A list of books to teach toddlers tolerance and understanding


The author of this piece is also the author of one of the following selections.

Tolerance recognizes the humanity in each person and provides a safe space for disagreement while celebrating acceptance and inclusion. The essence of tolerance is love and the welcome message. Isn’t that something worth celebrating? The UN thinks so! First celebrated on November 16, 1996, the International Day for Tolerance recalls the importance of “Strengthen tolerance by promoting mutual understanding between cultures and peoples”, according to the UN website. With that in mind, let’s celebrate by modeling tolerance all year round. Here is a children’s chart and list of books to help do just that and raise tolerant children.

Books that introduce tolerance to the youngest reader

Book covers clockwise from left: “Love Makes a Family” written and illustrated by Sophie Beer, “Say Hello! Written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora and “All Kinds of People” by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. | Meg raby

“All kinds of people” (age from birth to 3 years old)
By Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly

This beautiful hardback book is full of photographs of children of various ethnicities. It shows children that the skin colors of people everywhere – at the playground, at the park, at the beach, and even in the same family – are different, but all are beautiful.

“Love makes a family” (age from birth to 3 years old) Written and illustrated by Sophie Beer

The title of this brilliantly illustrated hardcover book says it all: love makes family. Whatever the family structure, these are the actions of finding the biggest puddles, having tea in a treehouse, reading one more book, and making everything better where the family is.

“Say hello!” (ages birth-3) Written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora

Carmelita walks her dog in her town. Along the way, she greets several familiar and unfamiliar faces and learns to say hello in a variety of languages, including Arabic, French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and Swahili. This logbook effectively showcases the beauty of diversity and tolerance.

Books to define and teach tolerance


Book covers clockwise from right: “The Big Umbrella” by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates, illustrated by Amy June Bates; “Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Tae-eun Yoo and “The Wall in the Middle of the Book” written and illustrated by Jon Agee. | Meg raby

“The big umbrella” (4-8 years old)
Written by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates; illustrated by Amy June Bates

A smart approach to extending kindness to everyone, a big red umbrella shows the reader that being friendly, helpful and inclusive – even for the tall and the furry – is what ultimately brings us joy.

“The wall in the middle of the book” (4-8 years)
Written and illustrated by Jon Agee

It’s a brilliant story about tearing down the walls to experience the truth and eventually find out that people aren’t always the way you imagined them to be. The wall of this story separates one side of the book from the other, until it doesn’t. What is unfolding is both humorous and poignant, pointing to a message of tolerance in an unexpected way.

“Strictly no elephants” (4-8 years old)
Written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Tae-eun Yoo

No one wants to be left behind. Join a boy and his little elephant as they are disappointed and try to participate in the local Pet Club and are rejected. Soon they decide to create their own community – their own club – where everyone is welcome. This lovely picture book is full of sweet illustrations and sweet wisdom.

Books on tolerance and person-to-person differences


Book covers from left to right: “The Same But Different Too” by Karl Newson and illustrated by Kate Hindley and “Sweety” written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill. | Meg raby

“Sweet” (4-8 years)
Written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill

A square peg in a round hole, Sweety the naked mole rat in a head covering showcases the beauty and humanity of the bizarre. Sweety is not quite like the others. She enjoys exploring various species of mushrooms, dancing and playing with her Zorna doll, who adores the chocolate-beet cake and the eggplant color. Through humor and intensity, “Sweety” shows readers that they shouldn’t shy away from who they are and promises that a world everyone belongs to is a world worth striving for.

“The same but different too” (4-8 years old) Written by Karl Newson and illustrated by Kate Hindley

Tolerance is celebrated in this rhyming and engaging picture book about the similarities and differences between animals and humans. A great read aloud, “The Same But Different Too” is a wonderful way to start the conversation about acceptance at an early age.

Books on culture and race tolerance


Book covers clockwise from left: “The Day You Begin” written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez, “This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World “by Matt Lamothe and” Everybody Cooks Rice “written by Norah Dooley and illustrated by Peter J. Thornton. | Meg Raby

“The day you start” (4-8 years old)
Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This powerful picture book written in lyrical form takes the reader to school and other high-traffic spaces to highlight the beauty of different cultures and races. It recognizes the initial discomfort of being different and portrays the strength of vulnerability. Beautiful illustrations of children of different skin colors, socio-economic status and different backgrounds perfectly amplify the message that when you go out bravely and just be yourself, you can and should be embraced. open.

