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Picture Books that Celebrate Differences

We’re all different, but encouraging children to embrace their differences and the differences of others isn’t always easy. Picture books can help!

Here are some of my favorite picture books that celebrate differences.

Download our free library list to take with you on your next visit to the library.

Download graphic for A Bad Case of Stripes picture book

A Bad Case of Stripes
by David Shannon

Camilla loves lima beans, but she wants to be just like all the other kids, even if that means never eating lima beans again. Then one morning Camilla wakes up with a bad case of stripes, and no one can figure out why. Maybe what Camilla needs is just to be herself...and maybe what she needs is a big plate of lima beans.

Download graphic for Chowder picture book

Chowder
by Peter Brown

Chowder isn’t normal; everyone says so. That is, everyone except his owners. When Chowder is out and about, all he gets are strange looks. At home, he’s happy and content, even if he is kind of lonely. So when Chowder discovers a way to make friends, he jumps at the chance. Literally.

Download graphic for Exclamation Mark picture book

Exclamation Mark
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Sometimes it’s hard to fit in, but it’s especially difficult when you’re an exclamation mark on a page full of periods. No matter what he does, Exclamation Mark just seems to stand out. But then he meets a new friend and begins to realize that standing out may not be so bad after all. In fact, standing out is FANTASTIC!

Download graphic for Fanny picture book

Fanny
by Holly Hobbie

Fanny wants a Connie doll just like her friends have. In fact, it’s all she wants for her birthday. Fanny begs and pleads, but her mother is firm. Connie dolls are “just too … much.” So Fanny decides to make her own doll. Annabelle isn’t at all like the Connie dolls, but Fanny made her, and that makes her marvelous.

Download graphic for Froodle picture book

Froodle
by Antoinette Portis

Everyone knows that dogs say “woof,” cats say “meow,” and birds say “peep.” They certainly don’t say “froodle” … or do they? Things get a little silly in the neighborhood when a little brown bird has trouble figuring out exactly what he’s supposed to say. But soon even the crusty old crow is joining in on the fun!

Download graphic for Guji Guji picture book

Guji Guji
by Chih-Yaun Chen

When a young crocodile finds himself (quite by accident) being raised with a family of ducks, you might expect things to go from bad to worse. After all, ducks and crocodiles usually don’t mix well. But when Guji Guji meets three hungry crocodiles, he has the chance to prove that he is not an ordinary croc.

Download graphic for I Am Helen Keller picture book

I Am Helen Keller
by Brad Meltzer

Many people didn’t think Helen Keller would ever be “normal,” but Helen was a very determined young lady. She certainly wasn’t going to let the fact that she couldn’t see or hear stop her, and with the help of a selfless and equally determined teacher, Helen accomplished more than anyone ever thought possible.

Download graphic for Oliver picture book

Oliver
by Birgitta Sif

Written for “all those who have ever felt a bit different,” Oliver‘s title character doesn’t mind being different. He loves his friends, and he loves the adventures they share in the wilds of his imagination. And just when Oliver begins to worry about his differences, he discovers the most wonderful adventure of all.

Download graphic for Red: A Crayon's Story picture book

Red: A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall

This adorable book offers a very sweet reminder that crayons (and people!) are sometimes too quick to believe labels–because even if the label says red, what’s inside might not be. So if you’re a blue crayon stuck in a red label, stop trying to be red! After all, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, right?

Download graphic for Stand Straight, Ella Kate picture book

Stand Straight, Ella Kate
by Kate Klise

Ella Kate didn’t look like everyone else. She was a giant! By the time Ella Kate turned 13, she was more than six feet tall. And let’s face it, being different isn’t always easy. But Ella Kate discovers something wonderful–that being different can open doors to a world that a “normal” person might never get a chance to see!

Download graphic for Stella Luna picture book

Stellaluna
by Jannell Cannon

After dropping from the sky and landing in a bird nest, a young bat begins to feel right at home with her new family. And though birds and bats have some things in common, they also have many differences–but that doesn’t stop these accidental siblings from being friends. “How can we be so different and feel so much alike?

Download graphic for The Colors of Us picture book

The Colors of Us
by Karen Katz

Brown is brown, right? Well Lena’s mom doesn’t think so, and she wants Lena to discover just how many shades of brown there are. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood will help! As Lena and her mom walk and talk, Lena sees lots of people. The Colors of Us reminds readers that though we’re different, we’re also alike.

