Human Issues Books for Ages 2 to 10

The Day Leo Said I Hate You!

by Robie H. HarrisThe Day Leo Said I Hate You
Ages: 2 – 6

In a reassuring manner, Robie H. Harris and Molly Bang portray what happens when a little boy feels SO frustrated and SO mad at a parent who has said NO all day long. Together, Harris and Bang delicately navigate not only the momentary angry feelings and outbursts of young children, but also the most profound bonds between a parent and a child.

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

Spoon

by Amy Rosenthal and Scott Magoonspoon
Ages: 2 – 6 years

He’s always been a happy little utensil. But lately, he feels like life as a spoon just isn’t cutting it. He thinks Fork, Knife, and The Chopsticks all have it so much better than him. But do they? And what do they think about Spoon? A book for all ages, Spoon serves as a gentle reminder to celebrate what makes us each special.

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

It’s Okay to Be Different

by Todd ParrIt's Okay to Be Different
Ages 3 – 6

It’s Okay to Be Different cleverly delivers the important messages of acceptance, understanding, and confidence in an accessible, child-friendly format featuring Todd Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to celebrate their individuality through acceptance of others and self-confidence.

Issues Covered: Respect for All, Celebrating Differences

My Princess Boy

my princess boyby Cheryl Kilodavis
Ages 3 and up

Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy. Inspired by the author’s son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heart-warming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family. It is also a call for tolerance and an end to bullying and judgments. The world is a brighter place when we accept everyone for who they are.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Bullying, Respect for All

Artie and Julie

by Chih Yuan Chen
Ages 3 – 5Artie and Julie

Artie was a happy little lion, and Julie was a happy little rabbit—until one day Julie was sent to the grassland to eat grass, and Artie was sent to the grassland to eat . . . rabbit! Distracted from their destinations, they both discover a delicious jellyberry patch. Driven by a sudden storm into a nearby cave, they become friends before they know they are meant to be enemies. Each returns home with a new friend, a tuft of each other’s fur as a keepsake, and a surprising story to tell their parents. A unique design adds depth to this clever tale—when Artie and Julie are apart their parallel stories are told on separate split pages, but when the two become friends the pages join together as well. Filled with playful art that adds a whimsical tone, this amusing story encourages young readers to overlook differences and demonstrates that fear should never be an obstacle to friendship.

Issues Covered: Respect for All, Celebrating Differences

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Ages: 4 – 8and tango makes three

And Tango Makes Three is the bestselling, heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo get the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Issues Covered: LGBT, Respect for All, Celebrating Differences

I Look Like a Girl

I look like a girlby Sheila Hamanaka
Ages 4 – 8

This is a strong and powerful book about being a girl and embracing oneself. The theme centers around girls being strong, independent and free-spirited beings. Each child in the story imagines herself to be a strong wild animal — a tiger, a mustang, a wolf. The book includes girls across many races and ethnicities, encouraging them to be true to what they feel they are inside. “Throw out those glass slippers. Send the fairies to sleep. No prince is waiting for me. For if you look twice, past the sugar and spice, the eyes of a tiger you’ll see.”

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Social Emotional Learning

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

Have you filled your bucket todayby Carol McCloud and David Messing
Ages 4 and up

Through simple prose and vivid illustrations, this heartwarming book encourages positive behavior as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well being of others and ourselves.

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

William’s Dollwilliam's doll

by Charlotte Zolotow
Ages 4 – 8

William wants a doll because he envies the neighbor girl who has one. But his brother and his friend mock him and call him a ‘sissy,’ and his father buys him ‘boy toys’ to try and change his mind. Finally, the only person who understands William, his granny, buys him a baby doll and eases the fears of his father.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Bullying, Respect for All, Celebrating Differences

Moody Cow Meditates

by Kerry Lee MacLean
Ages 4 – 8Layout 1

Peter’s day just seems to get worse until his grandfather comes over and teaches him how to settle his mind and let go of his frustration through a simple and fun exercise. This vibrant and funny children’s book is a playful way to introduce children to the power of meditation. With full color illustrations by the author, Moody Cow Meditates is a wonderful book for parents and children to share together.

