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Inspiring Books

Preschool through Grade 5

Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash


This list was compiled with help from Ilene Cooper, Children's Books Editor at Booklist Magazine, Book List Online and Amy Stutzman.



Blanco, Alberto. The Blank Page—How a Piece of Paper Connects to Everything. Illustrated by Rob Moss Wilson

Is a blank page really blank? Beloved poet Alberto Blanco pulls back the curtain and illuminates all of the elements hidden in a single piece of paper: the tree it was made from, the rain and sun that allowed the tree to grow, and the people that created it. An enlightening read for readers young and old, it soon becomes clear that a blank page contains the whole cosmos.



Byers, Grace. I Am Enough. (Balzer + Bray, 2018) Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

I Am Enough is the picture book everyone needs
This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.

This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation.

We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.



Carlson, Nancy. Arnie and the New Kid. (Puffin; Reprint edition, 1992) Pre K - Grade 2

The new boy Philip, "different from most kids" because he uses a wheelchair, is generally ignored by his classmates because they don't know how to include him in their games. But when Arnie, his main tormentor, falls down the stairs while teasing Philip, the usually able-bodied boy discovers firsthand how hard and slow it is to navigate on crutches. The two develop a friendship as they realize all the things they both enjoy and can share together--birdwatching, reading, watching movies, and playing computer games. When Arnie triumphantly appears at school one day without his cast, he will only return to the baseball diamond if Philip can come along as coach. This is a triumphant ending to a purposeful story that will be welcomed for its lighthearted treatment of a common situation. Carlson's vividly colored cartoon illustrations feature a variety of animals humorously dressed in children's clothes. Children won't miss--but won't mind--the obvious moral.


IMG-5494Chin, Karen. Sam and the Lucky Money (Perfection Learning, 1997). Pre K - Grade 2

Sam receives four bright red envelopes decorated with shiny gold emblems as part of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration, each containing a dollar. As he accompanies his mother through Chinatown, his anticipation of how to spend it diminishes when he realizes that the "lucky money" won't buy as much as he had hoped. His mood is further sobered after an encounter with a man he stumbles upon in the street. He nobly, though not surprisingly, concludes that his four dollars would be best spent on the barefoot stranger. Though the traditional message that it is better to give than to receive will be apparent to adults immediately, it is handled in a genuine, thoughtful manner that will be realistic to children. Detailed descriptions of the sights and sounds of the New Year celebration build in contrast to Sam's growing introspection, becoming even more dramatic and adding to the depth of the story. The illustrators masterfully combine Chinatown's exotic setting with the universal emotions of childhood through expressive portraits of the characters.



Coe, Julie L. The Friendship Puzzle: Helping Kids Learn About Accepting and Including Kids with Autism (Larstan Publishing, 2009.) Pre K - Grade 2

The world of autism is one that few understand. The condition comes in many forms, and those affected exhibit a wide range of personality traits, some of which make social relations daunting. The Friendship Puzzle helps young readers learn about accepting and including their friends and classmates with autism. Mackenzie Mackabee is going to school at Brook Acres Elementary. Mackenzie loves to make new friends, and she's very excited when she finds out there is a new boy at school named Dylan. But when her attempts at befriending him fail, she goes to her mother for advice. Together they determine to solve this “friendship puzzle.” As she sets out to learn how she can be his friend, Mackenzie discovers that friendships come in many different forms. This book is lively, upbeat and sends an encouraging message about the importance of friendship and inclusion. The activity guide makes the book especially useful for educators and parents.



Cooper, Ilene. The Golden Rule (Harry N. Abrams, 2007). Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

This book is a gentle reminder of a timeless rule for parent and child: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Everyone knows a version of the Golden Rule. But what does it really mean? And how do you follow it? In this gorgeously illustrated book, a grandfather explains to his grandson that the Golden Rule means you “treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s golden because it’s so valuable, and a way of living your life that’s so simple, it shines.” And though it may be a simple rule, it isn’t easy to follow. Fortunately, following the Golden Rule is something everyone can do, which means that every person—old or young, rich or poor—can be a part of making the world a better place.



