I AM: Children's Books That Affirm and Encourage Self Love
Books help reinforce the positive messages we want children to embrace. That’s why it’s so important that children have access to books that affirm who they are and encourage them to believe in themselves. While self love and self acceptance develops as children grow, books like these can help us nurture those skills along the way.
Helping Kids Rise believes all children deserve access to books that educate, empower and inspire and all of these books fit that mission!
I Am Enough by Grace Byers, Illustrated by Keturah A Bobo: 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. (Ages 4–8)
Remarkably You by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Patricia Barton:
New York Times bestselling author Pat Zietlow Miller celebrates individuality in her remarkable picture book about the beauty of being yourself.
Heartfelt and timeless, Remarkably You is an inspirational manifesto about all of the things — little or small, loud or quiet — that make us who we are.
With encouraging text by Pat Zietlow Miller and exuberant illustrations by Patrice Barton, readers will delight in all the ways they can be their remarkable selves.
You might go unnoticed, or shine like a star, but wherever you go and whoever you are… don’t change how you act to be just like the rest. Believe in yourself and the things you do best. (Ages 4–8)
Being You by Alex Pate, Illustrated by Soud: Award-winning author and professor Alexs Pate delivers a message of hope and self-discovery in a time of uncertainty in our world. BEING YOU is a beautiful picture book celebrating every readers’ individuality and talents. With an authentic voice, BEING YOU’s poetic message of love and optimism for the future speaks directly to today’s children. BEING YOU helps us to see the wonder and light within each of us. (Ages 3–9)
Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton, Illustrated by Elena Reinoso: The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realise he can be anything he wants to be. (Ages 2–5)
I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni, Illustrated by Ashley Bryan:
There is nothing more important to a child than to feel loved, and this gorgeous gathering of poems written by Nikki Giovanni celebrates exactly that. Hand-selected by Newbery honoree Ashley Bryan, he has, with his masterful flourish of color, shape, and movement, added a visual layering that drums the most important message of all to young, old, parent, child, grandparent, and friend alike: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. As a bonus, one page is mirrored, so children reading the book can see exactly who is loved — themselves! (Ages 4–8)
Why Am I Me by Paige Britt, Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Aiko: Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters — who don’t realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions — this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.
If the first step toward healing the world is to build bridges of empathy and celebrate rather than discriminate, Why Am I Me? helps foster a much-needed sense of connection, compassion, and love. (Ages 5–8)
We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett: We All Count a Book of Cree Numbers provides insight into contemporary Cree life. It teaches Cree numbers 0 -10 and provides pronunciation. This board book is wonderfully illustrated by Canadian based Cree/Metis artist Julie Flett. This book is important in enhancing learning of Cree numbers and making Cree culture accessible to young readers. A bilingual book with a great message. (Ages 0-6)
Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color by Monique Fields, Illustrated by Yesenia Moises: A young biracial girl looks around her world for her color. She finally chooses her own, and creates a new word for herself―honeysmoke.
Simone wants a color.
She asks Mama, “Am I black or white?”
“Boo,” Mama says, just like mamas do, “a color is just a word.”
She asks Daddy, “Am I black or white?”
“Well,” Daddy says, just like daddies do, “you’re a little bit of both.”
For multiracial children, and all children everywhere, this picture book offers a universal message that empowers young people to create their own self-identity.
Simone knows her color―she is honeysmoke.(Ages 3–6)
Alma: and How She Got Her Name: by Juana Martinez-Neal (Author and Illustrator)
What’s in a name? For one little girl, her very long name tells the vibrant story of where she came from — and who she may one day be.
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names. (Ages 4–8)
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel: Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith. (Ages 4–8)
I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds: From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family — millions strong. (Ages 4–8)
The Amazing Idea of You by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, Illustrated by Mary Lundquist:
Hidden inside every living thing is an idea. That idea can sprout, sing, wriggle, take wing . . . into something amazing!
Exploring beginnings both small and great, The Amazing Idea of You bonds the human and natural worlds in a lyrical burst of celebration.
So dig deep, fly high, look around, and find the extraordinary inside everything . . . including YOU! (Ages 3–6)
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (Author and Illustrator): The new kid in school needs a new name! Or does she?
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices being a Suzy, Laura, or Amanda, one of her classmates comes to her neighborhood and discovers her real name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing, the name jar has mysteriously disappeared. Encouraged by her new friends, Unhei chooses her own Korean name and helps everyone pronounce it — Yoon-Hey. (Ages 3–7)
What I Like About Me by Allia Zobel Nolan, Illustrated by Miki Sakamoto: This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special.
The kids in What I Like About Me! are as different as night and day. And, guess what? They love it. Some adore the fact that their braces dazzle and gleam, others feel distinguished when they wear their glasses. Still others wouldn’t trade their big feet for a lifetime of free video games. A mylar mirror embedded in the last page let kids take a look at themselves and decide what they like best about themselves. (Ages 3–8)
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas: 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. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers. (Ages 4–8)
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds:
When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.
Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded and restored. (Ages 4–8)
I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations For Kids by Gabi Garcia, Illustrated by Charity Russell:
What we tell ourselves matters! This is just as true for kids as it is for adults.
Help your child tap into their inner strength and find the encouragement they need to navigate their daily environments.
Mindful affirmations can help your child tune out the streams of messages they get about how they should be in the world.
I can choose kindness.
I can practice peace.
I can share my gifts with the world.
(Available in Spanish as Yo Puedo Hacer Cosas Dificiles: Afirmaciones Concientes Para Niños).
When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, Illustrated by David Catrow:
YOU, you… God thinks about you. God was thinking of you long before your debut.
From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly. Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves. ’Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew That the world needed someone exactly like you! (Ages 3–7)
You can find more Affirming Children’s Books in our online bookstore. Disclosure: We earn a small fee for any purchases made through our online bookstore. There is no additional cost to you.
Helping Kids Rise is on a mission to improve the lives of children and the people who love them through literacy, education, and social justice awareness. We do this by highlighting diverse and inclusive children’s books and resources that promote education, literacy, and social justice awareness. We also partner with schools, families, and children’s advocacy organizations to promote access to children’s books for under-served and underrepresented communities. To learn more or to partner with us, connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and our website: www.helpingkidsrise.org.