Each child is lovable, valuable, and precious. Help reinforce this message with 3 picture books that emphasize a child’s intrinsic value regardless of ability, appearance, or circumstance.
PAWS and THINK! I am Importantby Miranda Mittleman, illustrated by Indos Studios. Weaver is a family dog who admires others serving in his neighborhood as fire dogs, police dogs, & service dogs. Feeling insecure by comparison, he leaves home seeking a job of importance. Upon observing his family’s rapid and emotional search for him, Weaver learns he has been important all along. Living in a world full of people older, bigger, and more powerful than oneself, a child could easily relate to Weaver’s sense of inadequacy. We assume children know how important they are, but rarely explicitly say, “you are important.” This book sends an unambiguous message that being part of a family makes you important. The message is so clear that my youngest started telling me, “I’m important,” after one reading. How much better would the world be if each child grew up saying and feeling this?
I Am Small by Emma Dodd. A small, downy penguin chick marvels at the world—a large colony of Emperor penguins, cold winds, icy hills, deep waters, an immense sky—noting after each observation that “I am small.” Returning home, the chick contrasts its physical size with the knowledge that “the biggest thing to you is me.” Breathtaking art leads to a slow, savoring read as you pause to admire the arctic beauty and shimmer of silver foil highlights. Read aloud, the short first-person phrases become a soothing poem ideal for story time while nestled on a loved one’s lap. In this busy, stressful world, every child can relate to feeling small and finding comfort in the security of a loved one. And at the end of a long day, this is the perfect book to take a quiet moment with your child to tell them just how precious they are. It should be no surprise that our readings always close with spontaneous snuggles—moments to savor. The tender message and beautiful art make this book a go-to gift for new parents.
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow. Told in a sequence of self-affirmation statements, this is a book about loving each and every aspect of oneself from one day to the next. The story centers on a vivacious little girl who revels in being herself. Playful and energetic in style, the illustrations confer authenticity to the text and steer away from reinforcing unhealthy beauty standards. An engaging read, I believe this book will help inoculate children against destructive messages within our society that tie self-worth to attributes such as external appearance, gender, and age. In fact, this book is so good for building self worth, I wish I could gift it to every child… every person in the world. We each would be better off carrying this beautiful message of self-love inside ourselves.