Best Children's Books About Belonging

88+ Children's Books About Belonging

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Famously Phoebe book
#1
Famously Phoebe
Written by Lori Alexander and 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.

My Love is For You book
#2
My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave and illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A beautiful board book that weaves the purity, strength and endlessness of love with simple joys of nature.

Room for Bear book
#3
Room for Bear
Written and 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.

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#4
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?

Little Cub book
#5
Little Cub
Written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A young bear cub, who is alone in the world, and Old Bear, who is grumpy and tired of living alone, meet and discover what they have been missing. By the best-selling creator of the Gossie and Gertie books.

Cuckoo! book
#6
Cuckoo!
Written and 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.

Wolfie the Bunny book
#7
Wolfie the Bunny
Written by Ame Dyckman and 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?

Strictly No Elephants book
#8
Strictly No Elephants
Written by Lisa Mantchev and 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.

The Octopuppy book
#9
The Octopuppy
Written and 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.

The Very Lonely Firefly book
#10
The Very Lonely Firefly
Written and 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!

The Fly book
#11
The Fly
Written and illustrated by Petr Horacek
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

There’s never a dull moment in this funny, beautifully illustrated tale depicting a pesky fly in a whole new light. The housefly in this story doesn’t understand why people won’t share their food with him or play with him . . . and why do they keep trying to give him a swat? He’s not doing any harm! In a clever, interactive novelty book buzzing with fun, Petr Horácek may make readers reluctant to turn the final page.

Blue Penguin book
#12
Blue Penguin
Written and illustrated by Petr Horacek
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A moving fable about friendship and belonging from award-winning illustrator Petr Horacek. Far away, near the South Pole, a blue penguin is born. It is not something you see every day. "I feel like a penguin," says Blue Penguin. "But you're not like us," the others tell him. Blue Penguin can't jump or dive very well, so the others wander off and leave him behind. In his loneliness, Blue Penguin begins to dream, and he starts to sing. Will he ever convince the other penguins that he is one of them? Beautifully illustrated in icy blue hues, Blue Penguin is an affecting ode to self-expression and connection by a picture book creator whom the Washington Post has called "the thinking tot's Eric Carle."

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses book
#13
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses
Written and 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.

Copy Cat book
#14
Copy Cat
Written and illustrated by Ali Pye
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

True Colors book
#15
True Colors
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Based on the hit song, this beautiful book is the perfect gift for anyone who needs to be reminded of the importance of being their true selves. Through reassuring lyrics that encourage us to be our true selves, "True Colors" has become a beloved song worldwide since its release in 1986. Now, for the first time ever, this inspiring and iconic song is in book form accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, and perfectly packaged with a ribbon enclosure. Ideal for any age--and as a gift anytime during the year--this book about having confidence in yourself is sure to be a huge comfort.

Judy Moody and Friends: Not-So-Lucky Lefty book
#16
Judy Moody and Friends: Not-So-Lucky Lefty
Written by Megan McDonald and 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

The Wonderling book
#17
The Wonderling
Written and illustrated by Mira Bartók
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

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.

Electric Boogerloo: I am Fartacus book
#18
Electric Boogerloo: I am Fartacus
Written and 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.

