8 Children's Books To Nurture Inclusion

emotional intelligence  positive parenting 

By Ashley Patek

8 Children's Books To Nurture Inclusion

We are all humans. That is a complete sentence. No buts or conditions. 

We just are. 

We are love. 

Each and every one of us. 

While June is a month to honor and celebrate those in the LGBTQ+ community, inclusion is not a one-time or one-month conversation. It is an everyday lived experience. There are so many ways to love and to be loved. And so many ways to be a family. 

Teaching tolerance isn’t enough. Tolerance merely sets those who are different than us “over there” and allows us to ignore their emotional, social, and legal struggles. When we accept, we begin to acknowledge those with varying genders, races, preferences, and abilities. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the finish line. 

To truly understand takes dedication. Understanding marginalized groups allows us to empathize and invest in their history and yields positive attitudes, curiosity, awareness, and respect. When we understand, we know. It is then that we can actively celebrate all humans.  

8 Children's Books To Nurture Inclusion

Here are 8 children’s books to start (or continue) the conversations in your home … not just today or this month, but small moments woven into everyday life. 

1. Harriet Gets Carried Away

Harriet Gets Carried Away

Harriet loves costumes. She wears them to the dentist, to the supermarket, and most importantly, to her super-special dress-up birthday party. Her dads have decorated everything for the party and Harriet has her most favorite costume all picked out for the big day. There’s just one thing missing - party hats! But when Harriet dons her special penguin errand-running costume and sets out to find the perfect ones, she finds something else instead - real penguins! Harriet gets carried away with the flock. She may look like a penguin, but she’s not so sure she belongs in the arctic. Can Harriet manage her way back to her dads (and the party hats!) in time for her special day?

2. Julián Is a Mermaid

Julián Is a Mermaid

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes - and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

3. Love, Z

Love, Z

When a small robot named Z discovers a message in a bottle signed “Love, Beatrice,” they decide to find out what “love” means. Unable to get an answer from the other robots, they leave to embark on an adventure that will lead them to Beatrice - and back home again, where love was hiding all along.

4. Mommy, Mama And Me

Mommy, Mama, And Me

Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there's no limit to what a loving family can do together. Share the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children in this heartwarming story of family.

5. Pride, The Story Of Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag

Pride, The Story Of Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag

In this deeply moving and empowering true story, young readers will trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today's world. Award-winning author Rob Sanders's stirring text, and acclaimed illustrator Steven Salerno's evocative images, combine to tell this remarkable - and under-told - story. A story of love, hope, equality, and pride.

6. The Different Dragon

The Different Dragon

This bedtime story about bedtime stories shows how a lively, curious boy helps one of his moms create a magical tale. Together they weave a nighttime adventure that lands young Noah and his singing cat Diva deep in dragon territory. Join them as they make an unexpected discovery and help a new friend find his way.

7. Who’s In My Family

Who's In My Family

Join Nellie and Gus and their family - plus all manner of other families - for a day at the zoo, where they see animal families galore! To top off their day, Nellie and Gus invite friends and relatives for a fun dinner at home. Accessible, humorous, and full of charming illustrations depicting families of many configurations, this engaging story interweaves conversations between the siblings and a matter-of-fact text, making it clear to every child that whoever makes up your family, it is perfectly normal - and totally wonderful.

8. Zak’s Safari

Zak's Safari

Zak’s Safari is a book about donor-conceived kids of two-mom families. When the rain spoils Zak’s plan for a safari adventure, he invites the reader on a very special tour of his family instead. Zak shows us how his parents met, fell in love, and wanted more than anything to have a baby—so they decided to make one. In the first half of the book, Zak teaches us about his biological origins. The second half of the book celebrates family. Gorgeous illustrations depict Zak and his two moms living the adventure of everyday life: eating meals together, playing at the beach, going for nature hikes, and hanging out with friends and family. Zak’s Safari aims to provide a starting place for many future conversations with your kids about their conception story and donor.

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