Children’s Books about Self-Awareness and Perception

Children's Books about Self-Awareness and Perception

These self-awareness books show characters who recognise their own feelings and behaviour and how they affect others. They illustrate how these feelings influence their choices and any consequences.

Children's Books about Self-Awareness and Perception

Social and Emotional Learning: Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is one of five components of social and emotional learning. The other components are self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes self-awareness as “the ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

Self-awareness affects every aspect of a child's life. How they communicate, learn, and interact with others is all influenced by their ability to understand themselves. Children who show self-awareness consider the effect of emotions on themselves and others. 

Self-awareness skills give children the ability to recognise what triggers their emotions. This awareness helps them deal with their feelings in positive ways, acknowledge the feelings of others and that people may view them differently than they see themselves. 

Why Read Children's Books about Self-Awareness?

These children's books about self-awareness show the effect of emotions on ourselves and others. The characters reflect on how their feelings influence their choices and any repercussions. They build an understanding of their strengths, limitations and personal preferences. This allows them to develop these strengths, learn from their mistakes and seek support when needed.

The characters in the children's books about self-awareness show the benefits of this skill, including:

  • Understanding failure is a learning opportunity and a stepping stone to success.
  • Increasing confidence and self-esteem.
  • Being able to identify their emotions and control them in challenging situations.
  • Developing positive relationships by understanding how their actions affect others.
  • Recognising when they make mistakes in schoolwork and work to make changes.

Characters in Children's Books about Self-Awareness

In these picture books, you will find characters who demonstrate self-awareness by:

  • Identifying and verbalising emotions.
  • Recognising the needs and feelings of others.
  • Understanding how other people see them.
  • Recognising and building on strengths and limitations.
  • Using different learning styles and strategies.
  • Understanding how their emotions and thoughts influence their behaviour.
  • Identifying their feelings, the triggers and the consequences.
  • Acting positively on their thoughts and feelings.
  • Learning from mistakes and seeking support.
  • Understanding strengths and limitations/challenges.
  • Developing academic and personal goals.

There are also characters working towards these behaviours. This opens up great discussions about how we work towards different self-awareness skills.

Questions to use with Children's Books about Self-Awareness

  • How did [character] change throughout the book?
  • Did [character] consider how their actions or behaviour would affect others? What could they have done differently?
  • What were [character’s] strengths and weaknesses?
  • What lesson did [character] learn? Do you think they have better self-awareness?
  • How could [character] reflect on their behaviour and improve their actions?
  • What previous knowledge did [character] use? How did it help them?
  • How did [character] deal with feeling [scared, anxious, etc.]?
  • What was the most important or relevant moment in the story? Why?
  • What did [character] learn about themselves? How will they use this knowledge in the future?
  • What factors stopped [character] from being successful?
  • Is there anything [character] should do differently next time? Why?
  • How could [character] have made the task more challenging?
  • What other strategies could [character] try?
  • How do you think [character] will solve their problem?
  • Why do you think [character] fears trying something new?
  • What can [character] learn from their mistake? 
  • Did [character] ask for help when they needed it? Would it have made a difference?
  • How was [character] able to turn their failure into a success?

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Children's Books about Self-Awareness and Perception

Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe

Avocado feels fine until a customer asks if it is a fruit or vegetable. Avocado has no idea how to respond, and the question just won’t go away.

Reinforces asking questions, a sense of identity and being positive in your own skin.

The Bad Seed by Jory John

When a “bad seed' overhears negative comments, he decides to change his ways. He doesn’t change his behaviour overnight but takes it one day at a time.

Promotes a growth mindset, self-management, self-awareness and social awareness.

Be Who You Are! by Todd Parr

Todd Parr illustrates how we are all unique, including race, gender and wealth. Promote acceptance, self-awareness, tolerance and individuality.

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.

Brian the Dancing Lion by Tom Tinn-Disbury

Brian is a lion who loves to dance. He is worried about his friends finding out he isn't brave and strong like a lion should be. When he can't stop his foot tapping to some music, his secret is out, and Brian flees in embarrassment. His friends are proud of him for showing all of himself, and they reveal their own unexpected pastimes.

Use in the classroom to discuss being yourself, self-expression and not changing just to fit in with others.

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.

Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook

Isabella uses her booming voice whenever she can, earning her the nickname Decibella. With practice and patience, her teacher helps her know when and how to use a softer, quieter voice.

