13 Books About The Beach For Kids

reading lists for kids Exploring the ocean, tide pools and the beach is great to do in person but if you are landlocked you can still share the wonders of the ocean with your children with great picture books. If you can go explore the beach reading books about the beach for kids like these before and after are a great way of deepening their hands on experience.

kids books about the beach
Beach by Elisha Cooper. Go to the beach and sit back and just watch the day unfold, that’s what this book is like. It starts off early in the morning, with just the unmarked sand and rolling waves but quickly it fills with people: a woman spreads a towel on the sand, a girl covers her friend in sand, seagulls hover overhead watching. The book is like mini stories all collected in small images. There’s a page that talks about the clouds that roll by and the different shapes they form. Eventually people leave and the beach is quiet again. I love this book. I love the water-colours and how the story builds from a quiet morning to a full beach day back to quiet again. The other thing that is nice about how this story is written, you don’t have to read every single piece. Each little image is a little story unto itself. ( review by Carrie Anne)
Stella, Star of the Sea by Mary Louise Gay. Stella and Sam are spending the day at the beach. Stella is older and she’s been to the beach once before and knows all its secrets. Stella enthusiastically takes charge of the surroundings, exploring and enjoying everything the beach has to offer without hesitation: diving in the water, collecting shells, digging a tunnel to China. Sam on the other hand has never been to the beach and approaches things a little cautiously, asking if the water’s cold or if sea monsters live beneath the waves. Questions aside, after he’s been schooled by Stella and sees how much fun she’s having, he too relaxes and joins her in the water. Not only is this a great book about visiting the beach for the first time, Sam asks questions that first time beach goers might ask, but the relationship of big sister, little brother between Stella and Sam is wonderful and feels very natural. ( review by Carrie Anne)
beach books for kids
One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.
Miranda’s Beach Day by Holly Keller.Miranda and her mom spend a warm, sunny day at the Beach enjoying the water, the animals and the sand. Miranda experiences the beach with all her senses: feeling the hot sand under her toes and the water swirl around her, hearing the roar of the waves as they wash on the shore and the seagulls squawk in the air above, tasting the salty sand that sticks to her face, seeing the small Hermit crab skuttle across the sand. My kids loved reading this book; it had the ability of transporting them to the beach right from the living room. The illustrations are warm, muted water-colourings that add to the whole beach feel.( review by Carrie Anne)
The Seaside Switch by Kathleen V. Kudlinski is a book packed with information about tides and creatures in the sea. As a child I found nothing more fascinating than a tide pool and all the scurrying crabs and this book captures that. It’s main story is how the tide changes throughout the day and brings with it different animals. The book is too long for most toddlers but my son enjoyed pointing out the animals in the book.
Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer is a sweet book. Little Critter and his grandma hit the beach and enjoy an afternoon together. There is something so sweet and touching about this book and the special bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Mercer Mayer really did a great job at capturing the unique relationship between grand parents and grand children in this book. It also does a good job covering all the beach bases. They swim , play in the sand and have treats. The last page is adorable with Little Critter being carried into his house sound asleep on his grandma’s shoulder.
The Sandcastle Contest by Robert Munsch. I gave this book a really bad review the first time I reviewed it. While it still isn’t my favorite Munsch book, I am taking back some of what I said.The tantrum the main character has when no one believes him about really making everything from sand was a good teaching tool for my children. It opens up a great dialog about anger, and deep breaths, and wrecking things when we are mad. I think this book could be a good way for parents to talk about anger and frustration without feeling like you are giving a lecture.

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr . I really enjoy this book and so have my kids. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way. In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell .A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

Beach Party! by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move like the animals in the book.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt is hilarious, I actually snorted while reading it. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in with a great story. Before you even start flipping pages on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is great book in my favorite science series the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out . This book is a little long for toddlers but really great for preschoolers and easy to break into parts. The book starts talking about snails, then moves to turtles and finally sea shells. Like the others in the series this book break down facts to a preschoolers level without loosing any substance. If you are looking for a non fiction book for your little one, you must check out this series, they are hands down my favorite non fiction for young children.

The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow is a touching story of a little boy excited to go to the sea for the first time from his mountain home. The mother describes it so well that you will be aching for a trip too. I must admit though that my son and I barely paid attention to the words, we were both so moved by Wendell Minor’s paintings. We couldn’t help but ooh and awe every time we turned the page.

