The best picture books about building self-esteem and self-love

The Books I Picked & Why

Spoon

By Amy Krause Rosenthal

Spoon

Why this book?

My girls and I loved reading this book when they were younger! The book is written in simple language and is not preachy. Spoon is feeling “bent out of shape” because he thinks his friend's fork, knife, and chopsticks have more fun than he does. Meanwhile, his friends are all feeling the same way about him. In the end, he comes to understand that he can celebrate and admire his friends while also being proud of himself and what makes him special. As a mom of three, I think this is an important concept for kids to begin to grapple with at a young age.


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Ish

By Peter H. Reynolds

Ish

Why this book?

For anyone who has kids who are perfectionists or are perfectionists themselves, this is a perfect book! It helps kids recognize that something does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially with art. But in my opinion, this message can apply beyond art and help parents talk with their kids about being beautiful just as they are. This was a popular one in my house and one that we still reference even now that the kids are older.


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Dandelion

By Don Freeman

Dandelion

Why this book?

I loved this book as a child and shared it with my own kids when they were little. It really hit home when my youngest daughter was a pre-schooler. Dandelion’s friends do not recognize him when he dresses up and has his hair done. When my daughter was in pre-school, I went to the hairdresser and she dried my curly hair, straight. When I went to pick up my daughter, she started crying and was quite distressed about my new look. I had to put on a hat in order to get her to stop. Reading Dandelion helped her get over that! I also, of course, love the message about not needing to change anything about yourself for your friends because they love you just as you are.


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Zero

By Kathryn Otoshi

Zero

Why this book?

This is a fabulous book about self-love and self-acceptance. Zero does not think she counts like all the other numbers. She sees herself as empty inside. Over the course of the book, we watch zero’s self-discovery and self-acceptance. It is beautifully written and an important book about not trying to change yourself in order to fit in. I wish I had this book when I was a kid.


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Perfectly Norman

By Tom Percival

Perfectly Norman

Why this book?

My favorite lines in this book are the last few lines. “He realized that there was no such thing as perfectly normal...But he was perfectly Norman. Which was just as it should be.” Norman is a perfectly normal little boy until he grows a pair of wings. Initially, he is afraid to take off his coat and share his new wings with his friends and family. But over the course of the book, Norman realizes that hiding his wings is making him unhappy. When he finally gets the courage to share his true self, he realizes there are lots of other kids just like him, who were also hiding themselves. His courage gave them the courage to be themselves as well. It is a great book for talking to your child about how something they may think makes them odd, may end up being just the thing that helps them relate to others and make new friends.


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