Picture Books to Start Conversations

There are a lot of big conversations happening in the world right now.


Here are some of our favourite recent additions to our collection that can help even the youngest of kids start thinking about their world.



If you'd like to try any of the recommendations, click on the book cover to place a hold.


Race Cars by Jenny Devenny


Race Cars is a children's book about white privilege created to help parents and educators facilitate tough conversations about race, privilege, and oppression. Written by a clinical social worker and child therapist with experience in anti-bias training and edited by a diversity expert , Race Cars tells the story of 2 best friends, a white car and a black car, that have different experiences and face different rules while entering the same race. Filled with bright, attention-grabbing illustrations , a notes and activities section at the back helps parents, guardians, and teachers further discuss these issues with children. Why is this book important? As early as 6 months old, a baby's brain can notice race-based differences; children ages 2 to 4 can internalize racial bias and start assigning meaning to race; and 5- to 8-year-olds begin to place value judgments on similarities and differences. By age 12, children have a complete set of stereotypes about every racial, ethnic, and religious group in society. Our guidance is especially crucial during this impressionable time. Race Cars offers a simple, yet powerful, way to introduce these complicated themes to our children and is a valuable addition to classroom and home libraries.



Fred Gets Dressed by Peter Brown


The boy loves to be naked. He romps around his house naked and wild and free. Until he romps into his parents' closet and is inspired to get dressed. First he tries on his dad's clothes, but they don't fit well. Then he tries on his mom's clothes, and wow! The boy looks great. He looks through his mom's jewelry and makeup and tries that on, too. When he's discovered by his mother and father, the whole family (including the dog!) get in on the fun, and they all get dressed together.


This charming and humorous story was inspired by bestselling and award-winning author Peter Brown's own childhood, and highlights nontraditional gender roles and self-expression.



Balloons for Papa by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia


A perfect book to help discuss mental health, depression, empathy, loss, and hope with young children.

Arthur's gloomy father rushes him through the park every morning, through gray and rainy weather. Arthur just wants a bright balloon from the park's vendor, but Papa always says no. One morning, the balloons magically appear at their doorstep, and Arthur figures out the perfect way to bring the sunshine out--and Papa's smile back--even if only for a few moments.

Brimming with affecting and poignant words, beautiful black-and-white illustrations, and bursts of color on every page, Balloons for Papa sends the message that even in the worst situations, there is light and love.



In My Mosque by M.O. Yuksel


No matter who you are or where you're from, everyone is welcome here. From grandmothers reading lines of the Qur'an and the imam telling stories of living as one, to meeting new friends and learning to help others, mosques are centers for friendship, community, and love.

M. O. Yuksel's beautiful text celebrates the joys and traditions found in every mosque around the world and is brought to life with stunning artwork by New York Times bestselling illustrator Hatem Aly (Yasmin series, The Proudest Blue, The Inquisitor's Tale). The book also includes backmatter with an author's note, a glossary, and more information about many historical and significant mosques around the world.



Puppy In My Head by Elise Gravel


Kids experience anxiety and can feel overwhelmed just like adults do, and this picture book serves as both a story and a step-by-step guide to help calm kids down. Ollie is the puppy living inside of our narrator's head, and when Ollie panics or is too energetic, the narrator feels that way, too! But she learns to handle the situation with her breath and her mindfulness, and by talking it out with an adult.

In plain language and with a rare sense of understanding and compassion, Elise Gravel tackles anxiety in children head-on with bold colors and whimsical illustrations. This picture book also features a note from a pediatrician on the importance of mental health.

Perfect for bedtime or the classroom, readers will walk away a little more well-equipped to handle the puppies in their own heads.



Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho


A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother's, her grandmother's, and her little sister's. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.



For more recommendations like these, see our other Library Recommendations HERE, or contact the library and we'll be happy to find you a new book to try!

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