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21 Books About Farm Animals

Farms are a common thing around our town, there are hobby farms, chickens in our neighborhood and last fall a horse rescue group actually rode the rescued horses around our town as in to my driveway asking people for donations.  Add to that the  small heard of cattle in Texas that my father in law has and you’ll see why my kids love farm animals and I am guessing yours might too. Here are 21 books about farms and the animals on them you may want to check out.

Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker is a simple counting book with minimal text. What is lacks in words it delivers in illustrations. The rich colors of the hens, the golden hay and the yellow chicks were all expertly executed. We read the board book version of this and I would suggest that this is a book for that age, who will love pictures more and more with every turn of the page. The text that is included is rhyming and pleasant but the illustrations steal the show.

How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton is a favorite in our house and has been for both my kids. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text. My daughter loves taking this one in the stroller while I run and because it’s a board book I can give it to her without worrying that after a few miles it’s ripped and ruined.

Lulu the Big Little Chick by Paulette Bogan is an old familiar tale about a little chick who is frustrated about being too little to do anything so instead she decides to go far far away. When I started reading this to my presently obsessed with superheros son he didn’t want to read it unless the chick had super powers. I convinced him to read it with me to find out and it took all of one page before he was hooked.  He was so worried about how far the little chick would go and why would she want to go in the first place?! The cartoon like illustrations were a perfect compliment and fresh addition to a familiar tale.

Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions her animals always have that crack me up, and lets me honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. Super bright colors on each page is a huge plus for my baby girl as I flip the pages, and even though she doesn’t get the humor yet she will soon enough and it’s a book that will grow with her. * Now at 2 she gets the humor and still loves the book!

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her.  The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s  calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons.  A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.

The Very Busy Spider  by Eric Carle was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce farm animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers !

Peek-a-Moo! (Lift-the-flap Books) by Maria Torres Cimarusti is a great and simple book about farm animal sounds with flaps to lift for toddlers who need a little extra action to keep them interested. The book is a quick read which is perfect for those eager to move, not so eager to stay still toddlers. Great bold illustrations as well.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin is a hilarious look at working conditions on a farm and cows going on strike. I have yet to read this book without giggling and in the 2003-2004 school year I think I read it 500 times! The story has a wonderful message of fairness and negotiation . During a transit strike we read this to a Kindergarten class to help explain after we were asked why the bus drivers didn’t want to work- it was a great tool!

Eggs and Legs: Counting by Twos by Michael Dahl is a cute book with silly illustrations and a fun concept to teach counting by twos. The book counts from 0-20 by 2s but each page has multiple depictions of each number including dots to count and the number in the text. This was super useful to show my son as we counted by 2s that we weren’t skipping the numbers, just grouping them to count faster. Fun and useful book.

The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a great book. I think I got it as a freebie with a scholastic order years ago, either way I am so glad I have it. The book follows all the animals on a farm as they wake up grumpy and hungry and needing attention from the farmer. As a teacher I love this book because I could talk about whining, and demanding and ask my students if there are better ways to get what you want. As a parent I love it because the text is musical and my son loves seeing all the animals and what sounds they make since he is still a little young to appreciate the lesson about feelings at 16 months.

One Little Chicken: A Counting Book by David Elliot was a great library find. You count chickens as they dance all different styles, my favorite being the chickens who dance the hula ! The rhyming text is really fun and the pictures will make you giggle, I mean there are chickens in leotards doing ballet! Totally tickled my funny bone. The best part though is that it gets the reader involved after counting to ten, the chickens turn the tables stare at the reader and implore them to dance!  One of my new favorite counting books.

Does a Cow Say Boo? by Judy Hindley was a hit with my 2 year old and I thought it was fun look at the sounds that animals living on the farm make. What I specifically liked about this was that each animal didn’t just say one sound instead the author includes a few for each. The illustrations are cute and cheery and the end of the book is a surprise for young readers … although older children will probably let you know what is going to happen .

Sally Goes to the Farmby Stephen Huneck  Sally is a black lab who goes to the farm to meet Molly a yellow lab and see what it’s like to be on a farm. I liked this book and my daughter did too . It’s text is very very short but the illustrations are magnificent.  We both giggled at the dogs drinking milk  from a cow being milked. Does that really happen on a farm? I have no clue but it sure made my daughter laugh.  This is also a good book for my son ( an emergent reader) to read to my daughter because of the length of text and how well the illustrations support it.

