Fostering Empathy and Sense of Self

Carefully-selected books for preschoolers to support their developing skills

Pink is for Boys Image

Pink is for Boys

Written by Robb Pearlman and illustrated by Eda Kaban, this story features pictures, text, and a message that break from gender stereotypes related to color. 

I Am Enough Book Image

I Am Enough

Written by Grace Byers and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, this book features a young girl expressing her love for herself – who and how she is. 

You Matter

You Matter

Written and illustrated by Christian Robinson, this story gives an affirming and powerful message that lets children know that they are important and valued.

happy in our skin book cover

Happy in Our Skin

Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia, this book uses diverse illustrations and rhymes to describe the unique features and functions of human skin.

Same, Same But Different Page

Same, Same But Different

Written and illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, this story follows two children from different cultures as they find out how their lives are the same and different.

Amos McGee Page

A Sick Day For Amos McGee

Written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, this is the story of an empathic zookeeper and his friendship with some of the animals at the zoo. 

Fry Bread Page of Book

Fry Bread

Written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, this book shows a modern Native American family making fry bread, a special food that people in their family have cooked for many years.

All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome

Written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, this story celebrates diversity and inclusivity as it follows children through the school day. 

Looking for Bongo

Looking for Bongo

Written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez, this book features a bilingual boy interacting with different members of his multi-generational family while trying to find Bongo, his stuffed toy.


Key Takeaways

Books can be mirrors for self-reflection

When children see themselves in books, they are able to explore their personal and group identities. They grow more comfortable with themselves and confident in who they are.

Books can also be windows into the lives of others

Children can learn about others' lives by reading stories about people who are different from them. They can ask questions, understand, and appreciate how people can be alike and different.

Children need experience with both

Teachers can balance the books they share so that children are exposed to both mirrors and windows. When children have a positive sense of self and value diversity, they are more likely to treat others fairly and kindly.