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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.

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

A curious fox named Marco wants to answer an important question: “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?” When he embarks on a nautical adventure with a crew of deer and pigeons. Marco finds answers on his journey of friendship and discovery.

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.

The Bear and Her Book by Frances Tosdevin

A book-loving bear goes to see the world, armed with the “Bear’s Big Book of Being Wise”. She meets creatures who need her help and learns that her book is good at problem-solving and making new friends.

The Bear and Her Book explores problem-solving, knowledge-seeking, different perspectives, a sense of belonging, and self-discovery.

Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Vanessa struggles to fit in at her new school due to her bold outfit and long name. 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.

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 Big Wolf is unsure about the newcomer, they slowly start to form a friendship.

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

Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Feeling lonely after moving, Colette invents a story about a lost pet bird to gain the attention of the neighbourhood children. As the interest of her new friends grows, it leads Colette into a web of embellishments. 

Colette’s Lost Pet explores the complexities of making new friends, being oneself, honesty, and the power of storytelling.

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. As her classmates learn about Saida’s native language, Arabic, they embark on a cultural journey.

The Day Saida Arrived explores adjusting to new environments, communication, open-mindedness, embracing different cultures, empathy.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The Day You Begin illustrates the importance of sharing our personal stories, expressing that we sometimes feel like outsiders and how the courage to be ourselves connects us with others.

This book facilitates discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a growth mindset, open-mindedness, self-awareness, and self-esteem.

Everyone Walks Away by Eva Lindström

Frank is often left alone as his friends walk away. Feeling excluded, Frank takes matters into his own hands by making a special jam at home and inviting others, hoping they’ll come over.

Everyone Walks Away explores loneliness, exclusion, reaching out, acceptance, taking the initiative, and understanding the emotions of others.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His Grrrrr! by Rob Biddulph

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph

Fred the Bear is training for the Best Bear in the Woods competition. When Boris the Bear steals Fred’s roar, his friends rally around. He realises it is best to forgive Boris, who soon sees the errors of his ways.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! promotes discussions on sportsmanship, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, and respect.