Recommended Books for Children

Recommended Books that Celebrate Differences
or Feature Characters Who Have Triumphed Over Adversity

Clicking through the links will take you to each book’s page at amazon.com.
Ages listed refer to developmental age.

Fictional Picture Books that Celebrate Differences

Cannon, J. Stellaluna. HMH Books for Young Readers. (learning to embrace differences; ages 4–7)
Hall, M. Red: A Crayon’s Story. Greenwillow Books. (feeling different inside; ages 3–6)
Henkes, K. Chrysanthemum. Greenwillow Books. (individuality; ages 4–8)
Jiminez, F. La Mariposa. HMH Books for Young Readers. (immigrant assimilation; ages 4–7)
Kraus, R. Leo the Late Bloomer. HarperCollins. (developmental differences; ages 4–8)
Leonni, L. Swimmy. Dragonfly Books. (cooperation; ages 4–6)
Martin, B. Knots on a Counting Rope. Square Fish. (blindness; ages 4–8)
Most, B. The Cow That Went OINK. Sandpiper. (learning to embrace differences; ages 3–8)
Munsch, R. The Paper Bag Princess. Annick Press. (gender stereotypes; ages 4–7)
Naliboff, J. The Only One Club. Flashlight Press. (religious differences; ages 4–8)
Nikola-Lisa, W. Bein’ With You This Way. Lee & Low Books. (racial differences; ages 4–8)
Polacco, P. Thank You, Mr. Falker. Philomel. (dyslexia; ages 5–8)
Parr, T. It’s Okay To Be Different. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. (embracing differences; ages 4–8)
Yim, S. Ruby’s Wish. Chronicle Books. (gender stereotypes; ages 5–9)

Fictional Chapter Books that Embrace Differences

Appearance

Anderson, L.H. Wintergirls. Penguin Young Readers Group (anorexia; ages 13–17)
Blume, J. Blubber. Yearling. (obesity; ages 9–12)
Crucher, Chris. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. Greenwillow. (obesity and facial difference; ages 12 and up)
Graff, Lisa. The Thing About Georgie. Harper Trophy. (dwarfism; ages  9–12)
Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Knopf. (facial difference; ages 8–12)

Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders

Baskin, N. Anything but Typical. Simon & Schuster. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 9–12)
Choldenko, G. Al Capone Does My Shirts. Penguin Puffin. (autism spectrum disorder; ages 9–12)
Dowd, S. The London Eye Mystery. Yearling. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 8–12)
Erskine, K. Mockingbird. Penguin Puffin. (protagonist on the autism spectrum disorder—also themes of crisis related to middle school shooting and sibling death; ages 12 and up)
Haddon,M. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Vintage Press. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 14 and up)
Hesser, T.  Becoming Naomi Leon. Scholastic. (obsessive-compulsive disorder; ages 12 and up)
Hoopman, K. Of Mice and Aliens: An Asperger Adventure. Jessica Kingsley. (Aspergers syndrome; ages 9–12)
Hoopman, K. The Blue Bottle Mystery: An Asperger Adventure. Jessica Kingsley. (Aspergers syndrome; ages 9–12)
Lord, C.  Rules. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. (Aspergers syndrome; ages 10–12)
Mass, W. A Mango-Shaped Space. Little, Brown. (synesthesia; ages 12 and up)
Miller, A.E.  & Stentz, Z. Colin Fischer. Razorbill Books. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 12 and up)
Roy, J. Mindblind. Skyskape Books. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 12 and up)
Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World. Scholastic. (protagonist on the autism spectrum; ages 14 and up)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Gantos, J. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. HarperCollins. (ADHD; ages 9–12)
Gantos, J. Joey Pigza Loses Control. HarperCollins. (ADHD; ages 10–12)

Ability

Auch, MJ. The One-Handed Catch. Square Fish. (physical disability; ages  9–12)
Conly, J. Crazy Lady. HarperCollins. (developmental delay; ages 9–12)
Draper, S. Out of My Mind. Atheneum. (cystic fibrosis; ages 12 and up)
Fenner, C. Yolanda’s Genius. Alladin. (different kinds of intelligence; ages 8–12)
Keyes, D. Flowers for Algernon. Mariner Books. (developmental delay; ages 12 and up)
Trueman, T.  Cruise Control. Harper Teen. (cerebral palsy; ages 12 and up)
Trueman, T. Stuck in Neutral. Harper Teen. (cerebral palsy; ages 12 and up)
Wolff, V. E. Probably Still Nick Swanson. Simon Pulse. (special ed; ages 11–15)

