Inside: We love children’s books about friendship — stories that celebrate the joy, drama and love between pals! Here are some of our very favorite friendship books!
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The Ultimate List of Children’s Books About Friendship!
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” —L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I am lucky to have had a group of best friends at my side for more than twenty years. Even luckier? At forty years old, I have one cherished friend who has been an important part of my life since we were just 2 years old, toddlers with pigtails and sippy cups and Snoopy stuffies, a friend I met at the same school where I work now. That’s thirty-eight years of friendship — thirty-eight years of sharing hopes and secrets and fears, supporting each other when it’s felt like our legs would give out from under us, cheering each other on when we needed a boost, and lending a shoulder when the tears wouldn’t stop.
I hope my boys have friends like this.
I want my kids to be successful, no doubt. I want them to be smart, confident, and creative. But more important to me than anything? I want my boys to be good friends and to have good friends — friends who are kind, trustworthy, and are always willing to lend a hand when their pals are in need. I want them to have friends who will be in their lives for the next thirty-eight years.
The Importance of Childhood Friendships to Healthy Development
There can be no underestimating the importance of childhood friendships. In our youngest kids, friendships help children develop vital social and emotional skills. As kids grow, friendships teach children age-appropriate behaviors, how to be sensitive and empathetic to others’ needs, how to cooperate and negotiate, and even something that seems simple, but takes significant practice — how to converse with others.
When it comes to education, children that feel valued and appreciated often perform better in class. And what is one significant indicator that a child will feel appreciated in the classroom? Having good buddies in class with him. It has been found that children who are in the same classroom as kids with whom they have close friendships often have better attitudes about school and learning.
Even imaginary friends have proven beneficial to little ones by helping children view the world through the eyes of their most trusted “confidante.” This ability to see life through another being’s perspective is tremendously important when it comes to cultivating empathy in our children.
So what’s the point?
RELATED: We’ve got all of the best children’s books for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so make sure to check ’em out!
As parents and educators who recognize how important friendships are to our kids’ healthy social and emotional development, we must do all we can to nurture and encourage such relationships. We must provide children with authentic, inspiring examples of positive and fulfilling friendships, including all the ins and outs and ups and downs of what it means to be a friend.
One tried and true way to do this, short of modeling these relationships yourself? Use books, of course!
Children’s Books About Friendship are Perfect to Teach Kids About Healthy Relationships!
Stories that showcase how to be a good friend are worth their weight in gold. Through picture books, our children learn how to navigate social challenges, listen when a friend needs help, and maintain an inclusive and accepting attitude towards not just their peers, but all people everywhere. Most importantly, stories provide a window through which kids see how generous actions and small acts of kindness can brighten a day, and — sometimes — change a life, too.
A good picture book imparts insight, of course, but it also gives children something to sink their teeth into, something to call upon when they find themselves in similar situations to those found in beloved books, tackling similar challenges or experiencing similar joys.
Children’s Books About Friendship Help Cultivate Kindness in Our Kids
Our children are our future, so we should start investing in them now, when it truly counts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all worked towards a common goal of instilling kindness in our kids, if we teach them the importance of being good friends to those in their classrooms and communities?
There are so many fabulous children’s books about friendship that can help all of us make this dream a reality.
Without further ado, here are some of our very favorite friendship books that can be read to both preschoolers and “big kids” alike — and you may be surprised at how much they resonate with you, the adult, too. Here are some of Happily Ever Elephant’s very favorite stories.
