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Children’s Books About Friendship of 2023

Strengthen your child’s social skills while also improving their literacy.

Reading with your child is a wonderful thing. It stimulates their imagination and teaches them about the world. It’s also a fantastic way to bond with your child.

There’s another kind of bond that’s critical for children too. That’s the bond they will eventually form with friends. Books can help teach children how to make and keep friends, which will encourage those healthy bonds later in life.

So, read on to find out more about the importance of friendship, and the books that can help your children in their friend-making skills.

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Product Comparison Table

Product Image of the Winnie the Pooh
Best for All Ages
Winnie the Pooh
  • “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
Product Image of the Charlotte’s Web
Best for Dealing with Death
Charlotte’s Web
  • “You have been my friend,” Charlotte replied. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Product Image of the The Recess Queen
Best to Teach Conflict Resolution
The Recess Queen
  • “With her irrepressible spirit, the new girl dethrones the reigning recess bully by becoming her friend.”
Product Image of the Harriet the Spy
The Most Awarded Book
Harriet the Spy
  • “Good friends are one of life's blessings. Don't give them up without a fight.”
Product Image of the Big Al
Best for Teaching about Appearances
Big Al
  • “Poor Big Al! He just wants to make friends. And in the whole wide blue sea you can't find a nicer fish.”
Product Image of the The BFG
Best for Fantasy Lovers
  • “The human beans in Wellington have an especially scrumpdiddlyumptious taste.”
Product Image of the The Iron Giant
Best for Sci-Fi Lovers
The Iron Giant
  • “But he's not a pet, Mom. He's a friend.”
Product Image of the Harriet’s Hare
Best Oddball Story
Harriet’s Hare
  • “All of a sudden the hare said, loudly and clearly, 'Good morning.'”
Product Image of the Girls in Love
Best for Teenagers
Girls in Love
  • “Dad was more direct: ‘For God’s sake, Ellie, that skirt barely covers your knickers!’”
Product Image of the Wonder
Best for Parents/Teachers
  • “I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. ”

Review Methodology: At Mom Loves Best, we meticulously research, compare, and evaluate children’s friendship books to provide you with the most reliable and comprehensive reviews. Our hands-on experience and professional analysis are combined with user data and objective benchmarks to assess each book’s performance. We delve into key decision-making factors such as the message of friendship, the quality of writing and illustration, and the age appropriateness. We also consider the unique design choices and their impact on young readers. With a rigorous review process, we identify what sets a book apart from its competitors and rank them based on these criteria. Our findings are backed by solid evidence, ensuring you can trust our recommendations for the best children’s friendship books.

The Best Children’s Friendship Books of 2023

Here are 50 great books to teach your child about friendship.

Winnie the Pooh

Best for All Ages

A.A. Milne’s famous Winnie the Pooh series centers around a teddy bear and his toy animal friends who all live in the Hundred Acre Wood together.

All of Pooh’s friends are not only different animals, but they also have unique personalities. These books teach children about overcoming differences for friendship.

Community Feedback

My experience with this Winnie the Pooh collection has been a delightful trip down memory lane, as I grew up with these charming stories myself. The hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and well-constructed, although the paper sleeve can be a bit annoying at times.

Charlotte’s Web

Best for Dealing with Death

A classic that many will already know, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the story of a pig named Wilbur. Wilbur befriends Charlotte, a spider, who tries to help him when his life is threatened.

A fantastic story, although it does deal with death, so parents should consider this. This book could prove way too sad for toddlers or younger children.

Community Feedback

I'm thrilled to revisit this childhood classic with my granddaughter, as it made a significant impact on me when I was her age. The story's captivating portrayal of friendship between a pig and a spider resonated with both of us. While I do wish it were available in a hardback format for added durability, the condition of the used book I received was practically brand new.

The Recess Queen

Best to Teach Conflict Resolution

Mean Jean is the bully of the playground. The other children do whatever she says and wants. All that changes when a new girl arrives and wants to be Mean Jean’s friend.

Alexis O’Neill’s colorful book looks from the bully’s perspective. It can teach kids an interesting lesson about conflict.

