Picture books help your students explore big feelings and situations in a way that's both manageable and relatable. In this post, you can explore picture books about loneliness vs solitude and how they differ.
Loneliness vs Solitude
- Solitude can be a time of personal growth and reflection.
- Loneliness can lead to feelings of isolation and sadness.
- Solitude fosters creativity and productivity.
- Loneliness can be a sign that something is wrong.
Why Read Picture Books about Loneliness and Solitude?
Feelings of loneliness are normal, and many children suffer from some form of isolation. Read these picture books about loneliness as discussion starters to help your students understand they are not alone.
They will see characters learn to deal with feelings of isolation and uncertainty by making new friends, talking with adults and starting new hobbies.
The picture books can also help your students understand loneliness vs solitude. The books show how someone might feel when lonely and also help them figure out what to do in this situation.
Other books show characters enjoying their solitude and taking time for themselves. Your students must understand the difference between loneliness and solitude to decide what support they may or may not need.
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Picture Books about Loneliness and Solitude
Albert's Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault
Albert just wants a quiet place to read but is distracted by his friends playing around him. He finally loses his cool and shouts at everyone to be quiet. His friends quietly move away from Albert, who now feels a little lonely. But soon, he is surrounded by his friends, who have fetched their chairs and books to read with Albert.
Read Albert's Quiet Quest to promote discussions on imagination, friendship, silence, and the joy of reading.
Alone! by Barry Falls
Billy McGill lives at the top of the hill. He enjoys his peaceful life. But the squeak of a mouse put an end to that. Het gets a cat to catch the mouse, but the pair become unlikely friends. Barry gets more and more animals to get rid of the other animals he previously bought. Soon the house was full of animals. Will Billy stick around o move out to regain his peaceful life?
Read Alone! to promote discussions on frustration, self-reflection, problem-solving, thinkers, and peace and quiet.
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.
Promotes open-mindedness, relationship skills and self-esteem.
Beegu by Alexis Deacon
Beegu is lost on Earth. Despite her friendly nature, she finds the Earth unwelcoming, except for a litter of puppies and a group of children.
Reinforces themes of acceptance, belonging, differences, friendship and loneliness.
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.
Birdsong by Julie Flett
Katherena moves with her mother to a small town. She feels isolated, so she explores her surroundings getting to know her elderly neighbour, Agnes. They share a passion for art, birds and nature. Over time, Agnes’ health begins to fail, and Katherina finds a way to share the outdoors with Agnes.
Promotes discussions on indigenous communities, moving to a new home, loneliness, empathy, and intergenerational relationships.
A Boy Named Isamu by James Yang
Isamu, an introverted young boy, finds the world around him noisy and busy. He explores nature in curious and creative ways. He grew up to be an artist, Isamu Noguchi, who made sculptures influenced by the nature he explored as a child.
Read A Boy Named Isamu to promote discussions on creative thinking, curiosity, wonder, introverts, asking questions, point of view and second-person narration.
The Dog Who Found Sorrow by Rūta Briede
A black dog helps children understand negative emotions and thoughts. No matter how sad or angry we are, we can find happiness.
This translated book promotes discussions on self-management, loneliness, empathy, depression, and dealing with negative thoughts and feelings.
The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli
In Iran, Parisa is woken by a powerful earthquake. She finds everything around her has been destroyed. Frightened, Parisa knocks on some doors, only to be faced with animals who have previously been hurt by humans. Alone, she dances, laughs, cooks food and waters the plants. One by one, the distrustful animals gradually come to join her.
Read to discuss risk-taking, sharing, resilience, loneliness and courage.
Ella and the Waves by Britta Teckentrup
Ella sits alone in a boat, battling high waves. When a voice from beneath the water tells her she has to sail through the high waves, Ella is afraid. But there are other voices, voices of encouragement. A white bird, a pod of porpoises and a gentle whale help Ella face her fears with courage. When the seas calm, she sees other boats all travelling in the same direction as her, heading to new possibilities.
Read Ella and the Waves to promote discussions on encouragement, hope, courage, loneliness, and overcoming fears.
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
The light of a star helps a lonely Fox forage for beetles, chase rabbits, and dance in the rain’s tapping beat. One day, Star isn’t there, and everything changes. Fox sets out to find the star. Tired from his journey, he falls asleep. On awakening, the fox looks up to see a sky full of stars and his heart burst with happiness.
The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey
Annabelle Spoon haunts the town of Twee, and the townspeople are fed up. They want her gone. Herbert Kettle takes the time to listen and realises all Annabel Spoon wants is a friend.
Read The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon to start discussions on compassion, acceptance, loneliness and a sense of belonging.
Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
Musicians Herman and Rosie were both lonely. Herman hears Rosie singing from the street, and Rosie hears Herman playing the Oboe from the building next door. Rosie follows the music one day until they meet, and a new friendship begins.
Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer
Imaginary Fred appears when a lonely child wishes hard enough for a friend. This time it is Sam. They have a special relationship, but Fred expects to fade away when Sam makes a new friend, Sammi. But Sammi has her own imaginary friend, Frieda, and the group does everything together.
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.
