For a kid, one of the most important things (after playgrounds and ice cream) is fitting in with your peers. Children can be relentless at pointing out, and at times shaming, their classmates for having a different type of body. That's why it's important for parents to instill a strong foundation of self-esteem at home, as early as possible. One of the best ways to start, is by reading books that teach body positivity to young children.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 40 to 60 percent of elementary school girls are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. These numbers are just too high, and shedding these concerns begins at home. In addition to reading body positive books, you should be conscious of how you speak about your own bodies at home. Children look to their parents — and other adults in their like — as role models, often taking cues from our words and actions. Clinical social worker Aviva Braun told Parents magazine that making negative comments about your appearance or obsessing over weight, can impact impressionable young children as their bodies are developing.
It's important that our little girls (and boys) are reminded that people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and the things that make us different are in fact the things that make us special. To help them realize this, share one of the many body positive books with your little one before bedtime.
1. 'A Smart Girl's Guide To Liking Herself - Even On The Bad Days' by Laurie Zelinger
American Girl's A Smart Girl's Guide To Liking Herself helps girls ages 10 and up assess their self-esteem and gives them tips on how to feel their best, even when others try to bring them down.
2. 'Beautiful Girl' by Christine Northrup
Written by women's health expert, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Beautiful Girl, celebrates all of the wonderfully magical things about being a girl. It delicately touches on the unique body changes girls experience, so they don't feel so alone.
3. 'Blubber' by Judy Blume
Beloved children's author, Judy Blume knows exactly how to tap into the emotions of her young readers. In Blubber, a young girl is teased relentlessly by her classmates for being overweight. While there is no in-your-face lesson at the end of this book, it's a great way to start a conversation with your kids about bullying and body image.
4. 'Brontorina' by James Howe
Brontorina is the story of a dinosaur who has dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, and its theme of not having the "right" body for something you really want to do is universal.
5. 'Freckleface Strawberry' by Julianne Moore
Actress Julianne Moore's Freckleface Strawberry follows a young girl with red hair and freckles who tries to get rid of them, until she realizes that they are a part of who she is.
6. 'I Like Myself!' by Karen Beaumont
The main character of I Like Myself! professes her love for everything from her unruly head of hair to her beaver breath. This playful rhyming story helps young readers establish healthy self-esteem.
7. 'I'm Gonna Like Me' by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell
Missing teeth, big feet and funny hair can make some kids feel ashamed. But for the kids in I'm Gonna Like Me, they are the things they are most proud of.
8. 'M Is For Mowhawk' by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli
M Is For Mohawk celebrates acceptance, taking you on an alphabetical journey through a variety of hairstyles. It even allows young readers to come up with their own hairstyle idea to represent the letter Y.
9. 'Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match' by Monica Brown
Marisol is a mixture of different cultures. Her hair and skin are not like anyone else she knows, and she loves it! Written in English and Spanish, Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match aims to teach kids to appreciate diversity.
10. 'The Skin You Live In' by Michael Tyler
The colorful illustrations in The Skin You Live In depict kids of all sizes and colors. While the author reminds us that no matter what kind of skin we have, we all laugh, cry, play, and giggle.
11. '45 Pounds (More or Less)' by K. A. Barson
45 Pounds (More or Less), is a tween novel that introduces a young, overweight girl who feels pressured to lose weight from her perfectly thin mother. Throughout the story, she becomes more comfortable in her skin, and realizes that her mother isn't as perfect as she thought.
12. 'What I Like About Me' by Allia Zobel Nolan
Preschoolers will laugh at loud at What I Like About Me, a colorful story that makes glasses and braces cool. There's even a mirror at the end that allows readers to discover what they like about themselves.
13. 'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio
Being the new kid is hard enough, but having a physical attribute that makes you stand out can be downright terrifying. After being homeschooled for most of his life, a fifth-grader gets ready to start a new mainstream school with a facial deformity in Wonder.