As a soon-to-be-parent in the height of the #MeToo movement, I worry about how to cultivate in my child a way of viewing the world that is kind, compassionate and curious. It feels more urgent and important than ever for me to introduce important concepts to my child. While I don’t get to choose to have my first child be born under the first female president, but I do get to choose what topics, ideas, and characters he or she is exposed to at this tender and influential time. These books are meant to inspire all children, to teach lessons like: to never give up; to fight for what you believe in; that genius exists in all races, ages, and gender identities; to ignore those who will doubt or shame you; to believe in yourself and to lift up those around you.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of three year olds in my life right now. These sweet, coordinated, hilarious, opinionated little ones blow me away with their personalities, storytelling, and ability to recall exactly what their parents (or potty-mouthed aunties say). But the biggest surprise for me has been just how big the feelings are inside of these small bodies. I don’t mean that as a euphemism for drama or poor behavior, it’s truly that these sweet kids have such big experiences and are working through how to express themselves and process these feelings. For adults and kids of all ages, it can be helpful to hear stories and to know we’re together in this work of being human. Here are nine children’s books to serve as a jumping off points for parents to talk to their little ones about different emotions, what they feel like, and how to process and experience them.