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84+ Books for Kids About Belonging

Searching for kids books about belonging?

Figuring out our place in the world can be a lifelong process. Much literature has been created on the subject: playwrights have written plays, poets have written poems, and authors have written stories. Fortunately, because it is such a prevalent and pressing question we all work through, publishers have published and republished much of this priceless literature.

Children’s books are particularly adept at addressing the ideas of belonging and identity. Their messages can help young children, older kids, teens, and adults. On this list we’ve gathered the best books for kids about belonging. In these titles are many characters with stories about searching for their unique place in the world. Some talk about leaving home and making new friends. Others talk about remembering ourselves and our family heritage. Others address understanding our own identities and being yourself.

The list includes board, picture, and chapter books, making it a helpful resource for a range of ages. Board and picture books are wonderful for toddlers through early elementary school age. Adults can also appreciate the powerful messages of these stories. The chapter books on the list are great for elementary and early middle school age kids.

As you look at the list, let us know what titles you would add!

Top 10 Books About Belonging

#1
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The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Rafael López
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael López's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)
#2
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If There Never Was a You
Written by Amanda Rowe & illustrated by Olga Skomorokhova
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
If there never was a you, how empty life would be! Who would make me smile and laugh and keep me company? Filled with heartwarming messages of love, belonging, and togetherness, If There Never Was a You gently reassures children that the place they hold in their parents' hearts can never be filled with anything else.
#3
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Pebble: A Story About Belonging
Written & illustrated by Susan Milord
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
There once was a pebble on a rocky shore. It was small and round and nearly smooth. Amid a seascape dotted with endless rocks, one pebble yearns to be special. Can you find the pebble? Susan Milord's clear prose and exquisite collages offer a timeless message about finding one's place in the world.
#4
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Little Elliot, Big Family
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When Mouse heads off to a family reunion, Little Elliot decides go for a walk. As he explores each busy street, he sees families in all shapes and sizes. In a city of millions, Little Elliot feels very much alone-until he finds he has a family of his own!
#5
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The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle. Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle. The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food. Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…
#6
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Famously Phoebe
Written by Lori Alexander & illustrated by Aurelie Blard-Quintard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Phoebe was the shining star of her family. Then someone came along to take her place. For as long as Phoebe can remember, she’s known the clickety click click of a photographer snapping her picture. Thanks to the camera-carrying “paparazzi” (aka Mom and Dad), she’s always been the star of the show . . . until the day a tiny newcomer arrives on set. Will Phoebe learn to share the spotlight and assume the role she was born to play: big sister? This sweet tale of sibling rivalry resolved is perfect for every older brother and sister.
#7
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My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave & illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Celebrated poet Susan Musgrave weaves the purity, strength and sweetness of love with simple joys from nature experienced through the seasons. Marilyn Faucher's vibrant illustrations are a lovely complement to Musgrave's prose, and together these elements introduce babies and toddlers to the delight of cold summer plums, a shower of cherry blossom petals and the endlessness of love. A perfect read-aloud, this poetic board book will foster warmth and closeness with the littlest ones in your life.
#8
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Room for Bear
Written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
A huggable picture-book debut about a bear who doesn’t quite fit—perfect for fans of Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On and Philip C. Snead & Erin Stead’s Bear Has a Story to Tell. When Bear wakes up one spring, he goes in search of a new home. And he thinks he’s found the perfect place. Unfortunately, things are a bit . . . snug. Can five little ducks find room for one big bear in their home—and in their hearts? Ciara Gavin’s luminous picture-book debut explores the unconditional love of families in all their colors, shapes, and sizes.
#9
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Giant Tess
Written & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Internationally acclaimed and bestselling author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino presents a larger than life picture book about a girl with a heart as giant as she is. Tess has a BIG problem. She’s a giant with an enormous wish to be like everyone else in the city of Myth-hattan. When she gives up on ever fitting in, she meets a friend just her size, and the two team up for a daring rescue. Can these misfits save the day—and the big city parade? This reassuring and heartwarming tale will empower young readers struggling to find acceptance, and it reminds us that there’s a hero within every one of us.
#10
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Les & Ronnie Step Out
Written & 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?
Table of Contents
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Books About Belonging and Love

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My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave & illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Celebrated poet Susan Musgrave weaves the purity, strength and sweetness of love with simple joys from nature experienced through the seasons. Marilyn Faucher's vibrant illustrations are a lovely complement to Musgrave's prose, and together these elements introduce babies and toddlers to the delight of cold summer plums, a shower of cherry blossom petals and the endlessness of love. A perfect read-aloud, this poetic board book will foster warmth and closeness with the littlest ones in your life.
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If There Never Was a You
Written by Amanda Rowe & illustrated by Olga Skomorokhova
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
If there never was a you, how empty life would be! Who would make me smile and laugh and keep me company? Filled with heartwarming messages of love, belonging, and togetherness, If There Never Was a You gently reassures children that the place they hold in their parents' hearts can never be filled with anything else.
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Famously Phoebe
Written by Lori Alexander & illustrated by Aurelie Blard-Quintard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Phoebe was the shining star of her family. Then someone came along to take her place. For as long as Phoebe can remember, she’s known the clickety click click of a photographer snapping her picture. Thanks to the camera-carrying “paparazzi” (aka Mom and Dad), she’s always been the star of the show . . . until the day a tiny newcomer arrives on set. Will Phoebe learn to share the spotlight and assume the role she was born to play: big sister? This sweet tale of sibling rivalry resolved is perfect for every older brother and sister.
Honorable Mentions
Come All You Little Persons book
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Over the Moon book
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You Make Me Happy book
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No Valentines for Katie (Katie Woo) book
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  1. Come All You Little Persons - From above earth, from above sky, from below earth, from under water, come all you little persons come exactly as you are. Come little bird person, come little bee person, come little tree person - little persons from all over the world join together to celebrate the dance of life and love in this stunning poem from John Agard. Stunningly illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, this is a book that both little persons and big persons will treasure and pore over for a lifetime, and is a true poem of our time.

