworm who has no interest at all in dancing. Realizing that they have to work together to make their dance recital a success, the girls learn to love each other’s differences and strengths as they band together and name their group the Jellybeans! The latest picture book by beloved bestselling authors Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans is as sweet as sugar and features four adorable characters that all children will relate to. With joyful illustrations by Lynn Munsinger that dance off the page, The Jellybeans and the Big Dance will inspire readers to dance, prance, and boogie-woogie to the beat of their own drum.
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The Dot
Written & illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher's encouragement leads her to change her mind.
Honorable Mentions
The Second Sky book
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The Mud Fairy book
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  1. The Second Sky - An inspiring story about finding your true element Ever since he first hatched, Gilbert has wanted to fly. But with his big, clumsy feet and small, fluffy wings, learning to fly is a bigger challenge than Gilbert anticipated. His fellow penguins tell him to give up, but Gilbert is sure that if he keeps trying, he’ll be able to soar… Young readers will fall in love with this sweet, motivating story about overcoming obstacles and discovering your hidden talents.

  2. The Mud Fairy - Wearing pink and tiptoing through the dewdrops is for wimps! Emmelina would rather play with her friends, the frogs. But can a fairy with an independent streak earn her wings if she goes against the fairy code? Warm, humorous, and with just the right amount of pink (and mud), here’s a book that will capture the hearts of girly-girls and tomboys alike.

Want to see books about talents?

Books About Being Yourself and Female Role Models

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Willow
Written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan & illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Miss Hawthorn's room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that's how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn's classroom comes young Willow. She doesn't color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise's other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.
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Chrysanthemum
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
She was a perfect baby, and she had a perfect name. Chrysanthemum. When she was old enough to appreciate it, Chrysanthemum loved her name. And then she started school. "I'm named after my grandmother," said Victoria. "You're named after a flower." Chrysanthemum wilted. Life at school didn't improve. In fact, it got worse. Then the students were introduced to their music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Delphinium Twinkle. And suddenly, Chrysanthemum blossomed....
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My Name is Not Isabella
Written by Jennifer Fosberry & illustrated by Mike Litwin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Isabella imagines she is a variety of prominent women throughout history, including Sally Ride, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, and Marie Curie.
Honorable Mentions
Dear Girl, book
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Gloria's Voice book
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Freckleface Strawberry book
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  1. Dear Girl, - A #1 New York Times bestseller which Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb calls, “a beautiful, beautiful book” New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her daughter Paris Rosenthal collaborate to bring you the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl, Dear Girl, is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life; a gentle reminder that she’s powerful, strong, and holds a valuable place in the world. Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she’s great just the way she is—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on table tops. Dear Girl, encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out. Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved. —Amy and Paris A perfect gift for all occasions.

  2. Gloria's Voice - Gloria Steinem is known as a leader of the feminist movement and a trailblazer who fights for equality for all people. This unofficial biography for young readers tells her story, from being a young girl with big dreams to her inspiring travels in India to the launch of Ms. magazine, which gave women a voice. Gloria’s message of believing in yourself and following your dreams will inspire a whole new generation.

  3. Freckleface Strawberry - Freckleface Strawberry is just like everyone else, except that she has red hair and freckles but when she tries to hide who she is, she learns about true friendship and accepting yourself just as you are.

Books About Being Yourself and First Concepts

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Not Quite Black and White Board Book
Written by Jonathan Ying & illustrated by Victoria Ying
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4
Silly animals star in this lively board book that introduces colors in a unique and catchy way. Have you ever seen a zebra wearing pink polka dots? Or a penguin with bright yellow boots? Brother and sister team Jonathan and Victoria Ying present these surprisingly colorful animals and more in this clever celebration of colors.
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A Color of His Own
Written & illustrated by Leo Lionni
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
A story of a chameleon who, in search of his own color, finds a true friend.
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The Day the Crayons Quit
Written by Drew Daywalt & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?
Honorable Mentions
Les & Ronnie Step Out book
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The Day the Crayons Came Home book
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When Sadness Is at Your Door book
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Some Birds book
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  1. Les & Ronnie Step Out - Meet a left and right foot who are a pair of complete opposites! Full of clever, giggle-inducing details, this lively odd-couple tale celebrates what makes us all unique, as well as the power of friendship to bring us together despite our differences. Feet come in twos, so they need to step out together. But Les and Ronnie often find it hard to cooperate. Les likes having a clean sock and being responsible. Ronnie is fine with a dirty sock and loves letting loose. Les is straight-laced while Ronnie doesn’t even care about laces. What’s a duo to do?

  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home - I’m not sure what it is about this kid Duncan, but his crayons sure are a colorful bunch of characters! Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan’s stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box. Look for a special glow-in-the-dark picture [Note: make sure to “charge” it under a light first].

  3. When Sadness Is at Your Door - In the style of Harold and the Purple Crayon comes a picture-book primer in emotional literacy and mindfulness that suggests we approach the feeling of sadness as if it is our guest. Sadness can be scary and confusing at any age! When we feel sad, especially for long periods of time, it can seem as if the sadness is a part of who we are—an overwhelming, invisible, and scary sensation. In When Sadness Is at Your Door, Eva Eland brilliantly approaches this feeling as if it is a visitor. She gives it a shape and a face, and encourages the reader to give it a name, all of which helps to demystify it and distinguish it from ourselves. She suggests activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, and going outside for a walk. The beauty of this approach is in the respect the book has for the feeling, and the absence of a narrative that encourages the reader to “get over” it or indicates that it’s “bad,” both of which are anxiety-producing notions. Simple illustrations that recall the classic style of Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) invite readers to add their own impressions. Eva Eland’s debut picture book is a great primer in mindfulness and emotional literacy, perfect for kids navigating these new feelings—and for adult readers tackling the feelings themselves!

  4. Some Birds - Some birds are big, some birds are small, and some birds are just incredibly tall. Some birds are caged, but most birds are FREE. A much better life, I’m sure you’ll agree! Swooping and squawking, flapping and fluttering, there are many different kinds of birds in the world, all with their own special traits and abilities. Some Birds celebrates the colors and shapes of beaks and feathers with a rollicking, rhyming text and intricate design. The lively illustrations with a mod, retro feel are full of style and mesmerizing detail. Some Birds is a lovely gift that will have children and adults tweeting for more from a promising new talent in the design world.

