Best Kids Books About Belonging

55 Kids Books About Belonging

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Little Elliot, Big Family book
#1
Little Elliot, Big Family
Written and illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

At Mouse's house, Elliot the elephant finds more than a friend--he finds a family.

Famously Phoebe book
#2
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
#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.

Her Right Foot book
#4
Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you'd mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her? She's in New York. She's holding a torch. And she's taking one step forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, uniquely American in its frank tone and honest look at the literal foundation of our country, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America's most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty's right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country's creation. Can you believe that?

Les & Ronnie Step Out book
#5
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?

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?

Otis book
#8
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.

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.

Strictly No Elephants book
#10
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.

Stumpkin book
#11
Stumpkin
Written and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s the perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern. There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window. As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone give Stumpkin his chance to shine?

The Octopuppy book
#12
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
#13
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
#14
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.

Much Too Much Birthday book
#15
Much Too Much Birthday
Written and illustrated by J E Morris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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?

Be My Friend book
#16
Be My Friend
Written and illustrated by Warne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

And Then... book
#17
And Then...
Written and illustrated by Alborozo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

It’s hard being an older sister when everybody is admiring your newly born younger brother – particularly on your birthday. Especially when that younger brother is noisy, smelly and slimy – just like a tiny squid! How can our hero grab everyone’s attention, and grow to love her brother in the process?This quirky, exuberant picture book reminds us of the power of the imagination, and shows us how telling stories can help us order and deal with our experiences.

Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm book
#18
Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm
Written and illustrated by Billy Steers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Sibley the horse lives on Stony Meadow Farm and is a hard worker the whole year round. Then Tractor Mac arrives at the farm, and suddenly, everything that Sibley used to do, Tractor Mac does, too. Sibley wonders if there is any room left for him—but when Farmer Bill and Tractor Mac get stuck in a soggy field, Sibley is the one who comes to their rescue, and Sibley and Tractor Mac learn that there's plenty for both of them to do at the farm.

Blue Penguin book
#19
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
#20
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.

Hello My Name Is . . . book
#21
Hello My Name Is . . .
Written by Marisa Polansky and 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.

The Clown of God book
#22
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…

Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts) book
#23
Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts)
Written by Livingstone Crouse and 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.

Elmore book
#24
Elmore
Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Suffering rejection and heartache from the other forest animals, Elmore the porcupine finds ways to connect with the other animals and move past his spikes.

True Colors book
#25
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.

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