AUTHOR: Kathryn Otoshi

In line with National Child Day this month and in celebration of children, our monthly book suggestion relates to how every child has value and deserves to see her own worth. We hope that ZERO by Kathryn Otoshi will help you child to understand that we all have an opportunity in life to find where we fit and where we can add value to both others and ourselves.


 “But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero felt empty inside.”

Zero is a short story narrated by a number zero who is expressing doubt about her self-worth when comparing herself to the other numbers, one to nine. She feels left out because she wants to count like the other numbers, but doesn’t know how when she is worth nothing. Zero tries to stretch and bend to look more like the other numbers that have value, and starts to feel that she’ll never count for anything when she realizes that she can only ever be herself. Zero realizes that she does have value, and can bring value to the other numbers by pairing up to count for even more…10, 20, etc., all the way to 1,000,000.

Not only does this book provide a brief review of numbers, it also raises the importance of acceptance of self and others’ differences. The take away message of this book is that everyone has worth and value.


  1. Why does Zero want to look like some of the other numbers? Do you sometimes wish you could look like someone else, or be someone else? How come?
  1. When the other numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) line up together, why do you think Zero feels left out? Do you think the other numbers meant to exclude her?
  1. Does physical appearance give someone value? Why or why not?


Activity 1: Ask your child to draw a large circle. Ask him/her to write what they like about themselves inside the circle. Have others write positive things about him/her on the outside of the circle. Afterwards try hanging this up on the wall at home so that your child can be reminded of their positive qualities and can reflect on them.

Activity 2: Ask your child to think about a time where they felt down about themselves. In contrast, ask them about a time where they felt valuable and through discussion with your child reflect on these moments together. Help your child to understand that everyone has value by discussing how they (and others) add value to your family, a classroom, a sports team, etc. Discuss with your child how they (and others) add value to your family, a classroom, etc.

Borrow at your local Burnaby library


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