Picture Books about Making Friends and Social Skills
These picture books about making friends show characters successfully using different strategies to make new friends. The books will support your students in knowing they are not the only one who finds it difficult and there are ways to help.
Making Friends and Developing Social Skills
Friendships help us develop trust, compassion and a sense of belonging. However, for some children making friends is a challenge. This may be because they are afraid of approaching other children or struggle with social cues.
Starting school is one of the most significant times in a child's life to make new friends. Some children will confidently walk into their new classroom. For others, it is an overwhelming experience. They may hang around the doorway, too shy to enter. It can be challenging for these children to make new friends because of their fears.
Why Read Picture Books about Making Friends?
These picture books about making friends illustrate characters who share, cooperate and see events from different perspectives. Your students will see characters using different strategies and working towards making positive friendships.
These books about social skills and making friends will support your students in knowing they are not the only one who finds it difficult and there are ways to help.
Questions to use with Picture Books about Making Friends
- What characteristics did [character] have that made them a good friend?
- What characteristics was [character] looking for in a friend?
- Why was it essential that [character] cooperated with [character]? Do you think [character] could complete the task by themselves?
- What was the relationship between [character] and [character]?
- How could [character] put aside their feelings towards [character] to work together? Why is it sometimes hard to cooperate?
- In what ways did [character] depend on others?
- How can positive friendships with others help us overcome difficult situations?
- What characteristics make up a good/healthy/positive relationship?
- What are the benefits of a good/healthy/positive relationship?
- How can your actions affect a friendship with others?
- How does (honesty, communication, empathy, etc.) affect a friendship?
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Picture Books about Making Friends and Developing Social Skills
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Beekle longs for a child to imagine him and give him a special name. His wish comes true when his special friend Alice imagines him.
Promotes a sense of belonging, friendship and perseverance.
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater
A curious fox, Marco, wants to answer an important question, “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?” When he steps aboard a magnificent ship adorned with antlers, he is filled with answers.
Read to discuss questioning, curiosity, overcoming fears, and making friends.
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon
Dennis looks at the world differently, but he is lonely and misunderstood by his classmates. In the playground, Dennis kicks “an IMAGINARY ball…” and is surprised when a girl kicks it back, starting a new friendship.
Promotes open-mindedness, relationship skills and self-esteem.
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Vanessa wears her fanciest outfit on her first day of school. The reaction from her new classmates to her bold clothes makes her feel self-conscious. This feeling increases when she tries to write her long name. She complains to her mother, who tells her why she is called Vanessa. This gives her the confidence to find a common bond and make new friends.
Promotes discussions on self-esteem, individuality, identity, making friends, and self-expression.
Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme
Translated from French, Big Wolf & Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme is a touching book about the courage to make new friendships, adaptability, and open-mindedness.
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
An unlikely friendship develops between a boy and a robot even though they don’t understand how the other functions, they accept their differences.
Promotes themes of acceptance and friendship.
Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault
Colette explores her new neighbourhood, and another child asks what she is doing. Not knowing what to say, she says she is looking for her pet, a parakeet. Soon, community members are searching for the (fake) pet, which gets more impressive every time Colette talks about it. The quest to find the lost bird gives Colette the perfect opportunity to make new friends.
Promotes discussions on exaggeration, friendship, new home, honesty, and community.
The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo
A girl befriends a new girl, Saida, who she thinks has lost her words because of her silence. She learns Saida speaks Arabic and has moved from her home in Morocco. They share their languages and learn about each other's culture, which helps Saida feel welcome in her new home.
Use this translated book to discuss immigration, communication, open-mindedness, empathy, and respect.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The first of two picture books about making friends by Jacqueline Woodson. The Day You Begin considers the difficulty of entering a room where you don’t know anyone. We are “an only” until we share our personal stories in these situations. Woodson reminds us that we are all outsiders, and it takes courage to be ourselves.
Read to promote discussions on empathy, identity, growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness and self-esteem.
First Come the Zebra by Lynn Fulton
Two boys from rival Kenyan tribes realise they have more in common than they thought when they work together to save a baby.
Reinforces themes of self-awareness, relationship skills, and social awareness.
The Garden of Inside-Outside by Chiara Mezzalama
In 1981, Chiara moved to Tehran to be with her father, the Italian ambassador to Iran. She discovers a neglected, walled garden that seemed a world away from the war going on in the city. A boy, Massoud, climbs over the wall and drops into the garden. Despite their lack of a common language, they make friends, and Chiara’s life changes.
This book, translated from French, supports discussions on conflict, asking questions, nature and communication.
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph
Fred the Bear is in training for the Best Bear in the Woods competition. When Boris the Bear steals Fred’s roar his friend's rally round. He realises it is best to forgive Boris, who soon sees the errors of his ways.
Promotes forgiveness, integrity, honesty and respect.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Gustavo is a shy and timid ghost who is invisible to others, no matter how hard he tries to make friends. He overcomes his fears and makes new friends by inviting everyone to his violin concert on the Day of the Dead.
Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead
Ruby introduces herself to other birds and curiously asks them questions. Her positive attitude helps her make friends and find her place in the world.
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Brian struggles to make himself stand out. When he befriends a new student from Korea, she helps him grow in confidence and feel less invisible.
Promotes themes of loneliness, kindness and relationship skills.
The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends by Brittany R. Jacobs
When Kraken struggles to make new friends, a great white shark gives him rules to help. Will they help this bad-tempered monster of the sea find a new friend?