Promotes discussions on self-management and self-awareness.

Deep In The Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

In Mauritania, young Lalla wishes to wear a malafa like her mother and older sister. In the Muslim tradition, women wear colourful material over their heads and clothes. When Lalla learns a malafa is not only beautiful but honours her faith, her mother wraps one around her body.

Promotes discussion on cultural traditions, self-awareness, and identity.

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

An exclamation mark lacks self-esteem because it doesn’t fit in. A question mark grilles the exclamation mark until he exclaims, “STOP!” He finally understands his role in the punctuation family.

This book promotes a sense of belonging, identity, self-awareness and a growth mindset.

Fergal is Fuming by Robert Starling

Fergal the dragon can’t keep friends because of his short temper, particularly when he doesn’t get his own way. He notices others have effective strategies to calm down, and he finds his own way to cool down.

This book reinforces self-management, a growth mindset and balance.

First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch

Two boys from rival Kenyan tribes realise they have more in common than they thought when they work together to save a baby.

Reinforces themes of self-awareness, relationship skills, and social awareness.

For You are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane

A young boy forgets his responsibility of looking after his grandfather’s cows when he visits everyone in the village. When he returns to the cows, they have gone. What will he do now?

Reinforces the themes of community and responsibility.

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can’t Dance? Or can they? Gerald is determined to take part in the annual Jungle dance. While the other animals laugh, he shows perseverance, determination, and confidence to follow his dream.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

Zuri loves her curly hair even though it has a mind of its own. Her daddy has a lot to learn when he styles it for a special occasion, but he will do anything to make Zuri and her hair happy. 

You can use Hair Love in the classroom to promote self-esteem, positive relationships and identity.

How to Live Forever by Colin Thompson

In the library where Peter lives, he looks for a book called How to Live Forever. For two years he searches for the lost book to discover its secrets so he can make an important decision.

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

I am Enough follows a girl as she makes positive affirmations for those who lack self-esteem and self-acceptance.

This book celebrates children for who they are and reinforces themes of acceptance, self-esteem and poetry.

I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

Henry Finch and his family live in constant fear of a green beast. Confronting the beast, Henry is promptly eaten. Inside, Henry hears its thoughts and realises that not everything is always as it seems.

Reinforces themes of courage, individuality, perspective and thinkers.

I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon

After a yellow creature eats his friends, he sets off on a journey to find a new companion. At last, he comes across a monster who will be his friend. However, not all is well. The new monster is alone on the last page, having just eaten his new friend.

Promotes themes of cause and effect, friendship and loneliness.

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.

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 separation. The book ends with the children on both sides coming together through kindness.

Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard

Lila's dark skin, hair and eyes make her stand out at her new school. She is bullied and likened to a crow. She embraces who she is at the autumn festival costume party and dressed as a crow. 

Promotes self-acceptance, self-awareness, discrimination, resilience, and loneliness.

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen

Translated from Dutch. Little Wise Wolf has learned many things from the books he loves reading. But he learns a tough lesson when he finds he is unprepared for a long journey to help the sick king.

Use to promote friendships, asking questions, knowledge, self-awareness and kindness.

My Beautiful Voice by Joseph Coelho

A shy girl is unable to speak up in class. With patience and compassion, a teacher helps her and encourages her to write a poem. The girl builds her confidence and courage, finds her voice and reads her poem aloud.

Promotes discussions on confidence, self-awareness, empathy, self-expression, and overcoming fears and anxiety.

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.

Promotes self-esteem, individuality, inclusion, identity, self-awareness and first-person narration.

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

When Unhei moves from Korea to America, her classmates can’t pronounce her name. She wants to choose a new name that is easier to pronounce but decides she likes her name just the way it is.

Promotes themes of acceptance, identity, integrity, open-mindedness, principled and tolerance.

Noodle Magic by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Grandpa Tu teaches his granddaughter how to make his special noodles. At first, Mai struggles but eventually realises she has the ‘magic' within to make her own special noodles.

Read this book set in China to discuss self-awareness, cultural traditions and intergenerational relationships.

Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Margaret, an indigenous girl, was removed from her family and the First Nations community. Her cultural way of life is erased in a Canadian residential school for indigenous children. When Margaret returns to her reservation, her mother says, “not my girl”. She has to immerse herself in her culture and traditions to reconnect with her family.