Children’s Books About Friendships, New and Old
My Best Friend, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki: This may be the most precious, authentic children’s book ever. We are so in love with this delightful story that celebrates new friendships — those times you meet someone and instantly “click,” knowing it’s the beginning of a long, joyful relationship. Whether laughing at each other when playing make believe, drawing each other encircled by hearts, or continuing to love one another even though your favorite ice creams are different, this book, with its vintage feel and glorious illustrations, is simply magical. Tender, emotional, and written in pitch-perfect kid-speak, this one is a must for every bookshelf. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Bikes for Sale, by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Zachariah OHora: Maurice and Lotta both ride their bikes every day: Maurice, to sell lemonade and Lotta, to collect sticks. They both keep to their own circles and routines, and they never cross paths. Until, that is, the day that a downed branch and a runaway lemon peel cause their worlds to collide— at the bike shop, no less! Soon Maurice and Lotta are riding together, and the coincidence that led them to one another created a friendship they were meant to have all along. We love the way this story showcases how chance encounters create lasting friendships! For our full review, of Bikes for Sale, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
A Friend for Henry, by Jenn Bailey and illustrated by Mika Song: We fell in love with this book right from the start for the way it immediately helps kids build compassion for Henry as he searches for a friend in Classroom Six. But Henry is on the autism spectrum, and when his day becomes too close and too loud, Henry wonders if he will ever find a friend who will listen and share and like things to stay in just the right order like he does. There are few children’s books about friendship featuring neurodiverse characters, but this one is fabulous. Sensitive, authentic, and compassionate, we simply adore this story about a literal child who eventually finds what he desires most – a new friend. This is one of many phenomenal stories on our list of books for autistic children and neurodiverse kids. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Geraldine, by Elizabeth Lilly: Geraldine does not want to move! Especially to a new town where she is bound to be the only giraffe. Not when everyone in school will call her That Giraffe Girl. Eventually, though, Geraldine meets Cassie, another girl who skirts the crowd and is somewhat of a loner at school, and the two discover that there’s nothing better than standing out and being yourself — and having one true friend who helps you fit in just perfectly. We love these two and their willingness to play by their own rules! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
On the Night of the Shooting Star, by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jenni Desmond: Everyone struggles with feelings of loneliness, and everyone has looked across a fence — or a classroom or a quad or a playground — and felt a pang of sadness when they realize there is someone on the other side they would love to connect with. Reaching out isn’t easy, though. In fact, it can be downright hard. But the rewards? Tremendous. Use this book to remind little ones that these feelings of solitude are universal– but we can’t overcome them until we make an effort and get just a little out of our comfort zone and do our best to make new friends! For our full review of On the Night of the Shooting Star, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Shy, by Deborah Freedman: Shy remains unseen in the gutter of the book, too nervous to confront his fear of having to interact with others. Shy loves birds, though, but has only ever read about them. One day, Shy hears and sees a beautiful bird flying near him, but he is too nervous to leave his home and say hello. Will he eventually find the courage to leave? And if he does venture out of his home, will he show us his face or try to stay hidden among other animals he meets along the way? This gorgeous, gentle book experiments with form, art and prose in a manner so fresh and unique, it makes you feel as if you are discovering a book for the very first time. An all time fave and the perfect story for kids who are nervous about making new friends! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Shy, click here!
Big Friends, by Linda Sarah and illustrated by Benji Davies: Birt and Etho are best buds, using their big imaginations every time they play. But what happens when a new boy comes along and their two turns into three? Three is such a tough number for little kids – I see it first hand with my own boys on a regular basis. But I love how this story reminds kids that there is always room for one more — and making a new friend in no way means you forget the old. This is one of those children’s books about friendship that is not on fun and well written, but it teaches an incredibly valuable lesson in a pure and authentic manner! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Sadie and The Silver Shoes, by Jane Godwin and illustrated by Anna Walker: Sadie is tired of only getting hand me down clothes from her brothers, so when she is allowed to pick out a new pair of shoes one day, she is thrilled. She picks a pair of sparkly silver ones, the most beautiful shoes ever, and she can’t get enough of them. But then one day as she hops in a creek with her brothers, one of the shoes falls off and disappears. What will Sadie do with only one shoe? Even more importantly, what will she do if she finds it, and its been taken care of all this time by another little girl? Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Magic Boat, by Kit Pearson, Katherine Farris and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard: Ellie goes to the beach every day during the summer, but she usually keeps to herself and watches all of the other kids. One day, Ellie musters up all of her courage and asks an older girl named Piper if she wants to play, because Piper, too, is playing alone. What follows is a wondrous and exciting friendship, as Piper’s imagination takes the girls on the grandest of adventures! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B.Lewis: Clover, an African-American child, lives alongside a fence that segregates her town, and she is given strict instructions by her mother that she must never climb over. So what happens when she notices a white child on the other side of the fence, and that child notices Clover, too? The two strike up an unlikely, tentative friendship, and though both are told not to cross the fence, they decide to sit on top of it instead. Though once an angry barrier, the fence that was supposed to divide this pair instead becomes a peaceful place for the new pals to form a connection, inspiring other neighborhood kids to join them. This is one of the most exquisite children’s books about friendship! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi: In this beautiful multicultural picture book, Unhei moves from Korea and decides not to use her given name and will adopt an American one instead. Why? It’s just too different and way too hard to pronounce. Her new friends throw names in a jar to help Unhei decide, but as she tries on American names like Suzy or Laura to see if they will be a good fit, a new friend helps her remember why her name is meaningful, perfect, and the best choice of all. Sometimes friends — even our newest ones — are just what we need to help us be true to ourselves. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Children’s Books About Friendship: Accepting Differences
Sparky, by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans: A little girl wants nothing more than a pet, but mom isn’t so thrilled. What animal complies with her mother’s stringent requirements? A sloth, of course! The girl is thrilled when Sparky arrives in the mail, but she soon comes to realize that having a sloth is quite different than anticipated. She tries to turn the sloth into a circus show but quickly realizes you can’t impose your will and desires on others. This book wonderfully imparts to kids that the best part of friendship comes when you can truly recognize who is sitting beside you and you can embrace that special someone for everything they are — and are not. For our full review of Sparky, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon: In this sweet story we are introduced to a young mime who never uses words to convey his emotions. He goes through his days in solitude until he is befriended by a little girl who catches his make-believe ball. The beauty of this story lies in the fact that Dennis’s new friend never attempts to make Dennis speak. Instead, the readers see that their newfound friendship transcends words, and we can easily find ways to accept one another — both for our similarities and our differences. This is hands down one of our very favorite children’s books about friendship! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Be a Friend, click here!
My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood: In this gorgeous story, a girl called Cartwheel moves to a new country with her auntie, and in her new surroundings, everything is strange. Only a metaphorical blanket brings her comfort, until the day that she meets a new girl and the two embark on a friendship that begins with a smile. This story not only sheds a much-needed light on the refugee experience, but it reminds us that fear of “others” can dissipate so quickly by simply opening our hearts and minds. It can start with a smile, or even just a simple hello. For our full review of My Two Blankets, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
When Charley Met Emma, by Amy Webb and illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard: Charley heads to the playground and there he meets Emma, a girl in a wheelchair with limb differences. At first, he doesn’t know how to respond to Emma and her physical differences. But after they begin to talk, he realizes that different isn’t bad. Instead, different is simply different — and celebrating our differences is pretty great. We love the way this book illuminates kindness and highlights our commonalities, even in the face of things kids initially see as being foreign. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Children’s Books About Friendship: Favorite Animal Friendships
My Friend is Sad, by Mo Willems: Each book in the Elephant and Piggie series is just fantastic, and we especially love how this one shows Piggie doing everything he can to cheer up his friend Gerald… but in disguise. What does Gerald truly need when he feels blue? Even though Piggie’s antics were pretty perfect, all Gerald wanted was his best friend’s company so the two could share the laughs together. So sweet, and so humorous! I especially love how this book distills a more complicated concept into bite size chunks even toddlers can understand. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Lion and the Bird, by Marianne Dubuc: When a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden, the lion gently takes him in and cares for him because the bird’s flock has flown away. The two animals become fast friends, so when the bird departs with his flock the following autumn, the lion is heartbroken. This is such a tender portrayal of friendship and loyalty, with stunning illustrations to boot. The combination of simple text and exquisite pictures make this story sing. This is one of those perfect children’s books about friendship that resonates deeply with kids and adults alike. