Making and keeping friends is an important part of everyone’s life. This is why it is so important to teach to kids. I use children’s books about friendship as a gateway for opening up discussions in the learning environment. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, or parent, using books to help illustrate a topic is a great way for kids to learn. As you are reading, ask questions and engage the reader.
I often cover friendship in my lessons, I use this Keys to Friendship activity that covers six important friendship traits and this (student fave!) Build a Friend activity where students determine what traits they would want in a friend. Here is a list of some of the awesome children’s books about friendship out there that I use to help teach this topic to students.
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FRUIT SALAD FRIEND
Title of Book and Author: The Fruit Salad Friend: Recipe for a True Friend by Maria Dismondy
A short summary of the book: Chloe has always loved school. On her bus ride to school, her enthusiasm for school is quickly dampened when she realizes that she is not invited to her classmate’s birthday. Chloe is crushed. As Chloe deals with the disappointment, she starts to learn about the meaning of true friendship. She compares friendship to a fruit salad: while all fruits are good, you only put the sweet ones in the fruit salad. She knows which friends had been sweet, and which ones had been sour. When Chloe realizes this, everything changes for the better. She learns to find the sweetness in others.
Why I like the book: Not only does The Fruit Salad Friend have a meaningful message, but the author also includes resources for educators and parents to teach children about friendship. At the end of the book, Maria Dismondy includes a guide titled “10 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Friendship Making Skills.” The guidance she offers is both helpful and practical.
The moral of the story: True friends are sweet like fruit in a fruit salad. They are kind, inclusive, forgiving, and fun. If you find people with those qualities, you will know that you have found a true friend.
Topics covered: Friend Qualities; Kindness; Forgiveness
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Fruit Salad Friend on Amazon
HOW TO BE A FRIEND
Title of Book and Author: How to be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them by Laurie Krasny Brown
A short summary of the book: How to Be a Friend offers practical guidance about how to be a great friend. As Laurie Krasny Brown describes, friends feel the same way about each other; they are nice to each other and accept each other, despite sometimes being different. Through colorful illustrations and witty thought bubbles, the book describes ways to be a friend. For example, you can stand up for your friend, play nicely, and share. Being mean, hurting your friends, or not playing nicely are all ways not to be a friend. Brown also gives examples of how to improve a friendship that might feel broken.
Why I like the book: Brown covers a wide range of foundational topics related to friendship that are well-suited for elementary school students. I love that she gives ideas about ways to be a friend and ways not to be a friend. These examples will help children become more aware of how they treat others. The book also mentions topics like bullying and divorce, which makes the advice more practical and realistic.
The moral of the story: Friends treat each other with kindness, fairness, and respect. When issues arise in a friendship, friends take the time to resolve those issues.
Topics covered: Fighting with Friends; Friend Qualities
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): How to be a Friend on Amazon
HOW TO GROW A FRIEND
Title of Book and Author: How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham
A short summary of the book: Growing a friend is just like taking care of a plant. A friend needs sunshine and space to grow. If a friend is having a difficult time, you can do something sweet to keep them from “drooping.”
Why I like the book: How to Grow a Friend is a short but impactful read-aloud that is perfect for preschool and kindergarten students. With colorful illustrations and simple messages, How to Grow a Friend is a great introduction to discussing friendship in your classroom. This book could also inspire creative crafts or bulletin boards about how to grow a friend.
The moral of the story: To make a friend, be attentive, understanding, and helpful.
Topics covered: Making Friends; Friend Qualities
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): How to Grow a Friend on Amazon
MY BEST FRIEND
Title of Book and Author: My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano and Jullian Tamaki
A short summary of the book: A joyful girl has never had a best friend. That is, until her new friend makes her realize how wonderful it is to have a best friend. Her best friend has amazing qualities, like being creative, fixing flowers that have been trampled, and most importantly, being kind. Even though the two girls have differences, like favorite ice cream flavors, they are still best friends. She doesn’t know her friend’s name – but that doesn’t matter. What is most important is how her friend makes her feel.
Why I like the book: In this short but sweet ode to new friendship, Julie Fogliano captures the magic of friendship. Your students will love how the main character describes her best friend. Her descriptions will remind you of how special and magical childhood friendships can be.
The moral of the story: When we find a true best friend, the friendship can feel like magic.
Topics covered: New Friendships; Friend Qualities
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): My Best Friend on Amazon
A FRIEND FOR HENRY
Title of Book and Author: A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey
A short summary of the book: In Classroom Six, young Henry is in search of the perfect friend. He has very specific qualities that he’s looking for in a friend: someone who respects personal space, follows the rules, says thank you, and likes to read. But as Henry searches for the perfect friend, he is continuously disappointed when his classmates don’t listen or respect his personal boundaries. His frustrations continue as his hope for finding a friend seems unlikely. Everything changes when Henry meets Katie. Katie plays nicely. Katie listens to Henry. Katie takes risks. She is the perfect friend for Henry.