This autobiography promotes discussions on self-identity, self-awareness, belonging and identity.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

Norman was a perfectly normal boy until he grew a pair of wings. He loves flying but thinks no one will understand his new wings so hide them under a large, yellow coat. When he finds the courage to show off his wings, he gets a surprising reaction.

Promotes identity, self-awareness, self-esteem and acceptance.

Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

An enthusiastic boy compares his characteristics to different animals. “I'm as quick as a cricket; I'm as slow as a snail, I'm as small as an ant, I'm as large as a whale!” Promotes individuality, self-esteem and self-awareness.

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

A small child is overwhelmed by a complex, puzzling and alienating world. She returns to the bedroom, full of emotions, to find a tiny red seedling that has grown to fill the room with a warm, comforting light.

Reinforces themes of hope, loneliness, reflection, self-awareness, and balanced.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Red’s label says red but no matter how hard he tries he can only create blue. Red’s new friend, Berry, suggests he casts aside his label, opening a whole new world to Red. Deals with adaptability, identity, self-awareness and acceptance.

The Remarkable Pigeon by Dorien Brouwers

A pigeon feels self-conscious when it visits birds at a zoo’s aviary. There are birds with colourful feathers, that fly backwards and sing sweetly. The pigeon realises it has something more precious than these birds. It is free.

Promotes discussions on self-awareness, self-esteem, identity, comparisons, freedomand self-appreciation.

The Sky of Afghanistan by Ana A. de Eulate

An Afghan girl sits watching kites as she dreams of peace for her family, friends and country as the war continues around her.

It deals with themes of hopes, dreams, self-awareness and conflict.

Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch

When everyone copies Stephanie’s unique ponytail she decides to make more and more outrageous styles. Everyone questions her decisions, but she is determined to her herself. 

Promotes self-esteem, individuality, self-awareness and peer pressure.

Super Duper You by Sophy Henn

Celebrate all the different, extraordinary and contradictory sides of us. Adopt the message of the book and let children embrace who they are.

Promotes discussions on wellbeing, self-esteem, point of view, self-awareness and identity.

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott

A boy’s stutter makes him feel isolated. With the support of his father, he realises his speech is like a river which is sometimes smooth and glistening and other times stutters as it moves.

Promotes discussions on bullying, self-esteem, self-awareness and poetry.

Through the Magic Mirror by Anthony Browne

Toby is fed up with everything at home until he walks through a magic mirror. He finds himself in a strange, surreal land and starts to feel better about his situation at home.

Promotes discussion on imagination, self-reflection, self-awareness, and being bored.

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Four children share their lives under the umbrella of love. It is a reminder that our loved ones will always be there for us no matter the distance. The umbrella is a metaphor for love, acceptance, comfort, and safety.

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Goat has been feeling out of sorts since Unicorn moved into town. Goat's cool bike suddenly looks dull when Unicorn flies to school. His marshmallow squares look boring when Unicorn makes its rain cupcakes. Jealous Goat thinks Unicorn is such a show-off. How can he compete?

Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland

A young child goes on a journey to discover where to find happiness. Sometimes it is near and other times far away. The child tries to chase, capture, and search for it and learns that you can always find it within when you feel like happiness has gone.

This translated book promotes discussions on self-awareness and self-management in the classroom.

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt

Who would you be if you were someone else? This is the question posed by a young boy and girl. They ponder if they weren’t who they are would they be taller, faster, smaller, smarter or lighter, older, darker, or bolder.

This book represents the diversity of our world and an open-minded and respectful attitude.

Why Do We Cry? by Fran Pintadera

Mario asks his mother why we cry. She answers his questions with different reasons, sadness, loneliness, anger, confusion and happiness. The book captures the emotion and empathy of the mother and how she teaches her son it is okay to cry.

Wild by Emily Hughes

A little girl has known nothing but nature from birth. She is unabashedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild until one day when 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.

Windows by Julia Denos

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

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?

Promoting self-awareness skills in your classroom will help your students understand themselves and why they may react in certain circumstances. Students who are self-awareness recognise how their feelings and actions have consequences. 

How do you support your student’s self-awareness in the classroom? Do you have favourite children’s books about self-awareness that you use?

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Children's Books about Self-Awareness and Perception

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