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Bear Came Along, by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: Oh, how we adore this new book about friendship and community, and the ways in which working together and caring for those around you betters everyone! A big bear happens along a river, not realizing adventures are so much better with friends. Along the way he meets Froggy, Beaver, and Duck, as well as the Raccoons and the Turtles. The animals had no idea they needed each other, until the river forces them together, that is. We love the way this book shows that making friends can be easy — and we can always find ways to help another! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Duck & Goose, by Tad Hills: Two young birds come across a polka dot ball, and they immediately mistake it for an egg. They both lay claim to it, and then of course they fight to take care of it. In the end, the birds end up climbing on top of their “egg” and eventually bond over a bigger purpose- how to care for the bird baby inside that they believe will arrive any day. When a bluebird lets them know that the egg isn’t actually an egg at all but a ball instead, it is clear that duck and goose have created quite a strong bond. Though they abandon their mission, they don’t abandon each other. One of the best children’s books about friendship for the littles! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: What happens when a tiny snail longs to see the world? He hitches a ride on a giant humpback whale who takes him on a wondrous adventure. But one day, the whale becomes lost and confused, and suddenly, he is beached in the sand. Will the tiny snail ever be able to repay the great whale for its kindness? We love this book that beautifully highlights a small snail’s courage, a giant whale’s kindness, and the way friendship can spring up among the unlikeliest pairs. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Friend Ship, by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Chuck Groenik: One young hedgehog is super lonely, but upon hearing about something called a “friend ship,” she takes off to try to find this unique vessel! Along the way, she encounters some other animals who join in on her search — and before long, they realize that a “friend ship” may have been right under their noses throughout their journey. Children will delight in this darling play on words! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and Esme Shapiro: This book never fails to make us laugh! Yak and Dove are an unlikely pair — in fact, they are complete opposites! As the two ponder their differences they realize that maybe, in fact, they aren’t supposed to be friends after all. Yak holds auditions for a new best friend, and he may come to realize that sometimes our differences are what connect us in the first place — and we are more alike than we think. These three interconnected stories are as profound as they are delightful, and we could read this one again and again — and laugh each and every time! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Otto and Pio, by Marianne Dubuc: This tender book illuminates that feeling of contentment we find when we take care of someone we love. Otto the squirrel is happy as a clam living alone, and when Pio comes along, Otto doesn’t know what to make of him. Otto invites Pio in, and Pio eats all of Otto’s food— and then he grows and grows and grows! Though he is initially frustrated, Otto begins to realizes that despite the inconveniences, his home is much happier with Pio in it, no matter how big Pio gets! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan: Marco is one inquisitive fox. He can’t stop asking questions, but no one else seems to share his curiosity. When a stunning ship arrives in search of a crew, Marco knows this is the start of a journey he must undertake! Though there are no other foxes aboard, and not all of his questions get answered, Marco begins to realize that sometimes, finding new friends can be even more fulfilling than having all the answers. The exquisite illustrations in this profound story make this book a gem! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Children’s Books About Friendship & Generous Actions
Lubna and Pebble, by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egneus: Lubna’s best friend and confidante is a small pebble, found the night she landed in a World of Tents with her father. But when a little boy arrives to the World of Tents, lost and cold, Lubna introduces the boy to Pebble, and the two become friends in their new, uncertain world. When Lubna learns she and her father have found a real home and will be leaving the World of Tents, Lubna knows she has the most perfect gift to leave with the boy. Stunning, poignant, and moving, this is one of my very favorite children’s books about friendship — if not an all time favorite! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Lubna and Pebble, click here!
Poe Won’t Go, by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Zachariah O’Hora: What happens when an elephant plops down in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and creating chaos for everyone around him? The people of Prickly Valley yell and honk and push and try to coax him to leave. Yet, the elephant doesn’t budge, and it takes one little girl’s thoughtfulness – and her willingness to extend an ear and listen – to help the elephant find his way. Both funny and tender, this book scores on every level! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead: Amos, a zookeeper, spends time everyday with all of his animal friends at the zoo. He delights in being a companion to each of them, and he is sensitive to their unique needs. When Amos wakes up one morning too sick to get to the zoo, Amos’s friends decide it may just be time they return the favor. This is single-handedly one of the best children’s picture books about friendship to teach little ones about empathy and compassion. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, click here!
