I Like Myself: 12 Picture Books About Body Positivity

by Miranda Rosbach

When I was seven, I received a jump rope for Christmas and was told that using it would help me get rid of my belly. One night after family dinner when I was ten, my dad brought a scale into the kitchen and told me to get on it so he could weigh me in front of the entire family. At my college graduation, the only thing I remember my mom telling me was that the purple dress I wore made my butt look big.

Messages like this followed me throughout my youth, and it has taken years to rewire my brain to understand that my body is not the problem. For my daughters, I changed the narrative. Through daily walks and bike rides, I demonstrate that bodies can be healthy at any size. I show myself love when I look in the mirror and never make comments about my weight.

We can encourage generations of children to have healthier body images through what we communicate and read with them. May these books be indispensable tools on your inclusive, body-positive journey.

  • Brontorina

    by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil

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    Brontorina, the dinosaur, dreams of becoming a dancer. Madame Lucille’s school for ballerinas accepts her, even though she doesn’t have the proper footwear. However, practicing ballet as a dinosaur in a small space proves problematic for everyone. When the class moves outside, and a classmate’s mother makes custom ballet slippers, Brontorina’s dream becomes a reality.

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  • Bodies Are Cool

    by Tyler Feder

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    Big bodies, small bodies, hairy bodies, and hairless ones. Black, brown, olive, and white skin. Bodies with stretch marks and moles, some with freckles, splotches, and scars. Bodies with missing limbs and bodies that use chairs — all bodies are remarkable. Page after page of this body-positive book joyfully declares the vital message for kids of all ages: All bodies are good bodies. A must-have for all home libraries!

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  • Amazing You!

    by Dr. Gail Saltz, illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath

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    When you look in the mirror, you see arms, legs, a head, and feet. But what about your private parts? Some people may have funny names for their private parts, but it’s a good idea to know the actual names, too. If you are a girl, you have eggs. If you are a boy, you have sperm. With proper terminology and age-appropriate illustrations, this book teaches children about their reproductive organs, which they are naturally curious about. It’s a no-nonsense and informative way to talk with your children about their private parts.

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  • I Have a Superpower

    by Stephen Curry, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

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    Hughes is not the fastest, tallest, or strongest basketball player, but he practices hard and wants to be included in the game. Readers see him hold his own and play well despite other players teasing him for his body's supposed shortcomings. NBA superstar Stephen Curry's own lived experiences being a short player who was told he would never make it in the big leagues inspired the story.

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  • Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

    by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

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    Molly Lou Melon is not beautiful or elegant, but her grandmother always encouraged her to love herself. When she moves to a new school, a bully taunts Molly Lou about her eccentricities. Without a flinch, Molly uses her unique traits to win over everyone at school. Eventually, she even wins over the bully by being unapologetically herself.

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  • I Like Me!

    by Nancy Carlson

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    “I have a best friend. That best friend is me!” A young pig draws pictures and rides a bike. She cares for herself and points out the body parts she likes most (curly tail, round belly, and tiny feet!). When she feels bad, she cheers herself up. When she makes a mistake, she tries again. She'll always be herself no matter where she goes or what she does. This is a concise and timeless message for young kids.

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  • Every Body: A Celebration of Diverse Abilities

    by Shelley Rotner

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    How do you communicate to the youngest readers the diversity of human body and the variety of abilities we come in? This book does that beautifully with simple language and photographic images of exuberant children. Meant for the younger readers, this book gently reminds readers of acceptance and love for all human abilities and body shapes.

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  • A Kids Book About Body Image

    by Rebecca Alexander

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    Do you ever look in the mirror and not like what you see? Have you heard things like “You’re beautiful just the way you are?” or “It’s what’s on the inside that counts?” Author Rebecca Alexander states the fact: she is fat. She explains that being fat isn’t bad. It is part of who she is — like her green eyes. Yet everyone has days when they don’t like their body. Companies and people worldwide sell a million products to “fix” what is “wrong” with you. However, bodies are more than what they look like. You are who you are, and nothing is wrong with your body. We highly recommend watching the author read this powerful book on YouTube.

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  • Every Body: A First Conversation About Bodies

    by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Tequitia Andrews

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    Several people are gathered beside a swimming pool. What do you notice about them? Some are tall, short, fat, skinny, old, or young. Every body is unique. Every body can be healthy. Every body stores fat in different places, and the fat holds energy. We use energy to run and jump, bike and move. When we listen to our body, it tells us what it needs. Bodies constantly change, and only you are in charge of your body. This research-backed children’s book provides context for critical conversations with young people.

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  • Beautiful Girl

    by Christiane Northrup, M.D., and Kristina Tracy, illustrated by Aurélie Blanz

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    How lucky you are, to be born a girl! Think of your body like a garden — full of color, texture, and wonder. It will grow and unfurl through the years and seasons, house your soul, and be a place of joy. This celebratory book captures the unique nature of childhood and how a body makes life possible. A bonus meditation extends the book’s message.

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  • The Body Book

    illustrated by Hannah Alice

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    Even though we all look different on the outside, our bodies work in the same way on the inside! Delve into this anatomy primer to explore the interconnected systems (circulatory, muscular, digestive, and nervous) that power the human body. From a continuously pumping heart to nerves that connect how we think, hear, and see, the marvel of bodies is worth exploring.

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  • You Can!: Kids Empowering Kids

    by Alexandra Strick, illustrated by Steve Antony

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    Fourteen children of varying skin tones and physical abilities move through toddlerhood into childhood. Follow the characters through social and emotional learning experiences in school, with friends, at the pool, and on the playground. Each spread affirms that You can do things that make you happy. You can forgive yourself and others. You can stand up for what you believe in. The can-do message in this book written for (and by) kids brims with possibility for readers of any age!

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