Individuality and Empathy

Alexie, S. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown. (race, poverty, alcoholism; ages 12 and up)
Gallo, D., Ed. On the Fringe. Speak. (individuality; ages 12 and up)
Haddix, M.P. Dexter the Tough. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (bullying; ages 7–10)
Mills, C. Zero Tolerance. Square Fish. (powerful lessons about accepting differences; 9-12)
Paterson, K. Flip Flop Girl. Penguin Puffin. (hardship and individuality; ages 9–12)
Spinelli, J. Loser. HarperCollins. (bullying; ages  8–12)

Culture, Race, and/or Religion

Armstrong, W. Sounder. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. (racism; ages 9–12)
Giff, P.R. Lily’s Crossing. Bantam Doubleday Dell. (refugees; ages 8–12)
Kerr, J. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Penguin Puffin. (anti-semitism; ages 9–12)
Lowry, L. Number the Stars. Laurel Leaf. (anti-semitism; ages 9–12)
Reiss, J. The Upstairs Room. HarperCollins. (anti-semitism; ages 14 and up)
Speare, E.G.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Sandpiper. (culture; ages 9–12)
Spinelli, J. Maniac Magee. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. (racism; ages 9–12)
Taylor, M. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Penguin Puffin. (racism; ages 9–12)
Taylor, M. (The Friendship. Penguin Puffin. (racism; ages 9–12)
Yolen, J. The Devil’s Arithmetic. Penguin Puffin. (anti-semitism; ages 10–14)

Illness/Mental Illness

Bray, L. Going Bovine. Ember. (brain disease, hallucinations: ages 14 and up)
Saenz, B.A. Last Night I Sang to the Monster. (addiction, PTSD: ages 14 and up)
Shusterman, N. Challenger Deep. HarperTeen. (psychosis; ages 15 and up)
Smith, H.T. Wild Awake. HarperCollins (mental illness and grief; ages 14–17)

Sexual Orientation / Gender Fluidity

Gino, A. George. Scholastic. (ages 8–12)
Howe, J. The Misfits. Atheneum. (ages 14 and up)
Knowles, J. See You at Harry’s. Candlewick Press. (ages 10 and up)
Nelson, J.  I’ll Give You the Sun. Dial. (ages 14 and up)
Polonsky, A. Gracefully Grayson. Disney-Hyperion (ages 12–15)
Sanchez, A. So Hard to Say. Simon & Schuster Children’s Books. (ages 12 and up)

Non-Fiction Picture Books that Embrace Differences

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Elder, J. Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes. Jessica Kingsley. (ages 7 and up)
Edwards, B. My Brother Sammy. Bloomsbury Publishing. (ages 4–8)
Sabin, E. The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone with Autism. Watering Can Press. (ages 9–12)

Gender

Jennings, J. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. Crown Books for Young Readers. (ages 12–15)
Roehm, M. Girls who Rocked the World, 2: Heroines from Harriet Tubman to Mia Hamm. Read How You Want. (ages 9–12)
Welden, A. Girls who Rocked the World: Heroines from Sacagawea to Sheryl Swoopes. Gareth Stevens Publishing. (ages 9–12)

Learning Challenges

Lauren, J. That’s Like Me! Stories About Amazing People With Learning Differences. Star Bright Books. (ages 8–10)

Physical Challenges

Barasch, L. Knockin on Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates. Lee & Low. (ages 4–8)
Kaminsky, M. Uncommon Champions: Fifteen Athletes who Battled Back. Boyds Mills Press. (ages 11–14)
Krull, K. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman. Sandpiper. (ages 9–12)
Thomas, P. Don’t Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability. Barrons. (ages 4–8)
Troupe, Q. Little Stevie Wonder. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. (ages 9–12)

Sexual Orientation

Krakow, K. The Harvey Milk Story. Two Lives Publishing. (ages 11–14)

Various Differences

Kent, D. Extraordinary People with Disabilities. Children’s Press. (ages 9–12)
Kindersley, A. Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World. DK Children. (ages 6–10)
Sabin, E. The Special Needs Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone with Special Needs. Watering Can Press. (ages 9–12)