Community Feedback

In my experience, this book has been a hit with both my 2.5-year-old and my third-grade students. The engaging story carries a great message about dealing with bullies and conflict resolution, making it easy for children to understand and relate to. It even prompted my daughter to tell me she knew it was a good book all along. As a school social worker, I've also found this book to be a valuable resource in introducing the topic of bullying to elementary school students. They always look forward to hearing the story again. Reading this book together can be a wonderful way to teach children about kindness and acceptance.

Harriet the Spy

The Most Awarded Book

Harriet wants to be a spy, and she writes down absolutely everything in her notebook. However, disaster strikes when her friends find her notebook and read what she has written about them.

Louise Fitzhugh’s story is great for pre-teens, with its strong characterization and an engaging sense of humor.

Community Feedback

These Harriet the Spy books take me back to my childhood, when I first read them and instantly fell in love with Harriet's brilliant and unique thoughts. Not only did the adventures and personal growth of Harriet resonate with me, but her character was always engaging and relatable. The story's focus on Harriet learning about the unfairness of the world and taking responsibility for her actions makes it a timeless classic that still holds up today. As an adult, I find myself appreciating the book's originality and depth even more than when I was a child, making it a must-read for readers of all ages.

Big Al

Best for Teaching about Appearances

Big Al is a scary-looking fish whose intimidating appearance means he doesn’t have any friends. However, that all changes when Big Al saves other fish from a fishing net.

Great for elementary school children, Andrew Clements’ book teaches children not to judge by appearances.

Community Feedback

My experience with this book has been a delightful trip down memory lane, as it was a favorite among my siblings and me growing up. Reading it to my son, I appreciate its beautiful illustrations and well-written story that teaches valuable lessons about acceptance, appreciation of differences, and navigating social situations. While I believe the author could have expanded on these themes, the book provides a great opportunity for parents and teachers to have important conversations with children about embracing diversity and building friendships.


Best for Fantasy Lovers

Sophie, an orphan, befriends a giant who carries her off to a fantasy realm. The other giants in the land, however, are not so kind.

A wonderful fantasy by Roald Dahl, best read aloud due to some unusual vocabulary. Best for ages 8 and older due to talk of giants eating children.

Community Feedback

This book has quickly become a cherished addition to my collection, as it's not only a favorite for my kids, but also brings back fond memories of teaching from it. The BFG's unique character, with his delightful language mix-ups and dream-catching, adds a touch of whimsy to the story. While the illustrations by Quentin Blake are in black-and-white, they still capture the essence of the tale, making it engaging for readers of all ages. The plot is both funny and interesting, as it follows the adventures of the BFG and his orphaned friend, Sophie, in their quest to overcome the challenges posed by the other not-so-friendly giants.

The Iron Giant

Best for Sci-Fi Lovers

This modern fairy tale is the story of an alien metal man who is built to be a weapon of war. He befriends a young boy in the English countryside.

A classic tale by Ted Hughes that deals with issues of war and environmentalism. Some heavy themes, but great for older children.

Community Feedback

My experience with this book has been nothing short of delightful, as it tells the captivating tale of the Iron Giant and his young friend Hogarth. The story is engaging and provides valuable lessons on acceptance and unity, while also offering a subtle commentary on war and peace. The Iron Giant's transformation from a misunderstood creature to a hero who saves the Earth shows the power of compassion and understanding. Although this book is an easy read for middle-grade students, it still manages to deliver a powerful and lasting impact that resonates with readers of all ages.

Harriet’s Hare

Best Oddball Story

Harriet is 8 years old, lives on a farm, and over the summer she meets an alien disguised as a hare. The alien, Wiz, uses his alien abilities to make Harriet’s life better.

A quaint tale with a strange premise, Dick King-Smith’s book is sure to intrigue most children.

Community Feedback

This book had me hooked from the first page, as it tells the story of Harriet, a girl who befriends a talking hare from the planet Pars. While the story can be somewhat predictable, it still offers an interesting look into Harriet's life and her evolving relationship with the hare, who can shape-shift and predict the future. Some elements of the story, like the hare's mission and the focus on vegetarianism, felt unnecessary or inconsistent at times.

Girls in Love

Best for Teenagers

Ellie is a 13-year-old girl who loves art, boys, and friends. She also wants to be a grown-up quite badly.

This book is the first in a series by Jacqueline Wilson, and teen girls will relate to it. However, note that it does contain some mature themes.