Cuyler, Margery. Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler (Simon and Schuster, 2007). Illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. Pre K – Grade 1

Mrs. Ruler is frustrated with her kindergarten class. They have been acting out all week, so she reminds them ―kindness is cool and charges each student to perform five acts of kindness.



Davis, Linsley and Michael Taylor. Girls of the World: Doing More than Ever Before (Zonderkidz, 2024).

Encourage children to use their voices, talents, and intelligence to help the world and raise awareness of girls and all the amazing things they do! An inspiration for readers of all ages, New York Times bestseller Girls of the World: Doing More Than Ever Before calls attention to the truth that it’s never too soon to become aware of and speak up about things that are important to you. Now is the perfect time for girls to show the world just who they are and what they’re capable of!

Written by ABC News anchor and bestselling author Linsey Davis, together with co-author Michael Tyler, Girls of the World invites us to celebrate the equality and fairness we should all experience. It encourages girls to be strong, brave, and curious about the world and their place in it.

Girls of the World:

  • Features inspiring, motivating rhymes from Emmy award-winning ABC News anchor and New York Times bestselling authors Linsey Davis and Michael Tyler
  • Includes whimsical illustrations by bestselling artist Lucy Fleming
  • Is a great read-aloud for children ages 4-8
  • Has a message that celebrates equality, fairness, and is meant to spur girls (and boys) on to be brave and take their place in a challenging world
  • Concludes with a personal note from Linsey DavisGirls of the World: Doing More Than Ever BeforeGirls of the World: Doing More Than Ever Before



Doyle, Malachy. Get Happy (Bloomsbury, 2011). Illustrated by Caroline Uff. Pre-K

Tease less . . . tickle more! 
Shout less . . . sing more! 
Worry less . . . wonder more!

With a cheerful message about sharing, giving, and being kind to others, Get Happy will show any child how to turn a frown into a giggle, spread the joy around, and live life to the fullest. Perfect for the youngest of readers, it won't be long before everyone knows how to get happy! Pithy text and great messages.



Elman, Julie M. Fear, Illustrated—Transforming What Scares Us

Fear, Illustrated is a visually stunning, light-hearted, and compelling visual exploration of the fears people confront in their daily lives. For many years artist Julie Elman has collected common and not-so-common fears people have shared with her. Elman transforms the fears from words into multi-media collages full of color and intensity. The fears include death, failure, losing a child, losing one’s voice, losing one’s mind, centipedes in the shower, needles, cancer, speaking honestly with one’s spouse, seaweed, getting arrested at Disney World, biscuits and clusters of small holes.



Ewert, Marcus. Mr. Pack Rat Really Wants That. Illustrated by Kayla Stark

Mr. Pack Rat is a particularly acquisitive small mammal with a hoarding problem (sound like someone you know?). Through trial and error, he begins to question whether having more things is really the secret to happiness.



Feder, Tyler. Bodies Are Cool (Rocky Pond Books, 2021).

This cheerful love-your-body picture book for preschoolers is an exuberant read-aloud with bright and friendly illustrations to pore over.

From the acclaimed creator of Dancing at the Pity Party and Roaring Softly, this picture book is a pure celebration of all the different human bodies that exist in the world. Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its joyful illustrations and encouraging refrain, it will instill body acceptance and confidence in the youngest of readers. "My body, your body, every different kind of body! All of them are good bodies! BODIES ARE COOL!"



Fukuoka, Azusa. Our Earth Our Home—The Essential Japanese Green Living Handbook for Kids. Illustrated by Wakana Kawamura

Beautifully illustrated, energetic guide from Japan for forward-thinking kids and parents on how to live in harmony with our earth—contains sections on DIY crafts, design thinking, mindfulness, gardening, eating, permaculture, and more.



Gold, August. Thank You God, for Everything. (Putnam, 2009). Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Pre K – Grade 2

Gold, the spiritual director of Sacred Center New York, notes that the happiest people see everything in their lives—both the good and the bad—as reasons to be thankful. Her goal here is to ―show young readers how to develop their own thankful eyes. A diverse group of children do just that in the meaningful text and attractive art.