I Go Quiet by David Ouimet
In a dystopian-looking place, a shy girl struggles in the world of noise. She sees herself as insignificant and finds solace in the pages of books. ‘When I read, I know there is a world beneath my branches.’ In her imagination, her words are powerful, and she realises that when she finds the courage, her words will have meaning in the real world.
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies
This is the first of two books about picture books about belonging by Nicola Davies. A lonely Italian boy moves to the Welsh countryside. An unexpected friendship with an old man who races pigeons helps him feel like he is no longer a stranger and that he belongs in his new home.
Read King of the Sky to start discussions on belonging, friendships, immigration, loneliness, and patience.
Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner
A dog chained up in a rescue centre tells the reader it is lonely and sad. Everyone fears the dog, but he just wants to be free. One day, a man comes to the centre and sees potential in the dog. He takes the dog home to become a sheepdog. The dog lives up to its potential and flourishes in its new home.
Read Like a Wolf to promote discussions on assumptions, making judgements, tolerance, fears, perception, loneliness, point of view, belonging, freedom and decoding illustrations.
A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
This is the first of two books about loneliness by Beatrice Alemagna. After a weary day exploring Paris, a lion finds the perfect place to call his new home – on the plinth where the real lion statue at the Place Denfert-Rochereau, stands today.
Promotes a sense of belonging, curiosity and loneliness.
The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright
A timid mouse attempts to make himself heard after being ignored by other animals. The mouse realises that first impressions are not always what they seem as he develops a new friendship.
Promotes risk-taking, courage, independence and self-awareness.
The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer
A lonely library book sits on a shelf until a girl takes it home. Separated, the book and the girl wonder what happened to each other. Will they be reunited?
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
When a boy finds a penguin at his door, he sets out to help the sad-looking bird find its way home. After dropping the penguin on the ice, he starts his journey home. It felt strange to be alone, so he searched for the penguin. After a fruitless search, the boy returns home only to discover the penguin searching for the boy.
Promotes compassion, loneliness and a sense of belonging.
Lotus and Feather by Ji-li Jiang
Lonely Lotus cares for Feather, a crane injured by a bullet. They grow closer, and the crane follows Lotus everywhere. One day, the little girl knew she had to let Feather migrate with the other cranes.
Promotes discussions on empathy, kindness, loneliness and friendship.
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 well-being.
Oliver by Birgitta Sif
Oliver loves playing with his friends and a collection of toys. He enjoys solitude, and with his vivid imagination, he is never bored. A chance encounter with Olivia helps him realise having a real friend is not too bad.
This Amnesty-endorsed book promotes individuality, making friends, self-acceptance, play and imagination.
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
This is the second of two books about loneliness by Beatrice Alemagna. It's pouring rain, and a girl wants to play computer games. She rushes outside when her mother tries to take the game off her, only for her to drop it in a freezing cold pond. Despite her disappointment, she curiously explores the surrounding nature feeling like “the whole world seemed brand new as if it had been created right in front of me.”
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
This is the first of two books about loneliness by Beth Ferry. An old scarecrow successfully keeps all the animals away from his field until a baby crow crashes at his feet. Having never known friendship, the lonely scarecrow adopts and cares for the fragile bird. A loving bond develops between two should be rivals and lasts for many years.
Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward
A brave girl narrates how she walks a mile to the school bus stop daily. She travels through the morning darkness with sights and sounds that frighten her. Instead of being afraid, she sings away the dark and her fears. Use to discuss courage, fears and resilience.
Small in the City by Sydney Smith
In this practically wordless book, a girl searches a large, desolate city covered in snow while her mother waits at home. Initially, it seems she is talking to the reader, explaining how to survive in the city, but we later find out she is talking to her lost cat. Use to promote different perspectives and points of view.
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.
Sumi's First Day of School Ever by Soyung Pak
Sumi is overwhelmed on her first day of school because she doesn't speak English. A kind teacher helps Sumi discover that school may not be as lonely and scary as she first thought.
Suri’s Wall by Lucy Estela
Read about the impact of war and the separation of families. This story is relevant today but also reflects on past conflicts' effects.
Read Suri's Wall to start discussions on immigration, loneliness and conflicts.
Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry
This is the second of two books about loneliness by Beth Ferry. Captain Swashby loves living alone by the sea. When a young girl and her grandma move next door, he wants them to leave. He writes them notes in the sand which the sea washes away. His disappearing messages force him to talk with his new neighbours.
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 community, isolation, trust, making friends and relationship skills.
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 Visible Sounds by Yin Jianling
MiLi has been deaf since the age of two. Anxious and lonely, living in a silent world, she learns how to overcome her frustrations. She learns she can ‘hear' the world differently by using her other senses. A chance touch led MiLi to discover she had a talent for dancing.
Read this story, based on the life of Chinese dancer Lihua Tai, to discuss overcoming adversity, loneliness, hope, achieving our dreams, and self-awareness.
The Visitor by Antje Damm
One day a blue paper aeroplane flies through Elsie's window. Hearing a knock at the door, she opens it to a boy asking for his plane. An unexpected friendship develops and brings colour and light to Elsie’s lonely life.
Read to discuss overcoming fears, cause & effect, relationship skills and risk-taking.
What picture books about loneliness and solitude do you read in your classroom or library? Let me know in the comments.