Community Feedback

My experience with this book was quite enjoyable, as it delved into the relatable struggles of growing up and navigating friendships, relationships, and self-image. Ellie, the main character, is an average girl who faces realistic problems with her friends, making her easy to connect with. The story tackles serious subjects like sex, drugs, and self-worth, yet maintains a lighthearted and humorous tone throughout.


Best for Parents/Teachers

Auggie is a 10-year-old boy born with a facial deformity. He’s been homeschooled most of his life, but now he is going off to a regular school.

Better for children 10 and over, this is an ideal book for parents or teachers to read aloud. R.J. Palacio’s Wonder is tough but touching.

Community Feedback

Best decision I made was to read "Wonder" after seeing the movie trailer. This heartwarming and inspiring book tells the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial deformities, as he navigates his first year at a mainstream school. The characters are relatable and believable, making it hard to put the book down. Throughout the story, you'll experience a rollercoaster of emotions as Auggie faces challenges, makes friends, and learns valuable life lessons. Whether you're a parent, a teacher, or simply someone looking for an uplifting read, "Wonder" is sure to leave a lasting impression.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Best Bedtime Story

Amos McGee is a zookeeper who does everything for his animals. When he’s sick one day, the animals decide to do something nice for him instead.

This book by Philip C. Stead is a lovely read for children aged 6 and older. It is a soothing story with beautiful illustrations.

Community Feedback

When I first read "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," I was instantly captivated by the heartwarming story and beautiful illustrations. As a zookeeper, Amos McGee shows kindness and care towards his animal friends, and when he falls ill, they return the favor in a touching display of friendship. The intricate details in Erin Stead's illustrations, along with the gentle story written by Philip Stead, make this book an instant favorite for children and adults alike. It's not just a tale of friendship, but also a great example of personification that can be enjoyed by young students and animal lovers.

The Snail and the Whale

Best Picture Book

This is the story of a little snail who hitches a ride on a whale to see the world. The whale becomes beached, and the snail has to rescue him.

From the creators of The Gruffalo, this is a stunning book that toddlers and young children will love.

Community Feedback

I'm absolutely delighted with this children's book by Julia Donaldson. The story follows an adventurous snail and a friendly whale, taking readers on a journey filled with imagination, exploration, and heartwarming moments. The beautiful illustrations and easy-to-understand text make it a favorite for both kids and adults alike. It's a testament to the power of friendship and bravery, proving that even the smallest among us can make a big difference.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Best for the Whole Family

Harry Potter is a young boy living in the U.K. with his uncaring aunt and uncle. One day, he discovers he’s a wizard. He also finds out some terrible things about his past.

A smash hit, this book is for the whole family (best for kids 9 and over) and shows best friends overcoming evil and adversity together.

Community Feedback

This audiobook brought the beloved story to life for me in a whole new way. The narrator's soothing voice and distinct character portrayals made the experience truly enjoyable, allowing me to get lost in the magical world while multitasking. Listening to this book was a great opportunity to revisit the series after having read it years ago, and I found there's so much more depth in the books compared to the movies. Even my 6-year-old son was captivated by the storytelling, making it a perfect bedtime listen for him as well.

Nerdy Birdy Tweets

Best for Teaching Online Caution

Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are best friends, despite liking different things. But when Nerdy Bird discovers Tweetster, he begins to neglect his friendship with Vulture.

Aaron Reynolds has written this thoughtful book for teaching young children (around 8 years) about the dangers of internet obsession.

Community Feedback

If you're looking for a book that addresses the effects of social media, "Nerdy Birdy Tweets" offers a unique perspective for young readers. My grandchildren and I enjoyed the engaging illustrations and the relatable storyline about choosing real-world friendships over online interactions. This book cleverly lays the foundation for teaching kids about online behavior, empathy, and respecting others' privacy. While the topic may seem mature for some younger children, it has proven to be an excellent conversation starter for my family and students, promoting digital citizenship and fostering meaningful discussions.

Be a Friend

Best for Kids Who Feel Different

Dennis is a young boy who prefers to mime rather than speak. He doesn’t have any friends until he meets Joy. Joy doesn’t mind that Dennis won’t talk.

This is an adorable book by Salina Yoon that teaches young children they don’t have to compromise who they are to make friends.

