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Comforting Picture Books about Belonging and Acceptance
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These picture books about belonging promote a sense of acceptance and community within our own family or the wider world. They can help your students understand that everyone is different but that we all have things in common.

Comforting Picture Books about Belonging and Acceptance

A Sense of Belonging

We all need to feel a sense of belonging within our family or the wider community. Fostering a sense of belonging in a classroom helps your students feel supported, respected, valued and accepted. It also improves attention span, perseverance, mental health and positive behaviour.

Children need to feel a sense of belonging to feel good about themselves. When they know they belong somewhere, they are more likely to be happy and successful.

Why Read Picture Books About Belonging?

Teachers can foster a sense of belonging by creating an environment that encourages positive relationships, communication, and collaboration.

Teachers should read books to their students about a sense of belonging. This will help the students feel good about themselves and connected to others. They emphasize the importance of making friends, being kind to others, and having a positive attitude. Encouraging these behaviours builds relationships and makes children feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Reading children’s books about belonging gives your students examples of how feelings of belonging lead to positive outcomes, including:

  • Increase happiness and well-being.
  • Compassionate attitudes towards those in need.
  • Feeling more connected to others.
  • Feeling acceptance, which in turn makes us feel safer and more secure.
  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence.
  • Giving us a sense of identity and purpose.
  • Getting support for personal challenges.
  • Providing a sense of identity.

Questions to Ask When Reading Children’s Books About Belonging

  • What does it mean to belong?
  • What makes you feel like you belong?
  • How does our classroom give you a sense of belonging?
  • What do we need to build a positive/respectful community?
  • How did working together help [character] feel like they belonged?
  • Why was being part of a community important to [character]?
  • Why do you think [character] was reluctant to ask for help? 
  • What difference would it have made to [character] if they felt they belonged?
  • Why do you think [community] helped/supported [character]?
  • What would have happened to [character] if they hadn’t felt supported?

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Picture Books about Belonging and Acceptance

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

This is the first of two books about picture books about belonging by Alexandra Penfold. Send a message to your students that everyone is welcome, no matter their race, religion, gender, culture or background.

Use on the first day of school to discuss inclusion, kindness, empathyacceptance and community.

All Are Welcome Activities and Comprehension Questions

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

A curious fox, Marco, wants to answer an important question, “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?” When he steps aboard a magnificent ship adorned with antlers, he is filled with answers.

Read to discuss questioningcuriosityovercoming fears, and making friends.

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway

Deo lives in a refugee camp in Tanzania, separated from his family. Remy, a gang leader, targets Deo, but they find common ground and a sense of belonging when they come together on the football field.

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World by Katie Smith Milway

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

A bear discovers a piano in the forest and returns daily to practise. A chance encounter takes him to the city, where he plays sold-out concerts. When he gets homesick, he makes the hard decision to return to the forest and his friends.

Read The Bear and the Piano to start discussions about belonging, courage, perseverance and well-being.

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

Beegu by Alexis Deacon

Beegu is lost on Earth. Despite her friendly nature, she finds the Earth unwelcoming, except for a litter of puppies and a group of children.

Reinforces themes of acceptance, belonging, differences, friendship and loneliness.

Beegu by Alexis Deacon book cover

A Cat About Town by Léa Decan

Cat belongs to Lisa but spends the week visiting its neighbours. They provide Cat with love, attention and food. He even ventures outside with his female feline friends. But Cat always returns to Lisa, who always takes care of him.

Read A Cat About Town to promote discussions on belonging, point of view, routines and second-person narration.

A Cat About Town by Léa Decan

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham

Based on the real events of Alaa, who lives in Aleppo, Syria. When war comes to the city, Alaa doesn’t flee like many others. As an ambulance driver, he is needed to help the wounded. The once exciting city is now quiet, except for the sound of many cats. Alaa feeds them every day and gets his neighbours involved. His actions go viral, and donations worldwide help Alaa build a sanitary for Aleppo’s displaced cats.

Read The Cat Man of Aleppo to promote discussions on kindness, compassion, effects of war, belonging, text-to-world connections, and author’s purpose.

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham

Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story Celebrating the Windrush by Floella Benjamin

Baroness Floella Benjamin recalls her journey from Trinidad to London as part of the Windrush generation. The ten-year-old grew up to educate millions of children on TV and become a member of the House of Lords.

Use to discuss overcoming adversity, hope, and determination.

Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story Celebrating the Windrush by Floella Benjamin

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. We are “an only” until we share our personal stories in these situations. 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 Day You Begin Activities and Comprehension Questions

Elephant Island by Leo Timmers

Arnold, an elephant, is shipwrecked on a tiny island. Several animals come to the rescue, but Arnold just creates wreckage when he steps on their boats. Instead of being discouraged, they use this material to make the island bigger, becoming a home for them all. 

Read Elephant Island to promote discussions on cooperation, belonging, and resourcefulness.

Elephant Island by Leo Timmers

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams

In a Peshawar refugee camp, both Lina and Feroza find a matching sandal. They build a friendship and share the sandals, wearing them on alternate days. Lina and her mother are chosen to emigrate to America and give the sandal to Feroza. But Feroza hands it back, telling Lina they will share the sandals again one day.

Promotes a sense of belonging, compassion, friendship and social awareness.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey

Annabelle Spoon haunts the town of Twee, and the townspeople are fed up. They want her gone. Herbert Kettle takes the time to listen and realises all Annabel Spoon wants is a friend.

Read The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon to start discussions on compassion, acceptance, loneliness and a sense of belonging.

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey

Girl from the Sea by Margaret Wild

A young girl longs to belong and yearns to be part of the family who lives in a seaside cottage. The girl is a ghost and watches the family’s every move, hoping they will invite her to join them. This book, perfect for older readers, leaves the interpretation to the reader through the illustrations and text.

Promotes discussions on inference, belonging, perspectives and asking questions.

Girl from the Sea by Margaret Wild

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

Guji Guji was raised as a duck but discovers he is actually a crocodile. The other crocodiles want Guji Guji to help them eat his duck family, but he instead formulates a plan to save them.

Promotes acceptance, identity, problem-solving and a sense of belonging.

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

Home is a Window by Stephanie Ledyard

The reader follows a family moving from their beloved, comfortable home to a new one. When they move to a new house, they take everything they love from their old house to make it feel like home.

Home Is a Window by Stephanie Ledyard

Home of the Wild by Louise Greig

A boy finds an orphan fawn in a forest and carries it home to care for it. They become inseparable, and the boy names the fawn Alba. When Alba returns to the wild, the boy worries when a storm sets in. He sets out to find his friend, only to get lost. When he calls out for help, Alba finds him and helps him home.

Promotes discussions on compassion, caring, a sense of belonging and letting go.

Home of the Wild by Louise Greig

The Island by Judith Wisdom

Three friends feeling like they don’t belong, set sail for a better life. Full of optimism, they see an island ahead, but angry islanders cage the three friends in a zoo. They escape with the other zoo animals and sail away as a massive storm begins.

The escapees see the island is flooding and turn back to save the residents. Relieved, the islanders clamber onto the boat. Soon any rules of conformity are gone, and everyone discovers the joys of being different.

Read The Island to promote discussions on empathy, immigration, belonging, open-mindedness, conformity, social awareness, kindness and tolerance.

The Island by Judith Wisdom

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies

This is the first of two books about picture books about belonging by Nicola Davies. A lonely Italian boy moves to the Welsh countryside. An unexpected friendship with an old man who races pigeons helps him feel like he is no longer a stranger and that he belongs in his new home.

Read King of the Sky to start discussions on belonging, friendships, immigration, loneliness, and patience.

King of the Sky by Nicola Davis

Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz

Leila learns self-acceptance from her grandmother and an understanding of her heritage. Her grandmother complements the saffron beads on her scarf, leading Leila to seek out characteristics that make up her unique identity as a Pakistani American.

Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz

Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner

A dog chained up in a rescue centre tells the reader it is lonely and sad. Everyone fears the dog, but he just wants to be free. One day, a man comes to the centre and sees potential in the dog. He takes the dog home to become a sheepdog. The dog lives up to its potential and flourishes in its new home.

Read Like a Wolf to promote discussions on assumptions, making judgements, tolerance, fears, perception, loneliness, point of view, belonging, freedom and decoding illustrations.

Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner

A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

After a weary day exploring Paris, a lion finds the perfect place to call his new home – on the plinth where the real lion statue at the Place Denfert-Rochereau, stands today.

Promotes a sense of belonging, curiosity and loneliness.

A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason

A little ghost is a quilt. It can’t whirl and whirl in the sky because it gets very hot each time it flies. It feels very left out when it can’t keep up with its friends. One Halloween, the lonely little quilt finds its place in the world and makes new friends.

