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

Kinderling News & Features

There have been a lot of significant 'days' recently.

Tomorrow is Harmony Day, a day to celebrate our beautiful, diverse nation. 

Last week on March 15 was the International Day Against Bullying and Violence - a day that draws awareness to two behaviours that come about when humans don't learn to live in harmony with others and appreciate their differences. The sad irony is not lost on us that it was on this same day, March 15, that an awful massacre of Muslims took place in Christchurch.

Then we have today. 

Today is the International Day of Happiness AND World Storytelling Day.

These two 'days' may seem unrelated to the top two, but here at Kinderling we strongly believe that the stories we share make a BIG impact. They teach acceptance, kindness and tolerance to our kids, and start to build a better world - with less violence and bullying - from our kids up.

Every day is an opportunity to teach our children about love and respect, to be curious about people who are different to us, instead of being afraid. Thankfully, there are some amazing authors and illustrators who celebrate diversity in the stories they tell and they way they live.

So, to mark the happiness of World Storytelling Day, here are some of our favourite books that teach kids to be kind, to stand up for good, and to be proud of who they are.

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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

5) 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.

Listen to it here.

6) 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.

7) 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.

You might also like to listen to Shevonne Hunt's interview with Ann Stott on Feed Play Love, where she talks about how the story came about:

8) 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.

9) 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!