  2. Over the Moon - This sweet-natured bedtime book proves that a family is wherever you find love. When two wolves see a baby floating down a river, what do they do? Why, they take the baby home. Over the moon with joy, they nourish and teach her. And when that baby grows into a child, she and the wolves know that she will be ready to make her way in the world. Because when a child is loved, she has everything she needs. • A classic fairy-tale premise told with warmth and an inclusive sensibility for all types of families to enjoy • A touching read-aloud books for families, caregivers, and classroom storytime • James Proimos has written and/or illustrated over 20 critically lauded children’s books. This gently humorous story shows that families come in many forms, and that love is about both holding on and letting go. Fans of Finn’s Feather, Wild, and Wolfie the Bunnie will find Over the Moon a delightful tale for all ages.

  3. You Make Me Happy - A new beautifully illustrated celebration of love and friendship from the bestselling creators behind I’ll Never Let You Go and I Love You Night and Day. In this delightfully optimistic and uplifting observance of that special someone who makes you happy, Fox and Porcupine discover that when they’re together, life is ever so much brighter. Gorgeous, fun, and full of heart, this is the perfect gift for that sweet ray of light in your life. You make me happy, you make me new; Together there’s NOTHING that we cannot do. You make me happy and hopeful and strong, And right by your side is where I belong.

  4. No Valentines for Katie (Katie Woo) - Katie Woo’s class had a special celebration for Valentine’s Day. Katie had lots of fun reading the little candy hearts that her teacher handed out. But when everyone got a special valentine except her, she felt terrible. Could it be that nobody likes Katie Woo?

Want to see books about love?

Books About Belonging and Individuality

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The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Rafael López
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael López's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)
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Les & Ronnie Step Out
Written & 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?
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Cuckoo!
Written & illustrated by Fiona Roberton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Cuckoo hatches. And all is well. But when his brothers and sisters sing out Too-too-weet! Too-too-weet! Cuckoo instead chirps Cuckoo! and no one can understand him. When he leaves his nest, Cuckoo still can’t find anyone who speaks his language. He tries to communicate with the other animals—coomooing and buckooing and cabooing along the way—but he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there! Just when he thinks all is lost, Cuckoo finds an unlikely friend who understands him perfectly.
Honorable Mentions
Chocolate Me! book
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Stumpkin book
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Rumple Buttercup book
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What Matters Most book
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  1. Chocolate Me! - 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.

  2. Stumpkin - 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?

  3. Rumple Buttercup - A charming and inspiring story written and illustrated by Criminal Minds actor/director, Matthew Gray Gubler. Rumple Buttercup has five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and his left foot is slightly bigger than his right. He is weird. Join him and Candy Corn Carl (his imaginary friend made of trash) as they learn the joy of individuality as well as the magic of belonging.

  4. What Matters Most - A young horse discovers that whatever our differences, love connects us all. What matters most of all to you? What matters most to me? Let’s take a look around us, and maybe we will see.
    A small horse and a large horse celebrate their unconditional love in a sweet story full of gentle rhymes and foil-embellished illustrations. Beloved children’s book creator Emma Dodd explores important themes of identity and belonging in this warm and uplifting story of love.

