Children’s Books about Being Yourself 

By: Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min

A great way to incorporate social emotional learning into your classroom is through children's books. Read alouds are a regular routine in your classroom and so many books highlight social-emotional themes. One SEL standard focuses on a student recognizing their own personal qualities. The following seven children's books on being yourself are the perfect way to address this standard. 

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

The story of how Lucy handles a classmate who makes fun of her hair, her lunch, and anything else he can think of. Lucy uses the lessons her grandfather taught her to do the right thing and be proud of who she is.

Great book to discuss teasing and bullying as well as self-acceptance.

Activity Ideas

  • Write out what makes you unique on a hotdog bun template.
  • Make an anchor chart with the ways we are all the same and different.
  • Discuss why we don't like to be different sometimes and what we can do to accept who we are.
  • Create positive self-statements you can say when you aren't feeling good about yourself.
  • Brainstorm ways to handle someone who is picking on you.
  • Identify what makes what Ralph is doing bullying or mean vs playful teasing.

What I Like About Me

This book is great for younger students. It celebrates all the ways we are different and why that is okay. Children in the book are proud of their features that might make them the target for mean comments. 

Activity Ideas

  • Have students draw a picture of themselves and label what makes them different.
  • Talk about that we are all different on the outside and differences are good. You can also talk about differences on the inside (e.g., shy, outgoing, etc) that the book doesn't touch on.
  • Use sentence frames to help students come up with things they like about themselves. "I like my ______________. It _________________."
  • You can do a survey of all our different features. For example curly, straight and wavy hair. Different color eyes or freckles.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Molly Lou Lemon is different and she is proud of her differences. Her grandmother gives her great advice about embracing who she is. When she moves to a new school, she is ready to handle another student picking on her. She follows her grandmother's advice and sticks to who she is.

Activity Ideas

  • Discuss how her grandmother's advice helper Molly Lou Lemon be proud of her differences.
  • Ways to handle when someone makes fun of something about you that is different.
  • Discuss how the bystanders in the story didn't go along with the bully and how that also helped Molly Lou Lemon.
  • Have students write down what advice they would give someone about being proud of who you are.
Being yourself starts with positive self talk


Oh how I love this book! It was one of the first books I used when starting to teach SEL concepts in counseling. Chrysanthemum goes to school and another classmate picks on her for her name. She starts to feel badly about her name until she meets a teacher with a name just like hers. 

Activity Ideas

  • Have students write their names on flowers and pass their flowers to other students. Those students add compliments on the back or can add compliments on petals that will complete the flower.
  • Have students reflect on someone in their life that makes them feel special.
  • Have students come up with ways to stand up for others students who are being made fun of like Ms. Twinkle stuck up for Chrysanthemum.

The Invisible Boy

Brian is a shy student that feels invisible to everyone. No one notices him, picks him for teams, invites him to birthday parties, or sits with him at lunch. A new student, Justin, starts and gets made fun of for his lunch. Brian gives him a nice note and Justin notices what a good artist Brian is. He invites Justin to play and work with him. Brian finally doesn't feel invisible.

Activity Ideas

  • There are some great discussion questions in the back of the book. 
  • Discuss feeling invisible around other people or being left out of something. 
  • Discuss how Brian is a good artist and that all of us have something we are good at even if others don't realize it. 
  • Have students write or draw something they notice that someone else in the room does well.
  • Brainstorm ways to include others so no one feels invisible.

Alma & How She Got Her Name

This is definitely one of my new favorite books. Alma starts the story not liking how long her name is: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. Her dad then explains to her why each of her names is important. You can see Alma grow prouder and prouder of her name as the story goes.

Activity Ideas

  • Have student find out how they got their names.
  • Have students find out the names of their grandparents and important people in their lives and create a name like Alma's.
  • Talk about not liking something about yourself because it was different.

Shop This Post

Need more Books for Social Emotional Learning? Check out his post on Lessons & Books about Feelings.

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 Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon Read aloud companion activities for social emotional learning
I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.
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