Books About Being Yourself and Clothing

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Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch & illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
I grew up loving this book, and there are so many things I love about the strong Stephanie! She knows what she likes and isn't afraid to be different. I love that she isn't phased by teasing from other kids because of her confidence in herself and her likes. She's also not afraid to think outside of the box, use her creativity, and try something new. Plus, the ending is hilarious. You might also find yourself with a new repertoire of hairstyles. ;)
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Another laugh-out-loud book from the author of The Paper Bag Princess! Everyone is copying Stephanie’s ponytail! No matter which way she wears it, the list of copycats keeps growing. But when Stephanie declares her next hair style, she tries to shake all of her followers loose. A newly designed Classic Munsch picture book introduces this tale of trend-setting hairdos to a young generation of readers.
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The Proudest Blue
Written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & illustrated by Hatem Aly and S. K. Ali
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Paired with Hatem Aly's beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.
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Mary Wears What She Wants
Written & illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.
Honorable Mentions
The Right One for Roderic book
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Sadie and the Silver Shoes book
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Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma book
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Lizzy McTizzy and the Busy Dizzy Day book
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  1. The Right One for Roderic - What happens when one little ghost wants to stand out? All ghosts wear white sheets. That’s just what ghosts do. White sheets are good for haunting people, and they make the ghosts feel like part of one big family. But one little ghost named Roderic wants to wear something different. He tries all sorts of things: a bag, a rug, a boot. Can he find the right one for him? Find out in this colorful picture book from debut author-illustrator Violeta Noy.

  2. Sadie and the Silver Shoes - When shoes are the only thing you get to pick out yourself, what happens when you lose one of them? A tale of self-expression and friendship, told with humor and charm. With three older brothers to pass along hand-me-downs, Sadie doesn’t have much say in choosing her clothes. Her outfits always look interesting, though (even if some kids at school might not think so). But Sadie is allowed to pick her shoes, so one day she buys the most beautiful shoes ever — shoes that sparkle in the sun, shoes she wears everywhere. That is, until Sadie and her brothers hop down a creek on an adventure, and one shoe falls off and is swept away. Whatever will Sadie do with one silver shoe? From a winning picture-book team comes a story of creativity, resilience, and like-minded souls that is sure to appeal to independent thinkers everywhere.

  3. Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma - Ladybug Girl gets dressed up for Halloween in the newest hardcover addition to the New York Times bestselling series. It is Halloween and Lulu must decide on a costume. Should she be Ladybug Girl or something new? She tries many different costumes, but nothing seems right. Maybe she’ll think of the perfect costume as she enjoys the autumn day with her family by pumpkin picking and going on a hayride. But it isn’t until Lulu and Bingo help a little girl who is lost that Lulu discovers who she was meant to be for Halloween–Ladybug Girl, of course! After all, she is Ladybug Girl and it is important to be true to yourself.

  4. Lizzy McTizzy and the Busy Dizzy Day - Lizzy McTizzy can’t find her shoe! She’s late for the party, but what can she do? Lizzy will stop at nothing to find her missing shoe! Whether she’s swinging from the chandelier or looking under the cat, Lizzy is determined to find it in time for the party. After all, she needs two matching shoes . . . or does she? Join Lizzy as she learns that being yourself is the best accessory of all!

Want to see books about clothing?

Books About Being Yourself and Family Life

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Dory Fantasmagory
Written & illustrated by Abby Hanlon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
Move over, Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean! Here comes a lovably energetic little sister with a BIG personality—and an imagination to match! As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: outsmarting the monsters all over the house, escaping from prison (aka time-out), and exacting revenge on her sister’s favorite doll. And when they really need her, daring Dory will prove her bravery, and finally get exactly what she has been looking for. With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious book about an irresistible rascal is the new must-read for the chapter book set.
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Bunny in the Middle
Written by Anika Denise & illustrated by Christopher Denise
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
When you’re in the middle . . . you’re not the oldest, and you’re not the youngest. You are right in-between. There’s someone bigger who helps you. And someone smaller who needs you. From the middle, you can see both sides. But being in the middle isn’t always easy—sometimes it’s hard to know what makes you special, or how to follow a path that’s just your own. But that’s okay. As one middle bunny knows, being in the middle means you are loved ALL around. This classic picture book celebrates the remarkable empathy of middles and the joys of self-acceptance, glowingly illustrated by New York Times–bestselling artist Christopher Denise. Perfect for fans of Little Elliot.
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Marsha Is Magnetic
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Lorena Alvarez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
It turns out that the best way to draw others to you is by being yourself in this sweet, STEAM-minded picture book from <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author Beth Ferry. Marsha is a scientist who has never met a problem she couldn't solve. But when it comes to making friends to invite to her birthday party, she is stumped. Luckily, Marsha knows the solution to being stumped: the scientific method. With equal parts creativity, determination, and humor, Marsha sets out to <i>attract</i> as many friends as she can--what could possibly go wrong? In this hilarious celebration of friendship and ingenuity, Beth Ferry and Lorena Alvarez show readers that the best way to attract friends is to simply be yourself.
Honorable Mentions
Replay book
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Meena Meets Her Match book
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Star-Crossed book
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Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen book
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  1. Replay - Leo’s papa stood in the doorway, gazing down at him. “Leo, you make gold from pebbles,” and the way he said it, Leo could tell that this was a good thing. He may have been given a bit part in the school play … but Leo dreams he is the biggest star on Broadway. Sure, his big, noisy family makes him feel like a sardine squashed in a tin … but in his fantasy he gets all the attention he wants. Yes, his papa seems sad and distracted … but Leo imagines him as a boy, tap-dancing and singing with delight. That’s why they call Leo “fog boy.” He’s always dreaming, always replaying things in his brain. He fantasizes about who he is in order to discover who he will become. As an actor in the school play, he is poised and ready for the curtain to open. But in the play that is his life, Leo is eager to discover what part will be his.

  2. Meena Meets Her Match - Graduates of the Ramona Quimby series will adore Meena Zee as she navigates the triumphs and challenges of family, friendship, and personal secrets in this charming middle grade debut. Meena’s life is full of color. She wears vibrant clothes, eats every shade of the rainbow, and plucks eye-catching trash from the neighborhood recycling bins. But when Meena’s best friend, Sofía, stops playing with her at recess and she experiences an unexpected and scary incident at breakfast, nothing can fight off the gray. That’s when Meena comes up with a plan to create the BEST and most COLORFUL Valentine’s Day Box in the class. With the help of her cousin, Eli, and her stuffed zebra, Raymond, Meena discovers that the best way to break through the blah is to let her true colors shine.

  3. Star-Crossed - Twelve-year-old Mattie wrestles with her crush on Gemma as they participate in their school production of Romeo and Juliet in what School Library Journal calls “a fine choice for middle school libraries in need of an accessible LGBTQ stories.” Twelve-year-old Mattie is thrilled when she learns the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet. In particular, she can’t wait to share the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, who has been cast as Juliet. Gemma is brilliant, pretty—and British!—and Mattie starts to see her as more than just a friend. But Mattie has also had an on/off crush on her classmate Elijah since, well, forever. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things offstage are beginning to resemble their own Shakespearean drama: the cast is fighting, and the boy playing Romeo may not be up to the challenge of the role. And due to a last-minute emergency, Mattie is asked to step up and take over the leading role—opposite Gemma’s Juliet—just as Mattie’s secret crush starts to become not-so-secret in her group of friends. In this funny, sweet, and clever look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to become a lead player in her own life.