Read The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt to start discussions on individuality, belonging, self-acceptance and overcoming challenges.

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason

Nana Akua Goes to School

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.

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker

The New Girl by Nicola Davies

This is the second of two books about picture books about belonging by Nicola Davies. After moving, a girl finds her new classmates hostile. She was different from them, spoke a different language and ate food that smelled different. Feeling lonely, she makes origami flowers, impressing her classmates. She teaches them to create the flowers, and they begin to see the new girl in a new, positive light.

Read The New Girl to discuss acceptance, bullying, making friends, moving home, starting school, point of view, empathy, and inclusion.

Our Tower by Joseph Coelho

In Our Tower, poet Joseph Coelho uses his childhood experience growing up in a tower block. Three children explore a magical forest next to their home where green takes over from the grey of the tower block. When they return home, they see the tower block differently and appreciate their home and community.

Read to promote discussions on appreciation and community.

Our Tower by Joseph Coelho

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Red’s label says red, but he can only create blue no matter how hard he tries. Red’s new friend, Berry, suggests he casts aside his label, opening a whole new world to Red.

Promotes discussions on adaptability, identity, self-awareness and acceptance.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Sidney the Lonely Cloud by Tim Hopgood

Sidney wants to make people happy, but he always seems to upset people. When he floats by, people want him to go away. With his feelings hurt, the cloud searches for a place they will appreciate him for who he is. He finds acceptance in the desert, where people are happy for him to stick around.

Read Sidney the Lonely Cloud to promote discussions on embracing who we are, welcoming others, finding our place in the world, appreciation, and belonging.

Sidney the Lonely Cloud by Tim Hopgood

Teacup by Rebecca Young

A boy has to leave his home and takes a teacup full of earth from his home. Some days his journey is peaceful, and other days are stormy. When he finds land, another traveller, carrying a seed, makes him feel complete.

Read Teacup to start discussions on belonging, hope, optimism, immigration, loneliness, personal narrative and setting.

Teacup by Rebecca Young

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

A story of a lonely child who struggles to find friends among different groups of animals, starting with ‘a tribe of kids’. The illustrations show his joy in finding new friends and his sadness as they leave. He finally finds acceptance with a different tribe of kids and children.

Read A Tribe of Kids to start discussions on resilience, belonging and relationship skills.

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

We Are All Neighbors by Alexandra Penfold

This is the second of two books about picture books about belonging by Alexandra Penfold. A neighbourhood comes together when a new family moves in. They are welcomed with open arms into a community full of love, diversity and appreciation.

Read All Are Neighbors to promote discussions on community, a sense of belonging, looking out for others, friendships, appreciation and compassion.

We Are All Neighbors by Alexandra Penfold

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.

This Amnesty endorsed book promotes discussions on empathy, immigration, belonging, climate change, inclusion, and tolerance.

Welcome by Barroux

Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez

When someone asks a girl where she’s from, she doesn’t have a simple answer. Her Abuelo gives her an answer, but not one she expects.

Promotes acceptance, identity and a sense of belonging.

Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez

Where the Heart Is by Irma Gold

Based on a true story. Old Joao finds a penguin covered in oil on a beach near Rio de Janeiro. He nurses it back to health, and the penguin stays with Joao long after it is healthy. After a year, the penguin travels over 8,000km to a penguin colony in Patagonia, only to return on the long journey to visit the old man.

Use to discuss friendship, connections, caring for others and a sense of belonging.

Where the Heart Is by Irma Gold

Wild by Emily Hughes

A little girl has known nothing but nature from birth. She is unabashedly, irrefutably, and irrepressibly wild until one day, she meets a new animal that looks oddly like her. They take her home and try to make her live like them. In the end, she is returned to where she belongs… the wild.

Wild by Emily Hughes

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw

A cat narrates the story of its adoption in haiku poems. The poem illustrates how a boy builds trust with the cat, naming him Won Ton. After a life of fear and pride, the cat reveals its real name.

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

You Belong Here by M. H Clark

This story of belonging takes the reader on a journey around the world. Parents tell their children about the world, its nature and its animals emphasising they are where they belong and they are loved.

You Belong Here by M. H Clark

What Next?

What picture books about belonging do you use in your classroom or library? Let me know in the comments.

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Comforting Picture Books about Belonging and Acceptance

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