Download graphic for The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water picture book

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water
by Gemma Merino

It’s hard when you’re a crocodile who doesn’t like water–hard and lonely. And although the crocodile in this story tries to like the water, all he really wants to do is climb trees. Everyone knows that crocodiles aren’t supposed to climb trees … so maybe this crocodile isn’t really a crocodile at all!

Download graphic for The Sandwich Swap picture book

The Sandwich Swap
by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah

The sweet watercolor illustrations in The Sandwich Swap provide the perfect setting for the story of two best friends, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a hummus and pita sandwich, a food fight, and the realization that sometimes you have to try something to know whether you like it or not.

Download graphic for Thunder Boy Jr. picture book

Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie

Like lots of boys, Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but this boy isn’t happy about it. He doesn’t like his name, and he doesn’t want to be called “Little Thunder” because it makes him seem small and unimportant. Thunder Boy Jr. wants a name that reflects who he is. Maybe he’ll just go out and get a new name!

Download graphic for Wild About Us picture book

Wild About Us!
by Karen Beaumont

Maybe it’s time we all learned a lesson from the warthogs, rhinos, and flamingos. They’ve all got something about them that isn’t … well, normal. The warthog has warts, the rhino has wrinkly skin, and the flamingo has pink feathers. But that doesn’t matter! “They’re all a little different. And they like it that way!

Download graphic for You Are Special picture book

You Are Special
by Max Lucado

In Wemmickville, the Wemmicks give shiny gold stars to all the handsome and talented wooden people. Punchinello isn’t particularly talented and his paint is chipped, so he gets dots…ugly, gray dots. But then Eli the woodcarver reminds Punchinello that he is special–and that’s when something amazing happens.

Download graphic for You Be You picture book

You Be You
by Linda Kranz

As Adri swims home after an exciting day of exploring, he notices something. He sees lots of fish in the sea, and they’re all different–big fish and tiny fish, colorful fish and plain fish, fish that swim up and fish that swim down. “There are so many of us!” Adri says. “We all have something special that only we can share!


FREE Picture Books that Celebrate Differences Library List

Download graphic for Picture Books About Differences Library List

Would you like to read some of my favorite picture books that celebrate differences?

Click to download my list to take to your local library.

Looking for more books? You can find more great library lists here!

Picture Books that Celebrate Differences Recommended by Our Readers

  • Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-El (Recommended by Sarah H. via Facebook)
  • The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss (Recommended by Trina G. via Facebook)
  • I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze (Recommended by Sarah B. via Facebook)
  • Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Recommended by Sarah B. via Facebook)
  • My Friend Has Autism by Amanda Doering Tourville (Recommended by Michelle L. via Facebook)
  • The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma (Recommended by Melanie W. via Facebook)
  • Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci (Recommended by Shanna B, AALP Staff)
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Leave a Comment

Shakeeta W

says:

Such a great list! We have read a few of these and loved them (Stellaluna is our favorite!) :)

Rose

says:

Awesome list! thank you!

Annette

says:

Thanks for the awesome books. Great for DL support

Nicole

says:

I appreciate the list, a few chapter books that would fit the list… “Wonder,” “fish in a tree” and “Brown Girl Dreaming.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for these recommendations, Nicole!

Naomi

says:

Stellaluna is such a lovely book, glad to see it made the list!

Nicki

says:

Great ideas!

Emily Akins

says:

Thanks for the reading list!

Valerie

says:

This is a great list to add to our summer reading list. Thanks!

Carrie

says:

These are great! Thanks for sharing

Kelli J

says:

❤️ love

Corrine

says:

Love this. There are a lot on here that we haven’t read yet! Bringing this to the library with us next week.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Corrine,
I hope you can find a lot of new books to love at the library next week with this list!

Lisa Ingle

says:

Wonderful suggestions! Thank you for this post. There’s a couple of board books we have loved when the kids were tiny, Carry Me and Global Babies. They show pictures of moms and dads and babies from around the world.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
Thank you for the recommendations. These sound like sweet books.

Amy

says:

We love A Bad Case of Stripes and Stellaluna! Definitely going to check out some of the others!

Marie A

says:

Stella Luna is one of my kids’ favorites!

R Gug

says:

I definitely need to read some more of these to my guy. He so far doesn’t notice differences but I’m sure a day will come.

Lynda R

says:

Thanks for this list. I plan on picking up a few.

Brianna Parks

says:

We love Stellaluna! 💕

RN

says:

Helpful information!

Sarah

says:

We should all celebrate our diversity

Karyn

says:

My kids would love the crayon one!

