Picture Books that Unite and Promote Diversity and Friendship in the Classroom

Incredible Picture Books That Cultivate Friendship in the Classroom

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.

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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 foster 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 rewards even in the most challenging times and can help us overcome tough situations. Your students will learn 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.

Group of school children looking at the camera

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?

Children's Books about Friendship

I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli

I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu takes us to southern Africa, introducing us to the philosophy of ubuntu – the belief that we are all interconnected, and these connections give us purpose. A kind act towards others is an act of kindness to ourselves, just as harming others hurts us too.

This book can serve as a reminder that our actions have a ripple effect on the world around us, making it great for discussions about kindness, empathy, community, compassion and unity.

Albert's Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault

Albert wants a quiet place to immerse himself in his books. However, his quest for solitude is disrupted by the antics of his friends. Your students will connect with Albert when he realizes the best reading adventures can sometimes happen when shared with friends.

Albert's Quiet Quest sparks conversations on respect for others' needs, the importance of silence, finding balance between social interaction and personal space, and the transformative power of a good book.

Alone! by Barry Falls

ipsumBilly McGill's solitude is disturbed by an increasingly lively houseful of animals. From a single squeaking mouse to a collection of curious creatures, Billy's attempts to reclaim his quiet life lead to more noise, more animals, and more opportunities for problem-solving.

Use Alone to spark discussions on managing frustration, the power of self-reflection, and the importance of being proactive problem solvers. As Billy's home gets louder and more chaotic, your students can learn about cause and effect through his encounters. 

Art & Max by David Wiesner

Art, a seasoned painter, and Max, a novice, approach art-making differently. When Max decides to literally paint Art, chaos erupts. Art turns into a line drawing, and it's up to Max to restore him, utilizing his creativity and quick thinking. 

Art & Max, a wordless book, explores the creative process and encourages discussions about individuality, enthusiasm, forgiveness, creative problem-solving and openness to new ideas.

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 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.

A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba

A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba

A fed-up girl only sees winter's grey and dull colours on a cold day. Her optimistic friend encourages her to look closely at her surroundings. She takes her time and starts to see orange berries, blue water, purple shadows, and much more!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

The first of three picture books about friendship 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.

Use this book to facilitate discussions on empathy, identity, a sense of belonging, a 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 consistently exclude the new girl, Maya, until a powerful lesson on kindness makes Chloe reconsider her actions.

Each Kindness explores the importance of relationship skills, the value of inclusion, the impact of bullying, the power of kindness and the need for self-reflection. The book is a reminder that every act of kindness – no matter how small – can create ripples of positive change.

Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois

Emmett and Caleb, best friends and next-door neighbours, are as close as can be, yet their different personalities sometimes lead to misunderstandings. However, they always find a way back to each other, valuing their friendship over their differences.

Emmett and Caleb illustrate that friendships might face ups and downs, but the ability to forgive, understand, and communicate is key to maintaining them.