Smoke and Mirrors book
#19
Smoke and Mirrors
Written by K D Halbrook
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“In K.D. Halbrook’s gorgeous prose, readers will be drawn immediately into the Cirque, but more importantly, they’ll be drawn into Sasha’s heart. This is a story to savor.” —Kathi Appelt, National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor–winning author of The Underneath and Keeper Circus Mirandus meets Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms in this beautifully written fantasy novel about a girl who must face her fears in order to right a terrible wrong, confront what it means to be different, and discover her own power. Smoke has come to the Cirque Magnifique. And Sasha Brown is sure it is her fault. Sasha has always loved the Cirque, a place filled with sequined costumes, dazzling spotlights, and magnificent tents. But when she starts fifth grade with the Islanders—the ordinary folk from the other side of the Island—for the first time, she’s not so sure she wants to be a Cirque kid. She starts to question her home and her Cirque family. Is the magic real? Are the stories even true? As the bullying by the Island kids gets worse, swirling blue-gray Smoke appears. One night in the big tent, Sasha’s dad performs, twisting his body through the air as the lights dance. Sasha is supposed to be helping, but instead she sits beneath the bleachers, seething. She has wished for the Smoke to come and make it all disappear: the Cirque, her family, the Island with its mean Island kids. And the Smoke does come. As Sasha watches her dad, he flips and raises his arms out for the bar that is supposed to meet him, his bright grin confident and sure. But there is only air…and Smoke. Both of Sasha’s parents disappear that night, and it’s all Sasha’s fault. What can she do but try and find them?

Andrew Henry's Meadow book
#20
Andrew Henry's Meadow
Written and illustrated by Doris Burn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A classic reissued for a new generation Andrew Henry has two younger brothers, who are always together, and two older sisters, who are always together. But Andrew Henry is in the middle–and he’s always with himself. He doesn’t mind this very much, because he’s an inventor. But when Andrew Henry’s family doesn’t appreciate him or his inventions, he decides it’s time to run away. Many children in the neighborhood feel the same way and follow him to his meadow, where he builds each of his friends a unique house of their very own. But in town the families miss their children and do everything they can to find them. And the kids realize that it feels a little lonely out in the meadow without their parents. Just as relevant today as it was in 1967, this is a heart-warming story about children who want to feel special and appreciated for who they are. With a new jacket and expanded trim size, Andrew Henry is ready to enchant the next generation of kids.

The Littlest Bigfoot book
#21
The Littlest Bigfoot
Written and illustrated by Jennifer Weiner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"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"--

Little Bigfoot, Big City book
#22
Little Bigfoot, Big City
Written and illustrated by Jennifer Weiner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

Lily & Kosmo in Outer Outer Space book
#23
Lily & Kosmo in Outer Outer Space
Written by Jonathan Ashley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Explore outer outer space where dastardly villains await in this hilarious and inventive illustrated middle grade novel. Brooklyn, Earth. 1949. Lily Lupino is going to be an astronaut when she grows up. For now, she’ll have to settle for listening to science fiction programs on the radio. But when certified Spacetronaut Kosmo Kidd crash lands his wind-up rocket ship in Lily’s kitchen, it’s a chance Lily can’t pass up! Mistaking Lily for a boy, Kosmo agrees to take her back to his floating treehouse in the stars, but it doesn’t take long for the other Spacetronauts to figure out that Lily is a girl. Kosmo has accidentally broken Spacetronaut Rule #1: NO WIMMEN ALOWD! Banished to the far reaches of Outer Outer Space, Lily and Kosmo explore exotic alien worlds, meet a menagerie of colorful creatures, and tangle with the vilest villain in space, The Mean-Man of Morgo. But Lily’s greatest challenge is proving to her new Spacetronaut peers that a girl from Brooklyn can hold her own among the galaxy’s unruliest rascals.

Fruit Bowl book
#24
Fruit Bowl
Written and illustrated by Mark Hoffmann
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Who belongs in the fruit bowl? Apples, check. Blueberries, check. Tomato, che— Wait, what?! Tomato wants to join the other fruits, but does he belong? The perfect mix of botany and a bunch of bananas! All the fruit are in the bowl. There’s Apple and Orange. Strawberry and Peach. Plum and Pear. And, of course, Tomato. Now wait just a minute! Tomatoes aren’t fruit! Or are they? Using sly science (and some wisdom from a wise old raisin), Tomato proves all the fruit wrong and shows that he belongs in the bowl just as much as the next blueberry! And he’s bringing some unexpected friends too!

Otis book
#25
Otis
Written and 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.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.