As we get older, we become prouder of our quirks, but it’s not so easy when you’re a kid — especially after the toddler years when people start to mold us into what’s “socially acceptable.” These picture books about being yourself help kids to embrace their unique quirks, whether it’s being tall, loving certain hobbies, or being particular about their preferences.
📚 Disclaimer in the books: Just so you know, Reading Middle Grade uses affiliate links. This means that when you shop via the links in our posts, we may earn a cent or two at no extra cost to you. Thanks for adding to our book buying fund.
The Best Picture Books About Being Yourself
Here are some of the best picture books about being yourself:
Published: February 5, 2019
With encouraging text and exuberant illustrations by Patrice Barton, readers will delight in all the ways they can be their remarkable selves.
You might go unnoticed, or shine like a star,
but wherever you go and whoever you are…
don’t change how you act to be just like the rest.
Believe in yourself and the things you do best.
Where Oliver Fits
Published: September 5, 2017
Oliver has always dreamed about where he will fit. Will he be in the mane of a unicorn? The tentacle of a pirate squid? The helmet of an astronaut? When he finally goes in search of his perfect place, he finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought. But like any puzzle, a little trial and error leads to a solution, and Oliver figures out exactly where he belongs.
Where Oliver Fits is a sweet and funny story that explores all the highs and lows of learning to be yourself and shows that fitting in isn’t always the best fit.
We’re All Wonders
Published: March 28, 2017
Over 15 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy.
Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.
We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.
My Shadow Is Purple
Published: June 15, 2022
My Dad has a shadow that’s blue as a berry, and my Mom’s is as pink as a blossoming cherry. There’s only those choices, a 2 or a 1. But mine is quite different, it’s both and it’s none. A heartwarming and inspiring book about being true to yourself and moving beyond the gender binary, by best-selling children’s book creator Scott Stuart.
Published: September 14, 2021
Meet Zubi: a joyful Bangladeshi girl excited about her first day of school. But when Zubi sees her mother frowning in the mirror and talking about being “too big,” she starts to worry about her own body and how she looks. As her day goes on, she hears more and more people being critical of each other’s and their own bodies, until her outburst over dinner leads her family to see what they’ve been doing wrong—and to help Zubi see that we can all make the world a more beautiful place by being beautifully ourselves.
Published: June 15, 2021
On Vanessa’s first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn’t so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn’t what she’d hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.
The next day, she picks out a plain outfit, and tells her mom that her name is too long. She just wants to blend in, with a simple name like the other girls–why couldn’t her parents have named her Megan or Bella? But when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa. Perfect for readers of Alma and How She Got Her Name and The King of Kindergarten.
Published: February 24, 2022
It’s John’s big day at school today—a performance for Sharing Gifts time. His bag is carefully packed and prepared, his classmates are ready, and the curtain is waiting to open. John is nervous, looking out at all the other children staring back at him. But he takes a big breath and begins. Mac Barnett’s compassionate text and Kate Berube’s understated and expressive art tell the story of a kid who finds the courage to show others his talent for dancing.
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Published: January 3, 2016
Tina isn’t like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit, that everything is possible. But her sisters aren’t convinced – and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her . . . and soon discover a world of surprises!
Except When They Don’t
Published: May 21, 2019
Girls perform to fairy songs.
Boys play football all day long.
Boys yell, “Boo!” and run away.
Girls like kittens and ballet.
Except when they don’t.
Children are often told by many different people about what toys they’re supposed to play with, what interests they should have, and who they should be simply because of their gender. This stereotype-breaking book invites children to examine what they’re told “boy” and “girl” activities are and encourages them to play with whatever they want to and to be exactly who they are!
Little Wolf’s First Howling
Published: April 11, 2017
Little Wolf can hardly wait. Tonight he will howl at the moon to the top of the sky. First, Big Wolf demonstrates traditional howling form: AAAAAAAAAAOOOOOooooooooo. Then it’s Little Wolf’s turn. He’s sure he is ready, but when the big moment comes, something happens. Something unexpected, something wild, something unbe-beep-bop-believable!Sisters Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate McGee have created a wonderful story about the importance of doing things your own way and being true to your heart when it swells with wildness and joy.
Published: October 1, 2018
Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be . . . HIS ENORMOUS NECK?? Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?
Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried. Just when Edward has exhausted his neck-hiding options and is about to throw in the towel, a turtle swoops in (well, ambles in, very slowly) and helps him understand that his neck has a purpose, and looks excellent in a bow tie.