Gorman, Amanda. Change Sings: A Children's Anthem (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2021) Illustrated by Loren Long

A lyrical picture book debut from Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and illustrator Loren Long

“I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don’t fear change coming,
And so I sing along.”

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.



Han, Jia. My Name is Zedonk

In the 2010 Census, almost 10 million Americans identified as multiracial. As our population grows, more and more families will be made up of people who may not look just like one another.

My Name is Zedonk is a charming children’s book celebrating diverse and multiracial families—or just a little story about a zedonk, read into it what you wish. Originally published in Korea, the story is for ages 3 to 8 and illustrated with full color, mixed media drawings that will resonate across ages, races, and genders. This story captures love, acceptance, and the mystery and magic of family.



Hanh, Thich Nhat. Clouds in a Tea Cup — A Mindful Journey and Coloring Book. Illustrated by Brett Cook

As soon as you open the cover of Clouds in a Teacup, you step into a contemplative journey of your own creation. Oakland, California artist and activist Brett Cook invites you to shed your stress and worries to consider the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh during the relaxing process of coloring. His evocative black and white images nurture your own creativity; the resulting pictures will reflect your vision.



Hanh, Thich Nhat. Is Nothing Something—Kids' Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between

In Is Nothing Something? Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh answers heartfelt, difficult, and funny questions from children of all ages. Illustrated with original full-color artwork by Jessica McClure, Is Nothing Something? will help adults plant the seeds of mindfulness in the young children in their lives. Beginning with the most basic questions, “What is important in life?” and “Why is my brother mean to me?” and progressing through issues that we all wrestle with, such as “How do I know if I really love somebody?”, “How long am I going to live?”, and “What does God look like?”, each page presents a question with a short answer from Thich Nhat Hanh, appropriate for beginning readers to work with on their own. The back of the book has the first complete children’s biography of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with basic, kid-friendly instructions for mindful breathing and mindful walking. Both humorous and profound, Is Nothing Something? is the perfect resource for kids with questions, adults looking to answer them, and anyone with questions of their own.



Hanh, Thich Nhat. Under the Rose Apple Tree

In this sequel to A Pebble for Your Pocket, Zen teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh looks deeply at the issues that confront young people in today’s society. Applying his unique insights to anger, family conflict, drug use, and sexual responsibility, he makes the ancient teachings of the Buddha relevant to adolescents by offering mindfulness practices as tools to help transform the suffering in their everyday lives. Ages 10-13.



Hanh, Thich Nhat. Where is the Buddha? Illustrated by Kim Lien and Nguyen Quang

Minh loves going to the temple with his parents. Everyone is nice to him there as they go about their daily work. But his favorite part of the temple is the Buddha statue. He is very impressed by all of the bananas, mangoes, and other fruits that people leave for the Buddha. He imagines that the Buddha must really like all of those fruits! To Minh, the Buddha statue is the Buddha.



Jarocki, Dawn. Kisiel, Soren. Once Upon a Tree. Illustrated by Jessica McClure

The whirling, swirling adventures of an ordinary little leaf high on a tree, struggling to find its purpose. The leaf watches baby birds break out of their shells and grow until they learn to fly. Caterpillars wrap themselves in silk and emerge as magnificent butterflies. Warm sunny days get shorter and windy chilly nights grow longer. The little leaf is terribly worried that it should be transforming too. It no longer noticed anything other than the thoughts spinning in its head. The leaf held on to the tree with all its might, growing exhausted as increasingly cooler winds blew. Then one day, the leaf noticed it had become a beautiful crimson color. And it became aware that maybe, maybe it was time for the leaf to fly too. The leaf was very tired, so it just let go. As it danced and twirled to the ground in the amber sunlight, the leaf finally learns its own unique purpose.  



Keller, Laurie. Do Unto to Otters: A Book about Manners (Holt, 2007). Pre K – Grade 3

Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.
—Socrates (the Greek philosopher), circa 470-399 B.C.

Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters. OTTERS! But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends? Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl. In her smart, playful style Laurie Keller highlights how to be a good friend and neighbor simply follow the Golden Rule! Do Unto Otters is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.



Lightfoot, Theodore Allen, edited by Julia H. Young. Tiger and Mouse: The Gift of Helping Others (Lightfoot Books, 2011). Illustrated by Elizabeth and Philip Armstrong

A rambunctious tiger cub and a hard working mouse cross paths one day in the jungle. Tiger is only interested in playing, but soon discovers that his friend needs help. What will he decide to do? With an engaging story and stunning illustrations, your child will love every page of this uplifting tale.



MacLean, Kerry Lee. Moody Cow Meditates (Wisdom Publications, 2009). Pre K - Grade 2

Peter the Cow is having a bad day. After missing the bus and wiping out on his bike, he loses his temper and gets in trouble. To make matters worse, all the other kids and cows are teasing him, calling him "Moody Cow." Peter's day just seems to get worse until his grandfather comes over. Can Grandpa teach him to settle his mind and let go of his frustration? This vibrant children's book is a fun and funny way to introduce children to the power of meditation. With full-color illustrations by the author, Moody Cow is ideal for parent-child sharing and for repeat reads.



MacLean, Kerry Lee. Moody Cow Learns Compassion (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

We are reintroduced to Peter (aka Moody Cow) and meet his mischievous “boys-will-be-boys” friend Bully. Along the way we meet a snake named Jaws, who also goes on to appear in Peter’s terrifying dreams, and watch as Bully revels in the deaths of the crickets he feeds the snake. Peter is uncomfortable with the plight of the little creatures, earning him a new nickname: “Coward Cow” because Bully thinks he’s a wimp. Once again, Grandfather, the beloved old steer from Moody Cow Meditates, brings serenity and long-horned wisdom as he gently teaches to compassionately identify with other beings. And the story ends with everyone sharing a laugh — and even Jaws and the crickets are happy.



McCloud, Carol. Illustrated by David Messing. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids (Bucket Fillers, 2015)

Through simple prose and vivid illustrations featuring girls and boys from around the world, this heartwarming book encourages positive behavior as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well being of others and ourselves.

"Bucket fillng is easy. It doesn't cost any money. It doesn't take much time. It doesn't matter how young or old you are. Bucket filing makes everyone feel good." -- Carol McCloud



Montessori, Maria. The Absorbent Mind (Wilder Publications, 2009)

The Absorbent Mind was Maria Montessori's most in-depth work on her educational theory, based on decades of scientific observation of children. Her view on children and their absorbent minds was a landmark departure from the educational model at the time. This book helped start a revolution in education. Since this book first appeared there have been both cognitive and neurological studies that have confirmed what Maria Montessori knew decades ago.



Nance, Andrew Jordan. Puppy Mind. Illustrated by Jim Durl

In this picture book for children and adults, illustrated by Jim Durk, who is adored by thousands of children for his many Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas the Steam Engine books, a young boy discovers his mind is like a puppy, always wandering away, into the past or the future. He sets about learning to train his puppy mind to heel to the present moment. Through remembering to breathe, the boy becomes a stronger and more caring master of his puppy mind, keeping it in the present, if only for a moment. Includes a discussion guide for parents and teachers.



Nance, Andrew Jordan. The Lion in Me. Illustrated by Jim Durk

In the latest picture book from educator Andrew Nance, author of the bestselling Puppy Mind, a young boy learns to calm his ferocious anger. Using deep breaths, the lion inside–his growling anger–can be tamed. With illustrations by Jim Durk, whose work includes Puppy Mind and many of the Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas the Steam Engine books.



Oda, Mayumi. Happy Veggies

Crisp cabbages, crunchy carrots, radiant radishes…. Vibrant illustrations of vegetables in the garden by legendary Japanese artist Mayumi Oda will inspire children to see the garden as a life-giving place where they can touch the Earth and see how Nature loves and feeds them. Starting with green and purple asparagus in the Spring, the book moves joyfully through the seasons, showing how hot and cold weather, sunshine and rain all combine to bring about a happy harvest.



