Top Picture Books for a Welcoming Elementary School

And Tango Makes Three. Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. (Pre-K – 2) Penguins Roy and Silo at New York’s Central Park Zoo keep putting a rock in their nest to try to hatch it. The zookeeper gives them a real egg that needs care. The penguins take turns sitting on it until it hatches, and Tango is born. Lesson plan.

Be Who You Are. Todd Parr. (Pre-K – K) With Parr’s signature silly and accessible style, Parr encourages readers to embrace all their unique qualities—reminding them that their unique traits are what make them so special. Lesson Plan.

The Different Dragon. Jennifer Bryan. (Pre-K – 1) Shows how the wonderful curiosity and care of a little boy, with some help from his two moms, can lead to magical places with a dragon who is tired of being tough. Lesson Plan.

The Great Big Book of Families. Mary Hoffman. (Pre-K  – 3) Features all kinds of families and their lives together. Each two-page spread showcases one aspect of home life—from houses and holidays, to schools and pets, to feelings and family trees. Lesson Plan.

I am Jazz. Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. (K – 5)  From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. Based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings. Lesson Plan.

Julián Is a Mermaid. Jessica Love. (Pre-K – 2) While riding the subway with his abuela, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. When Julián gets home all he can think about is dressing up just like them. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, about how Julián sees himself? A story about the power of been seen and affirmed. Lesson Plan.

Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match / Marisol McDonald no combina. Monica Brown. (K – 2)  Marisol McDonald, a biracial, nonconformist, soccer-playing pirate-princess with brown skin and red hair, celebrates her uniqueness. Bilingual. Lesson Plan. 

The Name Jar. Yangsook Choi. (K – 2)  The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. Lesson Plan.

One. Kathryn Otoshi. (Pre-K – 1)  Red picks on Blue. The other colors don’t know what to do until One shows them how to stand up, stand together, and count. Also see, Zero. A lesson using this book is featured in the Welcoming Schools video "What Can We Do?" about preventing bullying and bias in school. Lesson Plan.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag. Rob Sanders. (1 – 3) Trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today's world. A Junior Library Guild Selection. Lesson Plan.

Red: A Crayon's Story. Michael Hall. (Pre-K – 1)  A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis. Almost everyone tries to “help” him be red until a friend offers a new perspective. He’s blue! About finding the courage to be true to your inner self. This can be read on multiple levels. Lesson Plan.

When Aidan Became a Big Brother. Kyle Lukoff and Kaylani Juanita.(Pre-K – 2) When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl, but as he grew older, he realized he was a trans boy. When he finds out he is going to be a big brother, he learns the most important thing about being an older sibling: how to love with his whole self. Lesson Plan.

Wings. Christopher Myers. (1 – 5) Take flight with Ikarus Jackson, the boy with wings who remains true to his dreams despite taunts. One girl realizes he must be lonely and resolves to stop the hurtful words. Lesson Plan.