Children’s Books about Open-Mindedness and Acceptance

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.

Children's Books about Open-Mindedness and Acceptance

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

All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka

A poem celebrating the diversity of children who are “all the colors of the earth and sky and sea.”

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. 

Use this wordless book to discuss open-mindedness, adaptability, and perspectives.

The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin

Black pages with black embossed drawings help readers understand how someone who is blind uses Braille and senses the world around them.

This book reinforces themes of open-mindedness, perspective and tolerance.

Bob The Artist by Marion Deuchars

Bob The Artist by Marion Deuchars

Bob is made fun of because of his skinny legs. His lack of self-esteem leaves him deflated until he visits an art gallery and gets inspired!

Promotes a growth mindset, relationship skills, creativity and appreciation.

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.

Use this translated book to discuss immigration, communication, open-mindedness, empathy, and respect.

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.

Read to promote discussions on empathy, identity, growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness and self-esteem.

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.

Read to discuss communication, open-mindedness, identity, and making connections.

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.

Promotes a sense of belonging, self-esteem, wellbeing and a growth mindset.

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Two children discover a world of beauty on an adventure into nature. As they return to their urban home they realise the wild exists all around them.

Read to discuss open-mindedness, appreciation, and the environment.

For Pete's Sake by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Pete the alligator thinks he is a flamingo, like his friends. He worries about the differences between him and his friends but he learns that his appearance doesn't matter to his flamingo friends.

Going Places by Peter H Reynolds

The Going Places contest involves building a go-kart and racing it, but Maya has a different idea. Her curiosity and open-mind help her find a unique way to cross the finish line.

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.

Highlights immigration, belonging, family and perspectives.

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.

Read to promote open-mindedness and tolerance.

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.

Read to discuss appreciation, community, curiosity, gratitude, being knowledgeable, open-mindedness, responsibility, and tolerance.

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner

A young boy shares how he reads a book starting with finding an enjoyable story. He then finds a reading buddy before finding a comfortable reading spot.

Promotes word choice, perseverance, enthusiasm, open-mindedness and communication.

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.

Promotes acceptance, identity, self-awareness and open-mindedness.

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.

Promotes identity, creativity, self-awareness and open-mindedness.

Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies

Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies

A young girl visits a museum and explores wonderful bugs, paintings, plants and beasts. At home, she realises she has her own museum that reflects her identity. Read to discuss self-reflection, anticipation, and curiosity.

Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School by David Mackintosh

Quirky Marshall Armstrong doesn’t fit in at his new school. But he soon shows the other students you don’t have to follow the crowd to be popular.

Promotes individuality, self-awarenessrelationship skills and open-mindedness.

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

Mary courageously challenges the gender norms in the 1830s. One day she wears trousers and the townsfolk react with disapproval and they throw things at her and shout that she should not dress in boys’ clothes.

Read to promote gender roles, confidence, tolerance and open-mindedness.

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?”

Use to promote making connections, perspectives, empathy, and open-mindedness.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems

Wilbur, a naked mole rat, love to wear clothes but he worries the rest of the colony won’t accept him. The leader, Grand-pah, proclaims they should show him tolerance and the other naked mole rats experiment with clothing.

Promotes acceptance, individuality, open-mindedness, and self-awareness.

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.

Promotes themes of identity, open-mindedness, making connections, and belonging.

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.

Read to discuss overcoming fears, being balanced, individuality, open-mindedness, and personal freedom.

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

An ordinary stick becomes extraordinary with a bit of creativity. A young pig finds there are unlimited possibilities with the power of his imagination. Promotes open-mindedness and creative thinking.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson 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. 

Promotes tolerance, communication, friendship and open-mindedness.

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.

Use this wordless book to discuss acceptance, different perspectives, open-mindedness, assumptions and judgements, and a positive attitude.

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Over the course of a week, a perfectly happy square is torn, punched, cut and crumpled into creative images. On Sunday, the square becomes a window looking out on all the creations made from this simple shape.

Perfect Square promotes creativity, adaptability, open-mindedness and acceptance.

The Promise by Nicola Davies

After carrying out a criminal act a nameless girl travels the world planting seeds and transforming bleak landscapes to make up for her misdemeanour. 

Reinforces themes of determination, open-mindedness and wellbeing.

The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio

Best friends, Lily and Salma do everything together but disagree when they don’t understand each other's cultural lunch choices. When they taste each other's food, they realise friendship is more important than their differences.

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

A teacher helps a young girl see beyond her scary feeling for her neighbourhood. She looks for beauty in her community with the help of her neighbours. Her beautiful journey helps her feel happy and hopeful.

Promotes a sense of community, poverty, responsibility and hope.

Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey

Sunday Chutney is always the new girl at school but she makes the best of the situation with her independent attitude and spirit. Promotes identity, individuality and open-mindedness.

There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart

When her grandma mentions to a bored Nora that she's seen a tiger in the garden, Nora is sceptical. That is until she comes face to face with the “extraordinarily friendly” tiger. Is it real?

Reinforces the themes of curiosity, imagination, nature, open-mindedness and thinkers.

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.

Use in the classroom to discuss courage, open-mindedness, individuality, and identity.

Windblown by Manceau Edouard

Simple scraps of paper are mixed and transformed into different animals. These animals claim the bits of paper belong to them until the wind blows them away and asks the reader to create something.

Windows by Julia Denos

On an autumn evening, a boy takes his dog for a walk. He catches a glimpse of neighbours lives through their windows. Windows promotes a sense of belonging and different perspectives.

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Yoko's classmates make fun of her Japanese lunch until her teacher shows them they all have special cultural food.

Promotes internationalism, identity, friendship and self-awareness.

Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth

Stillwater the panda retells three short Zen stories to three siblings. Promotes forgiveness, kindness, relationship skills and a growth mindset.

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What Next?

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!

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Children's Books about Open-Mindedness and Acceptance

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