Strictly No Elephants is one of our favorite picture books to begin a discussion about inclusiveness with young readers. It highlights compassion, kindness, and the importance of welcoming all children, all the time. Check it out!
Strictly No Elephants is a brilliant book to begin conversations about inclusiveness
Strictly no Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeyn Yoo, begins with a simple statement:
“The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in.”
While most of us don’t actually have tiny elephants prancing around our homes (but how fun would that be?!), not fitting in is a sentiment we’ve all had at some point in our lives. And though it may pain us to say it out loud, so have our kids.
Feeling different. Out of place. Excluded.
Whether it’s the color of our hair, the color of our skin, the religion we practice, the cars we drive, the toys we play with, it’s a universal feeling.
It’s a feeling that is uncomfortable and, oftentimes, heartbreaking.
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RELATED: We’ve got more than 100 children’s book lists for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so be sure to check them out!
Strictly No Elephants addresses differences and exclusion
Strictly No Elephants beautifully conveys the feeling of heartbreak — and then the feeling of hope.
In the story, a little boy loves his pet elephant. He knows his elephant is a bit unconventional. Nonetheless, the two are trusted friends, going on walks every day, helping each other over the cracks of life, and staying true to one another always.
One morning, the boy and his elephant wake up and are excited about their day’s activity. It’s Pet Club Day! Yet when they arrive at the home where the event is taking place, the boy and his elephant find a disturbing sight.
Hanging on the door is a crude sign that reads: Strictly No Elephants.
Kids with angry faces stare out the window from inside the house, waiting for the boy and his elephant to turn around and walk away.
The two leave the home, dejected, and as they walk aimlessly, they discover another child who has also been turned away from the club with her pet skunk.
The girl doesn’t understand why she was excluded from the club either. After all, her skunk doesn’t even stink! But no one else has a pet skunk, just like no one else has a pet elephant.
It is in this moment of sadness and dejection that the two kids decide to make a club of their own. So they go to the park, draw up a sign, and open their gathering to all. While they seem to struggle to find the right words for their sign, they eventually settle on the perfect phrasing. It’s three simple words, and it’s perfect. What does it say?
“All are welcome.”
Whether you are coming with a dog or porcupine or giraffe or penguin or narwhal, the kids and their animals make sure everyone has a place at this new playground. All are welcome, and friendship can be found no matter who you are or what kind of pet you have.
RELATED: Are trying to raise kind and compassionate kids? Our blog posts on kids’ books about kindness and preschool kindness books are must-reads!
Strictly No Elephants and the beauty of “all are welcome”
All are welcome.
Isn’t that a perfect message?
It’s why I love Strictly No Elephants so much. I love how it celebrates the magic that happens when children recognize differences are not something to shy away from. I love the way this book speaks so perfectly to our youngest readers by making a daunting topic feel safe. With Strictly No Elephants, the ideas of inclusion and exclusion become easy for our littlest kids to explore.
Mantchev’s story is one I wish the whole world could embrace. It’s certainly one that all children should read, again and again, because it conveys such a pertinent and timely theme.
This story, with its beautiful and expressive illustrations, conjures so much hope in me with every read. Because who wouldn’t want to climb up to a tree house where all types of people – and animals – can come together to play harmoniously?
Strictly No Elephants is a must for your child’s library or your classroom, and it is wholeheartedly awarded two “trunks” up from our team.
Want to purchase Strictly No Elephants? Click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Not having the same pet as everyone else can make it difficult to fit in. After all, when you have an elephant and most people have dogs and cats, you’re a bit — different. After one boy and his elephant are shunned from Pet Club, they decide to create a new club for other children and their pets, one where all kids and all animals are welcome. Strictly No Elephants highlights the importance of inclusiveness and kindness, and it is a wonderful story to illustrate that differences make our world beautiful.
There is no right or wrong age for children to read Strictly No Elephants! While I find it effective for all ages, I find it resonates most with preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Of course! We have two great lists for you to check out. We have a list of kids’ books about kindness for bigger kids, and preschool kindness book list as well!
RELATED: Are your kids starting to read? Check out the best books for beginning readers and these kindergarten books for developing readers!
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