Best Children's Books About Being yourself

The Best 45 Books to Read to Your Kids about Being Yourself

Updated Jan. 24, 2019

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.

Stephanie's Ponytail book
#1
Stephanie's Ponytail
Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
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. ;)

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.

The Trumpet of the Swan book
#2
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?

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon book
#3
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.

Even when the class bully at her new school makes fun of her, Molly remembers what her grandmother told her and she feels good about herself.

Chrysanthemum book
#4
Chrysanthemum
Written and 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....

Just a Duck? book
#5
Just a Duck?
Written and illustrated by Carin Bramsen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
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!

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?

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree book
#6
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Written and illustrated by Gemma Merino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
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.

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!

Be Happy! book
#7
Be Happy!
Written and 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.

Jake and Lily book
#8
Jake and Lily
Written and 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!

Maurice the Unbeastly book
#9
Maurice the Unbeastly
Written by Amy Dixon and illustrated by Karl James Mountford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
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. :)

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.

Spoon book
#10
Spoon
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and 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!

Leaping Lemmings! book
#11
Leaping Lemmings!
Written by John Briggs and illustrated by Nicola Slater
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
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!

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."

Willow book
#12
Willow
Written by Rosemarie Brennan, Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In Miss Hawthorn's art class, neatness, conformity, and imitation are encouraged, but when Willow brings imagination and creativity to her projects, even straight-laced Miss Hawthorn is influenced.

Lily Wool book
#13
Lily Wool
Written and illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

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.

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.

Not Quite Black and White Board Book book
#14
Not Quite Black and White Board Book
Written by Jonathan Ying and 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.

Harold Finds a Voice book
#15
Harold Finds a Voice
Written and 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.

The Jellybeans and the Big Dance book
#16
The Jellybeans and the Big Dance
Written by Nate Evans, Laura Numeroff and 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.

Firenze's Light book
#17
Firenze's Light
Written by Jessica Collaço and illustrated by Angela Li
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I think this is a great book with wonderful messages--friends that like you for who you are, using special talents you've been giving, loving yourself, and feeling grateful for your unique qualities. Cute story and really cute illustrations, but the messages in the book are very obvious.

Follow Firenze, a feisty firefly, as she discovers the power of her light in this fun and encouraging story of friendship and self-appreciation. Firenze's friends love her light, but Firenze doesn't think it's so great. How can she when it's nearly impossible to play a good game of hide-and-seek?!! When Firenze's light and a new friend's artwork unexpectedly combine, she must decide whether she will keep her light hidden or find the courage to let it shine. "Firenze's Light" is a beautifully illustrated picture book that sets itself apart by leaving out the bullying and shame found in more traditional children's books. Readers will find encouraging, kind characters inspiring self-appreciation, gratitude, kindness and compassion. While Firenze twirled on the stage, she realized how powerful her light was. It was creating magical art, joy for her friends, and happiness in her heart. Suddenly, Firenze felt very grateful she was a firefly. Ideal for children ages 3-8, this is the first in a series of books that reflect gentle parenting and nurture universal values that inspire and empower kids. "Firenze's Light" is a thoughtful gift for baptisms, baby showers, dance recitals and birthdays. Perfect for toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, first grade and second grade.

Little Oink book
#18
Little Oink
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Little Oink is a neat little fellow. Clean, clean, clean, that's all he wants to do. But Mama and Papa won't have it! They say in order to be a proper pig he has to learn to make a proper mess. What's a little pig to do? Now available as a board book, Little Oink shows Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace applying their traditionally wry humor to the issue of cleaning up, in a laugh-out-loud romp that is sure to make readers giggle with recognition.

Wherever You Go book
#19
Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and 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.

We're All Wonders book
#20
We're All Wonders
Written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Auggie knows he is a wonder, but he wants everybody to realize they are all wonders, too.

The Dot book
#21
The Dot
Written and 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.

A Color of His Own book
#22
A Color of His Own
Written and 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.

Dear Girl, book
#23
Dear Girl,
Written by Paris Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Holly Hatam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#24
Les & Ronnie Step Out
Written and illustrated by Andrew Kolb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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?

You're Here for a Reason book
#25
You're Here for a Reason
Written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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. Not only are we loved, but we also matter. Once again, NancyTillman takes a universal truth and makes it accessible forreaders young and old, as children and animals interact withacts of kindness.

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