10 Books Every Young One Should Have On Their Shelf

Baby books that celebrate diversity, encourage empowerment and cover difficult to talk about subjects.

All Are Welcome

Written by Alexandra Penfold
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Enjoy a day at school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where no matter what you wear or where you come from, you can play side-by-side on the playground just the same as everyone else. We love this book as an introduction to pre-school or Kindergarten or before your child will start to socialize with children outside of your home. This book encourages learning from others and lets young people know that no matter what, they have a place and space at their school.

The Skin You Live In

Written by Michael Tyler
Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko

This book, as simple as it is, has big ideas inside. Written as a nursery rhyme, the story delivers messaging around social acceptance. Focusing on friendship, harmony, acceptance, diversity and self-esteem—this book has a handful of lessons that will have you returning to read this book again and again as your own child develops and ages. This book is far from being all tough-talk, though. The illustrations depict fun-loving hugging, catching butterflies and eating birthday cake.

A Color of His Own

Written by Lio Lionni

This book is a classic. Elephants are gray, pigs are pink, but this chameleon has no color of his own. Sticking on leaves as his main home, the chameleon is forced to remain the same color—at least until autumn when the leaf begins to change. The part we love most about this story, however, comes when the chameleon finds a companion and realizes that friendship is more important than being any unique or specific color in his skin. This is a beautiful book to teach children about accepting their own individuality.

It’s Okay to Be Different

Written by Todd Parri

It’s okay to be a different color, to dance by yourself, or to wear glasses! This powerful book breaks from the ‘wanting to be like everyone else’ norm and embraces everyone being different and unique in a bright, cheerful way. We love to use this book as a conversation starter with your child, both to teach them to be proud of their own differences and accept others for theirs.

On Our Street

Written by Jillian Roberts and Jaime Casap
Illustrated by Jane Heinrichs

A gentle introduction to a difficult to cover subject—poverty. This book explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Covering a broad range of topics from homelessness to mental illness, if you live in an urban area this is a good conversation to have with your children—either by an early age or when they start asking certain questions.

Little Legends Alphabet Book

Written by Beck Feiner

If you’re a fan of most of these books for the beautiful, simple illustrations—you’ll love this one. This book (along with others in a similar series) beautifully presents the A to Z of impactful people they should know about. From Martin Luther King to Stevie Wonder, inspiring your own little once is as easy as ABC.

We’re Different, We’re The Same

From Sesame Street, Written by Bobbi Jane Kates

No one says it better than Sesame Street. This book teaches that although we may all look different on the outside, we all have the same needs, wants and feelings on the inside. This is an engaging read for toddlers and adults alike, offering colorful, charming illustrations to ease through the topic of acceptance.


Written by Oge Mora

Through ups and downs, join a mother and daughter who are reminded about what’s really important—spending those precious Saturdays together. Follow along on their weekend routine where everything may and can go wrong. What we love most about this book—the illustrations! You’ll be flipping though this book for more than just the powerful family messaging, we promise.

Think Big, Little One and Dream Big, Little One

Written by Vashti Harrison

These two books empower and enlighten. Think Big, Little One features eighteen women creators, ranging from writers to scientists to teach them amazing things are possible. Dream Big, Little One is not much different in messaging, but focuses on bold women leaders in a world that didn’t always accept them. These books will empower your little girl or boy to dream big, think big and desire to become whatever they want to be!

The Day You Begin

Written by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

With so many reasons to feel different, this book focuses on taking those steps into the unknown, where people may not know you yet. We love this book for the messaging—when you begin to tell your story, others will happily meet you halfway with their own. This is another good read for pre-K or Kindergarten to teach your child to be confident in themselves when meeting new people.

If babies have ever needed a Summer reading list—this is it. All of these books are good for growing, too, meaning you can return to the story time and time again as your young one grows. We have purposely not included links suggesting purchases in this article in hopes that you choose to support a local store close to you!