The best books on acceptance and empathy

Jacqueline B. Toner Author Of Yes I Can!: A Girl and Her Wheelchair
By Jacqueline B. Toner

The Books I Picked & Why

Jacob's New Dress

By Sarah Hoffman, Ian Hoffman, Chris Case

Jacob's New Dress

Why this book?

This gentle picture book introduces us to Jacob who wants to dress up like his friend, Emily, and not in the costumes the other boys prefer. Despite being teased when he arrives at school wearing a dress fashioned from a towel, Jacob decides he wants a “real” dress. With support from his parents, he makes one of his own. Further teasing is met by Jacob’s expression of pride in his creation and refusal to compromise who he is. This colorful book promotes acceptance of gender nonconformance and can serve as an opener to discussions of the topic with young children.


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A Picture Book of Helen Keller

By David A. Adler, John Wallner, Alexandra Wallner

A Picture Book of Helen Keller

Why this book?

An accessible introduction to the remarkable story of Helen Keller. Left blind and deaf as toddler, her future looked dim. But a talented and sensitive teacher, Ann Sullivan, enabled Helen to communicate with the world in alternative ways. Colorful illustrations and child-friendly explanations present Helen’s remarkable journal to a young audience.


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Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family

By Carrie Lara, Christine Battuz

Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family

Why this book?

What would the world be like if flowers were all black and white? If everything looked the same in a colorless world? A mixed-race girl learns about all of the colors of the world and the colors within her family. The message that not everyone has the same skin color, even within a family, is presented in a warm and positive light.


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Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice

By Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, Jennifer Zivoin

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice

Why this book?

When tragic events happen our first impulse may be to gloss over it when talking to young children. Sometimes, however, what they really need is straight talk. When a police shooting of a Black man occurs in the community, two children (one Black and one White) struggle to understand what happened. This beautifully crafted picture book explores questions children might have in the aftermath of such an event and how the adults around them address questions of racial injustice.


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I See You

By Michael Genhart, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

I See You

Why this book?

Although this picture book has no words, its message of caring and compassion is clear and powerful. A small boy becomes aware of a homeless woman and simply, gently, acknowledges her. This innocent and kind book serves may serve as an opening to talk to children about homelessness. It also may help us all to remember not to ignore those less fortunate.


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