Itís difficult to be yourself, especially for children. Peer pressure, teasing or fear of being alienated often makes children follow others and lose their own identity. Hereís a list of my favourite books that celebrate individuality and embrace diversity
1. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni Age: 2-6 years
Poor chameleon has to change color wherever he goes, and feels that he has no color of his own. Later he meets a much wiser chameleon and understands that he remains the same in essentials, even though his outer surface keeps on changing colors. He finds inner peace.
2. Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal Age: 2-6 years
ďEveryone else has it so much better than me!Ē
We all sing this song when we feel incomplete and insecure and envious of someone else.
Spoon has always been happy, but he feels that being a spoon isnít exciting enough. But then, Mama Spoon reassures Spoon of how special he is.
3. My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh Age: 4 years and above
This book has very lively illustrations of their body parts Ė eyes, hair, skin, nose. Children can point out what is unique about them and also see that all of them have so many things on common too! It is all about appreciating diversity.
4.Giraffes Canít Dance by Giles Andreae
Age: 4 years and above
Is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesnít know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isnít always bad he starts to dance!†
5. Small Knight And George by Ronda Armitage Ages: 4-6years
This story is funny, cute and a great message about not being what we think we should be but rather who we truly are. Small Knight is not so sure about being, brave and fighting but he does know how to make a friend. When he sets out to slay a dragon he ends up befriending one.
6.Ten Big Toes and a Princeís Nose by Nancy Gow Age:3-5 years
This is a story about two very different fairytale characters. They may be a prince and a princess but they are definitely different . The bookís rhyme ďI am what I am and thatís alright with me,Ē is such a fantastic message to self acceptance and before confidence can be built we must accept who and what we are . The love story is pretty cute too, it is a fairytale after all.
7. Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke Age:4-6years
A fantastic story about a little princess who is different. She is so disgusted with being perfect and pretty that she chucks her crown into the pond. When she refuses her fatherís orders he punishes her by sending her to the pigsty but she loves it and feels more at home there than in her royal chambers. I also love that her sisters who are girly , prim and proper arenít too bullyish and seem to love their traditional roles. There is room for all sorts of princesses in this family, well eventually there is. The princess breaks all norms and you will love her for this.
8.A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon Age: 4-6 years
A little girl so worried about impressing others that she keeps changing and looses who she really is. This story is a cautionary tale about being yourself, and not being yourself. A great book for older preschoolers and young elementary aged children.
9.I Want to be a Cowgirl by Jeanne Willis Age:4-6 years
A story about a little city girl who doesnít want to grow up to have tea parties. cook, clean or sew. She doesnít want to be a girly girl at all, she wants to be a cowgirl. A must read for young kids as it inspires them to pursue their dreams. The little girl is adamant , knows what she wants and the lengths she goes to be a cowgirl using bananas as six shooters, and turning her dadís rug into chaps, all convey an important message in a fun way. I like the message about following your own dreams not what society tells us we should be, and the rhyming text is perfectly suited for this sassy tale.
10. Moosetache by Margie Palatini Age: 2-4 years
A fun book about a moose with an out of control mustache! Kids love this book, they laugh at the poor moose who is quite anxious about his unusual facial hair. The book has a valuable message about accepting yourself and the quirks that make you you.
Which is your favourite from the list? Do let us know.