School Library Journal Book Picks: Similarities and Differences

Similarities and Differences are opposites that are not as absolute as they might seem. Similarities are how we find our common bonds, e.g., we both love seahorses, we both eat hummus, we both love country music! Differences help us learn about and appreciate other people. We can celebrate our similarities and our differences!

This list of books that highlight similarities and differences was curated by Kimberly Olson Fakih, Senior Editor, Picture Books at School Library Journal.

Home is In Between

Shanti and her parents leave their village in India and relocate to the United States. She moves back and forth between cultures, finding similarities where she can — food, music, and household habits — along with the new sports, language, and holidays.
Age Groups: Big Kids
Skills: Comprehension, Similarities and Differences
Author: By Mitali Perkins (Author) and Lavanya Naidu (Illustrator)

Discussion Questions

  • How does Shanti feel when she arrives in America?
  • How is it different from India?
  • How is her new home similar to the one she left?
  • Have you ever moved to a new place? How did it feel?
  • What are some things we can do to make new people feel welcome?
  • What are some questions we can ask when we're meeting new people?
Paletero Man

Paletero Man

Children will want to race alongside a Mexican American boy as he runs through his neighborhood streets to buy a cold paleta, a Mexican-style ice pop in this bright, bilingual story! Readers will learn the joys of this shiny landscape, familiar or unfamiliar, but wholly a playground of color and surprises. This story sparkles with celebrated musician-songwriter Diaz’s English and Spanish rhymes and Player’s bubbly, colorful digital illustrations, blending seamlessly to represent Diaz’s pride for his hometown in Los Angeles.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids
Skills: Empathy, Similarities and Differences
Author: Written by Lucky Diaz and illustrated by Micah Player

Discussion Questions

  • How does the child in the story want to cool off on a hot day?
  • How do YOU like to cool off on a hot day?
  • What does the child in the story observe as he runs to Paletero José?
  • What seems familiar and different about this child's neighborhood and your neighborhood?
  • What happens in the end? How does it make everyone feel?

Opposites: Bilingual Firsts

This book uses English terms in color and Spanish terms in a smaller white font to teach about opposites. Learn hot and cold, little and big, and more with cheerful characters to bring giggles and learning to lapsitters.
Age Groups: Babies, Little Kids, Toddlers
Skills: Comparison, Comprehension, Expression, Opposites, Similarities and Differences
Author: Susie Jaramillo

Discussion Questions

  • What's the opposite of hot?
  • What's the opposite of little?
  • What's the opposite of fast?
  • What's the opposite of on?
  • Can you help me think of more opposites — in English o en Español?

Nana Akua Goes to School

Zura has great anxiety about introducing her beloved nana Akua to her friends. Nana Akua herself finds a solution that celebrates differences andamplifies love.
Age Groups: Big Kids, Little Kids, Toddlers
Skills: Empathy, Feelings, Similarities and Differences, Social Emotional
Author: Written by Tricia Elam and illustrated by April Harrison

Discussion Questions

  • What is different about Nana Akua?
  • Zura loves her grandmother, so why is she nervous?
  • Where is Zura from? Where is Nana Akua from?
  • What happens when Nana Akua comes to school?
  • What are some differences that YOU want to celebrate in your life?

¿Cuál es diferente? / Which Is Different?

Caregivers and listeners will be able to explore which object is different, or why one stands out from the others.
Age Groups: Little Kids, Toddlers
Skills: Comparison, Perception, Similarities and Differences
Author: Written by Jagger Youssef and translated by Cecilia González Godino

Discussion Questions

  • Which things are different from the other things on the page?
  • Can you point out the different colors?
  • Can you point out the different shapes?
  • Can we find things in real life that are similar and different?

If I Were a Dog

This intuitive, joyful book gives children agency to imagine their own doggy selves, but also creates a foundation for discussions on differences and similarities. The book acts as a terrific analogy for diversity at a level that toddlers will understand.
Age Groups: Little Kids, Toddlers
Skills: Comparison, Similarities and Differences
Author: Joanna Cotler

Discussion Questions

  • Do you have any pets?
  • What would YOU be like if you were a dog (or a cat)?
  • We all have a lot in common. What similarities do you share with your favorite pet?
  • We also have differences. What's different between you and your favorite pet?

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Comments (02)

  1. December 28, 2021

    Each face shows a different emotion on each side happy, sad, angry, surprised, calm, and confused. As you go through the book it asks you what emotions you, the reader, feel when you see certain animals or situations or foods. I know that a fair amount of work done with children on the autism spectrum uses similar facial images, and this book could potentially be a useful tool.

  2. December 29, 2021

    In addition to providing Bilingual Storytimes in Mandarin and English, Christy also co-chairs this year’s NYPL Best Books for Kids committee. When not reading graphic novels or playing the uke, she’s volunteering with Heart of Dinner, a NYC-based Asian American nonprofit. Cicely Lewis , 2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year, is the media specialist at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA.


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