Picture Books Celebrating Differences

October 22, 2021 | Melanie L.

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Two kids sitting crosslegged and reading books side by side. One child is Black and the other white.

Lately, picture books about embracing differences have been abundant. These books encourage kids to accept differences in others and be comfortable with being different themselves. 

Below we have compiled some of the best representations of these books. They are arranged in order of their intended audience, with books for younger children listed first. While important, these books shouldn't be used exclusively. Rather, they should be used as bridges to having candid discussions with your kids about acceptance and inclusion. 

We also encourage you to use these books in tandem with our booklists on Black Lives Matter, disabilities, gender affirmation and Pride.


It's Okay to be Different

It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr

This classic book conveys a simple message in a fun and accessible format. Each page contains a short phrase that begins with "It's okay to…" Some of the statements are silly while others are serious. A great choice for preschoolers. 


One of These Is Not Like the Others

One of These Is Not Like the Others by Barney Saltzberg

Each page in this cute picture book presents a series of four characters or objects, where three are similar and one is different. It goes on to explain why the difference is good. The illustrations and patterned text will make this a hit with preschoolers.


All are Welcome

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold; illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman

A diverse group of classmates go throughout their day together. They represent different colours, abilities, family structures and religions. The refrain "All are welcome here" is repeated throughout the book.


Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea

Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood

Lee is a pea, and Colin is a carrot. They are friends. Since he is a carrot, Colin can't do the same things as all the peas. But there are lots of other things he can do that make him a great friend to have.



Ernest by Catherine Rayner

Ernest the moose is too big to fit into this book! But Ernest and his friend find a solution to their problem – just make the book bigger. This fun book offers an important lesson about inclusion and accommodating differences.



Lovely by Jess Hong

What is lovely? Using one word sentences and simple, child-friendly drawings, this book proclaims that lovely is different. People of all ages, sizes, genders and abilities will see themselves represented here.


THe Great Big Book of Families

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman; illustrations by Ros Asquith

There are all kinds of families! Families come in all shapes and sizes. They practice different religions. Some families live in big houses, while others don't have homes at all. This book celebrates and normalizes the differences between families.



Pop! by Karen Kilpatrick; illustrations by Germán Blanco

It's Pop Day and Otto the Kernel can't wait! Except for some reason, Otto doesn't pop. First he is sad, but then he meets other Kernels who didn't pop either. They reassure him that you don't need to be Popcorn to have fun. Otto then makes sure that other Kernels know it's okay to not pop.


Odd Dog Out

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

Rhyming text describes the life of a wiener dog who doesn't fit in. Feeling sad, she runs away and arrives at a place where everyone looks like her. When she meets another dog who is different, she realizes she should be proud of being unique. She returns home, where she is welcomed with open paws, and soon other dogs begin expressing their individuality. 



Janine by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Janine is one-of-a-kind. She dresses differently, talks differently and acts differently. One bully makes fun of her, but she doesn't see why. She knows she's spectacular! When the bully tells her she must change if she wants to come to her party, Janine decides to have her own, instead. The bully doesn't expect any of the other kids will want to come, but it turns out they all do.


A Kid is a Kid is a Kid

A Kid is a Kid is a Kid by Sara O’Leary; Illustrations by Qin Leng

A group of kids on a playground recount the questions they get asked that they wished they weren't. One child says, "I get asked why I'm so small. I'd rather get asked what big words I can spell." Another child with a prosthetic leg says, "Ask me what I can do, not what I can't!" The book finishes with the one question all kids like to be asked – if they want to play. 


The Wall

The Wall by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti; illustrations by Elisa Vallarino and Mauro Sacco

In this advanced picture book, a king declares that too many people in the kingdom don't look like him, and he orders them banished. Then he builds a wall. But soon he realizes that all the banished people have skills the kingdom needs, so he brings them back.


What books would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!