Introduce your students to the power of friendship with these fun, inspiring picture books about friendship. From stories of teamwork and laughter to tales of individual courage and kindness, these reads will delight and encourage your class.
Why Read Picture Books about Friendship?
Picture books are an excellent entry-point for teachers and students to open up conversations about friendship, maintain it, and handle different scenarios required in relationship skills.
Picture books help to foster the idea of acceptance and appreciation, resulting in a more positive and balanced classroom environment.
As well as being great stories, these picture books about friendship offer strategies for working towards good-natured friendships. They illustrate characters sharing, cooperating and seeing events from different perspectives. The books also show the challenges involved in developing and maintaining friendships.
These stories also help children understand that friendship has its rewards even in the most challenging times and can help us get through tough situations. Your students will learn about how to be a good friend, the importance of communication, and the need for compromise.
Teaching your students about friendships will help them become well-rounded individuals comfortable expressing themselves, taking the initiative and creating meaningful connections with others.
It's also important to teach children to recognise when a friendship isn't healthy or if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe around someone. Reinforce the importance of consent and respect in all relationships, even between friends.
Questions to use with Picture Books about Friendship
- What characteristics did [character] have that made them a good friend?
- What characteristics was [character] looking for in a friend? Why?
- 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 relationships with others?
- How does (honesty, communication, empathy, etc.) affect friendships?
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Children's Books about Friendship
I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli
In southern Africa, there is a belief called ubuntu. It is the idea that we are all interconnected, and these connections are what gives us purpose. Showing kindness to others is showing kindness to ourselves; harming others hurts ourselves.
Promotes discussions on kindness, empathy, community, interconnectedness, compassion, and unity.
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.
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Art and Max have different approaches to the creative process. Chaos ensues when Art paints Max, literally. Art becomes a line drawing, and Max uses his creativity to put him back together. They learn to accept each other’s differences.
This wordless book promotes creativity, forgiveness and enthusiasm.
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.
The Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis
David's best friend tells us how David has flowers in his hair. Like the colourful flowers, he is sweet and gentle, and everyone likes him. One day David comes to school with a hat covering the flowers, which have turned bare and prickly. His best friend wants to help David and gathers his classmates to make flowers for David. His act of compassion and understanding helps David become himself again.
Read The Boy with Flowers in His Hair to promote discussions on friendship, being yourself, kindness, acceptance, coping strategies, compassion, thoughtfulness, and understanding others.
The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo
Zot, an alien from a colourless world, visits Earth to find his own happiness in its colour. He steals the colour, including an orange balloon, from a small boy. Zot takes off in his spaceship but has a change of heart when he sees the devastated child.
The Colour Thief promotes discussions on honesty, kindness and friendship.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The first of three picture books about friendship 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.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
The second of three picture books about friendship by Jacqueline Woodson. Chloe and her friends have been excluding the new girl Maya. When her teacher does a lesson on kindness, Chloe reflects on her behaviour and regrets “each kindness I had never shown.”
Promotes relationship skills, inclusion, kindness and reflection.
Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois
Emmett and Caleb are best friends, next-door neighbours, and do everything together. Despite their close relationship, they have very different personalities, leading to misunderstandings. They give each other time and space before patching things up when this happens.
This translated book promotes discussion on forgiveness, communication, friendships, and tolerance.
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
Best friends, Evelyn and Daniela, have to say goodbye when Evelyn’s family has to move away. As her house is packed up, the two girls play with each other in their favourite places. They know they will always be best friends, no matter where they live.
Promotes themes of resilience, adaptability, and relationship skills.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
In a Peshawar refugee camp, both Lina and Feroza find a matching sandal. They build a friendship and share the sandals, wearing them on alternate days. Lina and her mother are chosen to emigrate to America and give the sandal to Feroza. But Feroza hands it back, telling Lina they will share the sandals again one day.
Promotes a sense of belonging, compassion, friendship and social awareness.
Friends Are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu
Dandan spends her last night in China before immigrating to America with her best friend, Yueyue. It is Chinese New Year’s Eve, and the girls make red snowflakes and hang them outside. Yueyue gives Dandan red paper and a spool of red thread for her to carry on their tradition in America. It takes time, but Dandan finds a new friend to make red paper snowflakes with.
Promotes discussions on adaptability, immigration, kindness and Lunar New Year.
Half a World Away by Libby Gleeson
Best friends, Amy and Louise, do everything together. When Amy moves far away, the best friends learn their relationship can last over any distance.
Read to reinforce themes of relationship skills, friendship and communication.
I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon
After a yellow creature eats his friends, he travels to find a new companion. At last, he comes across a monster who will be his friend. However, not all is well. The new monster is alone on the last page, having just eaten his new friend.
Promotes themes of cause and effect, friendship and loneliness.
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.