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

Chopsticks

chopsticksby Amy Rosenthal and Scott Magoon
Ages 4 – 8

Meet Chopsticks! They’ve been best friends forever. But one day, this inseparable pair comes to a fork in the road. And for the very first time, they have to figure out how to function apart. From New York Times best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and rising artistic talent Scott Magoon, this witty and inventive tale celebrates both independence and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

The Paperbag Princess

the paperbag princessby Padmaja Ganeshan-Singh
Ages 4 – 8

Just when Princess Elizabeth is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon destroys her castle and burns down all her clothes with his fiery breath and kidnaps the prince. Left with nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess sets out to outsmart the dragon and save her love. But the prince is not at all impressed and comments on how un-princessy she looks and tells her to “come back when you are dressed like a real princess.” Of course, our sassy princess heads off to lead her life the way she wants it, without trying to fit into the prince’s perfect picture of a princess.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Sexism

Ballerino Nate

Ballerino Nateby Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ages 4 and up

Nate loves the ballet, the fluttery costumes and the way the dancers’ “movements look like music.” So Nate decides he wants to learn ballet, too. While his parents are supportive, his big brother tells him boys cannot be ballerinas, and this confuses Nate. He gets more apprehensive when he discovers he is the only boy enrolled in the ballet class. So Nate’s mother takes him to a real ballet, where he sees many male dancers and gets to meet one in person. The dancer clarifies that a boy cannot be a ballerina, because that means “woman dancer” and shares his dream of becoming the best ballerino. At last Nate feels comfortable and confident in his passion for ballet.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Respect for All, Celebrating Differences

Thank you, Mr. Falker

thank you mr falkerby Patricia Polacco
Ages 5 – 8

When Trisha starts school, she can’t wait to learn how to read, but the letters just get jumbled up. She hates being different, and begins to believe her classmates when they call her a dummy. Then, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker changes everything. He sees through her sadness to the gifted artist she really is. And when he discovers that she can’t read, he helps her prove to herself that she can – and will!

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning, Celebrating Differences, Bullying

Grace for President

by Kelly S. DiPucchio
Ages 5 – 9grace for president

“Where are the girls?” When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides to be the first. And she immediately starts off her political career as a candidate the school’s mock election! Author Kelly DiPucchio not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system, but also teaches them the value of hard work, courage, and independent thought–and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Sexism

Allie’s Basketball Dream

by Barbara E. Barber
Ages 5 and upallie's basketball dream

Allie is very excited when her father gifts her a basketball for her birthday. She practices everyday as she wants to be a professional basketball player. But all her friends — girls and boys — discourage her, saying that it’s a “boy’s game.” One boy even trades a volleyball with her, because it is lighter. Finding encouragement in her father’s words, Allie doesn’t give up and eventually proves her worth and wins the respect of all who scoffed at her.

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Bullying, Sexism

Peaceful Piggy Meditation

peaceful piggy meditationby Kerry Lee MacLean
Ages 5 – 9

Sometimes life seems like it’s all about hurrying–so many places to go! And sometimes it’s hard when things don’t go your way–it can make a piggy angry and sad. So how do young piggies find a peaceful place in a frustrating world? They meditate!

Issues Covered: Social Emotional Learning

10,000 Dresses

10,000_Dressesby Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray
Ages 5 – 10

Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows. . . . Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!” Mother and Father tell Bailey. “You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.” Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together. And Bailey’s dreams come true!

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Bullying, Respect for All

My Secret Bully

My Secret Bullyby Trudy Ludwig and Abigail Marble
Ages 6 – 9

Here is the all-too-familiar story of Monica. She and Katie have been friends since kindergarten. Monica loves being around her when she’s nice. But there are times when Katie can be just plain mean. And Monica doesn’t understand why. Monica is a target of relational aggression, emotional bullying among friends who will use name-calling and manipulation to humiliate and exclude. But with a little help from a supportive adult—her mother—Monica learns to cope and thrive by facing her fears and reclaiming power from her bully. Including a foreword by the founder of the The Ophelia Project, as well as helpful tips, discussion questions, and additional resources, My Secret Bully is a vital resource for children, parents, teachers, and counselors.

Issues Covered: Bullying, Social Emotional Learning

Nobody Knew What to Do: A story abounobody knew what to do a story about bullyingt Bullying

by Becky Ray McCain and Todd Leonardo
Ages 6 – 9

This story tells how one child found the courage to tell a teacher about Ray, who was being picked on and bullied by other kids in school.

Issues Covered: Bullying

The Hundred Dresses

by Eleanor Estes
Ages 6 – 10

the hundred dressesEleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.