  4. Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen - The first book in a new chapter book series featuring a spunky Japanese-American heroine! Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker! She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie—something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before. But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

Books About Being Yourself and Peer Pressure

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Leaping Lemmings!
Written by John Briggs & illustrated by Nicola Slater
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
So fun, I love this book! A great story about not just conforming and following the crowd, but being yourself. Super clever and you can tell this book was well thought out. I love all of the quotation bubbles for the lemmings and the great illustrations!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Lemmings look alike, sound alike, and act alike. So if one jumps off a cliff, the others follow . . . except Larry. Larry s "very" independent-minded. But can he teach his fellow lemmings to think for themselves? John Briggs has created a wonderfully funny, quirky tale about doing your own thing, while Nicola Slater s illustrations capture all the humor and pathos in Larry s situation."
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Odd Dog Out
Written & illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A heartwarming and poignant story from award-winning creator Rob Biddulph about the power of embracing your true colors. Perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s Tiger Goes Wild. It’s a dog’s life in the big, busy city, but there's one lonely pup who doesn’t quite fit in. She behaves differently from the rest, sports rainbow in a sea of gray, and marches to the beat of her own drum. She’s one Odd Dog. Join Odd Dog as she journeys to the other side of the world to find her place in it, only for her to discover that maybe she’s meant to be right where she started. And check out Rob Biddulph’s other books for children, including: Blown Away The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!
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Where Oliver Fits
Written & illustrated by Cale Atkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs. Where Oliver Fits is a sweet and funny story that explores all the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn't always the best fit.
Honorable Mentions
The Favorite Book book
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Frog Boots book
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How to Be a Lion book
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Maximillian Villainous book
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  1. The Favorite Book - From the author-illustrator of Do You Believe in Unicorns? comes a sweet, colorful celebration of how we choose the things we love best. Have you ever thought about how your favorite things became your favorites in the first place? Sometimes picking a favorite can be easy: you know from the moment you see it. And sometimes, selecting one can take a little longer as you consider all the options. The choice is yours: you can have many favorites or none at all. You might even find that your favorite changes. From colors to animals to the perfect hat, there are so many things to love . . . and even help you learn a little about yourself in the process. Playful and thought-provoking, this cheerful rhyming story encourages young readers to reflect on how they make decisions and pick their own favorite — or two.

  2. Frog Boots - There’s only one thing Dylan wants: frog boots! But what happens when this little boy discovers they’re meant for . . . girls? School shopping is no fun for Dylan—until he spots a pair of boots decorated with poison-dart frogs. They’re so cool that he even wears them to bed, where he discovers they glow in the dark! He can’t wait to wear them to class. But before he can show them off in circle time, a kid exclaims: “Ms. Kory, that boy’s wearing girl boots.” And, suddenly, when everyone’s laughing at him, the boots don’t seem so wonderful anymore. Will he ever want to wear them again? A timely story about embracing what you love, staying true to yourself, and defying stereotypes.

  3. How to Be a Lion - In this timely and charming story about the importance of being true to yourself, mindfulness, and standing by your friends, we meet Leonard, a lion, and his best friend Marianne, a… duck. Leonard and Marianne have a happy life together—talking, playing, writing poems, and making wishes—until one day a pack of bullies questions whether it’s right for a lion and a duck to be pals. Leonard soon learns there are many ways to be a lion, and many ways to be a friend, and that sometimes finding just the right words can change the world… This sweet, funny, thoughtful, and much-needed story will open up readers’ eyes to the importance of being who they are and not backing down to hurtful criticism. It’s an empowering tale about connecting with others and choosing kindness over bullying, and shows children how angry and provocative words can be overcome by empathy and courage.

  4. Maximillian Villainous - For anyone who loved Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, this is a humorous and important book about learning to follow your heart and proving that kindness can outweigh villainy any day. Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family pulls pranks on the likes of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance. Delightfully fun and irreverent, Maximillian Villainous is an empowering story about embracing one’s true self and finding acceptance. Up and coming illustrator Lesley Breen Withrow brings the characters to life with bold and colorful illustrations in a style reminiscent of Richard Scarry.

Books About Being Yourself and Self-acceptance

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Just a Duck?
Written & illustrated by Carin Bramsen
Thoughts from The Goodfather
Carin Bramsen's illustrations are stunning and beautiful, and her tale is just as impressive. Clever rhymes share a meaningful story about the unique talents of each person (and duck) and how what may seem simple to us can be very helpful to someone else!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Now that Cat has learned to play games that Duck enjoys, it’s Duck’s turn to try things that Cat likes. However, climbing trees and swatting at leaves prove to be a bit tricky for flat-footed Duck. What’s an unlikely pair of friends to do?
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Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written & illustrated by Aidan Cassie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What Juniper lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. And her heart is dead-set on growing up and getting taller. She's tired of having to reach for the cookie jar or use a stepping stool for the toilet. Everything in Juniper's world seems to be made for adults. Ugh! Juniper is industrious, however, and builds several silly contraptions to help reach her goals. But it isn't until she makes a fun new friend at school, Clove, who is even smaller than Juniper, that she is able to see her world from a new perspective — and appreciate all sizes, big or small. Aidan Cassie, the creator of Sterling, Best Dog Ever, employs her pitch-perfect humor and heartwarming illustrations here again to help little ones love themselves at any size.
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The Curvy Tree
Written by Chris Colfer & illustrated by Brandon Dorman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
The debut picture book from #1 New York Times bestselling author Chris Colfer Once upon a time, there was a little girl who didn't quite fit in. When she runs away, she happens upon a curvy tree who helps her understand the importance of being different! This picture book stands alone, but also plays an important role in the Land of Stories series--making this a must-have book for fans and new readers alike!
Honorable Mentions
Bear and Duck book
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She Wanted to Be Haunted book
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It's Okay to Be a Unicorn! book
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Short book
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  1. Bear and Duck - Debut author-illustrator Katy Hudson brings to life characters Bear and Duck in this hilarious story about a bear who is fed up being a bear and wants to be a duck. Bear is sick and tired of being a bear. Who wants to sleep all winter? His fur feels so hot in the summer. And the bees . . . there are just too many angry bees! Bear is done being a bear. But when he sees a line of happy yellow ducklings, he has a thought. What if he could be a duck? With a few duck lessons from Duck, Bear learns that being a duck is fun; but as it turns out, Bear realizes he makes a really good bear . . . and he makes a really good friend along the way. Young readers will delight in the hilarious relationship between Bear and Duck.

