The best self-acceptance books

12 authors have picked their favorite books about self-acceptance and why they recommend each book.

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Noodle & Lou

By Liz Garton Scanlon, Arthur Howard (illustrator),

Book cover of Noodle & Lou

I adore friendships stories that showcase buddies who have each other’s back and who are the cheerleaders in our life. Noodles and Lou, told in rollicking rhyme, is that kind of story. In the opening pages of the book, we understand Noodle is having an off-putting start to his day.

Some days don’t go well, right from the start

Noodle woke up with a rain-cloudy heart.

But before the story ends, Noodle is cheered up by his best buddy and sees his many wonderful strengths through his friend’s eyes.

Who am I?

I once spotted a mama black bear and her cubs on a camping trip in Manitoba, Canada. I kept a safe distance watching in awe as the cubs climbed trees. I’ve been fascinated with bears ever since. Most of the books I publish center around strong themes of family, friendship, making a difference in the world, and many have a bear as a secondary character. I think there’s always room for more bear stories in the world, don’t you?

I wrote...

Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

By Carmen Oliver, Jean Claude (illustrator),

Book cover of Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a book that showcased the fun and freedom of writing stories only you can tell. There’s nothing you can’t say when it comes from your heart. Because your voice is your voice—no two are the same. In this book, Adelaide and Bear love writing but Theo does not. Thankfully Adelaide and Bear are ready to team up and convince the entire class, including Mrs. Fitz-Pea, why bears make the best writing buddies? After all, who better to teach you how to fish and forage for new ideas than a bear? If you like this book check out the other books in the Bears Make the Best…series.

I Don't Want to Be a Frog

By Dev Petty, Mike Boldt (illustrator),

Book cover of I Don't Want to Be a Frog

I Don’t Want to be a Frog is a hilarious conversation between a young frog and his dad. When the young frog wants to be a cat, rabbit, pig, owl, or really anything but a frog, it’s up to his dad to stay calm and remind him why it’s so great being exactly who he is. I love that the dad is so matter-of-fact. That he never loses patience, and he never tells his son to just stop. True dad love is sometimes as simple as being there and answering questions. Oh, and the awesome ending will crack you up! Such a fun book.

Who am I?

As a picture book author and mom, I am constantly inspired by the world around me. I love watching my children, and I love how they adore their dad and he adores them in return. So many of my stories have been inspired by their interactions. While I am no expert on fatherhood, I have been fortunate to have had a loving dad who played “Monster in the Middle,” who took us for rides on his motorcycle, and reminded us that we could accomplish anything we put our mind to. I love books that remind us of the power of a loving father-child relationship and hope you, too, will be lifted by these joyful stories.

I wrote...

Help Wanted, Must Love Books

By Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson (illustrator),

Book cover of Help Wanted, Must Love Books

What is my book about?

Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team.

Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

A Monster Like Me

By Wendy S. Swore,

Book cover of A Monster Like Me

This is a story about a girl with a port-wine stain under her eye. Looking different, people treat her differently. The main character, Sophie, copes by carrying around a book called "The Big Book of Monsters" and identifying the monsters and humans around her. I found Sophie pretty knowledgeable on the subject of old legends! There were a few I hadn't heard of and had to look up myself. I also like her character development, and how she becomes more empathetic. Overall, it was entertaining and informative.

Who am I?

I remember being gifted a copy of a fairy tale book for children by someone my dad worked with as a kid. "Wow, these are really close to the originals," Mom murmured under her breath.
"Wait, there are originals?" That set off a chain reaction of a lifelong love of fairy tales, myths, legends, and folk stories. Writing The Tooth Fairy forced me to double-check my lifetime of accumulated knowledge. Plus, being trapped indoors with audiobooks during a global pandemic left me a lot more time to learn! In short: I simply love the old legends.

I wrote...

The Tooth Fairy

By Helen M. Pugsley,

Book cover of The Tooth Fairy

What is my book about?

When Covid-19 hits, 26-year-old dentist Marlene has to move back from Yuma, Arizona, to her parent's ranch in Olsen County, Wyoming. There she finds out she is a changeling -- A fairy switched with a human child. She learns there is a human girl in Fairyland wearing her face.
The two women become fast friends!

Until something much darker happens, Marlene must save her newfound sister, Krysathia, from the fae. While also trying to save herself from both the pandemic and poverty.

My Heart

By Corinna Luyken,

Book cover of My Heart

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.

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...