Issues Covered: Bullying, Social Emotional Learning, Respect for All

Just Kidding

just kiddingby Trudy Ludwig and Adam Gustavson
Ages 6 – 9

A rare look at emotional bullying among boys from the best-selling author of My Secret Bully.D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing D.J. and then saying, Just kidding!” as if it will make everything okay. It doesn’t, but D.J. is afraid that if he protests, his friends will think he can’t take a joke. With the help of his father, brother, and an understanding teacher, D.J. progresses from feeling helpless to taking positive action, undermining the power of two seemingly harmless words. Trudy Ludwig takes another look at relational aggression, the use of relationships to manipulate and hurt others, this time from the boy’s point of view.

Issues Covered: Bullying, Social Emotional Learning, Respect for All

Pinky and Rex and the Bully

pinky and rex the bully coverby James Howe
Ages 6 – 8

Pinky is a boy who loves to collect stuffed animals. His favorite color is pink. Rex is a sports-crazy girl and is passionate about dinosaurs. Pinky and Rex are neighbors and best friends. In this installment, a bully calls Pinky a ‘sissy’ and teases him for his fondness of the color pink and for having Rex as a friend. An elderly lady comes to his rescue and brings with her an important lesson. “It’s hard to be different,” advises the old lady, “but it’s worse not to be yourself.”

Issues Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Bullying, Respect for All

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery

by Jeanette Winter
Ages 6 – 10

malala and iqbalMeet two heroes of Pakistan who stood up for the rights to freedom and education in these inspirational nonfiction tales from acclaimed author-illustrator Jeanette Winter. Two stories of bravery in one beautiful book—including the story of Malala Yousafzai, a winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize! One country: Pakistan. Two children: Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousafzai. Each was unafraid to speak out. He, against inhumane child slavery in the carpet trade. She, for the right of girls to attend school. Both were shot by those who disagreed with them—he in 1995, she in 2012. Iqbal was killed instantly; Malala miraculously survived and continues to speak out around the world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work. The stories of these two courageous children whose bravery transcended their youth, beautifully written and illustrated by celebrated author Jeanette Winter, are an inspiration to all.

Issues Covered: Child Labor, Slavery, Activism

Wangari’s Trees of Peacewangari's trees of peace

by Jeannette Winter
Ages: 7 -10

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans. . . . This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.Includes an author’s note.

Issues Covered: Habitat Destruction, Women’s Rights

Witness

witnessby Karen Hesse
Ages 8 and up

Leanora Sutter. Esther Hirsh. Merlin Van Tornhout. Johnny Reeves . . . These characters are among the unforgettable cast inhabiting a small Vermont town in 1924. A town that turns against its own when the Ku Klux Klan moves in. No one is safe, especially the two youngest, twelve-year-old Leanora, an African-American girl, and six-year-old Esther, who is Jewish. In this story of a community on the brink of disaster, told through the haunting and impassioned voices of its inhabitants, Newbery Award winner Karen Hesse takes readers into the hearts and minds of those who bear witness.

Issues Covered: Racism, Bigotry, Respect for All, Anti-Semitism

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Risingby Pam Munoz Rya
Ages: 8 and up

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.

Issues Covered: Migrant Workers, Worker’s Rights, Child Labor, Classism

Horton Hears a Who!

horton hears a whoby Dr. Seuss
Ages 8 and up

Horton is back! After his first appearance in Horton Hatches the Egg, everyone’s favorite elephant returns in this timeless, moving, and comical classic in which we discover that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Thanks to the irrepressible rhymes and eye-catching illustrations, young readers will learn kindness and perseverance (as well as the importance of a good “Yopp”) from the very determined—and very endearing—Horton the elephant.

Issues Covered: Respect for All

Iqbal

by Francesco D’Adamoiqbal
Ages 8 and up

When young Iqbal is sold into slavery at a carpet factory, his arrival changes everything for the other overworked and abused children there. It is Iqbal who explains to them that despite their master’s promises, he plans on keeping them as his slaves indefinitely. But it is also Iqbal who inspires the other children to look to a future free from toil…and is brave enough to show them how to get there. This moving fictionalized account of the real Iqbal Masih is told through the voice of Fatima, a young Pakistani girl whose life is changed by Iqbal’s courage.

Issues Covered: Child Labor, Slavery, Activism

We Are All Born Free

we are all born freeby Amnesty International
Ages: 8 and up

The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights illustrated., Now in a mini edition! The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on 10th December 1948. It was compiled after World War Two to declare and protect the rights of all people from all countries. This beautiful collection, published 60 years on, celebrates each declaration with an illustration by an internationally-renowned artist or illustrator.

Issues Covered: Human Rights

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegragation

Separate is Never Equal- Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegragationby Duncan Tonatiuh
Ages: 8 – 10

Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Latino community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Issues Covered: Civil Rights, Racism, Activism