Barn Dance! by Pat Hutchins is a goofy book about  what really goes on when you think animals are sleeping! Mama Sheep, Mama Pig and Mama Cow get down and dance their hooves off  until the fall asleep in the hay but that’s not the end of the story . Once they are asleep their babies sneak out and dance too! I like how silly it is, the independent spirit but really my favorite things about this book is that the Mama animals all have flowers behind their ears , it tickles me every time I read the book.

Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka . I wanted to love this book but it was just meh. I like the idea for it very much and some of the details were hilarious like horse acting as a bouncer for the punk show but the meat of the book just didn’t do it for me. Most of the book is a variation of Old MacDonald with different instrument sounds and by the second animal I was so over singing this song, maybe I just don’t like that song… I have been teased with it most of my life.  My kids liked the book and we all loved the illustrations.

This Little Chick by John Lawrence is just about the perfect board book for my daughter right now, she didn’t even try to eat it! The rhymes are melodic the text full of animal sounds is spot on for our littlest readers . My son and I had fun reading this old favorite to my daughter for the first time.  The illustrations are fantastic with lots of contrast and is the perfect length for  a quick snuggle and read for wiggly babies who are eager to move.

Baby Says “Moo!”by JoAnn Early Macken was a huge hit with my 2 year old. I should warn you that she loves anything with a baby of any sort in it but even if she wasn’t baby crazy I think she would have loved this book. In it the baby and  family go from the city to the farm asking about the sounds the people and animals make around them. No matter what the baby says “Moo” . The text is sweet and rhymes and the bright , colorful illustrations are so adorable. Very sweet book for children learning about animal sounds.

Bob  by Tracey Campbell Pearson is a goofy story about a Rooster who doesn’t know how to cock a doodle do ! He asks his barnyard friends but they are cats, dogs, cows and more. He learns how to meow , bark and moo! Eventually he does find an older rooster to show him the ropes but it’s the other sounds that end up saving Bob and his friends from a sly fox. I Really enjoyed the book, my son thought it was funny and the message about learning about other languages is a lovely one to teach your child.

Grunt by John Richardson is a classic running away from home story. This one is about a pig who is different from all his siblings and can only grunt instead of squeal, and thinks that because he is different his family must not want him. Of course in the end mama is overjoyed to see him come home and he discovers his family does love him. I am biased against books like this cause I just don’t like them, I don’t like that a child( or piglet) has to run away to find out they are loved. Maybe it’s just my own pet peeve , regardless this book is ok, but I won’t be adding it to my bookshelf.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon tickles my funny bone. I love this book, the message is awesome too. Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try! Also how cute is a duck riding a bike? Kids even young ones get the message loud and clear as well!  The illustrations are amazing and your child will love the farm animals and the tractor at the end. Oh and please tell me I am not the only one waiting for “Duck on a Tractor” ? I’d buy it in a heartbeat !

Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson is a sweet almost saccharine book about a little chick that may be small but is just as capable as everyone else. Honestly I was sorta lukewarm to the story. When I sat down to write about it I had to grab the book to remember what I wanted to say, which is normally a big clue that it is not too memorable. What I didn’t forget was how much I loved the illustrations by John Butler.  Soft , gentle, feathery illustrations of farm animals that are full of realistic detail. We all loved the illustrations. SO while there was nothing wrong or off putting about the text it didn’t leave a lasting impression but the illustrations are what make this book stand out.

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Positive Princess Books For Kids

by Allison McDonald
great picture books

Princess books range from amazing to unreadable. The way princesses are marketed to our children especially girls it’s hard to avoid them and even when we work hard to avoid them it seems like they sneak in somehow. I don’t want to veto all princesses just because some stories are crap and the princesses are co-dependent and lack originality. I don’t mind that my toddler already knows what a princess is or even that she pretends to be one but I want her to have a healthy view of herself and have good role models even if some are princesses . Do you have a princess book that you feel great about reading to your children? If it’s not on my list share it in comments so other readers can check it out.

princess books for girls

The Very Fairy Princessby Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and  it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s ok to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.

The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza.

Princess Smartypants by Brenda Cole is the antithesis of the classic beautiful frail princess stories, but it still ends with happily ever after.  Princess Smartypants does her own thing and doesn’t understand why her family is so obsessed with finding her a husband. She bends to their wishes but still does things her way. I think this is a great message about happiness and confidence for girls and balances out some of the other princess stories. She was happy just the way she is and didn’t  need a spouse to feel complete.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers  by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting.  Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to  win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.

Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke  is 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. I love this book and cheered throughout.  When she refuses her father’s 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 aren’t too bully ish and seem to love their traditional roles. There is room for all sorts of princesses in this family, well eventually there is. Good book

Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose by Nancy Gow  is a story about two very different fairytale characters. They may be a prince and a princess but they are definitely different . I love the book’s rhyme ” I am what I am and that’s alright with me.” which 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.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide is such a fantastic ( and funny)  fairytale about a little princess who has a very odd problem. She can’t keep her feet on the ground so her parents worried that she will literally float away weigh her down. The problem with being weighed down is that she can’t be herself and one day when she is set free to float she discovers that that is who she is. The only problem left is how does she get down? Luckily a little boy with a big heart and a kite comes to help . He’s not a rescuer coming to fix everything simply a true friend helping . I love this book and the messages of breaking free from your limitations and of being yourself while staying connected to those you love.

The Paper Princess (Picture Puffins) by Elisa Klevin was a big hit with my son. The story is about a paper princess who while being drawn by a little girl is lifted into the air and her adventure begins. As she tries to find her way back to her little girl she meets challenges and friends along the way.  I really love that the paper princess changes as she faces these obstacles and my favorite bit is that we shouldn’t crumple up a paper just because we make a mistake. As my son read that I hoped that he’d take it to heart and know I am not the only parent of a perfectionist child who needs all the help they can get to deliver that message. Imperfection is not a flaw and this book shows us that in subtle ways page after page. A true gem of a book and a great princess option with true inner beauty.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis has been talked about so much I think I had inflated expectations. Don’t get me wrong I think the message is so important and the book does a good job at introducing readers to her son who is different , to how he gets hurt when people laugh at him and how great his family is at accepting him. I like how simply blunt  the book is and it should be because the lesson should be about acceptance and allowing people, especially children to express their true self. I think I was expecting more of a story even though I knew it was non fiction. It opened a great dialog with my 5 year old son about how he would treat a male friend if they wanted to dress in a dress- good discussion at our house , worth the read for sure!

The Storytelling Princess (Picture Puffin Books) by Rafe Martin is a cute story about an independent princess who saves herself after a shipwreck and even though she ends up with the prince her parents had arranged for her to marry she does it on her own terms. Her bibliophile  prince isn’t interested in an arranged marriage either and ends up agreeing to marry if his father can find someone to tell him a story  that he doesn’t know the ending to. The princess saves herself from the sea and dressed as a sailor she ends up vying for the King’s prize by telling the prince her own story. After she reveals herself and in the end the betrothed fall in love . I love that we don’t loose the happily ever after but that the prince and princess are unique and strong .

The Monster Princess by D.J. McHale is a story about a monster Lala who so wished she could be a princess only to discover in the end that being herself is even better.  As I was reading this book I was really hoping that the three real princesses that befriend Lala would have more depth and not be the stereotypical mean girls that they are . Even after the mean princesses humiliate Lala she does the right thing and saves them when they are in danger. This book had a very predictable feel to it but I am 35 and have lived through mean girls on film many times and been on both sides of it in real life . To a young child this story is fresh and filled with good messages about doing what is right even when we are angry and hurt, discovering that what we dream about being may not be all it’s cracked up to be as well as my favorite message that there are ” All kinds of special.”

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s a story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” in the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !

The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray The messages in this book are deep and meaningful and it’s not at all the stereotypical princess story. In this story there are three sisters , all of whom are princesses in a barren kingdom. The kingdom wasn’t always barren but after the queen died it lost it’s livelihood.  The king is worried and asks his daughters to participate in a competition to see who will take over the kingdom . They all want to make a big impression and the older two princesses stop at nothing taking from the people of the kingdom to do it. The youngest daughter has a different approach and does amazing things with a simple apple pip. I loved that this princess was shy and ordinary but most of all I loved that she worked hard at making her kingdom lush once again especially when her sisters were letting other people do the work. I also appreciated that in this story there is no mentions of marriage just which daughter will take over the kingdom. Subtle but positive and progressive messages.

