A picture of a several different books that celebrate difference on a green and pink background featuring white doodles

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Weirdo by Zadie Smith, Nick Laird & Magenta Fox (2021)

A judo suit is not usual attire for a guinea pig, but then Maud is not your usual pet. When she arrives as a surprise birthday present for Kit, the other animals aren’t sure what to make of her. She tries to fit in with them, but a life-changing adventure soon helps her realise she doesn’t need to change for anyone. Magenta Fox’s sweet illustrations perfectly complement this gentle story by two veteran writers who teach young readers about the importance of being yourself and embracing your individuality.

Recommended reading age: 3-7 years old

A Different Sort of Normal by Abigail Balfe (2021)

Author and illustrator Abigail Balfe didn’t find out she was autistic until she was an adult. Now she is sharing her experience of a childhood where the ‘normal’ world could feel confusing and overwhelming. Written and illustrated in a uniquely humorous and informative way, Abigail relives scary moments in toilets and crowded trains as well as funny memories involving her family. This remarkable book is an important read for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit in – and for the people living around them, too.

Recommended reading age: 8-15 years old

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012)

August ‘Auggie’ Pullman is used to being stared at wherever he goes. While he may feel like an ordinary 10-year-old in so many ways, he doesn’t look like other 10-year-olds. Auggie was born with a severe facial abnormality. This moving but uplifting novel follows Auggie as he goes to school for the very first time. Having been home-schooled by his parents, it’s time for this special young boy to join other kids his age in the classroom. But it’s not going to be easy. Can he convince his classmates that it’s what’s inside that counts, and that on the inside he’s exactly the same as them?

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder (2021)

Everybody is different and every body is different. Bodies Are Cool is a judgement-free zone. Bodies of every shape, size, and colour are depicted in this inclusive and fun picture book. Written in a playful rhythmic text which is perfect for reading aloud, this is a great book for encouraging body confidence and positivity from a young age. With detailed and realistic illustrations from Tyler Feder, it will start important conversations with little ones as they start to become more aware of the world around them.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen (2020)

This book will inspire young readers to believe in themselves, whatever obstacles are in their way. 12-year-old Libby was born with Turner syndrome, which can make some things difficult. But with her family and friends supporting her, Libby knows she will achieve her dream of becoming a scientist, just like her hero Cecilia Payne. When her big sister Nonny needs her help, Libby hatches a plan to help the sister who has always been there for her. But will the plan work and will the stars align for them?

Recommended reading age: 8-12 year olds

How To Be A Lion by Ed Vere (2018)

Leonard is different from other lions. He doesn’t like roaring or chasing – and his best friend Marianne is a duck! In fact, he is probably the sweetest lion you could ever meet. But the other lions think he should be more like them. Join Leonard as he learns the importance of being a good friend and staying true to yourself. Ed Vere’s vibrant and gentle story won the Oscars Book Prize in 2019 and teaches everyone that you don’t have to roar to be heard.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

Something Else by Kathryn Cave & Chris Riddell (1994)

No matter how hard Something Else tries, he struggles to fit in with others. He knows he looks a bit different but he doesn’t understand why they push him away. That is until Something arrives and asks to be friends. Something Else isn’t sure he wants a new friend and tells Something to go away. But then he realises he is acting like all of the others who have hurt his feelings and soon the pair are inseparable. Kathryn Cave's poignantly simple story is brought to life by Chris Riddell in this enchantingly original picture book.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

The Worry Website by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt (2002)

What if a website could answer all of your problems? That’s the question Jacqueline Wilson explores in this authentic and heart-warming book. Holly, Greg, Natasha, and the rest of the class at Mapleton Juniors think they have loads of worries, but sometimes it can be hard to talk about them. When Mr Speed sets up a new Worry Website, they hope it will give them the answers they need. From struggling to keep up at school to living with a disability, this book explores a range of concerns young children may have, but in Wilson’s typically kind and humorous style. Plus, it includes a wonderful story written by a 12-year-old fan who won a competition to write a companion story to Wilson's.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries (2017)

William Trundle is a happy boy who has lots of friends and is obsessed with dinosaurs. Then a girl called Brenda Payne joins his school and begins to taunt William about being different because he is a wheelchair user. The Christmasaurus is having a similarly rough experience. He loves his life in the North Pole with Santa and the elves – but sometimes feels sad and alone because he is different. But at Christmas time, William and the dinosaur are thrown together for a magical adventure full of festive spirit. There are singing elves, flying reindeer, and more! Tom Fletcher has created a host of lovable characters who will help children learn about friendship and families. Not just to be read at Christmas, this book can be enjoyed all year round.

Recommended reading age: 7-12 years old

Lizzie & Lucky: The Mystery of the Missing Puppies by Megan Rix & Tim Budgen (2021)

Lizzie has always wanted a dog, and while she knows it would be a great idea, her parents still need some convincing. They’ve told her she has to make a list of 101 reasons – easy peasy! Lizzie is deaf, and so are her mum and dad, so a good reason for the top of her list is that their new pet can also be a hearing dog. As Lizzie gets busy writing, she spots a suspicious man stealing an adorable puppy from a garden. She makes it her mission to solve the mystery, hoping she might make a furry friend or two along the way. This delightful story celebrates animals and friendship while also gently teaching children the importance of equality and accessibility.

Recommended reading age: 5-8 years old

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