Picture Books about Inclusion and Tolerance
These picture books about inclusion and tolerance support your students in responding to discrimination and standing up for what's right. They show different types of discrimination and the consequences of words and actions.
Why Read Picture Books about Inclusion and Tolerance?
Picture books are a great way to teach your students about tolerance and inclusion. Unfortunately, discrimination is all around and children are exposed to it, whether it is aimed at them or not. These are some (but not limited to) of the discriminatory actions children and those around them may be exposed to:
- Gender bias
- Economic inequality
- White privilege
- Social inequality
Through picture books, you can show these types of discrimination and the consequences of words and actions. The books will promote an attitude of appreciating differences and fostering an understanding of those differences.
Reading stories with characters who stand up against intolerance helps your students be open-minded and have integrity. This could involve standing up for people unfairly treated or not following the crowd in negative behaviour.
Questions to Use with Books about Inclusion and Tolerance
- What does tolerance and inclusion mean to you?
- What is prejudice?
- How do you show tolerance?
- Why do you think some people are prejudiced?
- How do you feel when someone is prejudiced towards you? Why?
- How did [character] show more tolerance as the story went on?
- Describe how [character] showed tolerance or prejudice?
- Why did [character] need to show tolerance towards [character]?
- Why did [character] and [character] show tolerance in different ways?
- How did [character’s] prejudice impact those around them?
- How did [character’s] tolerance impact those around them?
- How did [character’s] tolerance impact their community?
- Why do you think [character] was more tolerant than [character]?
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Picture Books about Inclusion and Tolerance
These books present a powerful starting point for discussions about prejudice and intolerance. You will see characters and real-life people who:
- Do not judge people on their physical appearance
- Stand up for what is right
- Get to know people for who they are
- Work towards understanding the perspective of others
- Listen without jumping to conclusions
- Understand that it is okay to agree to disagree
You will, of course, see people acting in the exact opposite way, causing characters’ pain and suffering.
Alan Turing by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Grace's love of reading and role-play motivates her to audition for the role of Peter Pan in the school play. The other children tell her she can't play a boys part. Her mama and Nana tell her she can be anything she wants, helping her find the confidence to audition and win the role of Peter Pan.
I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent her life standing against injustice, inequality and unfair treatment. This biography promotes standing up for what is right, women’s rights, and equality.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
The first of two books about inclusion and tolerance by Jacqueline Woodson. Chloe and her friends have been excluding the new girl Maya. When her teacher does a lesson on kindness Chloe reflects on her behaviour and regrets “each kindness I had never shown.”
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
Joe and John are best friends. Before 1964, John, who is black, may not use the pool. The Civil Rights Act allows John to legally use all public places, but the local pool closes rather than allow black people to use it. Joe is dismayed and cannot understand why Joe doesn’t have the same rights as himself.
Henry and the Kite Dragon by Bruce Edward Hall
Children from Chinatown and Little Italy don't mix on the playground. Henry loves flying homemade kites in the park but the kids from Little Italy destroy it by throwing stones. When the two groups finally come face to face they find out they have more in common than they realise.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor
Kindness Grows by Britta Teckentrup
Kindness Grows illustrates the consequences of our actions, positive and negative. Using a visual representation of a tree, one side of the page shows it flourishing through kindness. The other side shows how negative behaviour creates unhappiness and separations. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through an act of kindness.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
A grumpy CJ and his nana ride a city bus full of wonderful characters. He wonders aloud why he doesn’t have the things his friends do and why they have to volunteer at the soup kitchen every week. His nana’s straightforward and positive responses help CJ see and appreciate what he has and what he can give.
Love Is Powerful by Dean Brewer
Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
My Hair by Hannah Lee
A young, black girl is excited about an upcoming celebration. She thinks of her family and friends as inspiration as she decides how to style her hair. Should she choose dreadlocks, Bantu knots, high top fade, braids, twist out, cornrows or short and cropped? She goes her own way and wears her natural hair as an afro.
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
When Bilal moves he worries about being teased for being Muslim. He thinks about telling his new classmates he is called Bill and not telling them about his religion. A Muslim teacher helps Bilal and his sister settle in by giving them a book about Bilal Ibn Rabah, another Bilal who struggled with his identity.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
The second of two books about inclusion and tolerance by Jacqueline Woodson. This book addresses race relations with two young girls, one black and one white. A fence segregates their homes, but they slowly get to know each other by sitting on this barrier.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
On the first day of school sisters, Asiya and Faizah walk in hand in hand. Asiya is wearing a hijab for the first time, which represents being strong. Faizah admires her sister's beautiful blue scarf but hears other children making fun of her. The sisters follow their mother’s advice about being strong and true to themselves in the face of bullying.
A Scarf for Keiko by Ann Malaspina
Keiko’s classmates want nothing to do with her because she is Japanese-American and the Japanese military have just bombed Pearl Harbor. The government forces her family to move to an internment camp, but one classmate reaches out the hand of friendship to Keiko.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts
Smoky Night by Eve Bunting
Daniel and his mother watch the LA riots happening in their neighbourhood. After going to bed, they wake to learn their building was on fire. Daniel hesitates as they evacuate because he cannot find his cat, but it is later found by a firefighter.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o
Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia
The Wall in the Middle of The Book by Jon Agee
Welcome by Barroux
Three lost polar bears drift away from their home when the ice breaks away. They search for a new home but other animals consider them strange, say there is no room or ignore their pleas for help. They find an inhabited island and soon welcome three monkeys looking for a new home.
White Water by Michael S. Bandy
As Michael quenches his thirst with gritty water from a fountain, he is curious whether the water from the white-only fountain is better. Set in the segregated South just before the civil rights movement, he plucks up the courage to taste the white water, only to realise it is exactly the same.
What are your favourite books about inclusion and tolerance? Let me know in the comments.
As well as books about inclusion, I have added some videos you may find useful to use in your classroom.
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