Theo's Deliciously Different Dumplings children's book about emotions surrounding differences

Book Helps Children Navigate Differences - "Theo's Deliciously Different Dumplings"

"Dr. Housman’s diverse characters help children celebrate their similarities and differences and be proud of who they are. Children will learn the foundational skills necessary to become resilient and compassionate."

—Sandy Avzaradel, M.S.Ed. Director of Start Well:
Mental Health Consultation for Early Care and Education

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A Children's Book Tackling the Feelings that Arise Around Differences

In Theo's Deliciously Different Dumplings, an ECSELent Adventures story, Theo is nervous about his first day at a new school. A lunch box full of his favorite homemade dumplings is just the thing to make him feel better . . . or is it? One teasing classmate isn't so sure about this unfamiliar food, and he isn't shy about letting Theo know. Learn, grow, and develop alongside Theo and his classmates as they discover the importance of understanding, accepting, and embracing the many wonderful things that make us different, as well as one thing we all have in common-our emotions!

Theo and friends (characters in Housman Institute's ECSELent Adventures program) invite children to join them as they begin to understand and manage their own emotions and those of others, all while exploring what makes them unique and what binds them together, and discovering everyone's ability to accept and embrace differences.

Feeling nervous on his first day of school



Emotional Focus around difficult topics like cultural differences, bullying, and adjusting to a new school

Emotional Focus

Managing big emotions is fundamental to learning and thriving. In this age-appropriate book, children can see Theo's strong emotions related to teasing from a classmate, but with the help of family and friends, both Theo and the classmate learn to regulate their emotions and behaviors.

Tips for Readers

Tips for Readers

This book contains tips for readers when talking about differences with young children and over 20 guiding questions for social-emotional learning.

ECSELent Adventures book series

Book Series

“Theo's Deliciously Different Dumplings” is part of the “The ECSELent Adventures of Hemmy and Shemmy” book series, and was featured in The Children’s Book Council’s December 2022 Hot Off the Press reading list, and received the Eric Hoffer Finalist Book Award in 2023.


Dr. Donna Housman has spent her professional career in the world of early childhood development and education. Believing that it is far easier to prevent than repair, Dr. Housman founded Housman Institute, along with its lab school and early childhood development center, based on emotional foundations of learning and cognition and informed by research in neuroscience, child development, and early education. Seizing the opportunity to inform the architecture of the brain in the earliest years, her Emotional, Cognitive, and Social Early Learning (ECSEL) approach promotes healthy brain development and a positive sense of self by fostering the building blocks of emotional intelligence starting from birth.

Dr. Housman has trained thousands of early childhood educators, children, and families in her ECSEL approach while being a consistent source of vital counsel and guidance for families and educators on young children’s social and emotional development.

Dr. Donna Housman with Hemmy and Shemmy

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