Why I like the book: Though not explicitly mentioned, A Friend For Henry is about a young boy with autism who is looking for a friend in his classroom. Jenn Bailey thoughtfully portrays a boy with autism from his own perspective, which is helpful for young children to learn about. This book can lead to great discussions about looking past differences when making a friend and treating everyone with respect.
The moral of the story: We all have different qualities that we’re looking for in a friend. For children with autism, those qualities might be more specific or different. Consequently, we must be accepting and understanding.
Topics covered: Autism; Friend Qualities; Compromise
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): A Friend for Henry on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Finding Francois by Gus Gordon
A short summary of the book: Alice the pig lives an exciting life in Paris with her grandmother. Although she loves her life, she sometimes wishes that she had a friend her own age. One day, Alice decides to throw a message in a bottle into the sea, hoping to find a new friend. Francois, who lives in a lighthouse with his father, receives the bottle and writes back, beginning their wonderful friendship. When Alice learns that her grandmother has passed away, her life takes an unlikely turn that strengthens her friendship with Francois and helps her heal from her loss.
Why I like the book: With beautiful illustrations and a feel-good message, this heartwarming tale will quickly become a class favorite. The friendship between Alice and Francois is a testament to how we need friends to carry us through happy and sad times.
The moral of the story: Through life’s ups and downs, friends are medicine for the soul. Finding a true friend can help us weather life’s storms.
Topics covered: New Friends; Loss; Healing
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Finding Francois on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly
A short summary of the book: Geraldine the giraffe is not happy. Her family has decided to move. “No, no, no!” she exclaims to her parents, despite their reassurances that the change in scenery will be a great adventure. In her new school, Geraldine is the only giraffe, which causes her to feel shy and left out. One day, while hiding in her usual lunchtime hiding spot, she meets a girl named Cassie. Their friendship blossoms because they have mutual respect for each other, even if they are outcasts together. Geraldine and Cassie’s friendship gives them both the confidence to step outside their comfort zones.
Why I like the book: We can all relate to a sudden and unexpected change. Many of us have had friends, parents, or coaches to help us through big changes, just like Geraldine. I love how Geraldine and Cassie’s friendship teaches children that friends can lift us up, help us realize our self-worth, and feel confident.
The moral of the story: A great friend lifts us up and makes us feel confident. A great friend can help us face life’s everyday challenges, even when we don’t believe in ourselves.
Topics covered: New Friends; Courage; Self-Worth
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Geraldine on Amazon
Title of Book and Author: Big Friends by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies
A short summary of the book: Etho and Birt are the best of friends. Their daily routine includes making cardboard castles on Sudden Hill. When Shu, a new boy, arrives with a cardboard box hoping to play, Etho and Birt’s friendship dynamic is thrown off. As Shu and Etho become closer, Birt becomes angry and stops meeting Etho and Shu. With a sweet ending about new friendships and acceptance, Big Friends is a feel-good read-aloud for your students.
Why I like the book: As educators, we have seen our fair share of playground fights and friend disputes. This book will help you teach your students that it’s okay for your best friends to make new friends.
The moral of the story: We can gain so much by welcoming new friends into our group.
Topics covered: New Friends; Acceptance; Change
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Big Friends on Amazon
DUCK AND GOOSE
Title of Book and Author: Duck and Goose by Tad Hills
A short summary of the book: Duck and Goose seem to never get along. One day, they discover a giant egg and decide to protect it together as they wait for it to hatch. As they wait, they talk about all of the things they will teach the baby bird in the egg. Their plan quickly changes when they realize that the egg isn’t an egg after all.
Why I like the book: Duck and Goose is a laugh-out-loud read-aloud with a sweet message about friends with differences. Duck and Goose are both optimistic, loveable characters who learn to accept each other’s differences.
The moral of the story: Friendship is not always easy. Friendship involves sharing, compromising, and accepting each other’s differences.
Topics covered: Friends Who Are Different; Sharing;
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Duck and Goose on Amazon
OTTO AND PIO
Title of Book and Author: Otto and Pio by Marianne Dubuc
A short summary of the book: Otto, a squirrel, steps outside his house to discover a green ball. When the ball cracks open, a little creature cries “Mommy!” Otto decides to leave the creature there, but when he sees that the little creature is still on his doorstep, he has a change of heart. As the creature keeps getting bigger and bigger, Otto’s heart expands to welcome the creature into his home as a friend.
Why I like the book: Although Otto and the creature are unlikely friends, their story can teach us about how friendship expands our capacity to love. I love that Otto has a change of heart and welcomes the creature into his home, which is a message that is so important to teach our students.
The moral of the story: Unexpected friendships can teach us to be more accepting and loving.
Topics covered: Unexpected Friendships; Friends and Family
Where can I purchase this book (affiliate link): Otto and Pio on Amazon
Pair your favorite children’s books about friendship with these engaging activities to make the perfect classroom lesson.