Books About Belonging and Family

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Little Elliot, Big Family
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When Mouse heads off to a family reunion, Little Elliot decides go for a walk. As he explores each busy street, he sees families in all shapes and sizes. In a city of millions, Little Elliot feels very much alone-until he finds he has a family of his own!
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A Family for Louie
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Thompson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
A foodie French bulldog finds a forever home in this heartwarming and adorable debut picture book, sure to appeal to fans of Gaston, Ellie, and Little Elliot, Big City. Meet Louie. He's a dog of very fine taste. He knows every chef in town, and each day he wanders the city, visiting his favorite restaurants. It's a good life, except... Louie is all on his own. What Louie wants more than anything is a family. But try as he might, Louie can't seem to find a family that's right for him. At the beach, he meets a little boy and his mother... but they're eating green jello salad and sardine sandwiches (Louie's least favorite foods!). At his favorite sushi restaurant, Louie spies a father and daughter with an open seat at their table... but their cat chases him away. At the park, he meets a nice family having a yummy barbecue, but when they invite him to play frisbee... Louie just can't keep up. Where-oh-where will Louie find a just-right family of his very own?
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The Bold, Brave Bunny
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Chow Hon Lam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 44-8
**A Junior Library Guild Selection** **“An enjoyable tale of the marvels of adventuring and the comfort of home.” ―*Kirkus Reviews*** Hop along with Teetu, the bold, brave bunny, as he finds his way in this imaginative tale from *New York Times* bestselling author Beth Ferry (*Stick and Stone*) that reminds us that it’s splendid to see the world, but that it’s even more wonderful to go home, and share it with the ones you love. *B is for brave.* *B is for bold.* *B is not only for...bunnies.* After his brothers and sisters ruin his favorite alphabet book, Teetu the bunny has had enough of his big bunny family! When he sneaks off into the night, what he discovers is more marvelous than he ever dreamed. He sees animals and trees and beauty and moonlight, and puts his adventures into a new book he creates all by himself. But soon Teetu tires of being alone, and just as it gets to be too much...a big fluffy surprise comes to save the day! This heartwarming picture book from Beth Ferry and debut illustrator Chow Hon Lam makes for a perfect Easter and year-round gift. Plus, hidden animal surprises in the art will delight readers as they discover them in every repeat reading.
Honorable Mentions
The Turning book
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My Grandfather's War book
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Nevers book
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Nooks & Crannies book
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  1. The Turning - Does he belong to the land or to the sea? Readers who loved Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo will be transported to the place where the water and land meet in this exquisitely crafted coming-of-age tale about a selkie boy. Aran has never truly fit in with his selkie clan. He was born in his human form, without a pelt to transform him into a sleek, strong seal. Each day he waits, left behind while his selkie family explores the deep ocean. What if his pelt never comes? Does the Moon even see him? Is he putting his clan at risk? When his mother undertakes a journey to the far north to seek help, Aran is left in the care of a reclusive human woman on remote Spindle Island. Life on land is full of more wonders—and more dangers—than Aran could have ever imagined. Soon Aran will be forced to decide: will he fight for his place on land, or return to his home in the sea?

  2. My Grandfather's War - The award-winning team of Glyn Harper and Jenny Cooper share this poignant story about a Vietnam veteran and his relationship with his granddaughter. While the relationship is a positive one, the young girl senses her grandfather’s pain and is curious to find out the cause of it. As she innocently seeks answers, she unknowingly opens old wounds and discovers her grandfather’s sadness is a legacy of the Vietnam War and his experiences there. This is a sensitive exploration of the lingering cost of war and of the PTSD so many returned servicemen experience. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh (the Vietnam War’s longest battle), My Grandfather’s War also sheds light on a war that is not always remembered in the same way that the world wars and other conflicts are. Many who served experience a sense of betrayal at the treatment they received on their return, as the conflict came to be regarded as the ‘unpopular’ war, and this is covered in a child-friendly way in a note at the back of the book.

  3. Nevers - Resourceful fourteen-year-old Odette is on the move again, traveling as a stowaway on a cheese cart with her hapless mother, Anneline. They are in Burgundy, France, in 1799, fleeing yet another calamity caused by Anneline (who is prone to killing people accidentally). At dawn they find themselves in a town called Nevers, which is filled with eccentric characters, including a man who obsessively smells hands, another who dreams of becoming a chicken, and a donkey that keeps the town awake at night, braying about his narrow life. As Odette establishes a home in an abandoned guardhouse, she makes a friend in the relaxed Nicois and finds work as a midwife’s assistant. She and Nicois uncover a mystery that may lead to riches and, more important for Odette, a sense of belonging.

  4. Nooks & Crannies - Eleven-year-old Tabitha Crum, whose parents were just about to abandon her, is invited to the country estate of a wealthy countess along with five other children and told that one of them will become her heir.

