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79 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

The Day You Begin book
#1
The Day You Begin
Written by Jacqueline Woodson and 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!)

If There Never Was a You book
#2
If There Never Was a You
Written by Amanda Rowe and 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.

Little Elliot, Big Family book
#3
Little Elliot, Big Family
Written and 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!

The Clown of God book
#4
The Clown of God
Written and 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…

My Love is For You book
#5
My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave and 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.

Famously Phoebe book
#6
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.

Room for Bear book
#7
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.

Giant Tess book
#8
Giant Tess
Written and 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.

Stellaluna book
#9
Stellaluna
Written and illustrated by Janell Cannon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Knocked from her mother’s safe embrace by an attacking owl, Stellaluna lands headfirst in a bird’s nest. This adorable baby fruit bat’s world is literally turned upside down when she is adopted by the occupants of the nest and adapts to their peculiar bird habits. Two pages of notes at the end of the story provide factual information about bats. “Delightful and informative but never didactic; a splendid debut.”--Kirkus Reviews For this anniversary edition, color has been added to the ink drawings and the interior design now allows for more art to be see. Plus there is a code for a downloadable crafts and activity kit, two pages of updated notes about bats, and a special note from the author.

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#10
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?

Table of Contents
Jump to books about Belonging and...

Books About Belonging and Family

If There Never Was a You book
#1
If There Never Was a You
Written by Amanda Rowe and 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.

Little Elliot, Big Family book
#2
Little Elliot, Big Family
Written and 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!

For Black Girls Like Me book
#3
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
  1. 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.

  2. Beyond the Laughing Sky - Ten-year-old Nashville doesn’t feel like he belongs with his family, in his town, or even in this world. He was hatched from an egg his father found on the sidewalk and has grown into something not quite boy and not quite bird. Despite the support of his loving parents and his adoring sister, Junebug, Nashville wishes more than anything that he could join his fellow birds up in the sky. After all, what’s the point of being part bird if you can’t even touch the clouds?

  3. 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.

  4. 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"--

Want to see more children's books about family?

Books About Belonging and Being Different

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.

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#2
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?

Mira and the Big Story book
#3
Mira and the Big Story
Written by Laura Alary and 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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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?

  2. The Octopuppy - Can the OCTOPUPPY be the perfect pet? Edgar wanted a dog. Instead, he got an octopus named Jarvis. Jarvis is brilliant and does his best to act like the dog Edgar wants, but nothing he does is good enough to please Edgar. Ultimately, Edgar recognizes that while Jarvis might not be the dog he wanted, he is special in his own endearing way.

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

  4. Judy Moody and Friends: Not-So-Lucky Lefty - 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

Want to see more children's books about being different?

Books About Belonging and Bears

Room for Bear book
#1
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.

Little Cub book
#2
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.

Elbert, the Curious Clock Tower Bear book
#3
Elbert, the Curious Clock Tower Bear
Written and illustrated by Andrew Prahin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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?

  2. 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 more children's books about bears?

Books About Belonging and Love

My Love is For You book
#1
My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave and 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.

Come All You Little Persons book
#2
Come All You Little Persons
Written by John Agard and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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.

Love the World book
#3
Love the World
Written and illustrated by Todd Parr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. Big Little Hippo - Little Hippo is the youngest in his family . . . and the smallest. Smaller than his parents, his siblings, and all his friends, too. And even though his mom promises he'll grow, he wants to be big RIGHT NOW! But when he helps a creature even tinier than himself, Little Hippo learns that it's the size of his heart that counts most of all.

Want to see more children's books about love?

Books About Belonging and Being Yourself

Where Oliver Fits book
#1
Where Oliver Fits
Written and 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.

Leila in Saffron book
#2
Leila in Saffron
Written by and illustrated by Rukhsanna Guidroz, Dinara Mirtalipova
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.

The Very Lonely Firefly book
#3
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!

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Want to see 10 more children's books about belonging and being yourself?

How about children's books about being yourself?

Books About Belonging and Animals

Cuckoo! book
#1
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.

Carl and the Meaning of Life book
#2
Carl and the Meaning of Life
Written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

Koala Is Not a Bear book
#3
Koala Is Not a Bear
Written by Kristin L. Gray and 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
  1. Patch And Ruby - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Blobfish Throws a Party - 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?

Want to see more children's books about animals?

Books About Belonging and Friendship

Strictly No Elephants book
#1
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.

Caught Offside book
#2
Caught Offside
Written and 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?

Angus All Aglow book
#3
Angus All Aglow
Written by Heather Smith and illustrated by Alice Carter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  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. 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?

Want to see 10 more children's books about belonging and friendship?

How about children's books about friendship?

Books About Belonging and Making Friends

The Fix-It Friends: Three's a Crowd book
#1
The Fix-It Friends: Three's a Crowd
Written by Nicole C. Kear and 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?

Halfway Normal book
#2
Halfway Normal
Written and illustrated by Barbara Dee
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

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.

Nobody Knew What to Do book
#3
Nobody Knew What to Do
Written by Becky Ray McCain and illustrated by Todd Leonardo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

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.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Big Mouth Elizabeth - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Hello My Name Is . . . - 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.

  4. 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.

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