Diverse Children's Books about Friendship for the Classroom
Friendships help us develop trust, compassion, and a sense of belonging. In these books about friendship, your students will see characters sharing, cooperating, and seeing different perspectives.
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 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
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 give us purpose. Showing kindness to others is showing kindness to ourselves; harming others hurts ourselves.
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.
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
Over the course of three seasons, City Dog and Country Frog become friends. One Winter City Dog returns to the countryside to find Frog is no longer there. Dog finds a new friend for his visits to the country, but Frog will not be forgotten.
Promotes the passing of seasons, relationship skills and wellbeing.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
The first of three picture books about friendships 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.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
The second of three picture books about friendships 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.”
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.
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.
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 gives the sandal to Feroza. But Feroza hands it back telling Lina they will share the sandals again one day.
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.
I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon
After a yellow creature eats his friends, he sets off on a journey 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.
King of the Sky by Nicola Davies
Let's Go For a Drive by Mo Willems
Gerald wants to go for a drive with his friend Piggie. They start planning the trip and collecting all the things they will need. When they are all organised, they realise they don't have any transportation. They don't let this worry them too much and find another way to spend their day.
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 as spring arrives, the bird returns to its family, now flying north. The lion continues on with its life, and as autumn comes around, the lion hears the familiar sound of the bird.
Little Beauty by Anthony Browne
A lonely gorilla learns sign language to communicate with his zookeepers. They bring him a tiny cat called Beauty and the two become inseparable. When the gorilla gets angry, his keepers threaten to separate the pair, until the kitten steps into the keep them together.
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 on his own so he searched for the penguin. After a fruitless search, the boy sets off home only to discover the penguin searching for the boy.
Lotus and Feather by Ji-li Jiang
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!
Omar, The Bees and Me by Helen Mortimer
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
The third of three picture books about friendships 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.
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.
Pool by JiHyeon Lee
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
The Secret Garden by Claire Freedman
After the death of her parents in India, a young girl is sent to live in Yorkshire at the home of her uncle. Alone and bad-mannered, she explores the estate and discovers a neglected and secret garden. With the help of a young gardener, she makes new friends and returns the garden to its former glory.
The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman
We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
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.
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Friendships are an important part of school life but can often be something of a minefield to navigate and can prove challenging for children. Their confidence will grow with each new encounter, even if each one doesn’t end with more than an exchange of smiles.
These books about friendships will help young children understand what it means to be a good friend and how to handle friendship problems. What friendship books do you use in the classroom?