Have you ever felt different? Like you didn’t fit in? I have! I think most people have felt different at some point. Different isn’t a bad thing. But sometimes being different is hard.
Sometimes people are mean to you if you’re different. Sometimes they say being different is bad. They might say things to make you wish you were like everyone else. You might feel ashamed or afraid of being different.
You should never feel ashamed of being different. Pride is the opposite of shame: you feel good about who you are and what makes you different -- and special. I hope that one day, everyone can feel pride about who they are, and no one has to live in fear.
Here are some books for children about people who might be different from you. You should talk about your thoughts and feelings with a parent or trusted adult.
This post is a special children’s installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.
Children from different kinds of families show the original meanings of the colors in the rainbow flag. Then they come together at a parade to share in a day when we are all united.
Once upon a time, there was a prince in line to take the throne. His parents set out to find him a kind and worthy bride. While they were away, a terrible dragon threatened their land! The prince hurried to save his kingdom and was met by a brave knight in a suit of brightly shining armor. Together they fought the dragon and discovered that special something the prince was looking for all along.
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. When he gets home, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Abuela think?
Nobody seems to understand that Hannah is not a girl. His parents ask why he won't wear the cute outfits they pick out, his friend thinks he must be a tomboy, and his teacher insists he should be proud to be a girl. But a birthday wish, a new word, and a stroke of courage might be just what Hannah needs to finally show the world who he really is.
Two mommies spend a sunny day with their toddler: on a bike ride, at the zoo, and finally back home. All along the way, there are “plenty of hugs for you and me.”
On January 27th the American Library Association announced the 2020 Newbery winner and Newbery Honor winners. NEW KID written by Jerry Craft is the 2020 Newbery Medal winner and the four Newbery Honor winners are: THE UNDEFEATED written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Newlson; SCARY STORIES FOR YOUNG FOXES written by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu; OTHER WORDS FOR HOME written by Jasmine Warga; GENESIS BEGINS AGAIN written by Alicia D. Williams.
The John Newbery Award is given each year to the book that is considered the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature for the year. Growing up my parents read many Newbery books to me but I didn’t understand what a Newbery book really was. Now I’m grateful for the great literary exposure I had as a child. Here are some of my favorite Newbery award winning books.
Kit Tyler is an orphan who leaves her home in beautiful Barbados to come to America to live with her stern Puritan aunt and uncle. Kit doesn’t fit in and the only place where she feels completely free, is the meadow where she enjoys the company of a Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond. When people learn of Kit’s friendship, she herself is accused of being a witch.
Mrs. Frisby is a mouse with four small children. One summer she must move her family to their summer home or face a certain death, but her youngest son Timothy is sick with pneumonia and can not be moved. When she meets the rats of NIMH, they come up with a solution to her dilemma.
Mary Alice is 15 and is being sent from the bustling city of Chicago to the country of Illinois to live with her crazy, larger than life, grandmother. She isn’t looking forward to spending a year in this tiny town but the year passes quickly and thanks to Grandma Dowdel, it is pretty uneventful.
The first time I read this story I was in 5th grade and I remember feeling so angry at the way Cassie and her family were being treated. This is the story of a black family living during the depression in Mississippi. They are faced with prejudice, discrimination, and lack of justice for black people at this time in our country. This was a very eye-opening book for me about what discrimination was really like.
This is a rich novel that tells the story of a young boy named Jeff Bussey who sees the civil war from both sides and lives to tell his story. It is a story about a part of the civil war that you don’t hear much about, the western campaign, and the issues and problems faced as men on both sides fought and died.
Each year the people of the Protectorate leave a baby deep in the forest as a sacrificial offering to the “witch” to keep her from terrorizing the village. The witch, Xan, rescues the abandoned babies and takes them to another village where she gives them to good families. While Xan and the baby are traveling to the village she feeds the babies starlight. One year, Xan accidentally feeds one of the babies too much starlight and fills the child with extraordinary magic so she decides to keep this baby, Luna, and raises her as her own.
Have you ever felt different?