Promotes courage, problem-solving, and relationship skills.
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
The first of two picture books about making friends by Mo Willems. Leonardo the Terrible Monster is not very scary. He is cute! No matter how hard he tries he can't scare anyone, even a nervous boy called Sam. It is Sam that teaches Leonardo that being a good friend is more important than trying to be mean.
Lissy's Friends by Grace Lin
At school, Lissy plays by herself, making animal friends from paper. When the wind carries the animals away, they are returned to Lissy by a new friend.
Little Bird by Germano Zullo
A man sets free a flock of birds from his truck but one remains. He cares for the bird and then encourages it to fly back to its family. As the man returns to his van, the flock of birds fly back to thank the driver.
Read for discussions on kindness, freedom, gratitude and making friends.
Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour
Lubna has an unusual best friend in a refugee camp, a pebble. The pebble listens to her stories and smiles when she is scared. Lubna's compassion leads her to give the pebble to someone in the World of Tents who needs it more.
Mae's First Day of School by Kate Berube
School is scary, and Mae IS. NOT. GOING! Mae thinks of all the things that could go wrong on her first day of school. When she makes a new friend, they help each other conquer their fears.
Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna
A girl’s fear and anxiety grow when she moves to a new country. She feels isolated and worries about making new friends because of the language barrier. Her anxiety eases when she finds a new friend who has his own fears.
Use to discuss coping with change and anxiety, immigration, fears, and making friends.
Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
Meesha finds it hard to make friends because she struggles to read and respond to social cues. It takes an overwhelming situation for her to realise her special skills can help her make friends.
Promotes self-esteem, relationship skills, and mental and emotional wellbeing.
My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems
The second of two picture books about making friends by Mo Willems. Gerald feels jealous when he sees Piggie with a new friend. While he discovers he has nothing to worry about, his feelings are a great reminder of the struggles many children feel when trying to expand their social circle.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
When Unhei moves from Korea to America, her classmates can’t pronounce her name. She wants to choose a new name that is easier to pronounce but decides she likes her name just the way it is.
Promotes themes of acceptance, identity, integrity, open-mindedness, principled and tolerance.
Neville by Norton Juster
When Neville and his family move home, he finds himself in a place he really didn’t want to be. Neville takes his mother’s advice and takes a walk around the block. Once outside he finds an inventive way to make new friends.
Promote themes of moving home, self-confidence and self-awareness.
Norm by Sylvia Liang
Norm and his friends, Plain and Simple, like their orderly world where everything is exactly the same. One day, he meets Odd, who lives in a world of chaos, causing Norm to feel anxious and unsettled. He soon realises that Odd’s way of living inspires self-expression and creativity, and Norm starts to let go of the rules.
Read to discuss overcoming fears, being balanced, individuality, open-mindedness, and personal freedom.
Once There was a Boy by Dub Leffler
An aboriginal boy who seemingly lives alone on an island meets a girl. “The boy dropped all his sapotes on the ground in surprise – one of them landed in the girl’s hands. She took a huge bite.” What follows is a story of temptation, broken trust, reconciliation, forgiveness and friendship.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
The second of two picture books about making friends by Jacqueline Woodson. Jacqueline Woodson addresses race relations with two young girls, one black and one white. A fence segregates their homes, but they slowly get to know each other by sitting on this barrier.
Promotes tolerance, communication, friendship and open-mindedness.
Stina by Lani Yamamoto
Translated from Icelandic. Stína lives in Iceland but does not like the cold. She loves being at home and is inventive in keeping warm. She curiously watches children playing in the snow and wonders how they deal with the coldness of the snow. Stina soon finds out and makes new friends in the process.
Reinforces themes of courage, friendship, ingenuity, creativity and isolation.
The Tree Keepers by Gemma Koomen
Sylvia, a little Tree Keeper, finds it hard to make friends. When she befriends a lost baby starling called Scruff, she learns what it means to find comfort in the company of others.
Promotes discussions on a sense of community, isolation, trust, making friends and relationship skills.
Wallpaper by Thao Lam
A young girl is too shy to approach other children when she moves to a new house. She picks at the layers of wallpaper in her bedroom and discovers a mysterious world. She plays with imaginary friends and is chased by a monster who she finds is not to be feared. Back in her bedroom, she has the courage to say hello to the children playing outside.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope Rex's first day of school doesn't quite go as planned when she eats her classmates. Unsurprisingly, the other children are scared of her. She finally learns a lesson that helps her understand how her classmates feel.
Promotes empathy, self-management and making friends.
What Happened to You by James Catchpole
Joe loves playing pirates while dodging sharks and crocodiles. He doesn’t like answering questions about what happened to his leg. While the other children focus on his missing leg, Sonia realises this upsets Joe. She approached him and started playing pirates with him. Soon the other children join in their game.
Promotes discussions on disability, asking questions, friendships, kindness, respect, and representation.
Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English by Donna Jo Napoli
When a Japanese girl moves into her new house, she sees her American neighbour playing outside in the snow. They don't understand each other's language, but they find a way to communicate and make a new friend.
This bilingual book promotes discussions on making friends and communication.
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown
Lucy travels through the forest to let the animals know they are her new friend. They all back off from her single-minded attempts at friendship. Will Lucy find the friend she is looking for?
Promotes themes of enthusiasm, friendship and patience.
Children who struggle to make new friends will find their confidence growing with each encounter, even if each one doesn't end with more than an exchange of smiles. Be positive and encouraging!
Let me know what your favourite picture books about making friends are in the comments.
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