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Books about difference

The books below aim to celebrate individual differences and similarities, and promote acceptance of the self and others. Children learn about themselves, others and their environment through books and therefore it is important to embrace inclusive materials that demonstrate individual differences are appreciated, and all children are valued.

The books have been categorised by age for your convenience, however we encourage parents to be led by their child’s interests and note that most books can be enjoyed by all ages.

I Need a Hug

Author and Illustrator: Aaron Blabey, Publisher: Scholastic

2 years and above
‘I need a hug. Will you cuddle me, Lou?’ ‘What? With those spikes? Get away from me! Shoo!’ This story helps young people understand their differences and shows that everyone is worthy of love. I need a hug book cover

Not your typical dragon

Author:  Dan Bar-el, Illustrator: Tim Bowers, Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

2 years and above
This story follows a dragon who can breathe anything, it seems, than fire. Whist at first this was distressing, it turns out difference is something to be celebrates and the dragon’s difference saves the day.

For a recorded story telling please see Not Your Typical Dragon told by the author Dan Bar-el – YouTube.

Not your typical dragon book cover


First Place

Author: Kate Gaynor, Illustrator: Eva Byrne, Publisher: Special Stories Publishing

2 years and above
This story explores speech and language development. Through the main character, children learn that they can overcome their speech problems by working closely with their speech therapist and not being afraid to try. First place book cover


Mr Friend Isabelle

Author: Eliza Woloson, Illustrator: Bryan Gough, Publisher: Woodbine House Inc.

Preschool and Early Primary School
Charlie’s friend Isabelle has Down syndrome, and this story explores the commonalities between the friends, whilst acknowledging that differences can make friendships special, and the world a more interesting place. My friend Isabelle book cover


Smile with Simon

Author: Patricia Ann Simon, Illustrator: Valerie McCord, Publisher: Patricia Ann Simon

Preschool and Early Primary School
This book follows the story of a bird and a girl who bond when they realize they both have facial scars.  The characters empower each other and begin to teach their friends that everyone is special in their own way. Smile with Simon book cover


Different is Awesome

Author: Ryan Haack, Illustrator: Wes Molebash, Publisher: Mascot Books

Primary School
This book tells the story of a boy with one hand, and explores how he can do everything others can do – he just does it differently. The story celebrates difference as something that makes us unique – and awesome! Different is awesome book cover


Pit Bully: the mental ninja awakens

Author: Edward P. Buchanan, MD, Illustrator: Matthew A. Buchanan, Publisher: Lulu Press Inc.

Primary School
This story explores bullying and teasing in an accessible way. The characters control their emotions and use compassion when reacting to troubling situations to minimize its effects, with the aim of becoming a “Mental Ninja”. Pit bully book cover


The Tale of Fenny Fox: the mental ninja emerges

Author: Edward P. Buchanan, MD, Illustrator: Matthew A. Buchanan, Publisher: Lulu Press Inc.

Primary School
This story follows on from “Pit Bully: the mental ninja awakens”, and explores how our differences make us special and they should be appreciated – whether that is our physical appearance, personality or our background. The tale of fenny fox book cover


It’s Hard Not to Stare

Author: Tim Huff, Illustrator: Tim Huff, Publisher: Castle Quay Books

Primary School
This story may be useful to bring into a classroom setting, as it explores questions children may ask about visible difference or disability, and encourages the use of compassion and understanding. It's hard not to stare book cover