Children’s Books about Being Yourself 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Let these characters show that there is no one better to be but you.

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

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is about how Lucy handles a classmate who makes fun of her hair, 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.

It is a great book to discuss teasing and bullying as well as self-acceptance.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Activity Ideas

Write out what makes you unique on a hotdog bun template.

Make an anchor chart with how 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 why what Ralph is doing is bullying, mean, or playful teasing.

What I Like About Me

This book is excellent 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, which 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 discover things they like about themselves. "I like my ______________. It _________________."

You can survey all our different features. For example, curly, straight, and wavy hair. Different color eyes or freckles.

What I like about me

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.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon

Activity Ideas

Discuss how her grandmother's advice helped 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.


Oh, how I love this book! It was one of the first books I used when teaching SEL concepts in counseling. Chrysanthemum goes to school, and another classmate picks on her for her name. She starts to feel bad 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 other students being made fun of like Ms. Twinkle stuck up for Chrysanthemum.

The Invisible Boy

Brian is a shy student who 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.

The invisible boy

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 we all 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 one of my 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 on.

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Activity Ideas

Have the students find out how they got their names.

Have students discover the names of their grandparents and important people and create a name like Alma's.

Talk about not liking something about yourself because it was different.

SEL Read Aloud Activities

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon Read Aloud Activities

The resource includes a 3-step lesson plan, read aloud comprehension questions, two student activities, discussion questions, and self talk card. 

Where Oliver Fits Read Aloud Activities

The included resources provide read aloud comprehension questions, an independent student activity, a story summary sheet, and a companion bulletin board or display.

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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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