  2. She Wanted to Be Haunted - With whimsical, rhyming stanzas, She Wanted to be Haunted offers a delightful, lyrical twist on the ever-important question of how to be your very best self. Clarissa the cottage is adorable . . . bright pink, with windows that wink, and flowers growing all around. But Clarissa doesn’t want to be adorable—being cute is boring. Couldn’t she be like her father, a creepy castle home to vampires and crypts? Or like her mother, a witch’s hut full of spells and smells? If only she were haunted! Then she’d be less ordinary . . . What will it take for Clarissa to go from adorable to horrible?

  3. It's Okay to Be a Unicorn! - An inspiring picture book, Jason Tharp’s It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn features a unicorn pretending to be a horse―until he learns to embrace his true self. Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is known among all the other horses in Hoofington for his beautiful and creative handmade hats. But Cornelius is hiding a secret under his own tall, pointy hat: He’s really a unicorn. Hoofington is a friendly place, but its horses pass on lots of mean rumors about unicorns. When Cornelius is chosen to perform for this year’s Hoofapalooza, will he find the courage to show everyone his unicorniness? It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn is an inspiring story about the rainbow magic of kindness.

  4. Short - In this heartwarming and funny novel by the beloved author of “Counting by 7s, Julia grows into her sense of self while playing a Munchkin in a summer stock theater production of “The Wizard of Oz”.

Books About Being Yourself and Monsters

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Maurice the Unbeastly
Written by Amy Dixon & illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
Super cute book with absolutely gorgeous illustrations! I love the colors and all the cute monsters in the book. This story does a great job of showing how even when we, or someone else, might seem different, we all have special talents and abilities to offer and learn from others. Plus, this book about Maurice might help little ones who are afraid of any monsters realize that maybe monsters can be very nice. :)
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
No ordinary beast, Maurice is neat, polite, photogenic, and his roar is delightful to the ear, which leads his parents to enroll him at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts, where he realizes he has a few things he can teach his fellow beasts.
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Some Monsters Are Different
Written & illustrated by David Milgrim
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Monsters celebrate their individuality.
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Quit Calling Me a Monster!
Written & illustrated by Jory John
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A young monster resents being called a monster.
Honorable Mentions
Buttercup the Bigfoot book
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Dead City book
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Hattie and Hudson book
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  1. Buttercup the Bigfoot - A fiercely funny picture book from author Douglas Rees and illustrator Isabel Muñoz about the fantastic friendship between a little girl and a creature out of legend. When Willa Cathcart Wilmerding, the bravest girl in the world, is told she must stop her nightly tradition of howling at the moon, she decides to run away. High in the mountains, she meets Buttercup the Bigfoot, a friend unlike any other! Willa and Buttercup do everything together. They leap up and down the mountains, soar over mighty crevasses, and make each other crowns of flowers―but their favorite thing to do is climb a high peak and HOWL at the moon. This playful story of friendship, freedom, and ferocity will have picture book readers eager for a Bigfoot friend of their very own.

  2. Dead City - Seventh-grader Molly has always been an outsider, even at New York City’s elite Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, but that changes when she is recruited to join the Omegas, a secret group that polices and protects zombies.

  3. Hattie and Hudson - A little girl and her colossal friend teach a monster-size lesson about prejudging others in a charming offering from Chris Van Dusen. Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified — except Hattie, who looks into the creature’s friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant — whom she names Hudson — and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn’t scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.

Want to see books about monsters?

Books About Being Yourself and Imagination

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Lily Wool
Written & illustrated by Paula Vasquez
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato
Lily Wool is different—in a good way. She has lots of ideas and is quick on her feet when things go wrong. I love how this book encourages exploring your passions and thinking independently.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
A little lamb with a great big imagination. A new picture book from Paula Vasquez filled with delightful illustrations depicting a little lamb intent on being true to herself. Lily Wool gets bored with all of the grazing and resting that the herd does and prefers to count stars and dream of adventures. When Lily finds a strand of loose wool, she lets her imagination run wild and has a grand time until she accidentally unravels a problem. Children will love seeing how Lily Wool puts her imagination and creativity to work to fix things, and how Lily discovers a way to help others while she finds her special place in the herd. Paula Vasquez,an avowed artist from childhood, studied graphic design at the Universidad Cat�lica de Chile, and honed her illustration skills with a post-graduate diploma from Finis Terrae University. She currently lives in Santiago de Chile writing and illustrating children's picture books.
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Incredible You
Written by Rhys Brisenden & illustrated by Nathan Reed
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Ever had a bad day and wished that you were someone else? Perhaps a mountain gorilla? Or a fierce tiger? But wait . . . just think of all the amazing things that you can do! You can sing, you can write, and you can dream. And never stop being incredible you! This picture book brings a breath of fresh air for young children, filled with positivity, zest, and energy.
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Sarabella's Thinking Cap
Written & illustrated by Judy Schachner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
From the bestselling creator of Skippyjon Jones, a heartwarming story about the importance of imagination and creativity. Sarabella is always thinking—conjuring, daydreaming, and creating new worlds from her imagination. There is so much going on in her head that it can barely be contained. But there are times when daydreaming is decidedly not a good thing—like when you’re supposed to be doing multiplication tables. Luckily, Sarabella has an understanding teacher and with his encouragement She comes up with her own idea to show everyone who she is.
Honorable Mentions
Marcel the Shell with Shoes on book
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Clive and His Hats book
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Delivery Bear book
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Clive and His Babies book
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  1. Marcel the Shell with Shoes on - View our feature on Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp’s Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. Millions of people have fallen in love with Marcel. Now the tiny shell with shoes and a big heart is transitioning from online sensation to classic picture book character, and readers can learn more about this adorable creature and his wonderfully peculiar world. From wearing a lentil as a hat to hang-gliding on a Dorito, Marcel is able to find magic in the everyday. He may be small, but he knows he has a lot of good qualities. He may not be able to lift anything by himself, but when he needs help, he calls upon his family. He may never be able own a real dog . . . but he has a pretty awesome imagination.

  2. Clive and His Hats - Meet Clive - and his imagination! Clive loves his collection of hats, and each one suggests a different adventure. He enjoys playing with them, and sharing them with his friends. A gentle, affectionate book, celebrating diversity and challenging gender stereotypes.

  3. Delivery Bear - Zogby wants to work for Fluffy Tail Cookies as a delivery animal—but he’s a bear and all the other animals are cute bunnies. Zogby tries to pretend to be a bunny by wearing bunny ears, putting on whiskers, and adding a fluffy tail. But he still scares the customers! When Zogby realizes being himself is best, can he find a way to stand out and get the job?

  4. Clive and His Babies - Meet Clive - and his imagination! Clive loves his dolls. He enjoys playing with them, and sharing them with his friends. A gentle, affectionate book, celebrating diversity and challenging gender stereotypes.