Books About Belonging and Bears

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Room for Bear
Written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
A huggable picture-book debut about a bear who doesn’t quite fit—perfect for fans of Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On and Philip C. Snead & Erin Stead’s Bear Has a Story to Tell. When Bear wakes up one spring, he goes in search of a new home. And he thinks he’s found the perfect place. Unfortunately, things are a bit . . . snug. Can five little ducks find room for one big bear in their home—and in their hearts? Ciara Gavin’s luminous picture-book debut explores the unconditional love of families in all their colors, shapes, and sizes.
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Little Cub
Written & illustrated by Olivier Dunrea
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
A darling companion to Old Bear and His Cub from the New York Times bestselling creator of the Gossie books What's an Old Bear to do when he finds a Little Cub all alone and afraid of the dark? Adopt him, of course! And help him try to get over his fears. In this book we see the father and son from Old Bear and His Cub meet for the first time--and grow to love one another. With the same bold art and humorous twist on parenting, Olivier Dunrea's tumbling bears will melt your heart and show how strong the bond is between any father and son pair. Praise for LITTLE CUB *"Readers will treasure the bears’ gingerly give-and-take—watching them serendipitously become a family of two is a joy to behold." —Publishers Weekly, starred review *"Dunrea packs a huge amount of emotion into his limited text and engaging art. A delight for fans of these characters and a lovely next step for children ready to move beyond the 'Gossie and Friends' series." —School Library Journal, starred review
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Bears on Chairs
Written by Shirley Parenteau & illustrated by David Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Can five bears share four chairs? The infectious rhymes and easy charm of this winsome read-aloud will make young listeners sit up and take notice. (Ages 2-6) FOUR HAPPY BEARS ON FOUR SMALL CHAIRS. Four chairs. Four adorable bears. All is well until Big Brown Bear shows up — what a stare! — and wants a seat. Can these clever bears put their heads together (among other things) and make space for one more? With endearing, expressive illustrations and a sustained rhyme in every line, here is a cozy tale that makes it clear there is room for all.
Honorable Mentions
Elbert, the Curious Clock Tower Bear book
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The Society of Distinguished Lemmings book
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Lost. Found. book
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  1. Elbert, the Curious Clock Tower Bear - An inquisitive bear discovers the wonders of the world around him in this utterly charming picture book that celebrates curiosity, asking questions, and being true to yourself. Unlike the other mechanical bears in the village clock tower, Elbert can’t help but notice all the marvelous things around him–snow falling in winter, fireworks in the night sky, the magnificent stag standing in the cobbled street below. But when Elbert’s growing curiosity threatens to disrupt the orderly life of the clock tower, the other bears decide Elbert must go. What’s a small bear with a big curiosity to do? Explore, of course! And maybe even find a way to spread his inquisitive spirit. Here’s the perfect book for readers young and old who believe that staying curious is more important than following the rules.

  2. The Society of Distinguished Lemmings - In a society of lemmings, can a bear ever belong? The Society of Distinguished Lemmings aims to be distinguished in abosultely everything. It takes an awful lot of rules to be so distinguished, including: no rolling around, no climbing about, and certainly no splashing in the mud! But Bertie has had quite enough of the society and all its rules. After venturing outside, Bertie discovers a bear, who is very unlike a lemming. With the bear’s help, Bertie learns that prancing about in the wild is quite a lot of fun! But when the other lemmings find out about the bear, they decide everything about him will have to change if he’s ever to fit in. Will the Society ever accept Bertie’s new friend, or is the bear simply too big and clumsy of a creature to be distinguished? This hilarious tale features valuable themes of finding new friends, challenging peers, and questioning the rules. Readers will return to the story again and again to discover the quirks of every distinguished lemming while also learning about the importance of staying true to yourself amidst pressure to conform.

  3. Lost. Found. - On a wintry day, a bear loses his soft red scarf. The wind carries it whoosh to a pair of raccoons who use it to play tug-o-war. When they run off, a beaver dons the scarf as the perfect winter hat…until it gets tangled on a tree branch. The scarf is lost and found by a series of animals, including a fox and a couple of rascally squirrels, who use it as everything from a swing to a trampoline. When all the animals lay claim to the scarf at once, calamity ensues that can only be fixed by a bear, a little patience, and friendship, in this nearly wordless, clever picture book.

Want to see books about bears?

Books About Belonging and Self-esteem And Self-reliance

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Giant Tess
Written & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Internationally acclaimed and bestselling author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino presents a larger than life picture book about a girl with a heart as giant as she is. Tess has a BIG problem. She’s a giant with an enormous wish to be like everyone else in the city of Myth-hattan. When she gives up on ever fitting in, she meets a friend just her size, and the two team up for a daring rescue. Can these misfits save the day—and the big city parade? This reassuring and heartwarming tale will empower young readers struggling to find acceptance, and it reminds us that there’s a hero within every one of us.
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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.
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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
Love the World book
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Bunnybear book
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Boo Who? book
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  1. Love the World - A celebration of love, respect, peace, and unity by bestselling author and illustrator Todd Parr. Love your grin. Love your skin. Love the bees. Love the trees. Love giving a hand. Love taking a stand. LOVE YOURSELF. LOVE THE WORLD! What the world needs now is love—and who better than Todd Parr to share a message of kindness, charity, and acceptance. Touching upon themes including self-esteem, environmentalism, and respect for others, Todd uses his signature silly and accessible style to encourage readers to show love for themselves and all the people, places, and things they encounter.

  2. Bunnybear - Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and in his heart he’s fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear. The other bears don’t understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

  3. Boo Who? - A shy little ghost who’s new to the group has trouble fitting in — until his special talent comes to the fore. Boo is new. And even if the other kids are welcoming, it can be scary being new, especially for a shy ghost who can’t play any of their games. (“You tagged me? Oh, sorry. I couldn’t feel it.”) Can Boo find a way to fit in and make friends with the rest of the group? From the creator of Rex Wrecks It! comes a funny story about feeling invisible — and finding a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are.

