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10 books to teach kids about identity and belonging

By Katie Moore 3 min read
Tuesday, November 10, 2020

These books will help your child feel confident, develop a positive sense of who they are and feel like a valued and respected part of the family and community.

Identity and belonging are foundational to helping children feel positive about themselves. Not only that, it'll help them to be more open-minded to people different from themselves. This in turn will help them to be emotionally strong, self-assured, and able to deal with challenges and difficulties.

At the same time, the benefits of reading are hugely impactful in many different areas of your child’s life, and not just in the classroom. Reading builds your child’s imagination, increases their vocabulary and helps them develop critical social and communication skills that will prepare them well for later in life.

Reading helps your child build wider knowledge about the world around them, exposing them to different cultures, perspectives and ideas from the comfort of their own home.

At Luxuread Kids, my book subscription business, we like to feature a monthly theme to expand on developing those perspectives and ideas. We recently chose "Belonging" as our theme. Belonging is about safety, home and finding your place in the world. It is about acceptance of yourself and others, as well as lending a helping hand when you see others are struggling to find their place. It's an idea which couldn’t be more apt with the social disputes of 2020, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Books that teach kids about identity and belonging

These are our favourite books that fit the theme of "belonging". These books feature characters and authors from a range of backgrounds, who each face different challenges and situations regarding race or social status. The stories span from a little refugee girl who knew no English, a penguin lost but also found, to a boy with a rare cancer—causing a physical deformity—who found his place despite the bullying and many challenges he encountered.

1. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury

Viking

Suitable for ages 0–4

From two of the most gifted picture book creators of our time, here is a celebration of baby fingers, baby toes and the joy they—and the babies they belong to—bring to everyone, everywhere, all over the world!

2. If There Never Was a You

If There Never Was a You

Amanda Rowe

Familius

Suitable for ages 2–4

Filled with heartwarming messages of love, belonging and togetherness, If There Never Was a You gently reassures children that the place they hold in their parents' hearts can never be filled with anything else.

3. Mutt Dog

Mutt Dog

Stephen Michael King

Scholastic Australia

Suitable for ages 3–7

With humorous text and watercolour illustrations, this endearing picture book tells the story of a lonely dog who has to make it on his own . . . until he finds the perfect home.

4. Lost and Found

Lost And Found

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins

Suitable for ages 3–7

What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it came from, of course, and return it.

5. Perdu

 

Perdu

Richard Jones

Simon & Schuster Australia

Suitable for ages 3–7

The moving, beautifully illustrated story of a little lost dog and his search for a place to call home.

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6. My Two Blankets

My Two Blankets

Irena Kobald & Freya Blackwood

Little Hare Books

Suitable for ages 3–7

This beautiful tale about friendship and culture, paired with award-winning Freya Blackwood’s stunning illustrations, makes for the most exquisite book.

7. The Proudest Blue

The Proudest Blue

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Walker Books

Suitable for ages 5 and above

An important and uplifting family story of being proud of who you are from Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

8. My Place

My Place

Nadia Wheatley & Donna Rawlins

Walker Books

Suitable for ages 8 and above

This classic Australian picture book depicts the history of one particular piece of land in Sydney from 1788 to 1988 through the stories of the various children who have lived there. It aims to teach the reader about the history of Australia, about families, settlers, multiculturalism and the traditional owners of the land.

9. Amina's Voice

Amina's Voice

Hena Khan

Simon & Schuster Australia

Suitable for ages 8–12

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

10. Wink

Wink

Rob Harrell

HarperCollins

Suitable for ages 10 and above

A heartbreaking and hilarious story of survival, and of finding the music, magic and laughter in all of life's weirdness.

Katie Moore is the founder of Luxuread, a monthly book subscription box that started in 2018. She recently launched Luxuread Kids, sending children three surprise books tailored to their age every month. Luxuread.com.au.