Princess in the Forest by Sibylle Von Olfers  is more than 100 years old yet my toddler absolutely loved this book.  The story is amazingly simple and the illustrations are what a fairytale should look like.  The princess is met at different times of the day by various magical children and forest creatures who care for and play with her. My daughter loves babies and The Dew Children who come to help the princess get dressed , The Moss Children who bring her food and The Star Children who illuminate her night enchanted her. She would immediately turn to each page with these angelic creatures and touch each one with her little fingers. This book doesn’t have a strong moral message but it’s simplicity is so peaceful and calming that it makes a wonderful bedtime book for young kids.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen .This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity but about being yourself even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold it’s given you.  When we think of Princesses we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed, they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read.

Did we miss your favorite princess book ? Add it to the list by leaving a comment !

 

30 Books About Being Different & Being Yourself

Being different is hard and seeing other kids being brave and celebrating themselves for who they are is a powerful tool for any child. These children’s  books all celebrate children who are a little or a lot different . Some characters stand tall from the start and others have a wobbly road but find their legs as they go, all will inspire children to embrace who they are.

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books about being different

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a very sweet story about a giraffe who gets laughed at because he doesn’t know how to dance. A cricket gives him some great advice and with new found confidence that different isn’t always bad he starts to dance!  This has been a favorite in our house for years!

books about being different

Small Knight and George by Ronda Armitage is a gem! 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. A great book for all kids . Even though my son is presently all about battles and weapons he still likes and relates to this more peaceful story of a knight. As soon as I read it to him I was searching for the next in the series.

books about being different

Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne is a story about a starling Calvin who can’t fly and really isn’t even interested in learning. Calvin loves books and the library and while all the other birds are flying in a pack he is off on his own. There is some teasing but ultimately the pack helps Calvin and he in turns saves everyone. I love that he doesn’t really try to fit in but that in the end he discovers something new about himself once he’s accepted for being different.

Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley   is on my must buy list. I don’t say that often, especially with such a great public library, but this book is wonderful. Nate is a little boy who after seeing a ballet school production with his class at school, decides he too wants to take ballet. Of course his older brother has something to say, and say and say but Nate is pretty confident with the help of his parents , that boys can take ballet.  I love that Nate wants to dance but he hates the idea that he might have to wear pink, clearly pink is not a good thing to him, he just wants to dance.  what I love about this book as a woman who spent more than her fair share of time at a ballet bar in her growing up years, is that it depicts boy dancers well. The stereotype of a “sissy” doesn’t often fit and I knew many boys that danced that were masculine and graceful. I encourage parents of boys and girls to read this, to open our kids horizons to being whoever you are, not to what older brothers, neighbors or anyone else tells them to be.

Princess Smartypants by Brenda Cole is the antithesis of the classic beautiful frail princess stories, but it still ends with happily ever after.  Princess Smartypants does her own thing and doesn’t understand why her family is so obsessed with finding her a husband. She bends to their wishes but still does things her way. I think this is a great message about happiness and confidence for girls and balances out some of the other princess stories. She was happy just the way she is and didn’t  need a spouse to feel complete.

Cowboy Slim by Julie Danneberg is a touching story about a cowboy who just doesn’t fit in. He writes poetry and is proud of it at first until someone calls it sissy. Then he fails and fails and fails again at all the things that “real cowboys” can do. When the herd is in danger though Slim saves the day with his rhymes! This book was too long for my son at 2 to enjoy but 4-5 year olds would be perfect for this length of book as well as the message about putting other people’s interests down and why it’s okay to be different even if others don’t get it.

The Sissy Ducklingby Harvey Fierstein is a lovely book. As a mom to a son I worry about him getting teased when he is older if he isn’t into sports, or likes to bake cookies more than play video games. This book address that, in a cute but frank way. I especially love how the dad isn’t super happy that his son is into more traditionally girly things. I think that even though we hope that all parents would be immediately supportive the reality is, that parents are human too and acceptance can take time even when there is lots of love.

Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose by Nancy Gow  is a story about two very different fairytale characters. They may be a prince and a princess but they are definitely different . I love the book’s rhyme ” I am what I am and that’s alright with me.” which 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.

Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a goofy fun book that had me wrapped around it’s fingers with the title, I mean a fish named Barry? And he has fingers?! I love it. Thankfully my judgment was smack dab on because the inside of the book was as funny as the cover. Barry isn’t just a fish with fingers he is a hero when his fingers save the day.  I love how Barry is different but it’s his differences that makes him the hero. The illustrations are so fun, the text is zippy and both my kids ( 4 and 10 months) loved it from start to finish.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence in who you are, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son  has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence in being herself that she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author.

Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke  is 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. I love this book and cheered throughout.  When she refuses her father’s 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 aren’t too bully ish and seem to love their traditional roles. There is room for all sorts of princesses in this family, well eventually there is. Good book.

My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis has been talked about so much I think I had inflated expectations. Don’t get me wrong I think the message is so important and the book does a good job at introducing readers to her son who is different , to how he gets hurt when people laugh at him and how great his family is at accepting him. I like how simply blunt  the book is and it should be because the lesson should be about acceptance and allowing people, especially children to express their true self. I think I was expecting more of a story even though I knew it was non fiction. It opened a great dialog with my 5 year old son about how he would treat a male friend if they wanted to dress in a dress- good discussion at our house , worth the read for sure!

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus is a childhood favorite. I think as a youngest child I always felt behind the curve, always playing catch up. I think this book is more for parents and is a great reminder to chill out and let our kids bloom in their own time and in their own way. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s a simple story about Leo who isn’t doing what all the other animals his age are doing. His dad is more than a little anxious but Leo blooms in his own good time.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is a classic tale about doing your own thing and not letting any amount of pressure change you. Ferdinand is a bull but just because he is doesn’t mean he wants to fight in the bull ring. I love the message this book has about being who you are no matter what environment you are in . Kids love this book because it’s funny , the text is just the right length and the illustrations are so expressive.

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird but when hunters come to get some pretty penguins is funny odd ways of doing things turn off the hunters and saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different.  My son loves this book and will often point out that Tacky is proud to sing just the way he wants. I love that it can preach to kids without preaching at all.

Frederick by Leo Lionni is a fable about the importance of imagination. When all the mice are working hard to gather things for winter Fredrick is quietly taking in the sun, and colors they will need to help get them through the dark, cold hungry days ahead. The other mice don’t see why this is so important until everything they have gathered runs out and they need Fredrick and his imagination to help them make it. Great commentary about art being vital and being yourself.

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon is a really cute book. This is the story of Ginny who doesn’t know that the way she things is a little different than the other kids in her class. She is teased, her teacher reprimands her for squinting but it’s not until she has an eye screening that the nurse figures out she has double vision. I like this book because it really allows children to experience what Ginny goes through , how being different but not knowing it can be fixed feels.  Ginny is given a patch and that too could be a source of humiliation but she is proud to be a pirate! Great and unexpectedly tender look at being different at school.

Elmer by David McKee is another book with a great message. Elmer is different, he isn’t gray like all the other elephants, and he’s a little bit of a goof too! He’s not so sure he likes that though. Like all of us it takes some time for Elmer to accept who he is but in the end he sees that patchwork is just who he is!

Stephanie’s Ponytail is my favorite Munsch book. I feel a little like I am cheating on The Paper Bag Princess but I love Stephanie’s confidence. The story is about Stephanie whose friends, and even teachers start copying how she wears her ponytail. She moves if to the side, to the top of her head even right in front of her face and they keep copying her. So she outsmarts them all with shocking results. I like this book and while reading it to a class I would re-arrange my own hair to match Stephanie’s and have the class in hysterics when my ponytail ended up block my view of the book. The message though is about being your own person, a powerful one for kids today.

Willow by Denise Brennan Nelson is another wonderful book about artistic spirit. Willow doesn’t follow the rules in art class, instead she paints what she sees when she closes her eyes. Her teacher’s rules are unfair, restrictive and she is just plain mean! It’s hard as a teacher to read stories with mean , repressive teachers in them, and this one takes the cake. Willow doesn’t stop painting blue apples and is confident in her individuality and isn’t as bothered by her mean teacher as I am. This story is really worth a look!

Moosetache by Margie Palatini is a absurd 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.

It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr is a straightforward simple book about being different and why it’s ok. Parr is renowned for his bright silly illustrations that help kids find his deeper messages fun and more importantly makes them memorable. I think this is a perfect general book that addresses all the ways that kids might not be like their friends and tells them what friends don’t always say, that it’s okay to be different.