O’Sullivan, Orlaith. We are All Flowers—A Story of Appreciating Others. Illustrated by Tikka and Tata

A rhyming, charming exploration of “flower-watering”—the art of appreciating others—for kids.

We are all flowers! We all need to be seen and genuinely appreciated to be our best selves, just like flowers need water. This fun and sweet book introduces children to the practice of flower-watering: the-much needed art of recognizing and appreciating good qualities in the people around you, which brightens and lifts everyone’s spirits.

Also includes a section on watering your own flowers to grow your own self-esteem.



Palacio, R. J.  Wonder (Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1 edition, 2012)

After being home schooled all his life, 10-year-old August Pullman is starting 5th grade at a private middle school in his Upper East Side neighborhood. He wonders if anyone will realize that he’s just a normal kid underneath his disfigured face, an affliction he was born with. His middle school classmates are challenged to “be kinder than is necessary” but can they? Will they? In this uplifting story, it turns out that everyone carries some kind of disfigurement that feels isolating, even though most can’t be seen. We cheer for Auggie, as we are moved to tears, that kindness can indeed change the world. Warning: this chapter book teaches compassion. [Chapter book, ages 9 and up]



Proimos, James. Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace (Little, Brown, 2009). Pre K – Grade 3Paulie is ―nothing more special than you are, but things change after he begins showing kindness to animals and even―reading to trees. Soon, Paulie moves on to people, making amends with his sister and sharing his lunch with a classmate; and when he discovers that cupcakes can resolve disputes, his peace-making ambitions grow.



Perry, LaTashia M. Skin Like Mine (G Publishing, 2016) Illustrated by Bea Jackson

From the Creators of Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine, the second book in the Kids Like Mine Series, is a fun, easy-to- read for beginners as well as advanced readers. An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry.



Rosenthal, Amy Krause. Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons (HarperCollins, 2006). Illustrated by Jane Dyer. Pre K – Grade 1

Everyone knows cookies taste good, but these cookies also have something good to say. Open this delectable book to any page and you will find out something about life. Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons is a new kind of dictionary, one that defines mysteries such as "fair" and "unfair" and what it really means to "cooperate." The book is by turns clever, honest, inspirational, and whimsical. Go ahead, take a bite!



Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Plant a Kiss (HarperCollins, 2011). Illustrated by Peter Reynolds

Little Miss planted a kiss... One small act of love blooms into something bigger and more dazzling than Little Miss could have ever imagined in this epic journey about life, kindness, and giving.

New York Times bestselling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and award-winning illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have teamed together for the first time, creating what may soon prove to be a perennial favorite.



Scanlon, Liz Garton. All the World (Simon & Schuster, 2009). Illustrated by Marla Frazee. Pre K – Grade 1

All the world is here. It is there. It is everywhere.All the world is right where you are. Now.

Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky. Little ones will get a chance to feel a part of the larger world and understand how we are all connected in this lovely book with eye-catching, child-appealing illustrations.



Schwartz, Howard. Gathering Sparks (Roaring Brook, 2010). Illustrated by Kristina Swarner. Pre K – Grade 3

The concept of repairing the world is explained as a Grandfather and his grandchild look at the stars. Grandfather explains God made 10 vessels to carry light across the sky. If they had stayed intact, ―the world would have been perfect, but they became increasingly fragile and broke apart. Now, it‘s up to us repair the world.



Shaw, Hannah.  Sneaky Weasel (Knopf, 2009). Pre K – Grade 3

When nobody comes to Weasel‘s birthday party, he wants to find out why. He‘s reminded by his classmates that his mean actions have repercussions, and he decides to better. The meaning and value of friendship get a solid treatment in this smartly illustrated book.



