The best picture books that inspire children to be happy with who they are

Dawn Doig Author Of Hair Peace
By Dawn Doig

Who am I?

I was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, but inherited ‘travelling DNA’ from my sailor father which has led to a life of work and travel around the globe. In addition to being an audiologist and teacher, I am also the author (and sometimes illustrator) of 15 children’s picture books. Many of my books have been inspired by the special children I have had the privilege to work with as both an audiologist and teacher. My books are on a variety of topics including childhood hearing loss, dysgraphia and writing challenges, bullying and forgiveness, learning English as an additional language, and positive self-image. Some of my books are written to evoke giggles and belly laughs. 

I wrote...

Hair Peace

By Dawn Doig, Savannah Horton (illustrator),

Book cover of Hair Peace

What is my book about?

Johanita is a young girl of African descent who does not like her hair. She has short, tight, kinky curls but wants hair like other girls at school because she believes it will make her more beautiful. When she goes to the mall with her mother one day, Johanita discovers a salon full of wigs. She proceeds to try on different wigs and wears one to school each day to match with her 'twin.' After a new girl starts school, Johanita discovers that beauty comes in many forms and it isn’t your hair that makes you beautiful. Hair Peace was inspired by the beautiful women and girls of Cameroon, Africa.  It is a book about positive self-image and perceptions of beauty.  

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Not-So-Great Zoo Swap Shop

By Cora Lydon,

Book cover of The Not-So-Great Zoo Swap Shop

Why this book?

A wonderful book that celebrates the beauty of diversity. Our world is full of people (and animals!) who do not look the same whether it be the colour of their skin, the shape of their eyes, or the length of their limbs. These people bring with them a vast range of talents, abilities, and creativity. How boring our world would be if everyone looked the same and could do all the same things! The illustrator did a fantastic job bringing this story to life and the author did a fabulous job with the rhyming text. A lovely book that is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who ventures to open the pages.

Eddie The World's Greatest Creature

By Kayleigh Mackie, Fx and Color Studio (illustrator),

Book cover of Eddie The World's Greatest Creature

Why this book?

A delightful rhyming book that starts off with a dog, Kenny, asking his master, “Eddie, if you could be any animal, what would you be?” Children will thoroughly enjoy following along as Eddie acquires the features of different animals and morphs into a very magnificent, but strange creature. The author has deliberately changed the colour of the font and text to highlight the features that have been adopted from different animals as well as some of the actions that go along with them. An interesting touch that is effective as it will draw a child’s attention to the words! The illustrations are vibrant and really help bring each animal and the ‘new’ creature to life.    

I Am Purpose

By Icia Ragsdale, Zsade Fleming (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Purpose

Why this book?

Cute story about a little seed named Purpose who wants to be a tree. I love the picture where he looks so tiny next to the flower and he is holding a leaf in each hand with a sprout coming out of his head. He is oblivious to the fact that what he longs for is already growing inside him. The author has done a wonderful job incorporating the special “talents” of nature to counsel Purpose about the true potential that dwells within him. A great story for children who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. This story would also be great for adults who doubt their abilities or question their potential. A source of inspiration for all ages

The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Never Give Up

By Argyro Graphy, M.H. Likhon (illustrator),

Book cover of The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Never Give Up

Why this book?

Beautiful story. I loved the ‘real’ letters from children around the world to little Julia. Children with any kind of ‘different ability’ need these kinds of stories to inspire and encourage them. A positive self-image goes a long way toward loving oneself. Children who are self-conscious because of how they look or because of a visible physical disability/challenge need to be reassured that there are things they can do and challenges they can overcome.  

Who are You?

By Joan and Roger Bradfield, Melanie Fitch (illustrator),

Book cover of Who are You?

Why this book?

An oldie but a goodie. This is a lovely book about every child being unique and interesting. It builds in that each child is special and only that child can live the life they are given – nobody else. It involves school, names, playing, food, as well as self-image. A great book for younger children with a fantastic message.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in coming out, hippos, and LGBTQ topics and characters?

5,716 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about coming out, hippos, and LGBTQ topics and characters.

Coming Out Explore 22 books about coming out
Hippos Explore 7 books about hippos
LGBTQ Topics And Characters Explore 99 books about LGBTQ topics and characters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Psycho-Cybernetics, The Gay Teen's Guide to Defeating a Siren, Book 1, and Gender Queer if you like this list.