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet: A stunning, wordless exploration of the harmful act of bullying, and how one simple act of kindness by an upstander can be a change agent for the entire community. I absolutely love letting children ponder these pictures and tell their own stories. The “plots” they come up with are intriguing and insightful – and their words will give you such a significant glimpse into their minds and hearts. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Thank you, Omu!, by Oge Mora: A stunning debut! Everyone in the neighborhood follows the delicious scent of stew to Omu’s doorstep, where Omu (meaning “queen” in the Igbo language of the author’s parents) dishes her meal out with love. But when it comes time for Omu to sit down for dinner, she realizes she left no stew for herself! This is a gorgeous, timeless story of generosity and community, beautifully conveying that one good deed deserves another — and sharing is everything. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Thank You, Omu!, click here!
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by G. Brian Karas: Mrs. Goldman knits hats for everyone in their neighborhood to help them stay warm during the harsh winter. But what happens when Sophia realizes that Mrs. Goldman is so busy knitting for everyone else that she has no hat of her own to keep her keppie warm? Sophia takes it upon herself to make Mrs. Goldman the perfect hat, and this simple action makes this a Happily Ever Elephants favorite picture book about friendship! We absolutely love this story of selflessness! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Hooray for Hat!, by Brian Won: This is a darling friendship story for your littlest readers! The story begins as an elephant wakes up and feels awfully grumpy. Alas, a present outside his door reveals a fun new hat, and it brightens elephant’s mood considerably. What follows is an intro to several more grumpy animals, each in turn made happier when elephant and the others share the hats. This book perfectly illustrates the concept of paying it forward, teaching even the youngest readers that their simple actions can brighten the world around them. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Hooray for Hat! click here!
The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld: Something bad has happened to Taylor — she cannot get over her devastation when a tower she worked so hard to construct crashes to the ground. Her friends try to help. They offer suggestions and unsolicited advice, trying everything in the books to get her to calm down. But only when the rabbit sits and listens — just listens, quietly and calmly – does she begin to feel better. How I love this one! This is a favorite picture book about friendship that highlights the ever important quality of listening to a friend rather than jumping in and trying to “fix” things. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Jones: Jeremy wants nothing more than the same pair of shoes the rest of the kids at school wear. But, according to his grandma, Jeremy’s “wants” are not nearly as important as his “needs.” This is such a special story, one that masterfully sparks a discussion about wants and needs and how our desires can influence our actions. More importantly, it shows with such a light touch how putting a friend’s needs above your own wants is a magical, fulfilling action. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Those Shoes, click here!
Be Kind, by Pat Zeitlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill: Tanesha spills grape juice all over her new dress, and a classmate searches for just the right way to make her feel better. I love the way this sweet, simple story walks through actions any child can take to spread kindness throughout their classrooms and communities. Even small acts of kindness have big impacts and go a long way towards building friendships and connections. A stunning children’s picture book about friendship and kindness! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Be Kind, click here!
Josie’s Lost Tooth, by Jennifer K. Mann: Poor Josie is the only kid in class who hasn’t lost a tooth. But, alas! One day, she feels a wiggly one! She keeps trying to knock the tooth out, but nothing works — until she is playing sharks on the playground with Richard, and she trips and falls. The fall does just the trick – it knocks her tooth out, but then she can’t find it anywhere! Whatever will she leave the tooth fairy now? Richard’s generous action helps Josie out of her plight, and his simple yet gracious gesture sets a powerful example that generosity will always move mountains and kindness will forever be cool. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Children’s Books About Friendship and it’s Ups and Downs
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!, by Cori Doerrfeld: Friendship comes with its ups and downs, of course. But one of the hardest parts of finding a best friend is having to say goodbye to that friend. This beautiful story by a favorite author shows two friends saying hello and goodbye to various things — goodbye to snowmen is hello to jumping in puddles, goodbye to the sun is hello to the stars — and then showing the difficulty inherent in saying goodbye to a friend when she has to move away. Sensitive, gentle and profound, Doerrfeld conveys to readers that even the most difficult goodbyes open us up to brilliant new hellos — and though it may take time to heal, a new day with many new hellos is always on the horizon. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! click here!