Books About Being Yourself and New Experiences

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Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Roads give you chances to seek and explore. Want an adventure? Just open your door. Join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller's lilting rhyme and bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler's enchanting, lush landscapes celebrate the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road--the same road that will always lead you home again.
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Not Quite Narwhal
Written & illustrated by Jessie Sima
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Born deep in the ocean, Kelp is not like the other narwhals and one day, when he spies a creature on land that looks like him, he learns why.
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Moon
Written & illustrated by Alison Oliver
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Like many children, Moon leads a busy life. School, homework, music lessons, sports, and the next day it begins again. She wonders if things could be different. Then, one night, she meets a wolf. The wolf takes Moon deep into the dark, fantastical forest and there she learns to howl, how to hide, how to be still, and how to be wild. And in that, she learns what it’s like to be free. This simply worded and stunningly illustrated story reveals the joy to be found in play, nature, and, most of all, embracing the wild in us all.
Honorable Mentions
Fresh Princess book
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Carl and the Meaning of Life book
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The Doughnut Fix book
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We Are Party People book
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  1. Fresh Princess - Based on The Fresh Prince created by Will Smith, Destiny is the Fresh Princess. Meet Destiny—a cool, energetic, and strong-willed young girl who approaches every day with her own signature style! That is, until she moves to a brand-new neighborhood, where nothing looks quite the same as it did at her old house. Even with new challenges and new friends to make, Destiny always has a plan. With a few reminders from her loving family and after remembering what being the Fresh Princess is all about, she may just take the leap and jump right in! Written by celebrated author, blogger, and editor Denene Millner and illustrated by Gladys Jose, Fresh Princess is the perfect book to encourage kids to proudly stand out and be themselves!

  2. Carl and the Meaning of Life - From the often Caldecott-buzzed Deborah Freedman, a sweet and funny story about finding your place in the world. Carl is an earthworm. He spends his days happily tunneling in the soil until a field mouse asks him a simple question that stops him short: “Why?” Carl’s quest takes him on an adventure to meet all the animals of the forest, each of whom seems to know exactly what they were put on this earth to do, unlike the curious Carl. But it’s not until the world around him has changed that Carl begins to realize everyone, no matter how small, makes a big difference just by being themselves.

  3. The Doughnut Fix - An Amazon Best Book of the Month! Superfudge meets The Lemonade War in this funny, heartwarming series debut about change, adventure, family, and of course, doughnuts. Tristan isn’t Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he’s always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville―a town with one street and no restaurants. It’s like suddenly they’re supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters. His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he’s tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn’t made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and It’s possible he’s bitten off more than he can chew…

  4. We Are Party People - In this middle-grade contemporary novel, a shy girl with party-planner parents learns that stepping out of her comfort zone might not be so scary after all. “I am the opposite of a mermaid and that’s exactly the way I like it.” Shy and quiet, Pixie Jones does everything she can to fade into the background. All she wants is to survive middle school without being noticed. Meanwhile, her parents own the best party-planning business in town. They thrive on attention, love being experts in fun, and throw themselves into party personas, dressing as pirates, princes, mermaids, and more. When her mom leaves town indefinitely and her new friend Sophie decides to run for class president, Pixie finds herself way too close to the spotlight. How far is she willing to go to help the people she loves? Sweet, brave, and laugh-out-loud funny, We Are Party People by Leslie Margolis is a story of quiet triumph. Also by Leslie Margolis: We Are Party People Ghosted Praise for We Are Party People: “The strongest chapters are the lively accounts of how Pixie and Dan organize and run parties without Mom . . . Middle school angst tempered by humorous insights.” —Kirkus Reviews “Pixie’s first-person perspective is endearing . . . Give this to fans of gentle, realistic fiction. A solid purchase.” —School Library Journal “Pixie’s friends, Lola and Sophie, provide an excellent example of what good friends should be, and their relationship will show young readers that good friends help and support each other . . . A fun, fast-paced read.” —Booklist “Shy middle schoolers who tend to downplay their talents will find inspiration to be brave?and maybe ideas for planning an amazing party as well.” —VOYA

Books About Being Yourself and Multicultural

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There's Only One You
Written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook & illustrated by Rosie Butcher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
"In all the world over, this much is true: You're somebody special. There's only one YOU." Celebrate your individuality with this picture book that honors all the wonderful things that make you . . . you. This feel-good book reassures kids that, whoever and whatever they are, it's awesome being YOU! Expertly written to include all kinds of children and families, it embraces the beauty in a range of physical types, personalities, and abilities. Kids will love discovering and recognizing themselves in these pages--and they'll feel proud to see their special qualities acknowledged. Adorable illustrations by Rosie Butcher show a diverse community that many will find similar to their own.
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Business Pig
Written & illustrated by Andrea Zuill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Right from the start, everyone at the barnyard knew Jasper was different: "What we have here is a gen-u-WINE Business Pig!" No playing in the mud for him; Jasper preferred bookkeeping and charts. Most of all, he longs for a forever home. But no matter how many resumes Jasper hands out, no one adopts him. Can this business pig find that special person who means business, too?
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I Am Enough
Written by Grace Byers & illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book winner! This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
Honorable Mentions
Ta-Da! book
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Mabel: A Mermaid Fable book
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Black, White, Just Right book
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Karma Khullar's Mustache book
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  1. Ta-Da! - What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magical powers that can—ta-da!—overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s—dun dun duh!—a combination of dragons, pirates, and fire that cause total chaos. But as their stories intertwine, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both conflict—dun dun duh!—and resolution—ta-da! An irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration, this gorgeous picture book features two strong voices throughout, making it the perfect read-aloud.

  2. Mabel: A Mermaid Fable - A lovely and laugh-out-loud picture book from the award-winning author of Rude Cakes and Most Marshmallows. A silly read-aloud tale for kids about being yourself! Mabel isn’t like the other mermaids. Lucky isn’t like the other octopuses. But when they find each other, they discover that true friendship isn’t about how you look, and that sometimes what we are searching for is right under our noses. The inimitable Rowboat Watkins is back with another humorous tale about being true to yourself. • A delightful, inspiring read-aloud book for toddlers that celebrates gender diversity and difference • Stylish, accessible art brings this story of being true to yourself to hilarious life. • Rowboat Watkins is a 2010 Sendak Fellow and Ezra Jack Keats honoree. Young readers of Julian Is a Mermaid, Mary Wears What She Wants, and Exclamation Mark will find much to love in this tale that celebrates individuality and acceptance.

  3. Black, White, Just Right - A girl explains how her parents are different in color, tastes in art and food, and pet preferences, and how she herself is different too but just right.

