No Two Alike: Encouraging Individuality in “Identical” Twins

March 20, 2009
March 20, 2009

My five-year-old daughters are starting to understand that having a twin is different from a typical sibling relationship. In November, when I last discussed my daughters’ “twinship,” they insisted that they did not look alike. Today, they’ve refined their response:

Mommy: M, do you and S look alike?

M: Yes, but our faces are a little different. S’s face is an oval, and mine is a circle.

Mommy: Why do you look so much alike?

M: Because we’re twins.

Mommy: S, do you and M look alike?

S: No.

Mommy: Why not?

S: Because we have different socks.

True, they rarely wear matching clothing, a difference that does not prevent their friends and acquaintances from mixing them up. Neither does a five-pound weight difference nor their distinctive personalities.

As their parents, one of our goals is to encourage our daughters to explore their individuality while preserving their close bond, and we use books to help get this message across, such as Keith Baker’s No Two Alike (2011).*

No Two Alike (640x360)

This charming picture book follows a pair of red birds as they explore snowflakes, nests, tracks, branches, forests, trees, fences, roads, bridges, houses, and friends, showing us that no two are exactly alike: “Almost, almost… but not quite.”

My twins listened attentively to the sparsely-worded story (which is probably best for slightly younger children), and enjoyed the beautiful illustrations, until we got stuck on one of the wintry scenes toward the end, featuring the red birds, a family of deer, a pair of foxes, and two bears. One of my girls (S.) piped up, “Hey, those bears should be hibernating! This story doesn’t make any sense!”

I am no expert on Ursus americanus or Ursus arctos (I’m a city girl), and so I decided to find out whether it would be unusual to see a pair of bears frolicking in the snow (what did parents do before the Internet?!). A quick Google search for “bears in the snow” revealed a few pictures of black and brown bears and bear tracks in the snow. It also indicated that while bears do not hibernate in a true sense, they are effectively out of commission for five to eight months of the year, during which time they could wake up if disturbed. So, maybe Baker’s bears are highly agitated and headed back to sleep? Or, despite the bare branches, maybe it’s a late snowfall or a place with snow most of the year?

At least that’s what I told S., because she’s a kid who won’t just let little logical errors like that go. On that issue, her twin is the same.

*Many thanks to Katie at Youth Literature Reviews for recommending this book.


  1. I love the story with the response about the different socks. It made me laugh so hard. They are so adorable to look at too, so just imagining this being played out, made me smile. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ‘Because we have different socks’, Ha ha! Did your girls develop any words or phrases that only they used AMB? My younger twin brothers were hilarious at times and we often had to have a stab at translation.

    1. Twins are so amusing to observe! My girls didn’t develop “twinese” in a very noticeable way, but it took them a long time to speak a version of English we understood.

  3. what did parents do before the Internet?! I got a kick out of that question you are pondering…..I was thinking about the stories I was told growing up from a very imaginative german Oma..She made google seem like a book on counting to 3!! Nothing like a haunted forest in Germany story from a grandmother..haha..or anyone for that matter…I love listening to people who write books read them to me on an audio version! Something about that way of experieincing a book is cool…But I must admit there is nothing like cozying up in my PJs to a good book ……..Your Twins are so adorable…There faces make me smile.

    1. I was raised in the pre-Internet days, and my Dad always had an answer for everything without having to look it up! Still, I’m grateful I have Google.

  4. Love it! So much more logical than I was at that age (or am now, unfortunately… 😉 ) My mom’s an identical twin, and I always think it’s so amazing how similar she is to my aunt, even while maintaining a completely different personality; when they both laugh at the same time, it’s like laughter in stereo.

    1. “like laughter in stereo”–I like that description! It’s that way in our house, too. My twins are so different in some ways and so similar in others.

  5. Your children are beautiful, and no, they don’t look exactly alike. 🙂 As for bears… even unusually warm weather will rouse them to wander about a bit before returning to their slumber.

  6. Love the post! and the pictures! …even their logic on wether they look alike, highlights the ways in which they are individuals and are so different. They each interpreted the question a bit differently. Too cute.

  7. You should also try reading Two Peas in a Pod by Annegert Fuchschuber. We really like that one for the same reasons!

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