Books About Belonging and New Experiences

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The Best Kind of Bear
Written by Greg Gormley & illustrated by David Barrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
When Nelly asks Bear what kind of bear he is, he isn't entirely sure how to answer. So off he goes to find out. But none of the different bears he meets on his travels are like him. Grizzly bears don’t have stitching; polar bears don’t have tags attached to their bottoms; spectacled bears are not as soft and bouncy as Bear is; and sun bears never wear bow ties. Disheartened, he returns to Nelly . . . only to discover what kind of bear he is — her own special bear!
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Teacup
Written by Rebecca Young & illustrated by Matt Ottley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless and bright. Some days, storms threaten to overturn his boat. And some days, the smallest amount of hope grows into something glorious. At last, the boy finds land, but it doesn’t feel complete . . . until another traveler joins him, bearing the seed to build a new home. With lyrical text and gorgeous artwork, this poignant picture book is perfect for discussing all of life’s toughest challenges—a big move, a divorce, long-distance separation, or even the current refugee crisis—in a way that’s reassuring and inspiring for children and adults alike.
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For Black Girls Like Me
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark. Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena- the only other adopted black girl she knows- for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda's sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can't seem to find one true friend. Through it all, Makeda can't help wondering: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.
Honorable Mentions
Some Places More Than Others book
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Carl and the Meaning of Life book
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Halfway Normal book
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Truth or Dare book
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  1. Some Places More Than Others - All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father’s family in New York City—Harlem, to be exact. She can’t wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family—and herself—in new way. But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It’s crowded, with confusing subways, suffocating sidewalks, and her father is too busy with work to spend time with her and too angry to spend time with Grandpa Earl. As she explores, asks questions, and learns more and more about Harlem and about her father and his family history, she realizes how, in some ways more than others, she connects with him, her home, and her family.

  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. Halfway Normal - Twelve-year-old cancer survivor Norah struggles to fit in at middle school after two years of treatment, but she finds her voice with the help of new friend Griffin, who shares her love of mythology.

  4. Truth or Dare - A few white lies during a simple game of truth or dare spin out of control and make life very complicated for Lia in this “entertaining bibliotherapy” (Kirkus Reviews) from Barbara Dee. When Lia returns after a summer with her eccentric aunt, it feels like everything has changed within her group of five friends. Everyone just seems more…dramatic. And after playing a game of Truth or Dare, Lia discovers how those divides are growing wider, and tells a few white lies about what really happened over the summer in order to “keep up.” But is “keeping up” with her BFFs really worth it?

Books About Belonging and Friendship

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Otis
Written & illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Meet Otis, everyone’s favorite tractor, created by the bestselling illustrator of Love by Matt de la Pena and The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper New York Times bestselling author/artist Loren Long creates an unforgettable children’s classic. Otis is a special tractor. He loves his farmer and he loves to work. And he loves the little calf in the next stall, whom he purrs to sleep with his soft motor. In fact, the two become great friends: they play in the fields, leap hay bales, and play ring-around-the-rosy by Mud Pond. But when Otis is replaced with the big yellow tractor, he is cast away behind the barn, unused, unnoticed . . . until the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond. Then there is only one tractor—and it’s not big or yellow—who can come to the rescue. It is little old Otis who saves his friend. It is Otis who saves the day. In a wonderful new palette, and in the tradition of classics like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Story of Ferdinand, Loren Long has crafted an unforgettable new story—and character—celebrating the power of friendship and perseverance.
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Mira and the Big Story
Written by Laura Alary & illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Mira is a girl with big questions. She knows two different stories about the way the world came to be. Which story is right? Can they both be right? Is there room for more than one way to think about the world and our place in it? Follow her on an inspiring journey as she discovers a story big enough to include everyone. Along the way, Mira learns to respect and revere the traditions and beliefs of others. Teach children kindness and acceptance with this beautifully illustrated and compelling tale. It is sure to keep young ones enthralled.
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Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts)
Written by Livingstone Crouse & illustrated by Steve Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8
Go on a school-time adventure with Eppie, the elephant who is allergic to peanuts! It’s the first day of school for Eppie the elephant, and she’s a bit nervous about one thing: that her new classmates won’t understand her allergy to nuts. Like many kids today, this fun-loving elephant can’t partake in peanuts, pecans, or pistachios and has to be careful about what she eats. Eppie makes fast friends with Allie the alligator and Pearl the squirrel, but when Eppie’s allergy is explained at lunch, will her friends still stand by her side? Readers of all ages will relate to this heartwarming, lyrical story of understanding and acceptance.
Honorable Mentions
Little Bigfoot, Big City book
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The Littlest Bigfoot book
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Be My Friend book
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  1. Little Bigfoot, Big City - From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner comes the second book in the “smartly crafted” (BCCB) and “heartwarming” (School Library Journal) trilogy about friendship, furry creatures, and finding the place where you belong.

  2. The Littlest Bigfoot - “The story of twelve-year-old Alice, a misfit who is ignored by her own family and shipped off to boarding school. She’d love a friend, and one day she rescues mysterious Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake. Millie, it turns out, is a Bigfoot, part of a clan that lives deep in the woods. Alice swears to protect Millie and her tribe, and the two girls try to find a place where they both fit in”—

  3. Be My Friend - Celebrate Valentine’s Day with best friends Peter, Benjamin, and Lily! When Benjamin is more impressed than usual by Lily’s cleverness, Peter becomes jealous and mistakenly thinks they no longer need him in the group. But when Lily and Benjamin are caught by mean Tommy Brock, Peter realizes his friends need him now more than ever! A sweet story of friendship and sticking together, this is a perfect Valentine’s Day read.

