Fitting In or Standing Out: How Being Different is a Matter of Perspective

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Hello, fellow book enthusiasts! We’re still on our bimonthly theme, Oddballs and Misfits. As we continue to celebrate the beauty of the strange and the peculiar, I am sharing three lovable picture books with you today. Each one has a little something to say about fitting in, standing out, and simply being different.

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“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
– Dr. Seuss

In our struggle to fit in, we forget that we’ve always had something inside us that makes us unique. We forget that being different also means being special.

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Written by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by: Tom Lichtenheld
Published by: Scholastic Press
Genre: Picture books, fiction
All book photos taken and edited by me.

The bright yellow cover of this adorable picture book attracted my attention. The cover is minimalist in nature, and you can’t miss the big exclamation mark in the middle. The book follows the story of an exclamation mark that wanted to be less of an exclamation and more of a period.

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The exclamation mark wasn’t comfortable about being an oddball, and it tried so hard to be more like the periods it was hanging out with. Like the little exclamation mark, some of us feel that standing out from the crowd is a bad thing or is just plain weird. Amy and Tom’s collaborative work is a beautiful reminder that there’s always something that makes us different from others, and it is what enables us to make our marks in this world.

The need to fit in exists because there is a lack of awareness about the things that make us unique. More often than not, we are the only ones that doubt ourselves. This is why the book discusses another point: that our family and friends help us realize just how special we are. We all have an inner exclamation mark. The question is, how to find it

“Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.”
– Rick Warren

Being different is a choice. Just because everyone is trying to be like everyone else, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be your own self. People always like to question, ‘why?’ Maybe one day they will learn to say, ‘why not?’

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Written and illustrated by: Mo Willems
Published by: Hyperion Books for Children
Genre: Picture books, fiction
All book photos taken and edited by me.

Mo Willems is love. I’m a huge fan of his Elephant & Piggie series – the only Mo Willems collection I have, I’m afraid. I first saw this book at Goodwill, and I returned it to the shelf without giving it much thought. I was at Book Off yesterday and saw it again. It hit me just then that this book fits our bimonthly theme.

You see, this book is about naked mole rats. Mo Willems brilliantly introduces the story with a short background about naked mole rats. They’re a little bit rat, a little bit mole, and they’re all naked. (Yes, Mo used the actual word in the book. For the concerned parents and educators, please be guided by the fact that animals do not wear clothes when explaining this story to the younger kids.)

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All mole rats are naked… Except Wilbur. Wilbur likes to get dressed. The other mole rats always make fun of him for wearing clothes. You might think that Wilbur, being so much different from the other mole rats, would be discouraged and feel left out. Not in the least. Being different is what Wilbur is good at, and I wish the same for those of you who get called names just because you are different from others.

Wilbur does not let other mole rats define who he is. He knows what he wants and he is comfortable being himself, even if it means being the only mole rat who likes to get dressed. Soon the other mole rats, who are more concerned about Wilbur wearing clothes than Wilbur himself is, decide to take the matter to Grand-pah. Could this mark the end of our mole rat fashionista’s garment-wearing days?

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
– Bernard M. Baruch

Sometimes, others make fun of us for the company we choose. They tease us because of the people we call friends and those we choose to hang out with. Let me ask you: How many of us are willing to be different, to be left out, or to be made fun of for the sake of friendship?

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Written and illustrated by: Edward Hemingway
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Picture book, fiction
All book photos taken and edited by me.

Originally, I was only going to post Exclamation Mark today. When I came across Bad Apple earlier this week, I decided to write a three-in-one book post. I am so pleased to share with you this sweet and charming picture book by the youngest grandson of Ernest Hemingway – yes, THE Ernest Hemingway. While this book is meant for the younger readers because of the text and illustrations, the story rings true for all of us.

Meet Mac, a cheerful, loving, and, undoubtedly, good apple. (I find it amusing that Edward decided to name the apple ‘Mac.’ I bet you saw what he did there!) Mac soon meets an unlikely friend in the character of Will, a worm that crawled right inside Mac’s head one fateful rainy day. Both are so sweet. Needless to say, Mac and Will become inseparable. Any day spent with Will is a good day for Mac.

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Unfortunately for our inseparable duo, not everyone is happy with Mac and Will’s friendship. In fact, it seems like all the apples in the orchard think that Mac is a rotten apple because of the worm in his head. Does making friends with a worm make Mac a bad apple? What would happen to Mac and Will’s friendship? This book offers a lot of discussion points that parents and teachers can talk about with children. With inner charm and sweetness, Bad Apple is a book that speaks from the heart.

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 71, 72, 73 of 150

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  1. [Saturday Reads] Elephant and Piggie Say Thank You… and Goodbye – Gathering Books

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