Body image is all about the way you think and feel about your body. We all know that when you feel good about your body, you feel great in general (healthy self-esteem is so important), and kids are no different!
Children who have a healthy body image feel good about the body they are in. They are happy with how they look, how their body moves, and the incredible things that their growing body can do. Body image is a HUGE part of a child's self-image, and it's so important for us as parents to nurture a healthy one.
A healthy body image grows with the child. Throughout their youth, kids' bodies change so much, from toddlerhood to puberty, and if not prepared, they can find it hard to understand what exactly they are going through. At every point in a child's life, there are SO many things parents can do to support a healthy body image and, subsequently, a healthy self-image and children's self-esteem, such as:
- Helping them to look after their body
- Acting as a role model by accepting and loving YOUR own body
- Keeping your kids active with fun activities and fueling them with healthy foods
- Teaching them about their body, their hard work it does for them, and how important it is to look after it.
One of my favorite ways to nurture a healthy self-image is to use some of the best children's books for young readers and other media that focus on self-esteem and body image for kids. Keep reading for some of my must-haves and some new things you can add to your parenting empowered kids tool kit.
The Best Self Esteem Books for Kids
Here are 16 best self esteem books for kids:
This adorable picture book by Pat Zietlow Mille is a wonderful reminder of how each of us is remarkable in our own right. It celebrates uniqueness and individuality and is sure to resonate with both you and your kids as you identify parts of yourself in the loveable and diverse mix of characters.
Remarkably You is a beautiful tale about all of the things that make us who we are.
It's a great book that makes each of us see the beauty we have within ourselves, and I would recommend EVERY parent reads with their child.
When the main character Abigail is bullied in swim class and is known by her classmates as “Abigail the Whale.” she loses confidence in herself and feels “too big” to swim. However, after the encouragement of her teacher, Abigail finds her love for the water and uses what she has learned throughout the rest of her day! This heartwarming book highlights the issues surrounding bullying and features some great body-positive affirmations for believing in yourself (such an important message). This book represents the diversity in children's bodies and demonstrates the importance of loving yourself despite what others think.
3. Dear Girl
Dear Girl is one of the most powerful picture books I've read in awhile. It features a letter and piece of inspirational advice intended for young girls. Each page is filled with words of wisdom passed down from mother to daughter. The illustrations are charming with a fun, engaging style. This great book makes the perfect gift for little girls who need a quick confidence boost or something to turn to when they aren't feeling too great about themselves.
What I Like About Me is a quick read all about the importance of family and positive body image. This book is perfect for older children and teenage girls as they navigate through the tricky puberty stage of life. Your kids will thank you for introducing them to a book like this – it's definitely something I wish had been around when I was feeling insecure in my teens (such an important lesson in it's pages)!
Giraffe Problems is all about learning to love and accept the parts of yourself that you don't like. It is a beautifully illustrated book filled with humor and life lessons.
I absolutely LOVE the plot of this story and its ability to help children understand that being different makes us all who we are and that they should appreciate the body they have (it's in our list of favorite books to give as gifts)!
6. A Kids Book About Body Image
Written for adults to read along with kids, this series of books effortlessly tackles tricky topics to bring up or navigate with kids. Each book is designed to be used as a starting point for these difficult conversations, and with their simple, easily understood definitions and concepts and delightful illustrations, they'll help take the stress out of teaching your kids the ins and outs of life. (Thank goodness for that!) This is the best way I can suggest to start an important conversation if you're struggling (check out their whole collection, it's GREAT).
An African American girl named Tameika, who adores dancing, singing, performing, is super excited to try out for her school's production of Snow White. But when the other kids begin to tease her for being too chubby, tall, and brown, she starts to doubt herself. After some loving words of encouragement, Tamieka realizes that she is stunning as she is and auditions for the musical anyway. This is a heartwarming story that highlights the issues around racism and judging others for looking different. It is perfect for all ages, and has a special place in any library.
8. I am Enough
This is a simple story about self-empowerment. With only a few lines per page, it is a great way to teach younger kids about self-worth and that no matter where we come from or who we are, we are all enough just as we are! Both the inclusive artwork and the language send out a positive message of acceptance, self-belief, and the importance of being yourself, it's one of the best kids books I've read in the last few years.
9. Her Body Can
The words in this beautifully illustrated book are powerful and sure to make an impact on both you and your daughters! This great book follows a young girl who doesn't quite fit in with the “ideal” body shape and the difficulties she faces. It encourages being active and leading a healthy life but in a kind and supportive way and shows that you can do anything you set your mind to, even if you are different from others. This book holds a positive message for both kids and adults, and is a wonderful way to foster self confidence in even our youngest kids.
At first glance, this is a story about a red crayon who really feels they are blue. When you dig a little deeper, you realize that it's actually a story about staying true to who you are on the inside and not allowing yourself to fall into the expectations others place on you. This story is incredibly heartwarming, and be warned; you may shed a tear or two! This sweet book is a must read and a GREAT conversation started.
11. What Do You Love About You
This book teaches kids that we all have something that makes us unique, and there is SO MUCH to love about each one of us! It's a sweet story filled with cute, lively illustrations that encourage self-esteem and loving every part of yourself. This is definitely one of my favorite books to read with my daughter!
12. Rock What Ya Got
This fun book follows an artist as they begin to draw a girl. Just as they are about to make changes to her appearance, the little girl comes to life, explaining that you have to “rock what ya got.” Trust me when I say that this cute, rhymed story with an inspirational message will become a favorite in no time! This books is one of Lydia's favorites, and I love that it encourages higher self-esteem.
This great book is a fantastic read for any children who have freckles or other “imperfections.” The main character, Freckleface, goes through various creative ways to hide her freckles after being teased for her appearance. This book would be great for teaching kids how making comments on how others look can be hurtful and that it's what's inside that really counts. It's great for promoting body positivity and having high self-esteem regardless of your imperfections.
My favorite part of this book was the images of the author and illustrator when they were young in the back inside cover!
14. The Dot
The Dot is a story by Peter H. Reynolds about self-confidence. Veshti, a little girl who is upset that she can't draw anything, is encouraged by her teacher to just enjoy herself and celebrate what she can do instead of what she feels she can't. This book should be read by every parent, teacher, or anyone dealing with young kids!
15. I Like Myself
I Like Myself teaches young girls to love and be themselves. The book has a Dr. Seuss-like rhythm and makes for a fun read with young kids. It's a charming story with an obvious message – love yourself no matter what! I just know my daughter would love the little girl in this story. The illustrations are cute, funny, and extremely colorful. You'll smile every time you read it!
Shapesville is full of goofy monster-like characters and celebrates their uniqueness and individuality. This book is fun, creative, and engaging – it's THE perfect introduction to body positivity for young children.
And there you have it – some of my favorite body positivity books for readers of all ages! Remember, developing a good body image takes time and patience. Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle and having a positive mindset can provide your kids with the foundations they need to create a happy life for themselves.
Do you have any favorite self esteem books for kids? Leave them in the comment section, we all need a few more excellent reads to share with both younger kids and older teens.
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