Six Picture Books for Teaching Positive Self-Image

It’s not easy being a kid! Helping our students develop a positive self-image is one of the most important roles we can play as teachers. One of my favorite themed units to teach is “Be Yourself,” where we explore what makes us unique and learn to celebrate our differences. 

Check out my themed writing prompts for ready-made lessons, all designed around the theme “Be Yourself.” Grab a set to save yourself a ton of prep time! 

The writing prompts are specific to these six books, which are my favorite mentor texts for this unit: 

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Elmer

Elmer isn’t like the other elephants: he’s brightly colored with patchwork all over! The other elephants laugh at him, but throughout the story, he learns what it means to be himself and celebrate his uniqueness.

Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun

I like to pair this book with our reading of Elmer. I ask students to compare Elmer’s experience to that of Lucy, the star of this story. Lucy struggles with a difficult boy who likes to point out what makes her different. Lucy show courage and confidence to make the right decisions and be who she is. 

We’re All Wonders 

We’re All Wonders is an amazing book that takes the message from the best-selling children’s novel Wonder and makes it accessible to younger readers. The overall message is to Choose Kind. We meet Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a unique face who feels just like any other kid, but who isn’t always seen that way by others. One standout quote from this book will illustrate why you need this as a part of your mentor text collection: “I can’t change the way I look, but maybe people can change the way they see.”

The Day You Begin

This book is all about those moments when you don’t quite fit in with the rest of the crowd. It encourages kids to embrace the things that make them different – maybe it’s something you eat, how you look, what you wear, or where you’re from. When we start sharing what makes us unique, we find ways to connect with one another. There are tons of opportunities for sharing and connection, all centered around this lovely story!

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Gerald the Giraffe would love to dance with the other animals at the Jungle Dance, but there’s one small problem. Everyone knows giraffes can’t dance! Of course, we know with the right mindset and a little help from your friends, anything is possible. I love using this best-selling children’s book to talk about limiting beliefs and the importance of trying new things. 

Giraffe Problems

Sometimes, kids (and adults too, to be honest!) focus too much on the negative sides to their characteristics. In Giraffe Problems, the main character hates his long neck. He thinks it’s too long and too different from every other animal’s neck. Then one day, his long neck plays a very important role in helping a friend. 

There are so many wonderful children’s books out there that drive home the message to “Be Yourself” – what are your favorites? Drop the titles in the comments!

For other ways and ideas for incorporating mentor texts in the classroom, check out this blog post.

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