A Very Big Bunny by Marisabina Russo is a nice book about two bunnies that don’t fit in at school.  This book opened a good dialogue between my son and I as we were reading about how both the tallest and the shortest bunny in the class got picked on.  The students in their class were mean and  they excluded these bunnies because they simply didn’t fit. The part that hit me the most was when the teacher lined the kids up by height, and Amelia the tall bunny was always last. It just made me think of how adults so often single kids out without trying to be terrible, but really hurting them.  It’s a wonderful book about accepting who you are and how having a good friend helps All that aside, the book itself comes to a nice conclusion and I think it’s worth grabbing for any child tall or short or in between.

A Bad Case Of Stripes is about 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. At 4 my son is starting to get the message of this book, but has enjoyed reading it and giggling at the antics for sometime now.

Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki has been on my shelf for years. I really really like this book, the message is fantastic! Suki loves her Kimono, she doesn’t care that her sisters think it’s not cool to wear it to school, her grandma gave it to her and she likes it. I love that she is depicted as confident but not 100% sure of herself, it allows readers to really connect, recognizing those times when we are putting up a brave face even if inside we aren’t so sure. Being yourself is hard and the author connects to that while still creating a strong lovely heroine.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems . When you start this story you are told 3 things about naked mole rats, one of which is they are all naked, except Wilbur. Wilbur loves clothes. He loves how he looks and how different clothes enable him to express his varying personalities and moods. The other naked mole rats are shocked by this behaviour. After many attempts to convince Wilbur to shed his clothes, the naked mole rats seek help from the Grand-pah, the oldest and wisest naked mole rat. A proclamation is made but it’s not what anyone is expecting. Similar to Willem’s other animal character books, the animals are the main focus without adding to much background (just the pale pink naked colour of the mole rats). There is more text in this story than Willem’s other books but the placement and font usage makes it interesting on the page. The story isn’t so much about wearing (or not wearing) clothing but rather sticking by your convictions and questioning what people do around you. This is a great book to encourage kids to have courage and belief in themselves and others will follow.

I Want to be a Cowgirl by Jeanne Willis is a story about a little city girl who doesn’t want to grow up to have tea parties. cook, clean or sew. She doesn’t want to be a girly girl at all, she wants to be a cowgirl. I love the sentiment in this book, how adamant she is about knowing what she wants and the lengths she goes to be a cowgirl using bananas as six shooters, and turning her dad’s rug into chaps! 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.

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson is a lovely story about a big hippo that loves to dance, although her neighbors aren’t as keen. See Hilda is bog and when she dances she shakes and rattles everything, it’s noisy and disruptive and is making her friends very angry. They suggest that she try new hobbies, but knitting and singing won’t do it’s simply not in her heart, Hilda needs to move and groove!  I loves that a solution is found that makes everyone happy, that Hilda doesn’t have to give up her passion, but that she isn’t so selfish as to simply say ” too bad” to her friends either.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen .This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity but about being yourself even if the world has decided you should be something else. When we think of Princesses we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed, they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read!

There are so many more books about characters who are different or who learn to be themselves, did we miss your favorite? Let us know which book you think should be added.

 

Books About Asia For Kids

books about asia for kids

by Katy

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been studying the various continents and have found a wealth of great books from the Asian continent. Here are a few of our favorites–and my Charlie is one picky guy!

Bee-Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park

A rhythmic and delightful story about the preparation of the traditional Korean dish Bee-Bim Bop. It follows a mother and child as they shop, prepare, cook, and eat this meal. I pleasure to read and quick for those of you who have kids with short attention spans. My favorite part is that there’s a recipe for cooking Bee-Bim Bop in the back of the book. We even tried it out!

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

A classic story that I remember enjoying as a child. It tells the story of why Chinese parents give their children short names. This book is wordier than a lot of the ones I try with my son, but it has become one of his absolute favorites. When given a choice, he ALWAYS chooses to read this one.

books for kids about asia

Hush by Mingfrong Ho

Described as “a Thai lullaby” this is a simple and melodic story about a mother trying to make it quiet enough for her baby to sleep. Simple enough for younger children, older children will enjoy checking out baby’s shenanigans and mother tries to quiet her farm.

The Empty Pot by Demi

A fable about a young Chinese boy, a contest to become the next emperor, and the importance of honesty. Lovely pictures are definitely part of the appeal of this book.

The Green Frogs by Yumi Heo

I may have enjoyed this one more than my son! It’s short, easy-to-read story about a mother frog and her sons who never do what they’re told. I think the silliness of the young frogs will delight many children.

 

Katy is a mom of three who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracles at Bird on the Street.