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Connecting Through Picture Books: Stories About Making Friends

Improve social skills in the classroom with these picture books about making friends. From helping students to join friendship groups to understanding the importance of empathy, these books offer critical lessons on creating and maintaining healthy relationships.

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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 fear approaching other children or struggle with social cues. 

Starting school is one of the most significant events in a child's life. Some children will confidently walk into their new classroom. Some may hang around the doorway, too shy to enter. Because of those fears, making new friends can be challenging for these children.

3 children with their arms around each others shoulders smiling at the camera

Why Read Picture Books about Making Friends?

Picture books about making friends are a powerful tool for you to help your students learn how to interact with one another and build meaningful relationships.

Picture books teach young children the importance of empathy, respect, cooperation, and problem-solving while helping them better understand different perspectives and cultures.

The picture books about social skills illustrate characters who share, cooperate and see events from different perspectives. Your students will see characters using different strategies and working towards making positive relationships. 

Many of these books about making friends will support your students in knowing they are not the only one who finds it difficult and there are ways to help.

In addition to teaching important social skills like communication and cooperation, picture books can encourage positive self-esteem in students. They show what it looks like to be accepted as part of a group regardless of individual differences or backgrounds.

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]? 
  • Describe the relationship between [character] and [character].
  • How could [character] put aside their feelings towards [character] to work together?
  • Why is it sometimes hard to make friends?
  • In what ways did [character] make new friends?
  • How can positive friendships with others help us overcome difficult situations?
  • What characteristics make up a good/healthy/positive relationship?
  • What strategies for making friends in the book could you use to make friends?
  • How can your actions affect a friendship with others?
  • How does (honesty, communication, empathy, etc.) help you make positive friendships?

Picture Books about Making Friends and Developing Social Skills

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

Beekle, an unimaginary friend, yearns for a child to imagine him into existence and give him a special name. His patience is rewarded when Alice imagines him into her world. 

The Adventures of Beekle explores longing, perseverance, and the joy of finding a sense of belonging. It highlights the importance of friendship and the powerful bonds formed through shared imagination.

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 The Antlered Ship to discuss questioning, curiosity, overcoming fears, and making friends.

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Dennis looks at the world differently but 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.

Be a Friend promotes open-mindedness, relationship skills and self-esteem.

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Follow young Vanessa, who struggles with fitting in at her new school due to her bold outfit and long name. A heartwarming conversation with her mother inspires her to embrace her unique identity, leading to newfound confidence and friendships.

Becoming Vanessa fosters discussions on self-esteem, individuality, identity, self-expression, and the art of making friends. Vanessa's journey reminds us that our uniqueness makes us special and being true to ourselves is the key to positive relationships and self-acceptance.

Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme

Big Wolf lives alone under a tree at the top of a hill. One day, Little Wolf comes to the hill, and although initially, Big Wolf is unsure about the newcomer, they slowly start to form a friendship. Despite his initial wariness, Big Wolf opens his heart to Little Wolf, forming a bond that enriches his life.

Big Wolf and Little Wolf sparkes discussions about being open to new friendships, adaptability, and open-mindedness.

The Boys by Jeff Newman

A wordless story of a shy boy who, with a little advice, finds the courage to approach other boys playing baseball. Despite his shyness, he finds the courage to make new friends.

Can Cat and Bird Be Friends? by Coll Muir

Natural enemies discover they can be friends. Cat and bird find their differences bring them closer together and help them find out what they have a common.

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 search for the (fake) pet, which gets more impressive every time Colette talks about it. Finding the lost bird gives Colette the perfect opportunity to make new friends.

Colette's Lost Pet promotes discussions on exaggeration, friendship, new home, honesty, and community.

The Day Saida Arrived by Susana Gómez Redondo

When Saida, a new girl from Morocco, arrives in class, her silence is misunderstood for a loss of words. But as her classmate learns about Saida's native language, Arabic, they embark on a journey of cultural understanding and friendship.

The Day Saida Arrived explores the experiences of immigration and adjusting to new environments, the importance of communication and language exchange, open-mindedness in embracing different cultures, empathy and respect in fostering inclusivity.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin sheds light on the importance of sharing our personal stories, expressing that we all sometimes feel like outsiders. Yet, it's this courage to be ourselves that truly connects us.

Integrate this book into your curriculum to facilitate discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, open-mindedness, relationship skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem.

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 seems 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.

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago

A timid ghost struggles to make friends because he is invisible to others. Despite his fears, Gustavo courageously invites everyone to his violin concert on the Day of the Dead. In doing so, he makes new friends and learns to overcome his shyness. This picture book promotes discussions about fears, Hispanic culture, and making friends.