Silver, Gail. Anh's Anger. Illustrated by Christiane Kromer 

This wonderful and engaging story gives children and caregivers a concrete practice for dealing with anger and other difficult emotions. In Anh’s Anger, five-year-old Anh becomes enraged when his grandfather asks him to stop playing and come to the dinner table. The grandfather helps Anh fully experience all stages of anger by suggesting that he go to his room and, “sit with his anger.” The story unfolds when Anh discovers what it means to sit with his anger. He comes to know his anger in the first person as his anger comes to life in full color and personality. Anh and his anger work through feelings together with humor and honesty to find a way to constructively release their thoughts and emotions and to reach resolve with Anh’s grandfather.



Silver, Gail. Peace, Bugs and Understanding—An Adventure in Sibling Harmony. Illustrated by Youme Nguyen Ly

Lily and her little sister Ruby are having a picnic when Ruby spoils their game of checkers. Lily lashes out but soon gets absorbed in a wonderful book, the story of her great grandfather’s encounter with a strange looking frog-like creature called Anger. The precious old journal teaches Lily about Metta, a technique that has helped people transform anger into loving kindness for thousands of years.



Silver, Gail. Steps and Stones—An Anh's Anger Story. Illustrated by Christiane Kromer 

When Anh’s friends leave and he feels left out at school, his anger shows up to keep him company. Anh the protagonist of Gail Silver’s previous book Anh’s Anger, is a typical and easy-to-relate-to elementary school-age boy. His anger, personified as a red hairy impulsive creature, teaches him some valuable lessons about not getting carried away by his strong emotions. By counting his steps and coordinating them with his breathing Anh is able to slow down and take his anger for a peaceful and magically transformative walk.



Silver, Gail. Where Did Poppy Go?—A Story about Loss, Grief, and Renewal. Illustrated by Amanda Quartey

After a grandfather dies, a father and son journey forward through seasons and time, discovering how our loved ones remain with us even after they pass on.



Sosin, Deborah. Charlotte and the Quiet Place. Illustrated by Sara Woolley

Charlotte likes quiet. But wherever Charlotte goes, she is surrounded by noise, noise, noise—her yipping dog, Otto; the squeaky, creaky swings; the warbling, wailing sirens. Even in the library, children yammer and yell. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place? Sara Woolley’s magnificent watercolors bring Charlotte’s city to life when Otto leads her on a wild chase through the park. There, Charlotte discovers a quiet place where she never would have imagined!



Stone, Jesse. Honey Badger at Home (Irrational Worlds, 2013). Grades 1 - 4

When Squirrel gets an invitation to tea, she's excited- UNTIL SHE REALIZES THAT IT'S TEA AT HONEY BADGER'S HOUSE! Everyone knows about Honey Badger, of course- she's known far and wide for being unpredictable, and just plain mean. Should Squirrel go? Or should she stay at home, and risk making Honey Badger angry with her?



Smith, David S.  If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People (CitizenKid) (Kids Can Press; 2 edition, 2011). Grades 3 - 5

To make the idea of a world of 6.2 billion people more understandable, Smith suggests that children imagine the population of the world as a village of just 100 people. That's one person representing 62 million people in the real world. Surprising, even shocking statistics follow--for example, many kids in the U. S. take computers for granted, but only seven people in the global village own one. Each double-page, picture-book spread relates a few consciousness-raising facts about such topics as nationalities, food, language, and religion. With the aid of a calculator, even younger kids can do the math; the tricky part is to get children to really understand the ideas. Armstrong's large acrylic paintings, nice complements to the text, look like stained glass windows, with blocks of intense color outlined in thick black lines. This highly informative book will get kids thinking and asking questions, and it can easily be incorporated into a middle-school social studies curriculum. The endnote suggests related activities for home and classroom.



Susan, Sister. Each Breath a Smile. Illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop & Nguyen Dong

Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh; Written down by Sister Thuc Nghiem; Illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong; in Each Breath a Smile children learn how to calm body and mind and enjoy the present moment.



Umrigar, Thrity. Binny's Diwali (Scholastic Press, 2020). Illustrated by Nidhi

Binny woke up happy but nervous. It was her day to share about Diwali, the Festival of Lights!

Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words.Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty all the children ooh and aah.

