One of the most important gifts we can give our children is to nurture their confidence in themselves, even (and especially) when they are not like their peers. Below is a list of wonderful children’s books about being different – and why it is great! Don’t miss my related list of children’s books about being yourself.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I received complimentary copies of A Fish in Foreign Waters and Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Children’s Books about Being Different
Do you have a bilingual child, or are you planning a long-distance move? Then you will love the picture book A Fish in Foreign Waters: a Book for Bilingual Children from Long Bridge Publishing. There are not many books out there about what it is like to be bilingual, so I love this story about Rosie Ray, who struggles to learn a new language but eventually comes to realize how special it is to be bilingual. I love how the author conceptualizes the languages as each having a different shape, which is a great way for kids to think about it. But this book is not just about bilingualism, it’s about what it is like to move somewhere new and suddenly be seen as strange – from how you talk to what you eat. Even kids who have moved cross-country will relate to being told that they talk funny or the lunch their mom packed looks weird. And I love the positive ending, as Rosie learns that being from two places can mean double the friends and double the fun!
By now you may know how much I love the Marisol McDonald books, about a bicultural girl who loves that she doesn’t “match” (read my full review of the first book about this lively girl). I recently came across Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash: Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual, about Marisol trying to decide how to celebrate her birthday. Should she choose a princess theme, or pirates, or perhaps soccer, or….? Marisol doesn’t want to have to pick just one theme, and so her super supportive mom suggests that maybe she doesn’t have to after all! I love that these books celebrate Marisol’s quirkiness but also her love for her family and her diverse circle of friends. A major plus of this particular book is its focus on her relationship with her grandmother in Perú, whom Marisol hasn’t seen for several years. When her abuelita can’t make it in time for the birthday party, the family comes up with a solution that anyone with family far away will appreciate – talking on the computer!
I adore Lynn Reiser bilingual books, especially My Way/A mi manera: A Margaret and Margarita Story / Un cuento de Margarita y Margaret. It is a wonderfully done tale of two very different girls, who are nonetheless best friends. They each like to do things their own way, but they’ve also learned that being friends often means trying new things and learning to appreciate differences. You can read my full review in this guest post.
Another book about feeling out of place in a new home is the early chapter book Hello, Nebulon!. This is the first in the Galaxy Zack series about a boy who moves from Earth to the Planet Zebulon when his dad accepts a new job. My son loves this series for all the sci-fi elements about flying cars, talking houses, and weird aliens. I love it for its message of learning to adjust to new situations and making friends with people (okay, aliens) that may seem different at first. Anyone who has made a big move – especially out of country – will relate to the disorienting sensation of everything being different, even how people greet each other, and yet also the discovery that kids everywhere are the same.
We recently discovered Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible from Penguin Books. It is the first in a series, including Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, about an adventurous hamster princess who doesn’t act like princesses are supposed to act. My favorite part is that whenever someone tells Harriet that whatever daring or fun thing she is doing (like fighting dragons) isn’t something princesses do, Harriet retorts that if she’s doing it, than it is something that princesses do! This first book is a fun twist on Sleeping Beauty: When Harriet discovers that she was cursed as an infant to prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her twelfth birthday and fall into a deep sleep, she realizes that this makes her invincible until then and so she sets off to have great adventures, striking terror into the hearts of evil monsters everywhere. But this book isn’t just for girls who don’t feel like proper princesses. It’s for any child who wants to have adventures on their own terms and change the script of the stories that have always been told. My son loves these books for their adventures and humor, and I’ve really enjoyed reading them, too! They are great for early readers (or any that still love plenty of visuals), since it is a hybrid of graphic novel and chapter book.