The best picture books on diversity and feelings

Who am I?

I am a lyrical writer and have a passion for quiet, thoughtful books. I wrote A Home Again when I became an empty nester. When my husband and I were discussing downsizing our home, I was surprised by the reactions of my grown children. They absolutely did not want us to sell their family home. That led me to think about how our house would feel if we left. A new book was born. My friends, a gay couple, had just bought a new home and I thought it would be wonderful to make the second family in the story two dads. We need to show children there is a diverse array of families in the world—but what connects them all is love.


I wrote...

Book cover of A Home Again

What is my book about?

Home is where the heart is. While that phrase usually speaks to human feelings, in this lovely picture book, the sentiment takes on new meaning as a house reveals its own heart to the reader. By turns, the house feels joy, tenderness, and sorrow as its first family moves in, grows, and moves away. But the heart is a funny thing, and hope—and eventually love—prevail as a brand-new family arrives.

The house experiences a gamut of emotions, and I love the way the text and art gently evoke these and that a couple of different types of families are represented—one with a mother and father and their children and one with two dads and their daughter. I hope you enjoy this tale of a home’s heart.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Big Umbrella

Colleen Rowan Kosinski Why did I love this book?

This book deals with inclusivity in a heartfelt way. I love how this book uses simple language to get across a big message. The story shows how there is always room for everyone under the big umbrella. In other words, you can think of your heart as a big umbrella that can find room for everyone—no matter how different they might be from you. The story is highlighted with loose, watercolor illustrations that complement the feel of the book. It’s hard to give character to an inanimate object, but the artist is very successful in this book, using a simple expression on the umbrella when it is opened.

By Amy June Bates, Juniper Bates,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Big Umbrella as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

“A subtle, deceptively simple book about inclusion, hospitality, and welcoming the ‘other.’” —Kirkus Reviews

“A boundlessly inclusive spirit...This open-ended picture book creates a natural springboard for discussion.” —Booklist

“This sweet extended metaphor uses an umbrella to demonstrate how kindness and inclusion work...A lovely addition to any library collection, for classroom use or for sharing at home.” —School Library Journal

In the tradition of Alison McGhee’s Someday, beloved illustrator Amy June Bates makes her authorial debut alongside her eleven-year-old daughter with this timely and timeless picture book about acceptance.

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is…


Book cover of Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship

Colleen Rowan Kosinski Why did I love this book?

Errol and Thomas (his teddy bear), are best friends. But Errol starts noticing that Thomas doesn’t seem to enjoy all the things they do together and seems to be sad. Eventually, Thomas admits to Errol that they had always felt like a girl bear and would like to be called Tilly. Errol doesn’t care about the bear’s gender—just that they are best friends. It’s a lovely story about unconditional love and acceptance.

By Jessica Walton, Dougal MacPherson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Introducing Teddy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Errol and his teddy, Thomas, are best friends who do everything together. Whether it's riding a bike, playing in the tree house, having a tea party or all of the above, every day holds something fun to do together. One sunny day, Errol finds that Thomas the Teddy is sad, and Errol can't figure out why. Then Thomas the Teddy finally tells Errol what Teddy has been afraid to say: 'In my heart, I've always known that I'm a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly.' And Errol says, 'I don't care if you're a…


Book cover of The Scarecrow

Colleen Rowan Kosinski Why did I love this book?

The Scarecrow is an emotional story about the unlikely friendship between a scarecrow and a baby crow. The story explores loneliness and the value of friendship. The writing in this story is gorgeous and the illustrations are simply beautiful. This, like all of my other picks, is evergreen and a treat for children and adults alike.

By Beth Ferry, Eric Fan (illustrator), Terry Fan (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Scarecrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A Junior Library Guild Selection | An Indie Next List Pick | An Amazon Best 3-5 Books of 2019 Selection

“An emotionally impactful exploration of love and loneliness, this is an essential addition to any picture book collection.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

Bestselling author Beth Ferry (Stick and Stone) and the widely acclaimed Fan Brothers (The Night Gardener) present a gorgeous and poignant picture book about two unexpected friends and the special connection they share.

This tender and affectionate story reminds us of the comforting power of friendship and the joy of helping others—a tale that will inspire and…


Book cover of And Tango Makes Three

Colleen Rowan Kosinski Why did I love this book?

And Tango Makes Three is an excellent example of acceptance. It’s the tale of two male penguins who fall in love and build themselves a home. But they yearn for a chick of their own. An astute zookeeper notices and puts an orphaned egg in their nest. The two raise their baby and are a happy family. Like in my book, A Home Again, the fact that this family consists of two dads and a baby is not an issue. It’s all about love.

By Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Henry Cole (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked And Tango Makes Three as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

One of the six political books for kids you should definitely read according to Zoe Williams in the Guardian, November 2018!

Roy and Silo are just like the other penguin couples at the zoo - they bow to each other, walk together and swim together. But Roy and Silo are a little bit different - they're both boys.

Then, one day, when Mr Gramzay the zookeeper finds them trying to hatch a stone, he realises that it may be time for Roy and Silo to become parents for real.


Book cover of My Heart

Colleen Rowan Kosinski Why did I love this book?

This book describes feelings in such a beautiful and lyrical way. It covers everything from happiness to sadness and is an excellent conversation starter. Using only a few colors, the accompanying illustrations are simple and impactful.
Sometimes, emotions such as depression can be a hard concept to talk about with children. The soft illustrations and metaphors in this book will resonate with young readers.

By Corinna Luyken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed...or opened up wide.

Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you.

With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.


You might also like...

Book cover of Sweet Dreams, Boone

Susan Grant Author Of The Bottle House

New book alert!

Who am I?

I am a Bible college graduate whose faith has always been a practical matter. Because I learned to find the “so what” of the Bible, when I became a teacher of the Bible in the public schools of Rowan County, North Carolina, my elective courses had waiting lists for students to get in to. As I now teach in Maine, I found I could continue to share a practical Christian faith through my writing. The books I have listed here do the very thing that I seek in my own writing.

Susan's book list on authentically illustrating genuine Christian faith

What is my book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work.

To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.

Sweet Dreams, Boone

By Susan Grant, Kelly Artieri (illustrator),

What is this book about?

Boone is a sad and lonely little dog. He doesn’t like to be left alone when Mom goes to work. To help him feel better, Mom buys him a special basket for his bed. When he sleeps, he dreams of a long-ago time and meets a man who is sad and lonely too, until he meets Jesus.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gender studies, prejudices, and self-acceptance?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about gender studies, prejudices, and self-acceptance.

Gender Studies Explore 12 books about gender studies
Prejudices Explore 28 books about prejudices
Self-Acceptance Explore 50 books about self-acceptance