  4. Karma Khullar's Mustache - In the tradition of Judy Blume, debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this “sparkling and triumphant tale of a middle school misfit” (Heather Vogel Frederick). Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

Books About Being Yourself and Identity

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Alma and How She Got Her Name
Written & illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
What's in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from -- and who she may one day be. If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; Jose, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all -- and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.
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Mixed Me!
Written by Taye Diggs & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Mom and Dad say I'm a blend of dark and light: "We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right." Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.
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Eraser
Written by Anna Kang & illustrated by Christopher Weyant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9
Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself. Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.
Honorable Mentions
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems book
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The Polar Bear Explorers' Club book
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Jack (Not Jackie) book
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  1. Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems - Hear thunder crash, feel your toes touch sand, and watch leaves drift softly away on a quiet stream. The simple poems in Breathe and Be help children learn mindfulness as they connect to the beauty of the natural world. Mindfulness teaches us how to stay calm, soothe our emotions, and appreciate the world around us. Whether we’re watching tiny colored fish darting in the water or exploring the leaves, branches, and roots of a towering tree, the thoughtful words and the lovely art of Breathe and Be remind us how much joy we can find by simply living with awareness and inner peace.

  2. The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - A precocious young girl is determined to prove herself as an explorer in the first novel in the whimsical Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series. Stella Starflake Pearl knows, without a doubt, that she was born to be an adventurer. It’s too bad girls are forbidden from becoming explorers. But Stella’s father has never been one to play by the rules. Leaving behind her pet polar bear, Gruff, and beloved unicorn, Magic, Stella and Felix set off on an expedition to the snowy Icelands. There, Stella plans to prove herself as a junior explorer, worthy of membership in the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. So when Stella and three other junior explorers are separated from the rest of their expedition, she has the perfect opportunity. Can they explore the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale? The first in Alex Bell’s imaginative new series, The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club is a fun and daring adventure filled with magic, outlaws, and fantastic faraway lands.

  3. Jack (Not Jackie) - In this heartwarming picture book, a big sister realizes that her little sister, Jackie, doesn’t like dresses or fairies-she likes ties and bugs! Will she and her family be able to accept that Jackie identifies more as “Jack”? Susan thinks her little sister Jackie has the best giggle! She can’t wait for Jackie to get older so they can do all sorts of things like play forest fairies and be explorers together. But as Jackie grows, she doesn’t want to play those games. She wants to play with mud and be a super bug! Jackie also doesn’t like dresses or her long hair, and she would rather be called Jack. Readers will love this sweet story about change and acceptance.

Books About Being Yourself and America

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Just Like Rube Goldberg
Written by Sarah Aronson & illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Discover how Rube Goldberg followed his dreams to become an award-winning cartoonist, inventor, and even an adjective in the dictionary in this inspiring and funny biographical picture book. Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer. But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary. This moving biography is sure to encourage young artists and inventors to pursue their passions.
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A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Robert Casilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World's Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a "floating wonder." After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler's well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author's note and a timeline.
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All of Me
Written by Chris Baron
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Ari has body-image issues. After a move across the country, his parents work selling and promoting his mother's paintings and sculptures. Ari's bohemian mother needs space to create, and his father is gone for long stretches of time on "sales" trips. Meanwhile, Ari makes new friends: Pick, the gamer; the artsy Jorge, and the troubled Lisa. He is also relentlessly bullied because he's overweight, but he can't tell his parents—they're simply not around enough to listen. After an upsetting incident, Ari's mom suggests he go on a diet, and she gives him a book to help. But the book—and the diet—can’t fix everything. As Ari faces the demise of his parents' marriage, he also feels himself changing, both emotionally and physically. Here is a much-needed story about accepting the imperfect in oneself and in life.
Honorable Mentions
Marc's Mission book
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Anybody's Game book
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  1. Marc's Mission - New York Times-bestselling author Jocko Willink delivers a second powerful and empowering Way of the Warrior Kid book about finding your inner strength and being the best you can be, even in the face of adversity in Marc’s Mission.

  2. Anybody's Game - In 1950, Kathryn Johnston wanted to play Little League, but an unwritten rule kept girls from trying out. So she cut off her hair and tried out as a boy under the nickname “Tubby.” She made the team—and inspired future generations. An inspiring and suspenseful story about what it means to want to do something so badly you’re willing to break the rules—and how, sometimes, breaking the rules can lead to change.

Want to see books about America?

Books About Being Yourself and Culture

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Little You
Written by Richard Van Camp
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Richard Van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and bestselling author of the hugely successful Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns, has partnered with award-winning illustrator Julie Flett to create a tender board book for babies and toddlers that celebrates the potential of every child. With its delightful contemporary illustrations, Little You is perfect to be shared, read or sung to all the little people in your life—and the new little ones on the way!
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Suki's Kimono
Written by Chieri Uegaki & illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
On her first day of first grade, despite the objections of her older sisters, Suki chooses to wear her beloved Japanese kimono to school because it holds special memories of her grandmother's visit last summer.
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Leila in Saffron
Written by & illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova and Rukhsanna Guidroz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, and finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her. Sometimes I’m not sure if I like being me. When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like. Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is.
Honorable Mentions
Tug of War book
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The Tricky Tooth (Katie Woo) book
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The Log Driver's Waltz book
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EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street book
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  1. Tug of War - Financial Times: ‘gorgeously vibrant’ Tortoise is on the hunt for a friend, but only encounters huge Elephant and Hippo, who are mean about his small size and wrinkly skin. But although Tortoise isn’t big, he is certainly brainy! He sets out to show Elephant and Hippo that biggest doesn’t mean best by challenging them to a tug of war. They sneeringly accept… but little do they know that they have really agreed to fight each other! A funny, heartwarming retelling of this well-known folk tale about brains vs brawn with beautiful, stylish illustrations. A special book that teaches that wit and wisdom are more important than size and physical strength, and friendship is what matters most.

  2. The Tricky Tooth (Katie Woo) - Everyone in Katie Woo’s class has lost a tooth, except her! She tries everything she can think of to make her wiggly tooth fall out, but nothing works. Will she ever lose her tricky tooth?

  3. The Log Driver's Waltz - Acclaimed illustrator Jennifer Phelan reimagines Wade Hemsworth’s iconic log driver in a beautiful, contemporary picture-book adaptation of a beloved Canadian classic. If you ask any girl from the parish around What pleases her most from her head to her toes She’ll say I’m not sure that it’s business of yours But I do like to waltz with a log driver Based on the perennially popular Canadian folk song and animated short film of the same name, The Log Driver’s Waltz showcases a spunky, independent young woman whose parents are keen for her to marry. The town’s well-to-do doctors, merchants, and lawyers try to impress her, but it’s the humble log driver—with his style, grace, and joie de vivre—who captures her attention. When she and the log driver finally meet on the dance floor, their joy leaps off the page. With homages to the original film, and celebrating the flora, fauna, and folk art of this great land, The Log Driver’s Waltz brings a hallmark of Canadian childhood to life.