I Am a Tiger
Published: July 30, 2019
This is a story about a mouse with BIG ideas. Mouse believes he is a tiger, and he convinces Fox, Raccoon, Snake, and Bird he’s one, too! After all, Mouse can climb a tree like a tiger and hunt for his lunch, too. And not all tigers are big and have stripes. But when a real tiger shows up, can Mouse keep up his act? With hilarious text by Karl Newson and bright and vivid illustrations from Ross Collins, this uproariously funny, read-aloud picture book encourages children to use their imaginations and be who they want to be! Doesn’t everyone want to be a tiger?
Maurice the Unbeastly
Published: September 5, 2017
With his melodious voice, fondness for kale, and unfailing politeness, Maurice isn’t quite like other beasts. So his concerned Mama and Papa send their ridiculously photogenic beastie to the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts to learn how to behave badly. Will Maurice master growling, scowling, snarling, and howling? Or will he prove that being different is a good thing after all?
Published: May 26, 2020
Piglette can be a bit particular by her siblings’ standards. She always wants everything to be perfect. While her many brothers and sisters like rolling in the mud, Piglette prefers pampering in a mud bath. While her siblings eat slop, Piglette prefers pastries. But what she’s most passionate about is flowers. She loves to smell the lilies and lilacs in the pasture. So Piglette decides her precise nose is destined for the perfume shops of Paris!
But Piglette soon realizes that there’s nothing more precious than the pleasant scents of home, and she finds a way to bring a little Parisian perfection back where she belongs. Debut author Kateyln Aronson and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Eva Byrne have created an unforgettable, playful piglet who stays true to herself and the message that home is where the heart is.
Published: May 21, 2019
When Ogilvy moves to a new town, the possibilities feel endless. There are so many new bunny friends and fun things to do together! But in this town, bunnies in dresses play ball and knit socks, and bunnies in sweaters make art and climb rocks. Ogilvy wants to do everything―and won’t let a sweater or a dress get in the way.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Published: September 1, 2001
Gerald is a giraffe who simply can’t dance. Try as he may, his long, spindly legs buckle whenever he starts to boogy. Every year he dreads going to the Great Jungle Dance – until one night when he finds his own special music…
I Am Golden
Published: February 1, 2022
What do you see when you look in the mirror, Mei? Do you see beauty?
We see eyes that point toward the sun, that give us the warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile. We see hair as inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky. We see skin brushed with gold.
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
Published: February 10, 2015
Frog wants to be anything but a slimy, wet frog. A cat, perhaps. Or a rabbit. An owl? But when a hungry wolf arrives—a wolf who HATES eating frogs—our hero decides that being himself isn’t so bad after all. In this very silly story with a sly message, told in hilarious dialogue between a feisty young frog and his heard-it-all-before father, young readers will identify with little Frog’s desire to be something different, while laughing along at his stubborn yet endearing schemes to prove himself right.
Published: April 7, 2009
He’s always been a happy little utensil. But lately, he feels like life as a spoon just isn’t cutting it. He thinks Fork, Knife, and The Chopsticks all have it so much better than him. But do they? And what do they think about Spoon? A book for all ages, Spoon serves as a gentle reminder to celebrate what makes us each special.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers
Published: October 5, 2005
Rink s grandmother was raised by wolves, his Uncle Dud tames rattlesnakes, and Rink grows beautiful flowers all over his body when the moon is full. Townspeople just don t understand the Bowagons. But one day a new girl named Angelica arrives at Rink s school, and he soon discovers she has some unique qualities too. Using humor and metaphor to promote acceptance, this touching story shows us that what makes us different makes us beautiful.
Published: August 31, 2010
Bernadette might seem like an ordinary monster, but sometimes she likes to do some very unmonsterlike things, like pick flowers. And pet kittens. And bake.
When the time comes for Bernadette to go to Monster Academy, she’s just a teensy bit nervous. Her classmates just don’t understand her. They’d rather uproot trees than sing friendship songs. And they prefer fried snail goo to Bernadette’s homemade cupcakes with sprinkles. Can Bernadette find a way to make friends at school and still be herself?
Odd Dog Out
Published: August 25, 2016
It’s a dog’s life in the big city… Come join one busy dog on her journey to find her place in the world, in this third sublimely illustrated book from the bestselling, award-winning Rob Biddulph.