“This is how we do it: a day in the life of seven children from all over the world” (4-8 years) By Matt Lamothe

This beautiful, non-fiction picture book gives the reader insight into homes, families, clothing, transportation, schools, written language, meals, types of play, and responsibilities in seven different countries. It is both informative and celebrating the differences between countries and provides a child-friendly context for conversations about tolerance. It ends with a series of illustrations capturing the night sky under which all of humanity sleeps.

“Everyone cooks rice” (4-8 years old)
Written by Norah Dooley and illustrated by Peter J. Thornton

Carrie sets off to find her brother Anthony to let him know it’s dinner time. Anthony always tries his neighbors’ dishes, so Carrie goes to every house in the neighborhood. Along the way, she too tastes dishes from cultures around the world, including Barbados, Vietnam, China, Haiti and Italy. In no time, she discovers that despite the origin of her neighbors, rice is served in every home. With a message of community and tolerance, “Everybody Cooks Rice” teaches the reader to seek out the things that bring us together.

Books on tolerance and neurodiversity


Book covers from left to right: “A Friend for Henry” written by Jenn Bailey and illustrated by Mika Song and “My Brother Otto” written by Meg Raby and illustrated by Elisa Pallmer. | Meg raby

“A friend for Henry” (4-8 years old)
Written by Jenn Bailey and illustrated by Mika Song

The message that everyone wants a friend rings true in this tender picture book about a boy named Henry who has autism. Henry is looking for someone who understands him, listens to him and plays with him. He finds it out in a girl named Katie who doesn’t like broccoli and respects her loathing for triangles. Written by a mother of a boy with the autism spectrum, “A Friend For Henry” is a heartfelt story that champions the message of acceptance and belonging.

“My brother Otto” (4-8 years old) Written by Meg Raby and illustrated by Elisa Pallmer

Otto Crow is a nonverbal autism spectrum crow who uses alternative means to communicate, including a tablet and various behaviors or actions. His older sister, Piper Crow, who loves him very much, guides the reader through a week of daily games and activities that they practice together. Piper recognizes their different approach and experience of the world around them, but she also sees how similar they are in their desires to have fun, to be loved, and to be included. A beautiful message complemented by adorable and engaging illustrations.

Books on tolerance and religion


Book covers from left to right: “My Religion, Your Religion” written by Lisa Bullard and illustrated by Holli Conger and “A Kids Book About God” by Paul J. Pastor. | Meg raby

“A children’s book on God” (4-8 years old) By Paul J. Pastor

The final book in the “A Kids Book About” series deals with the inquisitive nature of children and their desires for answers to difficult questions about God. A deep purpose of this book is to encourage these difficult questions and to accept that you do not know all the answers. Another is to recognize that religion can and has led to wicked words and deeds when people disagree about God and who he is and who he is not. Finally, the last objective is to converse with the children on the essence of God and that God is love.

“My religion, your religion” (4-8 years old) Written by Lisa Bullard and illustrated by Holli Conger

The message of this thoughtful, kid-friendly book is that different families have different beliefs that should be respected and understood even when there is disagreement. This helpful picture book takes the reader from religion to religion through the eyes of a Christian boy named David. Full of religious traditions and practices, David attends a Jewish bar mitzvah that sparks a desire to learn more about other religions. Although initially nervous, he soon discovers that there are many similarities between religions, and learning each can be fun.

A book that binds tolerance


Cover of the book “I’ll Walk with You” by Carol Lynn Pearson and illustrated by Jane Sanders. | Meg raby

“I will walk with you” (4-8 years) Written by Carol Lynn Pearson and illustrated by Jane Sanders

If I could recommend one purchase of a tolerance picture book to add to every child’s family library, it would be Carol Lynn Pearson’s “I’ll Walk With You”. The diverse, modern aesthetic of the illustrations and the poetic message that everyone deserves to be loved no matter what is beautifully depicted on each page. It effortlessly ties together the essence of tolerance and is truly wonderful read.

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