A Home Again

By Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Valeria Docampo (illustrator),

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.

I Really Want to Win

By Simon Philip, Lucia Gaggiotti (illustrator),

Book cover of I Really Want to Win

On School Sports Day, an exuberant girl is already planning her celebration because she knows she is going to win. When she loses several competitions to another girl, she is anything but gracious as she makes excuses and decides sports aren’t her thing. She wants trophies and ribbons so she competes in a spelling bee and dance contest and loses – to the same competitor! Our narrator is mad but when she sees her nemesis lose and happily congratulate the winner, she begins to understand that winning isn’t everything.

Filled with humor and whimsy, this is a book where children can easily identify good and bad sportsmanship as they come to realize that doing their best is what really matters. It also shows that everyone has special talents – they just need to practice to get better.

Who am I?

As a children’s librarian, teacher, and parent, I know that children have big feelings. I write heart-filled books that speak to the issues that they deal with while navigating new experiences. I was inspired to write Evie’s Field Day because of the frustrations most children deal with when they lose. I hope that my book will encourage children to enjoy the process of playing sports and games with others and the rewards of being a friend and a good sport.

I wrote...

Evie's Field Day: More Than One Way to Win

By Claire Annette Noland, Alicia Teba (illustrator),

Book cover of Evie's Field Day: More Than One Way to Win

What is my book about?

Evie loves to run, jump, hop, and win. So, when the school’s field day comes around, she plans to add to her growing collection of ribbons and trophies. Unfortunately, Evie struggles and loses each competition. She wants to be happy for her friends, but it is so hard to lose! Finally, Evie finds herself ahead of the pack but when faced with a choice she learns that there is more than one way to win.

Children will root for Evie as she learns to navigate the playground in this celebration of competition, teamwork, friendship, sportsmanship, and the challenge of losing. The backmatter includes suggestions for helping children learn to be good sports whether they win or lose.

Taran Wanderer

By Lloyd Alexander,

Book cover of Taran Wanderer: The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 4

Taran Wanderer is a story that could never be published today, but it’s the sort of Bildungsroman (coming-of-age) story that every person should read at some point in their lives. The 4th book in the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, Taran Wanderer is about Taran, an orphaned assistant pig keeper who sets out to learn who he is—and who finds in the end that he is not someone Chosen or Destined, but rather just, he himself. I first read this book as an adult and was blown away by its simple profundity. In a sea of YA magical “Chosen One” narratives, Taran Wanderer is a Bildungsroman that commends the virtues found in the ordinary. 

Who am I?

I am a multiple award-winning YA author with over a decade of experience in writing for adolescents, teaching creative writing, and writing critically about stories. Fantasy is my first love, and the way in which the young imagination is formed by stories is a particular passion of mine. I am the co-founder and CEO of Owl’s Nest Publishers, an up-and-coming independent publishing house exclusively catering to adolescent readers and the writers who want to publish for them. I have published ten fantasy and science fiction novels with my eleventh book releasing in spring 2022. I hope you enjoy my fantasy Bildungsroman picks! 

I wrote...

The Six: The Gateway Chronicles 1

By K.B. Hoyle,

Book cover of The Six: The Gateway Chronicles 1

What is my book about?

Darcy Pennington is an insufferably average teenager with no true friends and crushing social anxiety. When her parents drag her to Cedar Cove Family Camp the summer before her eighth-grade year, Darcy finds herself on the outside of an established social circle, as usual. But the camp holds secrets, and when Darcy begins to have strange experiences, she comes to believe she’s either losing her mind or on the brink of something life-changing.

An unwitting tumble through a magical gateway lands her in a new world called Alitheia, and Darcy must convince five other teenagers to not only befriend her but follow her on a journey beyond their world and their wildest dreams to save a world they know nothing about. 


By Wendy Xu,

Book cover of Tidesong

If, like me, you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away or Ponyo, then this graphic novel is for you. It not only tackles a story revolving around growing up with magic but it adds in many other things that many of us have struggled with such as family expectations, living up to your potential, and more. Of course, everything feels a little more exciting when magic is added to the mix, but those themes that exist in the real world ground this story and allow for a strong connection to Sophie, our young protagonist.

Who am I?

As a kid, I was obsessed with the fantastical, especially when it came to books. I was constantly trying to find my own door to Narnia to go off on an incredible adventure. While I never found a door that led to another world, I found that books offered me a similar experience…and all from the comfort of my fave places to read. Magic is still something I’m enthralled with and love exploring in books I read as well as the ones I write. And these are some of my favorite magical graphic novels.