Candace Doriety

says:

Was a little skeptical at first since so many organizations nowadays are trying to normalize gender confusion. These all look like sweet books though! I will hang on to this. Thanks AAL for a good book list (without an agenda). ;-). Refreshing!!

Laura Knox

says:

We read Not Your Typical Dragon and A Bad Case of Stripes consistently because my kiddos love them! We enjoy talking about how we can embrace everyone’s differences. I will be printing this list!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Laura,
It’s great to know that your kiddos would recommend these two titles at least. I hope they enjoy the rest of them as much!

Jennifer

says:

I’m hoping this program will help me give my son a love for reading and spelling like I do. Love the list, thank you so much.

Angela

says:

This is such a great list of books. I think the only one we’ve read so far is “you are special” by max lucado. I will have to look at some of the others.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angela,
It seems that You Are Special is especially well known from this list. Of course, Max Lucado is a fairly famous picture book author, so it makes sense that his book would be more well know.

mark t treinen

says:

Love love this, thank you for the resource.

Erin

says:

What a great list!! Thanks!

Nicole

says:

We’ve all learned so much from All About Spelling, I’m thinking All About Reading will be a help to our younger kids that we were planning to teach with other methods.

Lisa

says:

So important for books to show diversity

Janine

says:

Love this post and the recommendations, it is the different that are the artists, the thinkers, the creators and investors, you have to fight to swim against the stream. I like the fact these books celebrate the differences.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Janine,
We agree! I hope you enjoy these books.

Jill Morris

says:

Love your book recommendations!

Daniell

says:

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Julie B.

says:

Thanks for the great ideas!

Kimberley Price

says:

A bad case of stripes is one of my kids favourites. I look forward to trying the others

Jenny

says:

Excited to get started with All about spelling

Seana

says:

Awesome list! You are special is one of our favorites!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Seana. You Are Special is such a special book!

Kristen

says:

I love that Stellaluna is included. One of my favorites.

Brittany west

says:

Love this concept!

Regina

says:

These are great! Thank you so much. Our visits to the library will be much more purposeful with this list.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you enjoy, Regina!

Kendra

says:

Have definitely read some of these to my boys! Love “You Are Special”!

Amanda

says:

Great books!!

Jessie Peckens

says:

These look like great additions to our summer reading list!

Krysten

says:

Loved ordering these books from our library! thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Krysten,
Don’t you love that you can request books from the library and they pull them for you? Makes a library trip with littles ones in tow so much more pleasant. :D

Holly

says:

Love books!

Tiffany

says:

Great list! Can not wait to check a few of these out.

Ashley

says:

Would love to win!!

Yolanda Beckman

says:

Nice! Great list & options!

Haley

says:

Will be checking these out, Thanks!

Mindy S.

says:

Some of these are new to me. We will have to check them out. Thank you!

Cathy

says:

I just found Stellaluna at the used bookstore. :) Very cute book!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cathy,
Stellaluna was a favorite of one of my daughters years and years ago. It is very sweet!

Brittain alessio

says:

This is a beautiful list. Thank you

Katie S

says:

Thanks for the great list of books!

Martha

says:

Love it! Great way to keep a list of books to use at the library.

Anna

says:

These all look so fun! What a great message they all have too!

Terry

says:

Stripes should be required for EVERYONE! Celebrate our differences

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Terry,
I haven’t personally read Stripes yet, but I guess I should make it a priority for out next library visit. Thank you!

amber

says:

this is awesome

Michelle Proper

says:

This brings back so many wonderful memories of picking out books at school when I first learned how to read. I now have a Grandson who is a avid book reader and it warms my heart greatly :) I especially love books for our young readers that teach them valuable lessons like these books do!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
How lovely that you are sharing your love of reading and books with a new generation!

Thank you for the ideas!

Steph J

says:

Thanks for the great book ideas. I am always looking for books to read to my kids.

Sparkle Huston

says:

New to this blog , thanks for the information

Larissa

says:

Looks so fun!

Joy H.

says:

Thanks for the info!

Emily H

says:

Thank you

Audra

says:

This is a great list! When i worked in a book store customers would come in asking questions like ths.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Audra,
I didn’t think about how helpful such lists would be for bookstore employees! I know librarians love to set books out by groupings like this. Our library currently has a huge picture book display all about cats. :)

Melinda Roberts

says:

These look amazing

Felicia McKibben

says:

I love taking my kids to the library and getting books that celebrate differences and how God made us all unique and special!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Have lots of fun, Felicia!

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