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc
A lion discovers an injured bird and nurses it back to health. The two become close, but the bird returns to its family as spring arrives, flying north. The lion continues on with its life, and as autumn comes around, the lion hears the familiar sound of the bird.
This wordless book reinforces themes of empathy, relationship skills, compassion and kindness.
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.
Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl
Mabel’s home is the Mermaid Hotel. A mysterious guest has Mabel thinking she is a villain on the run. As she keeps a curious eye on her, she learns Madame Badobedah has a kind and gentle side. The two develop a compassionate and adventurous friendship.
Milo's Monster by Tom Percival
Best friends Milo and Jay are just fine until Suzi moves in next door to Jay, and Milo feels left out. His jealousy grows, and the green-eyed monsters influence Milo's thoughts and actions towards Jay. Milo finds a way to free himself from these negative thoughts and works on repairing his friendships.
Read Milo's Monster to promote discussions on jealousy, friendship, self-management, self-confidence, worries, relationship skills and anxiety.
Molly and Mae: A Friendship Journey by Danny Parker
During a train journey, two friends, Molly and Mae, experience the up and downs of friendship, from laughter to disagreements and finally to forgiveness and reconciliation.
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
Gerald is sad. She dresses up as a cowboy, clown and robot to cheer him up. Despite her efforts, Gerald gets sadder and sadder. Piggie removes her costume and talks to Gerald, who is happy to see her. He explains he got sad because she was not there to see the fantastic cowboy, clown and robot!
Promotes discussions on relationship skills, kindness, empathy, and compassion.
My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald
Cartwheel’s new home is an immigration camp where she struggles to settle. With the help of a new friend, she makes a smooth transition and is no longer lonely.
Reinforces themes of acceptance and belonging.
Omar, The Bees and Me by Helen Mortimer
New student Omar brings his mother's honey cake to school. He tells the class how his grandfather used to keep bees. Omar's knowledge sparks a class project about bees before spreading into the local community.
Promotes discussions of interconnectedness, sustainability, friendship, and community.
On Sudden Hill by Linda Sarah
Best friends Brit and Etho play on Sudden Hill creating amazing projects from cardboard boxes. When a new boy, Shu, wants to play, Brit can't help but feel jealous and refuses to play. Etho and Shu help Brit accept this new friend by visiting with an unfinished cardboard contraption.
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
The third of three picture books about friendship 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.
Our Tower by Joseph Coelho
In Our Tower, poet Joseph Coelho uses his childhood experience growing up in a tower block. Three children explore a magical forest next to their home where green takes over from the grey of their tower block. When they return home, they see the tower block differently and appreciate their home and community.
Read to promote discussions on appreciation and community.
Pool by JiHyeon Lee
A boy stands in his goggles and dives into a pool full of people. He meets a girl who shows him the way to a forest of fish and plants. They play with the fish and watch a whale before it leads them to break cover in the busy pool. This wordless book promotes relationship skills and creativity.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave plan to dig up something spectacular, but they keep missing their prize. Their dog keeps digging until they all fall down into what seems to be their backyard. But is it?
Promote cooperation, enthusiasm, friendships, perseverance and inference.
The Scarecrow 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.
The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman
Fish and Snail live together in the pages of a book and can travel from book to book. Snail stays and waits for Fish to describe the stories from the other books. They argue when Snail refuses to join him. Fish swims away into a new book, and Snail confronts her fears of reuniting with Fish.
Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
Thelma the pony wants to be a unicorn. When her dream comes true, she realises that pretending to be someone else is not as fun as she thought. She returns home where she can be herself.
Promotes themes of friendship, self-esteem and identity.
Tin Cans and String by Virve Aljas-Switzer
Priya and Jay are neighbours who share stories every night with two tin cans and a piece of string. When Jay's family moves away, Priya is devastated, but she comes up with a way to keep in touch with her friend.
Read Tin Cans and String to promote discussions on resourcefulness, problem-solving, communication, friendship and moving home.
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.
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Two turtles use their integrity and willpower when they find a hat in the middle of the desert. The tension and humour build in three parts, concluding with a spectacular ending.
Promotes perspectives, friendships and responsible decision-making.
Where the Heart Is by Irma Gold
Based on a true story. Old Joao finds a penguin covered in oil on a beach near Rio de Janeiro. He nurses it back to health, and the penguin stays with Joao long after it is healthy. After a year, the penguin travels over 8,000km to a penguin colony in Patagonia, only to return on the long journey to visit the old man.
Use to discuss friendship, connections, caring for others and a sense of belonging.
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.
Through picture books, teachers and students can explore themes such as understanding, respect, and appreciation of others, create meaningful relationships, and better understand everyday situations that require friendship skills.
Friendships are an important part of school life but can often be a minefield to navigate and can prove challenging for children. Confidence will grow with each new encounter.
If you've used any of these picture books about friendship in your classroom, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear about your experience using these books and how they impacted the students in your classroom!