Growing up is difficult for most people, but it can be even harder if you look different. Our guides are here to help you with the challenges you might face.
We think introducing children to difference at an early age is key to acceptance. Our volunteer campaigners and ambassadors have helped us put together a list of recommendations for books, toys, films and TV programmes that brilliantly promote diversity and inclusion.
When it comes to diversity and inclusion, books are a great way to introduce difference to children to from an early age. There are many picture books as well as children’s novels which explore a range of visible differences and disfigurements.
The Adventures of the Vitiligo Man – Shankar Jalota (reading age: 1-6 years)
Written by our ambassador, Shankar Jalota, The Adventures of the Vitiligo Man follows the story of Awais as he starts a new school. Awais has vitiligo and is worried about whether he’ll be able to make friends. Then he meets Lola, a girl with freckles, who helps him discover the secret of loving his skin and embracing his superpower.
What Happened to You? – James Catchpole (reading age: 1-5 years)
What Happened to You? is about a boy called Joe who has a missing limb. Joe wants to play pirates with other children, but they always seem to be more interested in asking “what happened?”, coming up with fanciful ideas about why Joe has one leg. That is until Sonia comes along and realises that he doesn’t like being asked about his leg all the time, and that all that matters is how she can be friends with him.
The book uses gentle humour and child-friendly words to depict childhood with a limb-difference in a way everyone can understand.
The Adventures of Rory & Friends – Juliette & Kayleigh Bond (reading age: 1-6 years)
The first book in the series, The Adventures of Rory & Friends is a beautifully illustrated book which centres around Rory the Raccoon who has a facial birthmark.
Authors Jules and Kayleigh Bond’s daughter was born with a facial birthmark. They noticed that they were underrepresented in the media, so set out to address this by writing The Adventures of Rory & Friends.
Beauty is my Birthmark – Diana Mendoza (reading age: 5-10 years)
Diana Mendoza wrote Beauty is my Birthmark for her daughter who has Sturge Weber Syndrome and a Port Wine Stain birthmark. She hoped the book would help the other children at school to understand and accept her daughter’s difference, while promoting visible difference as something to cherish.
The Bear Who Stared – Duncan Beedie (reading age: 2-6 years)
The Bear Who Stared teaches children that while curiosity is OK, staring at people who are different to you is not. Bold and fun illustrations tell the story of Bear who learns that the best way to get to know someone better is to smile at them.
All about Diversity – Felicity Brooks (reading age: 4-7 years)
This book addresses diversity in all its forms, from visible differences to age, gender and ethnicity. By presenting difference in a simple and clear way, it teaches children to respond in a kind and equal way to everyone, no matter how they look.
Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae (reading age: 1-5 years)
A celebration of individuality, Giraffes Can’t Dance follows Gerald the Giraffe as he discovers his confidence and embraces his differences.
Originally published in 1999, the important message of this picture book still holds strong today.
Wonder – R.J. Palacio (reading age: 9+ years)
One of the most famous books about visible difference, Wonder centres around August, a 10-year-old with Treacher Collins syndrome and hemifacial microsomia. Having been home-schooled his whole life, Wonder follows August as he attends school for the first time and faces the challenges that come as he goes on a journey of acceptance.
It’s Okay to be Different – Todd Parr (reading age: 3-6 years)
Todd Parr is known for books with bold and bright colours that make them particularly accessible and engaging. It’s Okay to be Different delivers the messages of acceptance, understanding and confidence, encouraging children to celebrate who they are.
Sam’s Birthmark – Martha and Grant Griffin (reading age: 4-7 years)
Sam’s Birthmark is about a boy called Sam who was born with a large birthmark on his face, but he hardly notices it. One day, a little girl points out how different he looks, and he feels a little self-conscious of it. His mum helps him to see how different ALL of his friends look from him and from each other.
Perfectly Norman – Tom Percival (reading age: 1-5 years)
A story about the beauty of diversity and individuality, Perfectly Norman follows a boy called Norman who suddenly grows a pair of wings. While he loves his wings, he worries about what others will think, choosing to hide them under a coat. Will Norman ever be able to truly be himself?
Described as a “poignant and uplifting” story, it’s the ideal book for showing children that it’s OK to be yourself.
We’re Going to Find the Monster – Malorie Blackman (reading age: 3-5 years)
A picture book adventure from bestselling author Malorie Blackman. Two siblings use their imaginations to transform their house into a wild wonderland, with their big brother cast as a mighty monster. As well as being a celebration of creativity, one of the characters has vitiligo – this isn’t the focus of the story, normalising visible difference for children.
Authentically Addie – Stephanie Wolfe (reading age: 4-8 years)
Addie has a number of characteristics that make her unique. She’s always ready for adventure and Authentically Addie follows her trip to the zoo, where she meets lots of amazing animals who each have a disability or visible difference for her to learn about.
Bodies are Cool – Tyler Feder (reading age: 1-5 years)
A book all about diversity and inclusivity, with detailed and friendly illustrations that celebrate all types of bodies. Bodies are Cool enables children to explore a variety of skin tones, body shapes, hair types and visible differences in a positive way.
The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman – Julietta Henderson (reading age: 12+)
One for older children, The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman follows Norman’s journey after he loses his best friend Jax. While the book focuses largely on how he copes with his grief, Norman also has psoriasis, which features prominently in the storyline. His goal is to perform a comedy act at the Edinburgh Fringe in tribute to Jax, but first he must overcome a few things, including the challenges that his psoriasis presents.
Herb: The Little Star Who Twinkled Differently – G.L. Stone (reading age: 1-5 years)
Herb is a perfectly different star. Sometimes he finds being different tricky and as he starts to worry about what other people think of him, his light begins to dim. But, with a little help from his dad, he realises just how bright he can shine.