Seven books to help kids learn about inclusivity

A father and his young son reading a book together.

Depending where you’re located in Australia, the new school term is here, or the kids are preparing to head back to the classroom! Refreshing your kids’ libraries with some new books can get them excited about reading or help ease the transition back to school time routines, including sensible bedtimes. Here are some great inclusive kids books you can add to your reading lists.

Every parent has heard the recommendations. Reading with your kids is essential to helping them thrive. It helps to develop their imagination and creativity, learn focus and concentration and develop communication and social skills.

We Need Diverse Books is a grass-roots based organisation that champions the importance of representation in books. They argue that books help kids understand how they relate to others in the world, and it’s important that kids can relate to the characters they read about in books. They’re also a powerful tool for teaching kids about diversity, so inclusive children’s stories should be a part of every school library. We’ve found some popular inclusive books that are recommended by parents and experts.

All the Ways to be Smart

All the Ways to be Smart is by Australian author Davina Bell. It celebrates creativity and emotional intelligence and features a diverse cast of kids, celebrating the unique talents that each brings to the world.

El Deafo

New York Times bestseller, El Deafo tells the story of author/illustrator Cece Bell’s hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. It’ an empowering story in which Cece is able to ultimately turn the device into her superpower.

Meet Clarabelle Blue

The first in a series of Clarabelle books, Meet Clarabelle Blue was written by a mum of a child with cerebral palsy. It tells the story of a feisty preschooler in a hot pink wheelchair, explaining terms like special needs in a way that kids will understand.

Just Because

Just Because celebrates the connection between two siblings as a younger brother shares all the things he loves about his sister, who happens to have special needs.

My big sister Clemmie is my best friend. She can’t walk, talk, move around much, cook macaroni, pilot a plane, juggle or do algebra. I don’t know why she doesn’t do these things.

It’s a charming story that deals with questions of ‘difference’ in a way that all kids can relate to.

This and That

According to the team at Book Riot, This and That by beloved Australian author Mem Fox is subtle in its graphical representations of diversity. People are presented in the illustrations as diverse – as they are in life – and it’s not necessarily part of the narrative of the story.

Fergus and Delilah

As reported by SBS, Fergus and Delilah was also created by a mother to help promote greater understanding of her son as he entered school. Hugo was diagnosed with autism and a moderate intellectual impairment when he was two years old. The book – which features children with TV box heads and bright coloured wires for hair – tells the story of Fergus, a child who is, quite literally, wired differently.


Recommended for kids of reading age 8 and older, Ugly is the memoir of Australian journalist and political advisor Robert Hoge. Born with a facial tumour and malformed legs, Hodge underwent numerous surgeries during his childhood until he made the decision at 14 to forgo any further surgery to alter his appearance. This version is written for younger readers, although there is an adult edition of Ugly, which is suitable for older teens.

If you’re interested in young adult fiction, check out Buzzfeed’s round up of 31 YA books with diverse characters.

If you need some extra support as you head back to school, Mable’s community of independent support workers can help you ease into the routine.