Kindergarten is going really well, but Harlow has one major complaint. She’s the smallest kid in school (by far) and according to Harlow, the other kids like to remind her of that fact. Almost daily, she comes home complaining that someone at school called her “tiny.”
I told Harlow that “tiny” isn’t a bad thing (some kids might just be saying it because they think small is “adorable”) but then she told me about a moment when she was walking down the stairs with her classmates and some “big kids” passed and said, “Look. They’re just babies.”
Ohhhhh, my heart. I told her that the big kids are just remarking on how much they’ve grown since kindergarten.
Harlow wasn’t buying it. She said she doesn’t like being called tiny and she doesn’t want people thinking she’s a baby. (Even though she still wants me to carry her half the time and begs to use the stroller, but that’s besides the point).
I understood. I told her that the next time someone calls her tiny, she just needs to let them know that she doesn’t like it. Or, she can tell them that she might be tiny, but she’s also strong and smart.
Then we role played. I would say, “You’re so tiny” and she would respond, “So, what? I’m small and mighty!” Mazzy joined in and pretended to be a kid taunting her at school.
“Oh my god. Look at her. She’s so TINY.”
“I’m small and MIGHTY!!!!!” Harlow yelled back with one fist in the air, like my teeny tiny superhero. I mean, my small but mighty superhero.
“That’s really good!!!” Mazzy said excitedly. We called Mike in to role play too.
“You’re so TINY.”
“I’m also CUTE, STRONG and SMART.”
When I told this story on Instagram, a bunch of people gave me children’s book recommendations for kids on the smaller side. I purchased a few and have been reading them to Harlow. Here are a few of our new favorites, plus some longtime favorites that I realized are all about “small but mighty” characters too.
By Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was an immediate hit because we all agreed that the main character Sally (that’s her with her finger held high on the cover) looks exactly like Harlow. Sally might be small but she is very observant (also like Harlow) and notices everything that happens in her school, from the bullying on the playground to the gruffness of one of the parents. One day in the cafeteria, she decides to take a stand and announce that everyone should be more kind to each other. All the other kids agree, changing the attitude around the school in small but meaningful ways. It shows that one small person can make a big difference.
By Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant
You Are (Not) Small is a simple and amusing story that is sure to make your kids laugh. It’s about a big animal and a little animal arguing over whether one is big or the other is small. In the end, they are both confronted by animals that are smaller and bigger than they are, making them understand that when viewed from different vantage points, they are both big and both small.
By Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is about a girl who is very small with a shrill voice and buck teeth, but she was blessed with a grandmother who taught her to always have confidence and be herself. When Molly moves to a new school and confronts the class bully who calls her “shrimpo,” her ability to believe in herself is put to the test. Ultimately, she proves that you can be small and still stand tall by having a healthy dose of self-esteem.
4) Tiny Pie
By Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman and illustrated by Edward Hemingway
Tiny Pie is about a baby elephant named Ellie who is the only kid at her parents’ grown-up party. No one is paying attention to her and she can’t reach the food. After being told to go to bed by her parents, Ellie spots a hole in the wall where she discovers a mouse filming a cooking show. In the end, the book teaches that tiny hands, noses, mouths and hearts can make a big difference, as well as some deliciously tiny pies. There is even a recipe for Tiny Pies from Alice Waters in the back.
By Kate Hoefler and illustrated by Noah Klocek
Great Big Things is about a beautifully illustrated book about mouse who travels over huge mountains and vast lands to bring another mouse a special gift. It’s about the grandness of gestures, which can be accomplished regardless of size.
6) The Gruffalo
By Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The Gruffalo is a classic that I have been reading to Mazzy and Harlow forever. We all have it memorized. It’s about a mouse who outsmarts various forest creatures who want to eat him by pretending he has a much bigger friend who is meeting him named the Gruffalo. When his imaginary Gruffalo actually shows up in a surprise turn of events, the mouse manages to outsmart him as well.
7) Foxy and Egg
By Alex T. Smith
Foxy and Egg is an incredibly quirky book and somewhat dark, but it has been one of Harlow’s favorites for years. Basically, an egg shows up at the front door of Foxy Dubois’ house (really, a mansion) and needs a place to stay for the night. Foxy takes Egg in, with the underlying plan of fattening egg up with a big dinner so that she cook him up in the morning and eat him for breakfast. Her plan is foiled when she wakes up the next morning and discovers that Egg has grown five times his size overnight. When he cracks open, she discovers her trusting little egg visitor is actually an alligator who wants to eat her. As I said, it’s dark. But I think Harlow likes it because it shows that you never know what big things could be lurking inside a small package.
By Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field
We have not read The Lion Inside yet but it was recommended to me by Lauren, so it is the next on our list. It’s about a mouse who is trying to to teach herself to roar like a lion. She finally works up the courage to approach a lion, only to learn that the lion is afraid of mice. They end up becoming friends with the ultimate lesson being, “No matter your size, we all have a lion AND a mouse inside.”
Let me know if you have any other book recommendations for small kids in the comments below!