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 Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! by Rob Biddulph
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.
Little Bird by Germano Zullo
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.
Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
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
Neville by Norton Juster
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.
Once There was a Boy by Dub Leffler
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.
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.
The Tree Keepers by Gemma Koomen
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
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.
Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English by Donna Jo Napoli
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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