As the mother of a daughter, I have a list of things I am desperate to teach her before she gets older. I look for books about strong girls, books about girls breaking all of the gender stereotypes, and books about girls who stand up for what they believe in. But when it comes to loving herself, I need books every mom should read with her daughter to help her understand body positivity.
The body positive movement is gaining a lot of speed, but it can still be difficult to explain to a child. Like a lot of lessons, books are the perfect way to introduce your child to an idea with endearing characters, phrases they can understand, and subtle stories that share a message. Reading these books together only amplifies those benefits as you can start the conversation while you're sharing a story. It's easy to tell your child to love themselves and find joy in who they are, but seeing it in action can really help solidify that lesson in your daughter's head.
All children need to know about body positivity, but as a mother, I know how important it is to make sure my daughter hears this lesson, too. I need her to know that society doesn't have to dictate how she feels about her body. I need her to believe in herself, to value her body for its strength, to value her hair for its individuality, and to realize that she is so much more than a body. With these 11 books every mom should read with her daughter, I know she'll be able to understand body positivity even more.
1. 'Stephanie's Ponytail' by Robert Munsch
Stephanie's Ponytail was one of my favorites as a kid, but it's even more important for me to read it to my daughter. The story is about a little girl named Stephanie who decides to wear a ponytail to school, despite the constant taunts of "ugly" her classmates bestow on her. It doesn't take long for everybody to stop taunting and start copying her, much to Stephanie's dismay. It's a fun little story regardless of the lesson, but it will also teach your kids that jealousy often masks itself as meanness and that they should totally own whatever they want to do with their body.
2. 'The Care & Keeping Of You' by Valorie Schaefer
A less subtle way to talk about body positivity, sure, but every girl needs a copy of The Care & Keeping of You. Loving yourself is a big deal, sure, but it's also so important for your daughter to know everything her body is capable of, how to properly take care of herself, and why loving yourself means keeping yourself healthy. Your body is amazing and the joy in realizing that is a must for any girl.
3. 'I Love My Hair' by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
4. 'Spoon' by Amy Krause Rosenthal
OK, so sometimes you need something silly and imaginative to make your point, like teaching body positivity with the sweet story Spoon. Spoon has always been a happy utensil, but lately, he's become jealous of Fork, Knife, and other utensils around him. This story is cute, but it will also teach your daughter about the comparison trap and how real happiness comes from loving yourself, not worrying about others.
5. 'Dancing In The Wings' by Debbie Allen
Every mother wants her daughter to learn that the way she looks should never hold her back from a dream. In Dancing in the Wings, Sassy wants to be a ballerina, but she's worried that her legs are too long and her feet are too large to make the dream a reality. The lessons in persistence and believing in yourself are important, but it's also a great story to open up the conversation about fighting against body stereotypes and making your dreams come true, even if you don't fit the typical mold.
6. 'Beautiful Girl' by Christiane Northrup
Regardless of how your daughter feels about herself, body positivity comes when you realize how amazing your body is, no matter what it looks like. In Beautiful Girl, your daughter will learn just what her body is capable and how it's such a blessing to be healthy and to reap the benefits of an amazing body like hers.
7. 'Stand Straight, Ella Kate' by Kate Klise
A true story about Ella Kate Ewing, a real-life giant, Stand Straight, Ella Kate will give your daughter the inspiration she needs to fully embrace her body and love every inch of herself, no matter what others think. She'll stand straight and tall and realize that loving herself means being brave, too.
8. 'I Like Myself' by Karen Beaumont
9. 'Blubber' by Judy Blume
If any author knows the importance of body positivity in a book, it's Judy Blume, right? Blubber is about a girl named Jill who goes along with her classmates in making fun of a girl named Linda's weight. It's an important story and has stood the test of time when it comes to teasing, peer pressure, and bullying, but it's also a great way to talk about body positivity and how loving yourself is the best way to banish the bullies.
10. 'Not All Princesses Dress In Pink' by Jane Yolen
For some girls, it's hard to understand why someone would be mean to them about the clothes they wear or why society would say they have their hair style and body type all wrong. But in Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, your little girl will realize that she can be who she wants, no matter what kind of box someone tries to put her in, and she can love her body and style for what it is.
11. 'The Complete Tales Of Winnie-The-Pooh' by A. A. Milne
There are so many things to love about The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, but in this context, it's that Pooh's body is so unashamedly his. He is round, plump, and eats honey to his heart's content. He isn't worried about what others would say and he loves himself for who he is — a silly old bear who's also a good friend. This is a great reminder that your body isn't what defines you and that those who truly love themselves will find that everyone else follows suit.