Featuring a heartwarming story by Thrity Umrigar, enchanting illustrations by Nidhi Chanani, and detailed information about the Hindu festival of lights, Binny's Diwali is a holiday treat.



Umrigar, Thrity.  Sugar in Milk (Running Press Kid, 2020). Illustrated by Khoa Le

A timely and timeless picture book about immigration, refugees, acceptance, and tolerance from a NYT bestselling author.

A young girl in modern times comes from India to live in America with her extended family. She feels so alone-like she's not wanted-and then remembers a story her mother once told her about a group of Persians who were ousted from their country and who sailed to the Western shores of India in search for a new home. The king of the region in India did not want to let them in and explained (using a glass of full milk) that the community was simply too full to let them in. The king of the Persian refugees then dumped some sugar into the milk, stirred until it dissolved, and explained to the king that not only would his people integrate well into their society but they would also help sweeten their culture. The Indian king lets them in and they prosper. And, in the end, the young girl realizes that she, too, is being accepted by those in her neighborhood and that she can finally start feeling a part of this new American society.



Umrigar, Thrity. When I Carried You in My Belly (Running Press Kids, 2017). Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Love Your Forever meets On the Night You Were Born in this heartwarming picture book about a mother's love for her child.

The special bond between a mother and her child begins well before the baby is born. But once the baby is born and starts to grow into her own person, traits from both parents begin to show themselves in delightful and humorous ways. When I Carried You in My Belly is a mother's song to her growing daughter, capturing the warmth and magic of the time when her daughter was housed inside her belly. The girl's laugh, her love of music, her sweet disposition, and her carefree attitude can all be traced back to her time in her mother's tummy, when her mother would laugh, sing songs, eat yummy treats, and dance the day away.

Thrity Umrigar's lyrical and playful text are well complemented by Ziyue Chen's soft and delightful illustrations, and together they create a sentimental and insightful book about the special bond between parents and children. With a similar tone to On the Night You Were Born and the spirit of I Loved You Before You Were Born, When I Carried You in My Belly is primed to become a new timeless classic.



Walker, Alice. Sweet People Are Everywhere (Tra Publishing, 2021). Illustrated by Quim Torres

Sweet People Are Everywhere, an illustrated picture book featuring a poem by internationally renowned writer and activist Alice Walker, is a powerful celebration of humanity. The poem addresses a young boy getting his first passport, taking the boy––and the reader––on a journey through a series of countries around the globe where “sweet people” can be found. 

They are all over the globe. Sweet people can be found from Canada to Congo to Cuba, from Afghanistan to Australia, from Ireland to Iraq…there are sweet people in the thirty-seven places listed in these pages and almost everywhere else on the planet. Take a trip through the lines of this large-hearted poem by Alice Walker and meet some of them!

An ode to humanity, Walker’s heartening message is celebrated through Quim Torres’ deeply felt illustrations.



Wells, Rosemary. Yoko (Hyperion Book, Reprint edition, 2009). Pre K - Grade 2

Everyone makes fun of Yoko’s lunch because it’s different.  Her teacher frets and comes up with a plan to have an International Food Day.  But still, no one will touch Yoko’s sushi.  Finally, Timothy tries it and loves it.  Yoko and Timothy push their desks together to have a “restaurant” serving sushi and sandwiches every day!



Williams, Laura E. The Can Man (Lee & Low Books, 2010). K - Grade 3

Tim's birthday is just a week away, and more than anything he wants a skateboard. But money is tight, and Tim knows his family cannot afford to buy him a board.

As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man's cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his goal-until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything.Told with honesty and respect, this timely story shines a perceptive light on current social concerns. Readers will be encouraged to think beyond themselves and celebrate the simple acts of kindness and sharing that make a difference in people's lives.



Yogis, Jaimal. Mop Rides the Waves of Life—A Story of Mindfulness and Surfing. Illustrated by Matthew Allen

If only life could be like surfing! Having “funny” hair and being embarrassed in school is hard, but when little surfer Mop studies the lessons of the waves—breathing, letting the bad waves go by, and riding the good ones—he learns how to bring the mindfulness and joy of surfing into his whole life.


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