First Book Picks: Similarities and Differences

Reading stories helps adults introduce characters from different cultures, who have different backgrounds and experiences. This helps children learn about the big world — and it helps kids start to embrace the differences that make people special!

Thank you to First Book for generously sharing its book recommendations with the Big Heart World community. Eligible teachers can follow the links to find discounted versions of the books on the First Book Marketplace. Parents and other caregivers can find the book at First Book’s Bookshop.org shop.

Alma and How She Got Her Name (English and Spanish)

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids
Skills: family, Identity, names, Relationships
Author: Written and Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Discussion Questions

  • What is Alma's full name?
  • How many names does she have?
  • Why is Alma's name special?
  • What's your name?
  • What's special about your name?

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FirstBook
Eligible Teachers: Find it on the First Book Marketplace in English or Spanish.
Parents/Caregivers: Find it at First Book's Bookshop.org shop.
Fry Bread

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

"Fry bread is us. It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference."
Fry Bread is a story told in lively and powerful verse by Seminole Nation member Kevin Noble Maillard, with vibrant art from Pura Belpre Award winner Juana Martinez-Neal.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids
Skills: Culture, Similarities and Differences, Social Emotional
Author: Written by Kevin Noble Maillard and Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Discussion Questions

  • What is Fry Bread?
  • What are some of the different reasons why Fry Bread is important?
  • Is there a special food that brings your family together?
  • Different cultures eat different foods! Can you think of any foods that are important in OUR culture?

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FirstBook
Eligible Teachers: Find it on the First Book Marketplace.
Parents/Caregivers: Find it at First Book's Bookshop.org shop.
Bilal Cooks Daal Book

Bilal Cooks Daal

Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?
This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids
Skills: communication, Empathy, Sharing, Social Emotional
Author: Written by Aisha Saeed and illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Discussion Questions

  • What does Bilal love about daal?
  • What is Bilal feeling before he introduces his favorite food to his friends?
  • Have you ever felt nervous about sharing something with your friends?
  • Is there any special food that you would like to share with your friends? Why?

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FirstBook 
Eligible Teachers: Find it on the First Book Marketplace
Parents/Caregivers: Find it at First Book's Bookshop.org shop.
Mommy's Khimar

Mommy's Khimar

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.
In this story, a young girl plays dress up with her mother's headscarves, feeling her mother's love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim-American girl's life.
Age Groups: Babies, Big Kids, Little Kids, Toddlers
Skills: Similarities and Differences, Social Emotional
Author: Written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Discussion Questions

  • What is a khimar and why is it important?
  • What are some of the different khimar in Mommy's closet?
  • Why does the girl like to play dress up in her mother's khimar?
  • Some people wear headscarves and others don't. Can you think of other things that some people wear and some people don't wear?
  • Is there something special that our family members wear that makes us think about them?
  • Do you ever like to play dress up? Why?

More

FirstBook
Eligible Teachers: Find it on the First Book Marketplace.
Parents/Caregivers: Find it at First Book's Bookshop.org shop
Drawn Together

Drawn Together

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens — with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.
With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids
Skills: communication, Culture, family, Relationships, Social Emotional
Author: Written by Minh Lê and Illustrated by Dan Santat

Discussion Questions

  • What is different about the boy and his grandfather?
  • How does the difference make them feel?
  • What do the boy and his grandfather find in common?
  • What does that similarity reveal?
  • What are ways you are similar and different from family members?

More

FirstBook
Eligible Teachers: Find it on the First Book Marketplace.
Parents/Caregivers: Find it at First Book's Bookshop.org shop.

Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income communities in all 50 states and provinces in Canada. First Book currently reaches an average of 5 million children every year and supports more than a third of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs serving children in need. First Book members work in classrooms, after school, and summer or early childhood programs, shelters and health clinics, libraries, community programs, military support programs, and other settings serving a majority of children in need. 

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