For busy dogs
A busy day
Of busy work
And busy play
But one dog doesn’t quite fit in. It’s lonely being the odd dog out, when all she wants to do is find her place in the world. She’s willing to go to the other side of the world to look for it but it might take a different kind of journey for her to discover that maybe where she’s meant to be is right back where she started.
It’s Okay to Be Different
Published: May 1, 2004
It’s okay to be a different color. It’s okay to dance by yourself. It’s okay to wear glasses. It’s okay to have a pet worm…. It’s okay to be different!
Rot, the Cutest in the World!
Published: December 19, 2017
Rot is a mutant potato. Like most mutant potatoes, Rot loves all sorts of games and contests. So when he sees a sign for the “Cutest in the World Contest,” he can’t wait to enter.
But when Rot realizes who he’s up against—an itty-bitty baby bunny, a little-wittle cuddly kitten, and an eenie-weenie jolly jellyfish—he loses confidence. Will the judges find room in their hearts for an adorable mutant potato?
I Like Myself!
Published: May 1, 2004
High on energy and imagination, this ode to self-esteem encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves—inside and out. Messy hair? Beaver breath? So what!
Here’s a little girl who knows what really matters. At once silly and serious, Karen Beaumont’s joyous rhyming text and David Catrow’s vibrant illustrations unite in a book that is sassy, soulful . . . and straight from the heart.
Published: August 8, 2017
Lily Wool gets bored with all of the grazing and resting that the herd does and prefers to count stars and dream of adventures. When Lily finds a strand of loose wool, she lets her imagination run wild and has a grand time until she accidentally unravels a problem.
Children will love seeing how Lily Wool puts her imagination and creativity to work to fix things, and how Lily discovers a way to help others while she finds her special place in the flock.
Published: June 3, 2014
But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?
Published: September 6, 2016
Think before you leap! Lemmings look alike, sound alike, and act alike. If one jumps off a cliff, the others jump right after him. . . except Larry. Larry’s very independent and won’t follow his fellow lemmings blindly to their doom. But can he teach them to use their brains and stop making terrible group decisions? John Briggs has created a wonderfully funny, quirky tale about staying true to yourself, while Nicola Slater’s witty illustrations capture all the humor and pathos of Larry’s situation.
A Normal Pig
Published: June 4, 2019
Pip is a normal pig who does normal stuff: cooking, painting, and dreaming of what she’ll be when she grows up.
But one day a new pig comes to school and starts pointing out all the ways in which Pip is different. Suddenly she doesn’t like any of the same things she used to…the things that made her Pip.
A wonderful springboard for conversations with children, at home and in the classroom, about diversity and difference.
My Shape is Sam
Published: September 17, 2019
Circles were smooth and round. Good at rolling, spinning, and pushing. They all turned together to make things go.
Squares were sturdy and even. Good at stacking, steadying, and measuring. They all fit together to make things stay.
In a world where everybody is a shape and every shape has a specific job, Sam is a square who longs for softer corners, rounder edges, and the ability to roll like a circle. But everyone knows that squares don’t roll, they stack. At least that’s what everyone thinks until the day Sam takes a tumble and discovers something wonderful. He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be.
There’s Only One You
Published: May 7, 2019
“In all the world over, this much is true:
You’re somebody special. There’s only one YOU.”
This feel-good book reassures kids that, whoever and whatever they are, it’s awesome being YOU! Expertly written to include all kinds of children and families, it embraces the beauty in a range of physical types, personalities, and abilities. Kids will love discovering and recognizing themselves in these pages—and they’ll feel proud to see their special qualities acknowledged. Adorable illustrations by Rosie Butcher show a diverse community that many will find similar to their own.
Rusty The Squeaky Robot
Published: April 19, 2018
Rusty is a friendly robot, but not a very happy one; he’s feeling down about the way that he sounds. The other robots on Planet Robotone – Belle, Twango, Hoot and Boom-Bot – show Rusty that being a little bit different is the best way to be, and together make a raucous song and dance that celebrates their differences. This charming story about friendship, self-discovery and the strength of pooling everyone’s talents together has a strong, empowering message of acceptance and embracing individuality. With wonderful, contemporary illustrations that will appeal to young children and parents alike, the story will provoke thought – and conversation – about being different, and how we should all embrace our characteristics and be comfortable and confident in ourselves.
There they are: 30+ picture books about being yourself. Which of these books have you read? Which ones did I miss?
More Picture Book Lists
- Picture books about love
- Picture books about having unique names
- Great picture books about managing anger
What do you think? Leave a comment