  4. EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street - Playful words lead you into this beautiful children’s book and invite you to celebrate our gifts,our weaknesses,our differences and our sameness. Fitch displays her wit and mastery of words in quick, rollicking rhymes that are complemented by Emma Fitzgerald’s lively illustrations. EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street was originally produced in 2001 as a fundraiser to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Festival of Trees in support of the Nova Scotia Hospital and to raise awareness for mental illness and addiction.

Want to see books about culture?

Books About Being Yourself and Belonging

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Grape!
Written by Gabriel Arquilevich
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Grape is in trouble again! He punched Miss Roof in the arm! Now he's suspended for two weeks, and Principal Clarkson has threatened to send him to Riverwash, a school for problem kids. But he has one last chance. Grape must spend an hour a day writing about his history of trouble, and there's a lot of trouble to choose from... Grape's best friend Lou is by his side, and even though Grape drives his parents crazy, they're pulling for him all the way. But will Grape make sense of it all? Will it be enough to keep him out of Riverwash?
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Chocolate Me!
Written by Taye Diggs & illustrated by Shane W. Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.
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Stumpkin
Written & illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s the perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern. There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window. As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone give Stumpkin his chance to shine?
Honorable Mentions
The Octopuppy book
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The Very Lonely Firefly book
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The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito book
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Fritz and the Beautiful Horses book
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  1. The Octopuppy - Can the OCTOPUPPY be the perfect pet? Edgar wanted a dog. Instead, he got an octopus named Jarvis. Jarvis is brilliant and does his best to act like the dog Edgar wants, but nothing he does is good enough to please Edgar. Ultimately, Edgar recognizes that while Jarvis might not be the dog he wanted, he is special in his own endearing way.

  2. The Very Lonely Firefly - A VERY classic from Eric Carle, creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! When a very lonely firefly goes out into the night searching for other fireflies, it sees a lantern, a candle, and the eyes of a dog, cat, and owl all glowing in the darkness. It even sees a surprise celebration of light. But it is not until it discovers other fireflies that it finds exactly what it’s looking for–a surprise sure to bring smiles to anyone who turn the final page! Lushly illustrated with Eric Carle’s trademark vibrant collage art, soothingly told with a gentle read-aloud rhythm, and complete with a surprise sure to “light up” children’s faces, The Very Lonely Firefly will fast become a storytime favorite. Read it with a flashlight in the dark or under the table–and watch those fireflies glow!

  3. The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito - Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise! Tomson Highway’s musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn’t be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for. The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack. The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.

  4. Fritz and the Beautiful Horses - Fritz was not beautiful. He didn’t have a braided mane or a glossy coat. He couldn’t prance with long, graceful strides like the elegant horses who carried lords and lovely ladies to the city—a city that allowed only the most beautiful horses within its walls. The citizens laughed at the short-legged pony’s attempts to be like their own horses. But Fritz was dependable and hard-working. He proved to the citizens that there are things more important than being beautiful. He earned a special place for himself in the walled city just as he’ll earn a special place in every reader’s heart. Jan Brett’s full-color artwork sparkles in intricate detail across every page of this exceptional picture book about Fritz, a sure-footed pony who finally gets the chance to shine in his own best way.

Books About Being Yourself and Love

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You're All Kinds of Wonderful
Written & illustrated by Nancy Tillman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The beloved, bestselling Nancy Tillman returns with a picture book celebrating what makes every child special in their own way. Part of growing up is discovering—and embracing—what makes us unique. From different abilities to different personalities, we are all wonderfully made with our own bells and whistles.
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The Things I Love About Me
Written & illustrated by Trace Moroney
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Your great big smile, your kindness toward others—there are so many things to love about being you. This special junior edition of The Things I Love About Me—with its simple, meaningful words and beautiful illustrations—is part of a series that is perfect for introducing little ones to positive thinking about everyday situations.
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Prince & Knight
Written by Daniel Haack & illustrated by Stevie Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far from here, there was a prince in line to take the throne, so his parents set out to find him a kind and worthy bride. The three of them traveled the land far and wide, but the prince didn't quite find what he was looking for in the princesses they met. While they were away, a terrible dragon threatened their land, and all the soldiers fled. The prince rushed back to save his kingdom from the perilous beast and was met by a brave knight in a suit of brightly shining armor. Together they fought the dragon and discovered that special something the prince was looking for all along. This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.
Honorable Mentions
The Very Very Very Long Dog book
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Sterling, Best Dog Ever book
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I'll Walk with You book
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The Amazing Idea of You book
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  1. The Very Very Very Long Dog - “Oh, Bartelby!” Bartelby is a very long and lovable dachshund who lives in a bookstore. He has a lovely set of friends who take him for walks through the city, but he has no idea that his bumbling backside leaves a trail of destruction and accidents behind him. Embarrassed that he has no control over his back end, Bartelby vows to never leave the cozy bookstore again. Can his friends help him find a way to help himself? This beautifully illustrated picture book features silly fun along with an important message: that we love our friends not in spite of their flaws, but because of them.

  2. Sterling, Best Dog Ever - A heartwarming and hilarious debut picture book about a dog who masquerades as a fork in search of a forever family. Full color.

  3. I'll Walk with You - Help little ones learn to show love for the people around them, no matter how they look, sound, pray, love, or think. Beloved author of The Lesson and Will You Still Be My Daughter? Carol Lynn Pearson is known for her heartfelt, sometimes tear-jerking poetry and stories. Her newest title will enchant children with a sweet, tender poem about loving and accepting others, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or what their age and abilities are. Carol Lynn Pearson is the author of more than forty books and plays, including Goodbye, I Love You and I’ll Always Be Your Daughter. She has been a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “Good Morning, America,” and was featured in People Magazine. She lives in Walnut Creek, California.

  4. The Amazing Idea of You - Fans of Emily Winfield Martin will delight in this loving, gorgeously illustrated story that celebrates new life. Hidden inside every living thing is an idea. That idea can sprout, sing, wriggle, take wing . . . into something amazing! Exploring beginnings both small and great, The Amazing Idea of You bonds the human and natural worlds in a lyrical burst of celebration. So dig deep, fly high, look around, and find the extraordinary inside everything . . . including YOU!

Want to see books about love?