Books About Belonging and Bullying

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Strictly No Elephants
Written by Lisa Mantchev & illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.
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Electric Boogerloo: I am Fartacus
Written & illustrated by Mark Maciejewski
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13
Chub and his group of misfit friends—including some new recruits—try to track down the school’s missing mascot in the hilarious and heartwarming sequel to I Am Fartacus.
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Caught Offside
Written & illustrated by Andrea Montalbano
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Rejoin the Soccer Sisters in this latest installment - full of friendship, teamwork, and soccer fun! As the youngest member of the elite Brookville Breakers, Val Flores is feeling out of place. She just doesn't understand why suddenly her teammates can't talk about anything except boys.So when the Breakers play a match against El Fuego, she wonders if she should switch teams. Is Val's time with the Breakers up?
Honorable Mentions
The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito book
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Angus All Aglow book
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The Rhino in Right Field book
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Nobody Knew What to Do book
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  1. 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.

  2. Angus All Aglow - Angus loves sparkly things,so much so that he can hear them.To Angus,shiny objects not only look beautiful; they also crackle, buzz and go whiz-bang-POP! His unique ability is lost, however, when Angus wears his grandma’s beaded necklace to school, and his classmates tease him for his atypical choice. Saddened by their laughter, Angus stops hearing the sparkle. A gentle story of acceptance, generosity and friendship, Angus All Aglow reminds us that it only takes one kind gesture to restore your sparkle, and returning the kindness can make you glow from the inside out.

  3. The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

  4. Nobody Knew What to Do - Straightforward and simple, this story tells how one child found the courage to tell a teacher about Ray, who was being picked on and bullied by other kids in school. Faced with the fact that “nobody knows what to do” while Ray is bullied, the children sympathetic to him feel fear and confusion and can only hope that Ray will “fit in some day.” Finally, after Ray misses a day of school and the bullies plot mean acts for his return, our narrator goes to a teacher. The children then invite Ray to play with them, and, with adult help, together they stand up to the bullies.

Want to see books about bullying?

Books About Belonging and Holidays

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The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle. Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle. The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food. Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…
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Judy Moody and Friends: Not-So-Lucky Lefty
Written by Megan McDonald & illustrated by Erwin Madrid
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
Left-handers are creative. Left-handers are geniuses. Half of all cats are lefties! (Or so says Stink.) But Judy is a righty . . . and Judy is feeling left out. Tomorrow is Left Handers Day, and Stink and Dad, the southpaws in the Moody family, are celebrating at the pretzel factory. Judy is allowed to come along on one condition: she has to be lefthanded—the whole entire day. It’s on
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Blobfish Throws a Party
Written by Miranda Paul & illustrated by Maggie Caton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Introducing Blobfish Throws a Party, a wild and hilarious story from award-winning author Miranda Paul! Blobfish lives at the bottom of the ocean with no lights, no friends, and no delicious treats. The only two ways he can think to change this would be to 1) throw a party, or 2) save the world in true hero style. He decides to do the first one. However, when he announces, "Deep sea party! Bring a treat to share!", the mermaids hear "Cheap, free party! Sling on a sheet to wear!", and the shorebirds hear "Cheep-peep party! Sing a tweet with flair!", and so on. Soon the whole world is partying in strange ways based on what they think they heard, and Blobfish is still sad and alone at the bottom of the sea. Will Blobfish ever get his lights, friends, and delicious treats?
Honorable Mentions
Much Too Much Birthday book
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The Squatchicorns (Big Foot and Little Foot #3) book
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  1. Much Too Much Birthday - Maud the koala can’t wait for her birthday party–until everything starts to feel way too overwhelming. Maud is having a birthday party in her backyard, and she’s invited her friends–all fifty-six of them–to celebrate with her. She’s not worried, though. After all, you can never have too much birthday! But when the guests arrive and the party gets packed, she isn’t so sure. What will happen if Maud can’t bear her own birthday?

  2. The Squatchicorns (Big Foot and Little Foot #3) - When a tribe of Sasquatches flee from a mysterious curse, they take refuge in Hugo’s home, Widdershins Cavern. These new Sasquatches look a bit . . . odd. For example, they all have unicorn horns on their heads! Always open to meeting new creatures, Hugo befriends one of these strange squidges, Nobb. Nobb offers to escort Hugo though the North Woods so that Hugo can attend Boone’s birthday party. Having never been inside a Human house, Hugo finds the experience confusing and somewhat disastrous. Just when it looks like Hugo may have ruined Boone’s birthday, they set out on a mission to solve the troubling curse in Nobb’s cavern.

Want to see books about holidays?

