Children's Books about Open-Mindedness and Acceptance
Inspire your students to try new things and have new experiences. These picture books about open-mindedness deal with events and dilemmas in an open-minded and tolerant way and respect the perspectives of others.
Why Read Books about Open-Mindedness in the Classroom?
The IBO learner profile states open-minded students “critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.”
Open-mindedness involves respecting the perspectives, cultures, traditions and values of others. Reading open-minded books and subsequent discussions will help your students make connections and develop open-mindedness. The world is interconnected, and an open mind linked to acceptance and tolerance is vital.
There are many benefits to open-mindedness, including:
- embracing different points of view
- listening to and considering the perspectives of others
- understanding new ideas and experiences broadening their mind and challenging their thinking
- being eager to learn new things and build on existing knowledge, even if it challenges existing views
- understanding they don’t know everything and can admit it
- knowing their first answer may not be correct and search for alternative answers
- being an effective team player and collaborator
- being fair and objective, and building trust with others.
- handling constructive feedback, understanding they learn from their mistakes.
Picture Books about Open-Mindedness
The suggested open-minded books feature examples of characters dealing with dilemmas with an attitude of open-mindedness, such as:
- respecting and considering the perspectives and approaches of others
- being eager to learn new things
- reflecting on their own learning and the ideas of others
- reacting positively to constructive feedback
- acting with positivity, honesty and empathy
- listening attentively
- putting themselves in other people’s shoes
- willing to venture outside their comfort zone
- asking questions to broaden their mind and understandings
- working towards positive relationships and collaborative experiences.
There are also characters who show a more narrow-minded attitude, including:
- making statements rather than asking questions
- stopping others from talking if they don’t want to hear their thoughts
- proving their ideas are right rather than taking on board new ideas
- reacting to constructive feedback with frustration
- blocking out ideas and opinions that don’t match their way of thinking
Questions to Use With Books about Open-Mindedness
- What does an open-minded mindset look like?
- Why does being open-minded matter?
- Did [character] listen to the different points of view of others?
- Was [character] willing to change their mind as the events progressed?
- Why do you think [character] bullied other characters? What could they have done instead?
- In what ways was the [character] judgemental towards other characters?
- Who was the most open-minded character? In what way?
- How could [character] have been more open-minded?
- How would it have helped [character] if they were more open-minded?
- Why was it important that [character] was open-minded?
- Did [character] think about her/his actions affected other characters?
- Could [character] have understood the feelings of [character]? How?
- How could [character & character] deal with their differences in a better way?
- Did [character] take on board the opinions of others? Would it have made a difference?
- What caused [character] to act in this way? What else could they have done?
- What could [character] do differently next time to be more open-minded?
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Picture Books about Open-Mindedness
Another by Christian Robinson
A young girl enters a topsy-turvy world that is similar but not quite the same as her own. She meets other children of many ethnicities, wearing a variety of clothing and playing different games. Another will inspire discussion and questions and provide each reader with a different interpretation of the book.
The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo
A girl befriends a new girl, Saida, who she thinks has lost her words because of her silence. She learns Saida speaks Arabic and has moved from her home in Morocco. They share their languages and learn about each other’s culture which helps Saida feel welcome in her new home.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. In these situations, we are “an only” until we share our personal stories. Woodson reminds us that we are all outsiders and it takes courage to be ourselves.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
An art teacher encourages Vashti to make a mark, a dot, prompting Vashti to create a wide range of dot paintings. She displays her work at the school art show and inspires a young boy to make his own unique mark.
Drawn Together by Minh Lê
A young boy and his grandfather lack a common language and struggle to communicate, leading to confusing, frustrating and silent meetings. When they discover their love of art they communicate with each other through art rather than words.
The Fearsome Five by Wolf Erlbruch
Hyena visits his friends, four ugly misfits. They are all despondent because “it’s generally agreed that we’re revolting”. Hyena rallies the group and guides them to find their special talents. They all convey the message that it’s what you do with your life and not what you look like.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
Allen Say’s grandfather journeys across the Pacific Ocean to America. He returns to Japan to marry his childhood sweetheart and takes her to America to have a family. He longs to return to Japan where his daughter marries and Allen Say was born. As the grandfather grows older, he reminisces about his old life in California.
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.
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Travel over mountains and oceans, space and constellations, and the animals and people who populate the Earth. The handwritten facts throughout the book are a gentle plea to care for the planet and each other.
Jack (Not Jackie) by Erica Silverman
Susan wants Jackie to be like her, pretending to be forest fairies or kittens. But Jackie dons a cape or plays in the mud. As Jackie gets older, she wants to wear boys’ clothes. Susan’s feelings become more confused as her sister changes her name to Jack and cuts her hair short.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Travelling home with his abuela, Julian sees three spectacular ladies dressed in mermaid costumes. At home, he creates a mermaid outfit and proudly shows it off to his abuela. She takes him to the parade, joining others in their fabulous costumes.
Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
Masai and I by Virginia Kroll
At school, Linda learns about the Masai people who live in East Africa. She wonders what her life would be like if she were a Masai. “Would I live in an apartment building the way I do now? Would I have a pet hamster of a new pair of sneakers? What would my family be like if I were Masai?”
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker
Zura hesitantly brings her Nana Akua to her school for Grandparents Day. With traditional Ghanian tribal markings on her face, Nana Akua looks very different from the other grandparents. She creatively explains to Zura and her classmates the meaning of her culture and why it makes her special.
Norm by Sylvia Liang
Norm and his friends, Plain and Simple, like their orderly world where everything is exactly the same. One day, he meets Odd, who lives in a world of chaos, causing Norm to feel anxious and unsettled. He soon starts to realise that Odd’s way of living inspires self-expression and creativity, and Norm starts to let go of the rules.
Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson
A little girl and her grandmother live and work in their general store. They try to rent out a dilapidated apartment, but no one is interested. The grandmother is unsure of renting it to a couple who express their interest. The girl intervenes and the couple brings the building to life with their optimism and hard work. Their positivity spreads, and the grandmother slowly accepts the couple as part of the family.
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
As a cat takes a walk different animals see him very differently. Their perception of the cat depends on their own point of view. Some animals only see a blur, others see something big and scary, while others only see a tiny dot from the sky.
Weirdo by Zadie Smith & Nick Laird
Maud, a judo suit-wearing guinea pig, is given as a surprise birthday present to Kit. Left alone in her new home she meets the other pets, who do not approve of ‘the Surprise’. The guinea pig is lucky enough to meet neighbour, Emily Brookstein, who tells Maud it is great to be different and she should embrace who she is.
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In the article Four Strategies for Teaching Open-Mindedness, Merry M. Merryfield describes effective ways to teach open-mindedness. She stresses teachers’ choices “can either lead to open-minded and globally-aware citizens, interested and engaged in diverse cultures — or to young adults who know little about the world beyond our borders.”
What picture books do you use in the classroom to promote open-minded traits? Add them to the comments!