Leon the Chameleon! by Melanie Watt

Chameleon doodle.

Can you relate?

You walk into a room and feel like the odd one out.  Everyone else seems to belong there. You simply can’t find the right fit. You don’t feel particularly “weird” or “strange” on your own, but in a group, you seem to stick out like a sore thumb.

Have you ever felt unacceptable for your differences? Do you ever feel ashamed of your true colors? Ever wish that you could just… blend in?

Strange, special, and unique…

These words can be hurtful, confusing, and even insulting. When you’re the odd one out, you feel alone. You feel alienated. We are brought up to be independent, find our voices, and build a sense of personal identity. At the same time, we are criticized for our differences by our peers at school. What gives?

What’s wrong with being different?

NOTHING! Being different makes us who we are. Many therapists would argue that being “yourself” is the only way to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. This is harder to teach in early childhood because kids may actively be getting bullied. Children must learn from a young age to embrace individuality and be themselves. They need to know they are unconditionally loved and appreciated for who they are.

Helping children value differences

Leon the Chameleon is a children’s book by Melanie Watt. This book is written with an optimistic perspective about owning who you are. In the story, Leon unlike other chameleons. While all the other lizards blend in with their surroundings, Leon does the opposite! He cannot control his contrasting shades. Instead of blending in, he draws attention to himself because of his color. “When Leon swam in the blue pond, he turned orange. Leon didn’t do this on purpose. He wanted to be the same as the other chameleons. He just couldn’t help turning the opposite color,” (Watt, pg. 8).

A story about a chameleon who doesn’t blend in

This story begins with Leon feeling rejected and embarrassed for his true colors. That is, until all the lizards are lost in the desert together, and Leon is the only lizard who is visible in the sand. He leads the other chameleons to safety and saves the day.

The moral of the story is that, instead of calling someone weird because of their differences, we can value their differences. Ultimately, those who stand out can be great leaders.

Bibliotherapy for kids who stand out

Do you have an outstanding kid that you want to help support? Validate them and all their colors. Make them feel special, unique, and seen in a positive light. Read this book and use discussion questions to engage kids. Ask kids to recap the story and relate it to their life. Guide kids to see why special qualities are a strength! 🙂

Why it works…

Bibliotherapy helps kids learn mental health concepts through hearing stories, empathizing with book characters, and relating events to their lives. Reading events in a book helps us see multiple perspectives, cause, and effect, and relate with book characters.

Leon the Chameleon! Complete reading on YouTube (FREE! 🙂 ).

Here is a book reading of Leon the Chameleon! by Melanie Watt on YouTube. If you’re interested in hearing the story aloud, give it a watch! Preview the book and purchase a copy of your own. I recommend this book for any kid who thinks they’re weird. 🙂

CLICK here to purchase the book

Watt, M. (2001). Leon the Chameleon. Kids Can Press Ltd.

If you decide to use this book with your child or during therapy, let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your experience. Click this link to send me a message.

Emily of Oviedo’s Mental Health Therapy Blog

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