Books About Being Yourself and African Americans

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A Letter to Amy
Written by Ezra Jack Keats
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Generations of children have read, re-read, and loved Ezra Jack Keats's award-winning, classic stories about Peter and his neighborhood friends. Now, for the first time, _Peter's Chair, A Letter to Amy_, and _Goggles!_ are available in paperback exclusively from Puffin. "A master of ingenious collages, Keats has made brilliant variegated pictures."—_The Horn Book _Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) was the beloved author and/or illustrator of more than eighty-five books for children.
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Boonoonoonous Hair
Written by Olive Senior & illustrated by Laura James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In this vibrant and exquisitely illustrated picture book, written by Commonwealth Prize-winning Jamaican-Canadian Olive Senior, and with pictures by the acclaimed artist Laura James (the team that created Anna Carries Water), a young girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage, voluminous and boonoonoonous hair.
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Nola's Scribbles Save the Day
Written by Cristina Lalli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Nola loves her scribbles. They go with her wherever she goes. But she can’t seem to share her scribbles with others―no one seems to understand the imaginative world she’s created for herself. Frustrated and uninspired, Nola draws a blank. A big, boring blank. But when Nola falls deep into a creative slump, she discovers she’s not alone. If she can find the courage to share her scribbled ideas again, she may just inspire others to think outside the box and give their ideas a try too. With playful illustrations, this imaginative tale shows readers of all ages the power in persevering to create and embrace unique expression.
Honorable Mentions
My Hair is a Garden book
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Hey Black Child book
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Being You book
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  1. My Hair is a Garden - After a day of being taunted by classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie can’t take any more and she seeks guidance from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie. Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.

  2. Hey Black Child - Six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier brings this classic, inspirational poem to life, written by poet Useni Eugene Perkins Hey black child,Do you know who you are?Who really are? Do you know you can beWhat you want to beIf you try to beWhat you can be? This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

  3. Being You - Award-winning author and professor Alexs Pate delivers a message of hope and self-discovery in a time of uncertainty in our world. YOU is a beautiful picture book celebrating every readers’ individuality and talents. With an authentic voice, YOU’s poetic message of love and optimism for the future speaks directly to today’s children. YOU helps us to see the wonder and light within each of us.

Books About Being Yourself and Girls

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Penny and Penelope
Written by Dan Richards & illustrated by Claire Almon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Two girls on a play date learn there’s more to each other than meets the eye with a little help from their dolls in this exciting picture book adventure. Penny and Penelope are very different dolls. Penelope is a sweet princess, while Penny is a fierce secret agent. Penelope wants to ride her pony through the countryside, while Penny wants to wrestle alligators. How can they possibly get along playing in an imaginary kingdom? Luckily, Penny and Penelope are more than their packaging. After all, you can’t judge a doll by its outfit.
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Unicorn Crossing
Written by Dana Simpson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Phoebe and Marigold are back for a fifth installment of the award-winning series. Join in on their latest adventures - and experiments - in being themselves! Phoebe and Her Unicorn returns with more sparkles than ever!
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Of Course They Do!
Written by Marie-Sabine Roger & illustrated by Anne Sol
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Using sparse text and large, bright photographs, the book debunks commonly-held gender-myths. Misconceptions are stated matter-of-factly (Boys don’t cook.), but when the page is turned, each myth is proven false with playful language (Are you sure?) and a contradictory photo (a male professional chef). This jacketless book is perfect for young readers as well as read-alouds and will generate discussions about gender-based assumptions around play and work.
Honorable Mentions
Mango Delight book
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Best Friends book
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  1. Mango Delight - What happens when your BFF becomes your EFF . . . EX-Friend-Forever? Surviving seventh grade is tough-especially when your BFF dumps you, you lose your spot on the track team, and you cost your dad his job. That’s the mess Mango’s in. THEN her ex-bestie spitefully tricks Mango into auditioning for the school musical and the tables turn: Mango wins the lead role, becomes a YouTube sensation, and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee. But soon Mango is forced to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have . . . and the kind she wants to be.

  2. Best Friends - In this M!X original, Izzy is used to being queen bee—but will she ditch her mean girl status for a chance at true friendship? Isabella Caravella is dreading summer. She doesn’t want to spend a month at a lakeside resort with her parents and the families of her dad’s coworkers, especially when she discovers that two of the kids go to her school. She thinks Bailey and Ava are beyond weird—and they’re not exactly thrilled to see Izzy, either. Izzy has been their tormentor, the leader of the pack of girls who made their first year of middle school so unpleasant. Once Izzy discovers that the other kids have been spending their summers together for years and she’s the outsider, she realizes she’s going to have to change her bossy, stubborn ways if she wants to fit in. Bailey and Ava turn out to be kind and welcoming, and Izzy actually wishes she were more like them. Back home, Izzy knows that things are probably going to be different. Ava and Bailey were great summer friends—but are they really forever friends? Can Izzy prove that she really does have the potential to be a true friend? Or is she stuck playing the mean girl forever?

Want to see books about girls?

Books About Being Yourself and Making Friends

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Reptile Club, The
Written by Maureen Fergus & illustrated by Elina Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right for him. So when his parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves, Rory knows exactly what it will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive that there are other kids out there who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits for students to show up. Just as he is about to give up, Rory hears whispering in the hallway and hurries over to see who it is. To his astonishment, it's not his schoolmates who have arrived to attend the first meeting, but a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!
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Ninita's Big World
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh & illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
"The heart-tugging true story of how YouTube star Ninita—a deaf, orphaned pygmy marmoset (the smallest type of monkey)—found family, friendship, and a forever home! Illustrated in full color. Ninita is the only known deaf pygmy marmoset in the world, but that doesn't stop her from making friends and chasing her next adventure! Abandoned by her parents and rescued by the RSCF, this tiny, curious monkey loves exploring her habitat. And when she meets Mr. Big—another pygmy marmoset—she has finally found a friend who likes to eat, climb, and play as much as she does. A YouTube celebrity, Ninita's videos have been viewed nearly 2 million times! "
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Selfie Sebastian
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh & illustrated by Florence Weiser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Sebastian is one handsome fox. So why can't he take the perfect selfie? In his quest to get the shot of his dreams, he sets off on an elaborate journey from the Grand Canyon all the way to the moon. But nothing works. Could it be that the secret to his special selfie is right where he started--at home with his friends?
Honorable Mentions
Rosa Plays Cars book
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Elmore book
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Stella Diaz Has Something to Say book
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  1. Rosa Plays Cars - Let’s find out which toys Rosa and her friends are playing with today! An important series that celebrates inclusivity, promotes gender equality and embraces the uniqueness of every child.

  2. Elmore - The creator of the Toot & Puddle series brings us Elmore—the warmhearted porcupine sure to steal the hearts of a new generation of Holly Hobbie fans! Elmore is a porcupine desperate to make friends. But it is hard to seek closeness with others when you’re covered with spikes that shoot off your back every so often. Elmore suffers rejection and heartbreak, but the goodness of his forest community ultimately shines through as the animals find a way to connect with this prickly bundle of love. Holly Hobbie is the creator of the beloved Toot & Puddle series and now brings us a character for the next generation. Just as charming, funny, and good-hearted as her little pigs, Elmore the porcupine will snuggle and prickle his way securely into the picture-book canon.

  3. Stella Diaz Has Something to Say - A sweet middle-grade novel by award-winning illustrator Angela Dominguez about a shy Mexican-American girl who makes a new friend.

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