Garcia and Collette Go Exploring, by Hannah Barnaby and illustrated by Andrew Joiner: If your kids love an adventure, they will adore this picture book about a bunny and a fox who can’t agree on which location is more spectacular – space or the sea. The book’s parallel structure perfectly emphasizes the differences in each character’s journey but also conveys the loneliness each feels without the other. When reunited, I love how the characters practice honesty and are not ashamed to admit the shortfalls of their respective journeys. The compromise the characters come to at the end of the book, and the recognition that a friend at your side makes every journey (even one that wasn’t your first choice) that much better, has us reading this story on repeat. For our full review of Garcia and Collette Go Exploring, click here!
Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood: Two little girls meet on the platform of a train station. They connect instantly, playing games as they await the train with their families. Upon boarding, however, their games turn into conflict, and the two girls turn away from each other. Will they be able to restart their friendship and enjoy the rest of the ride together? I love the manner in which Parker and Blackwood use the train’s journey as an extended metaphor of the ups and downs and starts and stops inherent in the journey of friendship. It was a perfect – if not masterful – comparison. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Molly and Mae, click here!
One, by Kathryn Otoshi: Red is a hothead who continuously picks on Blue. Though this bullying is witnessed by several other colors, no one is ready to stand up for Blue and tell Red to stop his taunting. But then One comes along, and One has no qualms about standing up to Red — and in doing so, One teaches his friends a valuable lesson. At once a concept book on both colors and counting, this children’s book about friendship more importantly provides a spring point for discussions on bullying, kindness, and inclusiveness. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of One, click here!
The Invisible Boy, by Trudi Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton: Brian is never seen or noticed by his classmates. He has no friends, and thus appears in the story devoid of color, making him invisible at school. Eventually a new child winds up in Brian’s class and Brian is the first to reach out to him. When a bond forms between the two boys and they are teamed up to work on a class project, Brian finds a way to step out of the shadows and flourish. Not only does he make a new friend, but Barton’s illustrations show how small acts of kindness fill Brian up with color until he is, quite literally, a vibrant force in his classroom. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of The Invisible Boy, click here!
Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis: Perfect for upper elementary, middle and even high school students, this is the story of Chloe and her crew who won’t play with the new girl in school. The girls cast Maya aside every time she tries to make friend, and one day, Maya simply stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher speaks to the class about how even small acts of kindness can have powerful effects, Chloe is remorseful for her actions. This is a must have for every classroom and home, sending an anti-bullying message that is as compelling as it is critical. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Grandmother Thorn, by Katey Howes and illustrated by Rebecca Hahn: Grandmother Thorn treasures her beautiful, pristine garden. But when an unwanted plant begins to sprout without her permission, she begins to break down. With the help of a dear friend and the passage of time, Grandmother Thorn learns that some things in life are beyond anyone’s control- and that life’s greatest disappointments can also give rise to the greatest gifts. The story reads like a time-tested classic or an age-old folk tale, with rich characters, lush prose and not a word out of place, sparking important discussions on the meaning of perfection, friendship and embracing fear. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Grandmother Thorn, click here!
