10 books that help little kids act kindly in a big, diverse world

Kinderling News & Features

No two people are the same - and that's a wonderful thing. However, when you're a small kid who is just coming to understand the world around them, things that seem "foreign" to their small pocket of knowledge can seem like things to avoid. That is, unless they are taught to embrace and value other people's differences - and the younger this starts, the better.

Here at Kinderling we strongly believe that the stories we share make a BIG impact. They can teach acceptance, kindness and tolerance to our kids, and start to build a better world - with less violence and bullying - from our kids up.

This week is NAIDOC Week - a great opportunity for Australians to come together and share the rich indigenous culture that has formed our land. To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our favourite books that teach kids to be kind, to be proud of who they are, and to accept that every person is unique in their own wonderful way.

1) Colouroos by Anna McGregor

This week's Story of the Week is a simple book with a big message. It tells the story of three groups of kangaroos - one red group, one blue group, one yellow group. They all converge on the same watering hole, and at first each group doesn't quite know what to make of the others. That is until they realise that the only thing different about them is the colour of their outsides.

2) Wide Big World by Maxine Beneba-Clarke, illustrated by Isobel Knowles

“Difference is everywhere, just look and see. This whole-wide-big-world is wondrous-unique.”

This is a beautiful story about celebrating the diversity of our world – both humans and nature - written by award-winning author and poet Maxine Beneba-Clarke, with vibrant illustrations by Isobel Knowles.

Listen to it here.

3) I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox, illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh

This book is a celebration of the wonderful, culturally diverse families that make up this country, from Australia’s First Nations peoples, to those who have settled here from afar and now call Australia home.

There are stories of people who travelled from countries like Ireland, Italy, Greece and England seeking a better life; and there are also stories of people fleeing war or persecution from countries like Lebanon, Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria.

Listen to it here.

4) All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys

Some kids get bullied because they’re slow to start reading or aren’t great at maths.

When our school curriculum emphasises the mastery of particular subjects it’s easy to forget that there are many different ways to be smart.

Some kids are great at building things or drawing. Some kids are good at communicating or empathising with others, while some kids are legends at ball sports or playing music. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and this book is a lovely reminder for all of us – both kids and adults. 

Listen to it here.

5) Harold and Grace by Sean E. Avery

Harold and Grace are a tadpole and a caterpillar who get teased for being different. They become friends, grow apart, and become closer once again. This is a sweet story, written and illustrated by Sean E. Avery about the ebbs and flows of friendship, metamorphosis, bullying and the special connections we cherish.

Listen to it here

6) No Difference Between Us by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Amanda Gulliver

Jess is a girl and Ben is a boy. They're twins who like to do different things like play guitar and soccer, climb trees and play in the sandpit. They may have different dreams, but they feel the same emotions.

Written by primary school teacher, editor, publisher, author and mum of three, Jayneen Sanders, and illustrated by Amanda Gulliver, this story is a fun way to teach kids about gender equality, acceptance and respectful relationships.

Read more here.

7) Macca the Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove

Macca is a smart, friendly alpaca who LOVES cuddles! Macca's days are fun and carefree - that is, until he meets Harmer the llama, who, let's be honest, is a bit of a bully. Will Harmer learn his lesson? Find out in this book written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove.

Listen to it here.

8) Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham

This is a sweet story about the friendship between two boys who play together in the sandpit every day. Written by children's book designer and author, Ann Stott, it shows kids simply being kids and playing with the toys they like - just how it should be. 

Listen to it here.

9) The Playground is Like a Jungle by Shona Innes, illustrated by Irisz Agocs

This book helps kids understand that there are lots of different personalities in the playground, and things can get wild and adventurous. It’s a place where we learn to get along with other kids and how to be ourselves. It's written by clinical and forensic psychologist Shona Innes and teaches kids some very important lessons.

10) It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr

Often kids ask loud questions in public when they see people who look different to themselves. This book is a go-to for parents to help kids understand and embrace the diversity of people in our world. It's written and illustrated by Todd Parr, known for his bold, colourful characters and style.

Got a book that belongs on this list? Drop us a message on Facebook to let us know!