Watching your child struggle is one of the hardest things we do as parents. So often we see what they’re going through and don’t know how to help them. Sometimes kids don’t know how to express what they’re going through. This creates a chasm that leaves our children feeling lonely and us feeling lost. Books can bridge that gap.
School is exciting and filled with learning new things, except for when it’s not. It’s easy for kids to feel different, inferior, or like they don’t fit in. These 10 books help them see how normal those feelings are while showing how to increase self-esteem, be themselves, and show kindness to others.
by Kevin Henkes
“Chrysanthemum” offers the most beautiful story about a girl who is being teased at school. The reader sees her struggle and immediately wants to cheer for this little mouse with the big name. A fantastic read aloud for kids in preschool and up, “Chrysanthemum” will leave kids feeling hopeful and confident in who they are.
by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
“Giraffes Can’t Dance” is a silly story about a lovable giraffe that feels like he’s not like his friends. Ages three and up will love the vivid animal illustrations and laugh with Gerald as he discovers how to find his own music. It also shows kids how they can be a good friend by cheering on people who are different than them.
by Karen Katz
A beautiful story that looks at skin color in all its shades, “The Colors of Us” journeys with a little girl through her neighborhood. The girl tries to paint a picture of herself but she struggles to find the right color paint. As she walks through her neighborhood, she sees the beautiful skin of everyone around her in all its varying shades. Perfect for little kids and older kids alike, this story reminds us that we are all unique and that it’s a beautiful thing.
by David Shannon
A silly story with a strong message, “A Bad Case of Stripes” reminds us to be exactly who we are, even if it’s not the same as the people around you. Through this funny tale and its illustrations, kids see how much better it is to be themselves than to conform. Perfect for early elementary grades, kids will laugh and learn that it’s okay to be different.
by Max Lucado and Sergio Martinez
“You Are Special” is one of the treasures in the Wemmicks stories. Beautifully illustrated with characters that carry through to all the books, kids see that you are special no matter what anyone else thinks of you. Perfect for those striving to be like everyone else, this heartwarming story spans early elementary to middle grades.
by R. J. Palacio
This current favorite is one of the most honest stories about a boy who looks different and his experiences at school. This story will inspire your child (and you) to be the best version of yourself, embrace all that life gives you, and find joy in the hardest places. While it is a middle grade novel, it is a fantastic read aloud for grade three through adulthood. It will also be on the big screen this November!
by Judy Blume
“Blubber” is a classic tale of middle school teasing. While it may not solve every part of the problem, it opens the door to conversation about bullying and all the roles people play when someone is bullied. A middle grade favorite, this is a great book to read with your child.
by Victoria Jamieson
This fantastic graphic novel describes the journey of a girl named Imogene who has grown up in the Renaissance Faire scene. Finally headed to public school, she finds out middle school can be tricky and friendships aren’t always what they seem. Finally, she discovers how to be herself and finds out what real friendship looks like. This is a treasure for fans of graphic novels.
by Cynthia Lord
Middle school can be challenging for anyone, but Catherine faces special challenges in “Rules.” Struggling to understand how to be who she is when her family life often revolves around her autistic brother, Catherine sets out to understand what normal is and discovers a lot about friendship, herself, and family along the way.
by Jerry Spinelli
This emotional tale highlights the ups and downs of popularity in a new high school. It’s easy to see why this book is so highly acclaimed as it touches on subjects like first love and being yourself no matter what everyone around you says. “Stargirl” is a great upper middle grade story with a real look at peer pressure and the desire to fit in.
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