Life Without Nico, by Andrea Maturana and ilustrated by Francisco Javier Olea: When Maia’s best friend suddenly moves away, Maia is crippled by sadness. How on earth will she get through her days without her closest confidante by her side? Ever so slowly, Maia’s pain eases as she breaks out of her comfort zone and takes chances on new experiences, including new friends and even hobbies. This is a tender exploration of loss and recovery, and it so beautifully tackles the notion that embracing new people or passions in your life in no way means you have to let go of the old. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Children’s Books About Friendship & Unlikely Pairs
The Scarecrow, by Beth Ferry and illustrated by The Fan Brothers: Oh man. This children’s book about friendship is powerful, emotional, and a must have for your shelves! All the animals know that Scarecrow is not something to mess around with. But one day, when a a scared little crow falls from the sky, Scarecrow surprises everyone with his tender actions. This is a stunning exploration of affection and friendship that reminds us of how fulfilling it is to help others. Absolutely in love with this one! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
To the Sea, by Cale Atkinson: Tim often feels alone and unseen at school, until the day he meets Sam, a big blue whale who is having trouble finding his way back home. Tim has got to help get his new friend back to the water, but it proves a lot harder than anticipated. He doesn’t give up though, because “friends don’t let friends down.” Kids will squeal with delight and excitement, all the while cheering Tim on as he tackles the biggest challenge of his life and will stop at nothing to return Sam home to the water where he belongs. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale, by Josh Funk and Rodolfo Montalvo: Georgie and Blaise are pen pals, and they write each other about everything under the sun. They get along so well and cannot wait to meet in real life. But when they do they are very different than anticipated. Why? Because Georgie is a person, and Blaise is a dragon! We love this story about looking beyond differences to appreciate what lies inside each of us. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Leonardo the Terrible Monster: Leonardo has a problem. He is one terrible monster. As hard as he tries, he cannot scare anyone! So Leonardo finds the most scaredy-cat kid in the world, and he goes on a mission to scare the tuna salad out of this little boy, Sam. Leonardo believes he is successful after Sam bursts into tears, until Sam unleashes a litany of wrongs that have upset him, all having nothing to do with our little monster. When Leonardo realizes how sad Sam is, he makes a big decision: he decides Sam needs a friend instead of a monster. This is one of the most fun children’s books about friendship – it’s been a forever favorite! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Leonardo the Terrible Monster, click here!
Truman, by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins: Truman the tiny tortoise lives with his best friend Sarah. One day, Sarah straps on her backpack, leaves their home, and boards the number eleven bus! Truman is distraught, and after waiting for her to return, he eventually can wait no longer. Truman thus sets off on a journey to find her, even though that journey may be downright impossible. We simply adore this darling book that beautifully conveys how the devotion we have for those we love most can help us embark on courageous feats we never knew we were brave enough to undertake. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Very Last Castle, by Travis Jonker and illustrated by Mark Pett: We simply love the way this book challenges the preconceived notions of an entire community – all but one small, curious girl! This is a fabulous story in which a child overcomes fear of the unknown lurking within an old castle. In the process, she discovers her inner courage, makes a new friend, and creates a big change right within her community. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Mixed: A Colorful Story, by Arree Chung: There are three colors that started it all- red, yellow and blue. All were special and all lived harmoniously, until one fateful day a fight ensued among the colors and they all retreated to separate parts of the city. There was no more interaction between the colors — ever. But one day, a yellow noticed a blue, and the two realized how happy and calm they made each other. Can you guess what happens next? Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here! For our full review of Mixed: A Colorful Story, click here!
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, by Dan Santat: This Caldecott Award winner is darling, wondrous and one of our favorite children’s books about friendship! On an island far away, an imaginary friend is born. But this poor friend has to wait until he is chosen by a real life child to become that child’s truest friend! After being overlooked time and time again, Beekle decides to journey to the big city all on his own, and only then does he find his perfect mate — and get a name all of his own. We love Beekle and this story of friendship, imagination and wonder! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Boy and Bot, by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino: Boy and Bot discover each other in the woods, and thus begins an epic playdate. But suddenly, Bot gets switched off, and Boy thinks Bot has gotten sick! The Boy takes Bot home and tries to get him to stop malfunctioning, but nothing seems to help, so Boy tucks Bot into bed. Only when Boy’s parents accidentally bump Bot with the door does Bot get switched back on, but then Bot finds Boy asleep and unresponsive! Will Boy wake up and be ok? Will these two ever find themselves on the same wavelength? We love this darling story of two unlikely pals! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!