Books About Belonging and Animals

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Wolfie the Bunny
Written by Ame Dyckman & illustrated by Zachariah OHora
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Families of all kinds will delight in this sweet tale of new babies, sibling rivalry, bravery, unconditional love...and veggies! The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can--and might--eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it's Wolfie who's threatened, can Dot save the day?
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Fenway and Hattie in the Wild
Written by Victoria J. Coe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
In the fourth book in the adorable middle-grade series, Fenway gets a taste of the wild when he goes on a back-to-school camping trip with Hattie. When Hattie starts using a word Fenway hasn’t heard in a long, long time – “skool” – some other things change as well. Hattie’s bushy ponytail disappears, clothes that smell like no one ever wore them get tossed around her room, and she smells nervous much more than usual. Then the family fills the Food Box with yummy hot dogs and loads it in the car. Fenway is thrilled that he gets to go along where ever they are going, and is even more excited when they arrive in the wilderness with tons of new scents to investigate, dogs and humans to meet, and lots of meat cooking over fires. Hattie seems excited about it all, too, and happy her friend Angel also came, but when more families arrive with lots of new kids, she smells nervous again. Especially when one certain kid that all the others seem to follow everywhere starts bossing everyone around. Fenway can sympathize, because a tiny dog is doing the same thing to all the other dogs. Fitting in can be a tough business, but luckily both Fenway and Hattie come around to realizing that being true to themselves is much more important.
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Koala Is Not a Bear
Written by Kristin L. Gray & illustrated by Rachel McAlister
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
It's Koala's first day at camp, and she thinks she's found her place in the Bear Cabin--until know-it-all Kangaroo tells Koala that she is not a bear. Koala lists all the ways in which she resembles her new friend, Grizzly, but Kangaroo isn't buying it. As Koala tries to find her place, alert readers will recognize clues about where Koala belongs.
Honorable Mentions
Meerkat Choir book
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Leyla book
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The Wonderling book
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  1. Meerkat Choir - ‘And a ONE - and a TWO - and a THREE-‘ ‘Excuse me. Can I join your choir?’ ‘No. You cannot join our choir. This is a MEERKAT choir.’ The meerkats are excited. They’re ready for their very first rehearsal with their meerkat choirmaster. But just as they’re about to sing their very first note, they’re interrupted by a steady stream of other animals who want to join in. The meerkat choirmaster insists his choir is only for meerkats. And he gets grumpier and grumpier at each interruption. This laugh-out-loud picture book celebrates the joy of joining in.

  2. Leyla - Leyla is sick of her big, loud, overbearing family. They are always chatting, snuggling, and grooming each other (ew!), and—for Leyla—there’s no escape from their attention. So, she decides to run away until she can’t hear (or smell) her baboon troop anymore. In the middle of her desert habitat, she finds a lizard sunning himself. Unlike her family, the lizard loves to sit alone, be quiet, and do absolutely nothing at all. Leyla joins the lizard, and after soaking up some quiet time, she feels recharged and ready to return home to her large, ever-doting family. Now that she knows where she can always find a little peace, Leyla can embrace the chaos and the kisses with open arms. From the celebrated author-illustrator of I Am a Cat, Leyla shows kids how to appreciate both the wild and the mild.

  3. The Wonderling - Richly imagined, with shimmering language, steampunk motifs, and gripping, magical plot twists, this extraordinary debut novel follows a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.

Books About Belonging and School

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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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Pie in the Sky
Written by Remy Lai
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11
A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks! Sometimes life isn't a piece of cake . . . When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he's often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao. To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she's at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they'll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama. In her hilarious, emotional middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Real Friends.
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Big Mouth Elizabeth
Written by Rachel Vail & illustrated by Paige Keiser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Second-grader Elizabeth longs to be a member of the Big Mouth club, which is made up of kids who have lost at least one baby tooth. Elizabeth is WAY behind on losing her baby teeth, and so is Cali, a quiet girl who is also left out of the Big Mouth Club. Elizabeth thinks Cali is so much more babyish than she is—in fact, Elizabeth SHOULD be in the Big Mouth Club because she's NOT babyish. But when she understands how bad it feels to be left out, Elizabeth's attitude shifts. Here is a story about fitting in in unexpected ways. With copious line art by Paige Keiser, this second book in Rachel Vail's Elizabeth series is sure to delight fans of Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, and Clementine.
Honorable Mentions
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say book
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The Alien Next Door 1: The New Kid book
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The Lost Boy's Gift book
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  1. 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.

  2. The Alien Next Door 1: The New Kid - In the first book of the Alien Next Door series, an alien boy named Zeke tries to fit in and adjust to life on Earth, while a classmate, Harris, suspects that Zeke might not be quite what he claims to be. Zeke the alien is on his way to his first day of school, feeling down because he has to start over again on a new planet, as his scientist parents constantly move to wherever their research takes them. When he gets to school, no one seems to notice anything strange or different about him except Harris, a kid obsessed with science fiction and aliens. Harris sees Zeke doing extraordinary things but can’t convince anyone, least of all his best friend, Roxy, that Zeke might be an alien. Roxy just thinks Harris is jealous that she’s becoming friends with Zeke. But when Roxy invites Zeke over to Harris’s house, will Harris find a way to prove that he’s right?

