It’s so easy to be insecure or self-conscious about our bodies, but by reading inclusive stories that celebrate bodies of all different shapes, sizes, skin colors, and abilities, we can teach children early on how to respect themselves and others.
The below books use upbeat text and beautiful illustrations to inspire children to value everyone’s unique bodies.
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Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder, 2021
(Ages 3 and up)
This joyous celebration of all different body types could not be more fun! The lively rhymes have an upbeat cadence that make this book a delight to read aloud while the bright inclusive illustrations feature almost every body shape and skin representation imaginable. Children (and adults) will feel seen and accepted in this rousing story!
I Love My Body Because by Shelly Anand and Nomi Ellenson; illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina, 2022
(Ages 3 and up)
I love how this book is told from the first-person point of view, to emphasize positive self-talk. The first page begins, “I love my body because….” with subsequent pages filled with inclusive illustrations of children sharing things they adore about their bodies. In addition to celebrating physical aspects of our bodies, I also appreciate how this book includes a spread showcasing how to care for our bodies. The prompt at the end asking, “So what do you love about your body?” is perfect for opening up conversations about what kids appreciate about their own bodies.
Some Bodies by Sophie Kennen; illustrated by Airin O’Callaghan, 2022
(Ages 3 and up)
Lively rhymes and bright illustrations present an array of diverse people celebrating their unique bodies in this stellar new story. There is a cheerful tone that shines through as the message that all bodies are good and deserve to be loved is clearly received. This wonderful book is further enhanced with a message to parents, caregivers, and teachers providing guidance on discussing the appearance of others with children.
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho; illustrated by Dung Ho, 2021
(Ages 4 and up)
This impactful story uses exquisitely descriptive language to share how the shape of a girl’s eyes is one of her favorite family traits that define her in the best way. Radiant illustrations highlight the poetic text bringing in elements of whimsy as the girl describes aspects of her culture. The girl’s self-confidence is infectious and the empowering text celebrating heritage and family paired with the luscious illustrations makes this book a real standout.
We also like the companion book.
Big Bold Beautiful Me by Jane Yolen and Maddison Stemple-Piatt; illustrated by Chloe Burgett
Almost everyone has some part of their body they are self-conscience about and I love how this book helps kids find the good in all aspects of their body. “Some kids gawk at my legs and my thighs ‘cause they’re thick like columns that reach to the skies. But they help me jump even higher than my sister. And walk for causes like a grown-up resister. When I look in the mirror, what do I see? Big and Bold and Beautiful Me!” What a great way to teach kids to take a negative comment and turn it into a positive!
Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story by Amy Webb; illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard, 2020
(Ages 5 and up)
While Emma has no hands and uses a wheelchair, she refuses to be defined by her disability and demonstrates a courageous spirit that is truly inspiring. When she attends a field trip to an art museum, she is disappointed that there is no ramp and grows frustrated when her friend Charley tries to help because he feels sorry for her.
This inclusive story is perfect for starting conversations on disabilities and how to be a good friend to others. Emma’s self-confidence is contagious and I hope that children will remember her words, “No bodies are wrong. All bodies are right. We’re all different colors, sizes, and heights. My body works differently – I love being me! Because ME is an awesome thing to be.”
Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, 2021
(Ages 5 and up)
This charming tale stars the endearing Laxmi who helps readers build a more positive self-image by celebrating body hair. Laxmi is shocked and embarrassed when her friends innocently suggest she should play a cat in their pretend game because she has tiny black hairs above her lip like whiskers. At home, her parents comfort her and explain how many women have a little mustache. Laxmi embraces her body hair and soon joyfully introduces mooches to her entire class. This subject is not covered in many books and readers with their own mooches will feel comforted and reassured by Laxmi and her self-confidence.
My Hair Is Magic by M.L. Marroquin; illustrated by Tonya Engel, 2020
(Ages 3 and up)
A young girl confidently shares the many reasons she loves her defining hair in this enchanting story. Lyrical similes make the poetic text a joy to read aloud while the vibrant, whimsical illustrations draw the eye in. It is hard not to smile at the girl’s assertive attitude and the uplifting story will hopefully inspire others to think of reasons they love their own bodies.
What Happened to You? by James Catchpole; illustrations by Karen George, 2021
(Age 5 and up)
So rarely have I found a book that can make my children laugh out loud and also fill their hearts with empathy and understanding of others’ feelings.
Joe simply wants to play his favorite game on the playground. Unfortunately, the other children are distracted by the fact that he only has one leg. Each one asks him what happened to it, offering outlandish and humorous guesses. Eventually, a girl joins in on Joe’s game. Then all of the children start playing together and realize that Joe’s missing leg is irrelevant to their fun.
This incredible own-voices story is a must-read! Its spot-on text is perfectly combined with eye-catching illustrations that give the story tons of kid appeal and a priceless message of compassion and accepting differences. The story is further enhanced by an author’s note that provides grown-ups with tips on how to talk with children about disabilities.