Picture Books That Introduce Sensitive Topics
Posted on January 4, 2019
Worm Loves Work by J.J. Austrian
Worm loves worm and they want to get married. But their insect friends tell them about all the traditions they should follow, such as rings and a cake and a band. “That’s how it’s always been done,” they are told. But how does a worm wear a ring or eat cake or even dance?
One after another, the worms, along with their friends, work out their own ways of using marriage traditions. Delightful solutions such as wearing wedding rings as belts because of a lack of fingers are presented in a positive, upbeat way. The worms’ friends are very excited for them and all want to participate in the wedding in some way. The beetle wants to be the “best beetle.” The bees want to be “bride’s bees.” Using creative thinking and a willingness to change things that have always been a certain way help the worms plan their wedding.
On the surface, this is a story of two creatures falling in love and persevering through problems to reach their goal. If looked at scientifically, earthworms have both male and female reproductive organs, so in the story they do have to sort some things out. On a wider scope, this is a story of same-sex marriage, a hotly debated topic in our culture. However parents decide to approach this book with their child is a personal choice. Told simply and honestly, the story of “Worm Loves Worm” can be an opening to a larger discussion, or just a happy love story.
“Worm Loves Worm” by J. J. Austrian is just one of the great books on the 101 Picture Book Challenge list.
More Picture Books on Sensitive Topics
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Marisol McDonald, a biracial, nonconformist, soccer-playing pirate-princess with brown skin and red hair, celebrates her uniqueness.
Janine by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
“Janine is one of a kind. She focuses on the positive while navigating life with disabilities. She makes a difference just by being herself” — Provided by publisher.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
When Heather goes to playgroup, at first she feels bad because she has two mothers and no father, but then she learns that there are lots of different kinds of families and the most important thing is that all the people love each other.
Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman
“Three-year-old Casey wants what his older sister, Jessie, has — a shimmery skirt, glittery painted nails, and a sparkly bracelet — but Jessie does not approve. After two boys tease Casey about his appearance, Jessie evolves to a place of acceptance and celebration of her gender creative younger brother.” — Provided by publisher
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Illustrations and simple, rhyming text introduce a school where diversity is celebrated and songs, stories, and talents are shared.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer
Stella brings her two fathers to school to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jess Walton
Errol’s best friend and teddy, Thomas, is sad because he wishes he were a girl, not a boy teddy, but what only matters to both of them is that they are friends.
Home At Last by Vera B. Williams
“After Lester is adopted from his foster home by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he can’t fall asleep in his new bed. What will it take to make Lester feel home at last?” — Provided by publisher.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
What is the 101 Picture Book Challenge?
The 101 Picture Book Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians hand picked the titles on the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.
To get started, register online. You can track your progress online or if you prefer a paper log booklet, pick one up at your neighborhood Library. The books are organized into categories, but you can read the books in any order and at your own pace. When you read all 101 titles, you earn a free picture book (while supplies last).
This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.
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