  3. The Lost Boy's Gift - There are places where you want to go and places where you want to leave. There are also places where you want to stay. Nine-year-old Daniel must move across the country with his mom after his parents’ divorce. He’s leaving behind his whole life—everything—and he’s taking a suitcase of anger with him. But Daniel is in for a surprise when he settles into While-a-Way Lane and meets his new neighbors—the Lemonade Girl, the hopscotching mailman, the tiny creatures, and especially Tilda Butter. Tilda knows how to look and listen closely, and it’s that gift that helps Daniel find his way in that curious place called While-a-Way Lane. Kimberly Willis Holt explores themes of divorce, acceptance, intergenerational friendship, and the power that comes with listening thoughtfully in this insightful novel.

Books About Belonging and Being Yourself

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The Octopuppy
Written & illustrated by Martin McKenna
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
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The Very Lonely Firefly
Written & illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
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!
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Fritz and the Beautiful Horses
Written & illustrated by Jan Brett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
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.
Honorable Mentions
My So-Called Superpowers book
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Fish Girl book
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Neon Leon book
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  1. My So-Called Superpowers - The first book in a quirky and funny coming-of-age series follows a girl whose emotions physically manifest themselves for the whole world to see. Veronica’s story is sure to resonate with readers who feel desperate to fit in. Illustrations.

  2. Fish Girl - The triple Caldecott winner David Wiesner brings his rich visual imagination and trademark artistry to the graphic novel format in a unique coming-of-age tale that begins underwater. A young mermaid, called Fish Girl, in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank. Sparkling with humor and brilliantly visualized, Fish Girl’s story will resonate with every young person facing the challenges and rewards of growing up.

  3. Neon Leon - Everyone knows that chameleons are the best at fitting in. But Leon is an exception. Leon is neon! In fact, he’s so bright that he keeps all the other chameleons awake at night. Poor Leon is lonely, so he goes off in search of somewhere he won’t be a nuisance. In this delightful interactive book filled with vibrant neon artwork, children can help Leon on his journey by counting his steps, sending him to sleep, and giving him lots of reassurance when he’s feeling down. But will he ever find a place where he can fit in?

Books About Belonging and Making Friends

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The Fix-It Friends: Three's a Crowd
Written by Nicole C. Kear & illustrated by Tracy Dockray
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Because no one likes to feel left out. Friends are like sprinkles on a birthday cake—you can never have too many! So when a new girl named Margot joins the class, Veronica and her BFF, Cora, welcome her with open arms. Everything about Margot is super exciting— from her fashion designer mom to the perfect French she speaks—and everyone loves her. Especially Cora. Before long, Cora and Margot have matching outfits and rhyming nicknames. Veronica feels left out, big time, but she won’t give up on her best friend without a fight. Trouble is, the harder she tries to hold on to Cora, the more she pushes her away—until the two besties end up in a showdown that hurts more than just feelings. It’s a job for the Fix-It Friends, to be sure. But can the president of the problem-solvers accept help herself?
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Hello My Name Is . . .
Written by Marisa Polansky & illustrated by Joey Chou
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
A new creature is added to the deep-sea tank, but what will they call this flapjack octopus? Includes an author's note on Adorabilis and its name.
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Patch And Ruby
Written by Anouska Jones & illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8
Patch the pony is lonely. He has fun with his young owner, Sam, and the other farm animals are friendly, but sometimes it feels as if he still doesn’t quite fit in. Then one day Sam has an idea and something happens that changes Patch’s life forever. Patch and Ruby is a wonderful, often very funny tale about friendship and finding out where you belong.
Honorable Mentions
Elmore book
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The Real Us book
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Copy Cat book
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This Zoo Is Not for You book
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  1. 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.

  2. The Real Us - Laura Corbett and Damian White are loners, and not by choice. Kids make fun of smart, sarcastic Laura for her weight and artistic Damian for his tendency to sweat through his shirts. Calista Getz, however-well, everyone agrees that Calista is the prettiest girl in the whole school. Maybe even the whole state . Let’s just say that she sits at the popular lunch table. Laura and Damian don’t. But when Calista wakes up just before the school dance with the BIGGEST pimple she has EVER seen right in the middle of her face, and her attempts to hide it backfire spectacularly, Laura and Damian are the only ones who don’t ignore her. In fact, they seem to see not only past her pimple, but past her popularity, too. Together, they’ll challenge the school’s status quo in this hilarious, heartfelt novel.

  3. Copy Cat - Bella loves Anna. In fact, Bella loves Anna so much that she wants to be just like her and copies every single thing she does. Finally Anna decides she’s had enough of Bella being such a copycat! What is Bella going to do? With an adorable troupe of colorful kittens and vibrant illustrations, this author-illustrator debut from rising star Ali Pye is a lighthearted look at playground friendships and finding your own way.

  4. This Zoo Is Not for You - When a platypus stops by the zoo one day, all the animals assume he wants to join their zoo, and he is swiftly taken through a rigorous interview process. But the platypus is far too bland for the chameleons, he’s not nearly graceful enough for the flamingos, and his tricks will never impress the monkeys. After he leaves, the animals soon regret their behavior, but . . . what’s this? The platypus has left something behind. Perhaps he didn’t intend to join their zoo after all! This rhyming picture book, from the award-winning creator of There’s a Bear on My Chair, combines comic misunderstanding with a heartfelt story about acceptance and belonging.

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