I wrote...

Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

By Stephanie Cooke,

Book cover of Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

What is my book about?

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

You Are Enough

By Margaret O'Hair, Sofia Sanchez (illustrator),

Book cover of You Are Enough: A Book about Inclusion

You Are Enough is a powerful book celebrating diversity and inclusion. I literally had goosebumps the first time I read it. Every line is poster-worthy and each page is amazingly illustrated with kids from diverse backgrounds and abilities. Working together, the text paired with the illustrations reinforce the messages that “our differences are what make us special,” “we all belong,” and “you are just right exactly as you are.” 

Who am I?

As a former middle school language arts teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles some students face trying to be accepted and the heartbreak they experience when they are not. Every child deserves to be seen and appreciated for who they are and not be excluded or ostracized due to factors over which they have little control. I write and promote picture books about friendship, acceptance, and inclusion because everyone deserves to be included…always. 

I wrote...

What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

By Norene Paulson, Camila Carrossine (illustrator),

Book cover of What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

What is my book about?

Bea has alopecia―that means she doesn't have any hair. Most days being bald doesn’t bother Bea, but some days are super hard like Silly Hair Day at school. When Bea doesn’t know what to do, her best friend, Shaleah, is determined to help. With Silly Hair Day fast approaching, they're focused on finding a way for everyone to be included in the fun.

The Practice of Groundedness

By Brad Stulberg,

Book cover of The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds--Not Crushes--Your Soul

I found Brad Stulberg’s latest book when I was researching my book and immediately toned down my prose to meet the challenge of distilling practices nearly impossible to explain in simple terms anyone can understand. Sound impossible? Brad makes it look effortless. There’s just enough science balanced by personal experience and other anecdotes that what could have been a PhD dissertation (was it?) reads with ease. The power and simplicity make it elegant and ever so useful.

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

I wrote...

How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

What is my book about?

Why bother with meditation? You’ll find freedom using the mind-body connection as you transform any movement into a powerful mindful meditation practice. What is meditation? Silent retreats? Yoga? Tai Chi? What if you could meditate during fitness or daily activities such as lifting weights, dancing with your love, or walking across a room? What if you could make every move a meditation?

In Make Every Move a Meditation, award-winning author, meditation leader, and mental health advocate Nita Sweeney offers centuries-old techniques to help readers connect with the present moment, bringing mindfulness into any activity. Studies show both exercise and meditation reduce anxiety, stabilize blood pressure, improve mood and cognition, and lead to a deeper self-relationship and wisdom. Movement is medicine, and meditation is medicine. Let’s combine the two.

The Body Is Not an Apology

By Sonya Renee Taylor,

Book cover of The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

I met Sonya Renee Taylor in 2017 at a training organized by my nonprofit, The Body Positive. We hugged when we met, and it was one of the warmest hugs I’ve ever received. During Sonya’s keynote address, I was mesmerized by her wisdom and by the incredibly poetic way she shared her ideas about why and how to love our bodies. Her book was published the following year, and it is just as powerful as she is in person. The Body Positive has been teaching people to think about self-love as a radical act since the 1990s, so it’s good to hear a powerful, radical, and poetic voice take up the charge. If you’re needing a boost of self-love and body-love, this book is for you.

Who am I?

I’ve been a free spirit since I was born, but as an adolescent I got trapped by diet culture and believed I needed to change my body. I struggled for six years with an eating disorder and my sister Stephanie died at age 36 from faulty breast implants and malnutrition. Because of these experiences, and wanting my baby daughter to grow up staying lovingly connected to her body (she has!), I created The Body Positive, a nonprofit that has freed millions of people to love and respect their precious bodies. I’m now a full-fledged Wild Woman teaching and freeing other aging women to connect to their soul’s innate wisdom.

I wrote...

Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

By Connie Sobczak,

Book cover of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

What is my book about?

Embody lovingly reconnects readers to their precious bodies, life force, and authentic beauty. The book’s message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to create positive self-care behaviors and live peacefully in their bodies. It emphasizes self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care as fundamental to achieving physical and emotional health.

Rather than receiving a prescriptive set of rules to follow, readers are guided through patient, mindful inquiry to find what works for their unique lives to bring aboutand sustaina joyful relationship with their bodies and freedom in their lives. It’s a book that can be read cover to cover, or digested in small, delicious bites.

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