I certainly have. I’m going out a limb here to say that I think most of us, if not all of us, have felt different at some point in our lives. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They say that variety is the spice of life, and I firmly believe that can be true.
But sometimes being different is hard.
Imagine your difference from the norm resulted in insults and mean, unkind language. The society you live in teaches that your differences from everyone else are bad: shameful, unnatural, even disgusting. People will ask you to hide who you are so they don’t feel uncomfortable. Even if your family accepts you with your differences, there will almost certainly be relatives who don’t. You hear horrifying stories of people like you who have been physically attacked or even killed because of who they are.
How would you react? You might try to hide your differences, or wish them away. Your life could quite easily be filled with shame and fear.
There are countless LGBTQIA+ people who could tell their life story. While they are certainly not all the same, they do share a legacy of shame because of who we are. But many of us have learned pride and hope in the face of strife, and we have found a community that loves and accepts us.
Hearing those stories enriches all of us -- whether we are LGBTQIA+ or not -- on our journey to finding who we are and embracing the rich diversity of our world.
I long for the day where no one has to live in shame and fear and embarrassment like so many of us have. There is hope up ahead for all of us.
This post is the second installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-'60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage
Nandan's got a plan to make his junior year perfect, but hooking up with his friend Dave isn't part of it: especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Nandan's willing to give a relationship with him a shot. But the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. Is breaking up with Dave -- the only person who's ever really gotten him -- worth feeling 'normal' again?
Alice has given up on finding love until love finds her. Her last girlfriend, Margo, ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual. Now Alice is sure she's done with dating… until she meets Takumi. She can't stop thinking about him or the romantic feelings she did not ask for. When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, Alice has to decide if she's willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated -- or even understood.
High school senior Tanner Scott has hidden his bisexuality since his family moved to Utah, but he falls hard for Sebastian, a Mormon mentoring students in a writing seminar Tanner's best friend convinced him to take.
After coming out as transgender, Chris is still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia, grieving the loss of her older sister, is trying to find her place in the world. Falling in love the furthest thing on their minds. But what if it happened anyway?
I’ve never met a Hannah that I didn’t like. Maybe I’m biased, but I think all Hannahs are pretty swell people. It doesn’t hurt that the name is beautiful. It’s just a fact that the name Hannah is one of the best names out there. Don’t believe me?
Well, then here is a list of a few wonderful Hannahs with a reason why they are great:
When Hannah wakes up in the middle of the night, her sister and parents are still fast asleep. Hannah and her cat decide to entertain themselves. They explore the house without anyone to tell them no. This book’s beautiful and unique illustrations compliment the elementary language while honoring the author/illustrator’s Japanese culture.
Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a toddler that doesn’t wake her parents up in the middle of the night and is potty trained. Can you say miracle?
It’s the first day of first grade, and Hannah is ready. She has her sparkly pens, her butterfly net, and her best friend, Sunny. But what happens when Hannah is forced to sit across the room from Sunny? Will she be able to make new friends? Or will it be too hard?
Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a great listener and has a butterfly net.
A BUTTERFLY NET.
Hannah Duck is pretty happy and relaxed. Except on Sundays. On Sundays, Hannah goes for a walk. This doesn’t sound so bad, except for one thing: Walks terrify Hannah. Luckily, she has good friends to help her overcome her anxiety.
Why this Hannah is awesome: She tells her friends about her feelings.
Hannah sees her friend’s dog, Sugar, after school every day. This sounds pretty great, until you find out one problem: Hannah is afraid of dogs. Then one day Sugar goes missing. Will Hannah help find Sugar?
Why this Hannah is awesome: She faces her fears.
This book, told in rhyme, follows Hannah and her lunch order. She asks for enough things on her sandwich to cover the alphabet. Her request is enough to make McDougal, the chef, sweat. This is a great read for those who want a little laugh while learning the alphabet.
Why this Hannah is awesome: She’s a ginger, is a master rhymer, AND. SHE. CAN. EAT.
Who are some of your favorite Hannahs in literature?