Different: A Great Thing to Be Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Celebrating Differences
Self Awareness
by Heather Avis - A literature guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to gain empathy, generosity, and social awareness about the beauty in our differences and the light they bring to the world.

We are all exactly who we are meant to be. This affirming book shows us the beauty in each of us, even if someone seems different. Children, parents, friends, and families need not be afraid of the unknown or different, such as neuro or physical disabilities, because are differences bring light to the world

Before Reading

Ask: What are you like? What do you look like? What makes you different than other people? What are you good at? What makes you exactly who you are and not someone else?  

Show: Show the illustration on the front cover of the book. What things show variety - different variations on the same thing? Although flowers are different, they all add beauty and interest to the world.

Connect: Each of us has things we are good at that feel important to us. Your instructions for life are to use your talents and strengths for good. Talk about what your talents might be now. It can change as you grow up.

During Reading

Ask: How do the children on the raft leave the girl out? Why don't they want to play with her? Families of children born with Down syndrome want you to know that their children are kind, curious, and bright, with wonderful personalities, just like you. How does this girl show us that?

Show: Are all of the other children alike? 

Connect: Talk about what it means to always look for the good in people. Talk about how EVERYONE has strengths and challenges. 

After Reading

Ask: Have you ever met someone who seemed different from you and you weren't sure what to think about it? What do you think now?

Show:  Look at the picture with the children playing together. What did they learn about loving people who are different from them? 

Connect: What is great about being different? What is one great thing about you that is different from others?


  1. Read about Down syndrome to learn about what it is. 
  2. On a large piece of paper, draw a picture of yourself doing something you love to do and label it with, "I am different because _______."  You may use pictures cut out of magazines. If you are with a group, compare pictures and talk about how we are the same and different. 
  3. Make a video of yourself doing something you are good at. Include what are you good at and how you use it for good. For example, "I am good at making friends, and I use that talent to make sure everyone is included." or "I love nature, and I use my talents and time to take care of plants and animals."
  4. A symbol is a picture that stands for an idea. A heart is a symbol of love, a butterfly is a symbol of change and hope, and a tree is a symbol of life. Draw a symbol that represents you. 
  5. The word compassion means you show kindness and caring for others. I show compassion when I listen to someone who hurts. Be on the lookout for someone who needs help or a friend, and show them compassion by listening to how they feel and asking how you can help.