6 Books Celebrating Differences and Kindness

books celebrating differences

By Anjum Nayyar with files from KitaabWorld.com

According to some bullying statistics in Canada bullying occurs once every 7 minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom. However, in the majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support the bullying behaviour. Part of the dialogue needs to be why bullying happens in the first place…and this can be related to the messages kids may receive about what it means to be different. And that being different is ‘bad’. Whether that’s through the current political climate, or what kids see on the playground, we all play a role in putting a stop to bullying.

Here’s what you should know:

  • Punching, shoving, teasing, spreading bad rumours, keeping certain people out of a group, getting certain people to “gang-up” on others are all forms of bullying
  • One in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying
  • 25% of children in grades 4 to 6 have been bullied
  • Adults who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer from depression in adulthood.
  • * Between 10% and 15% of high school students are victims.
  • * 11% of secondary students bully other youngsters at least once a year.
  • * 31% of students say they would participate in the bullying of a young dislikes.

Growing up with diversity as the norm has often been part of our conversations. Research shows that being in diverse communities promotes better critical thinking among other benefits.  So celebrating differences and sharing our similarities is a great way to encourage positive conversations.

Here is a curated list of books that explore the idea of of “Celebrating Differences and kindness”:

The Sandwich Swap

the_sandwich_swap_largeIn this story, two best friends struggle over the differences in their favourite food. Will they be able to overcome their differences over a sandwich? Peanut butter or a Hummus sandwich, which one would you choose?


They All Saw a Cat



Does everyone react to the same situation in the same way? Would a mouse react the same way when it sees a cat as a dog would? Obviously not! This is another great concept to teach to the little ones to understand that we all view situations and people from our own perspective. Nothing like a cat’s eye view of the many ways of seeing!

Another essential read, especially for schools and preschools. This book showcases the daily life of children from all over the world – their different shapes, sizes, abilities and cultures!
A full 15 pages of educational endnotes explain the detailed illustrations, encouraging meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion. Older children will be empowered to explore these important issues on their own. An essential addition to every home or classroom library!


its_ok_to_be_different_largeIt’s okay to need some help.
It’s okay to be a different color.
It’s okay to talk about your feelings.

It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colours and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence.

It’s Okay to be Different is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, and promote character growth.

Age: 3 and up

The Dugong and the Barracudas

The Dugong and the BarracudasOne of India’s most popular young adult writers, Ranjit Lal is back—this time with the moving tale of Sushmita and the bullies who try to take her down. When Sushmita shows up for her first day at Rugged Rocks High with a sweet round face and innocent eyes, the principal is worried. “Putting that lovely child amongst our kids?”she exclaims, “it’s like putting a dugong into a tank of barracudas!”And she’s right to worry, because Sushmita is just a bit slower than her classmates. But we quickly see that Sushmita has special ways to fight back against bullies and soon she’s changed all of her classmates’lives for the better.

In Dugong and the Barracudas, Lal tackles questions of prejudice, bullying, and special needs with his signature blend of humor and insight, challenging young readers to step out of their own skins and see the world through someone else’s eyes.

The Garden of My Imaan

The Garden of My ImaanGrowing up Muslim in the Northeast, Aliya encounters racism on the streets and in her fifth-grade class, even though her family members are not strictly observant Muslims, she does not wear the hijab, and she doesn’t even speak Arabic. She hates it that she is supposed to help a new student, Marwa, who does wear the hijab. Her big interest is in Josh, but he likes her classmate Juliana, and Aliya loses to Juliana in the election for class rep.
Aliya’s diary-like entries to Allah about her conflicts are sometimes contrived, but her wry first-person narrative perfectly captures her middle-school struggles with friends and enemies, as well as her family and her faith, as she changes her perspective, stands up to a bully, and wonders if she should wear the hijab after all. True to Aliya’s contemporary viewpoint, which is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, the messages are never heavy. Grades 4-8

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