Community Feedback

In my experience with this delightful book, it effortlessly captures the essence of true friendship and the beauty of embracing individuality. The story follows Dennis, a young mime, as he navigates the world of friendship, teaching readers of all ages the importance of face-to-face interactions and understanding others. The captivating illustrations add depth to the storyline, making it perfect for multiple reads and sparking meaningful conversations between children and adults. As I shared this heartwarming tale with my nephew, it became evident that the message resonated with him, allowing him to appreciate his uniqueness and the value of finding like-minded friends.

A Friend for Henry

Best for Autism Awareness

Henry is a little boy who desperately wants to make friends at school. But whatever he does, no matter how well-intentioned, it only seems to push away the other kids. But soon, a friend will find him.

This picture book by Jenn Bailey teaches children aged 5 to 8 about autism and how autistic children feel.

Community Feedback

In my experience, this book provides a heartwarming and insightful look into the world of a child with autism trying to make friends. As a reader, I could feel Henry's longing for friendship and appreciated the way the story highlights the challenges he faces. The beautifully written tale, with its simple illustrations, is perfect for young kids in preschool to first grade. Although the language used could be a tad simpler for younger children, the overall message of empathy, understanding, and accepting one another's differences shines through. This book is a valuable addition to any child's collection, helping them learn about friendship in a diverse and often confusing world.

My Friend Is Sad

Best for Emotion

Gerard is an elephant and Piggie is a pig. They are best friends, even though their personalities are opposites. One day, Gerard feels sad, and Piggie tries his best to make him happy again.

This story by Mo Willems is a humorous picture book that is great for children just beginning to read.

Community Feedback

Great addition to my daughter's collection of Elephant and Piggie books! These stories are both hilarious and educational, with simple text in speech bubbles that are easy for young readers to follow. The characters, Gerald the elephant and Piggie, are lovable and relatable, making the books enjoyable for both kids and parents. Each book has a subtle life lesson, focusing on feelings and social skills without making it awkward. My daughter, an advanced reader, still loves these books and enjoys reading them to her younger cousins, practicing her expressional reading with the various emotions portrayed in the stories.


Best for Discussing Bullying

One is a story of colors. Red is aggressive, especially to Blue, and the other colors don’t like it. When One comes, he will teach the colors how to get along peacefully.

By using colors as characters, Kathryn Otoshi teaches small children a valuable lesson while they’re still in their early learning days.

Community Feedback

Got this book for my child and found it to be a creative approach to tackling the issue of bullying using colors and numbers as characters. The story is engaging, and its simplicity allows for easy understanding by children while initiating important conversations about standing up for oneself and others. Though it may lack the flow of rhyming books, the valuable life lessons it imparts make it well worth sharing with kids of all ages.

Best Friends

Best for Dealing with Separation

Gemma and Alice are best friends and have been since they were born. But when Alice moves away, the girls struggle to keep their friendship together.

This is a book that would best suit pre-teens, as some themes may be too mature for younger children. Jacqueline Wilson’s Best Friends will resonate with young girls.

Community Feedback

From the engaging storyline to the relatable characters, this book by Jacqueline Wilson truly captures the essence of friendship and the challenges that come with it. As a fan of Wilson's work, I found this book to be a delightful read filled with humor, emotion, and valuable life lessons. The captivating illustrations and age-appropriate content make it an ideal choice for young readers between the ages of 7 and 11, sparking their interest in the joys of reading.

The One and Only Ivan

Best Book Inspired By a True Story

Ivan is a gorilla who has spent decades living in an enclosure. He has accepted his life away from the jungle. That is until he meets a captive baby elephant.

Katherine Applegate’s book is an emotional read. It’s better suited to older children due to descriptions of animal violence.

Community Feedback

For those seeking an engaging and thought-provoking story, this book will surely captivate readers of all ages. As a parent, I have observed my daughter and her classmates drawn into the world of Ivan the gorilla, sparking meaningful conversations about the treatment of captive animals. The poetic prose, told from Ivan's perspective, adds a layer of depth and beauty to the narrative, making it a pleasure to read aloud. This fictional account, inspired by a real-life gorilla who spent 27 years in isolation, has resonated with my young reader as well as her peers. While the story's believability may be a point of contention for some adults, its imaginative nature and heartwarming message continue to win over young readers, even those with advanced reading skills.

Love That Dog

Best in Poetic Writing

Jack is a student who normally hates poetry. But when his teacher makes him write poetry for an assignment, Jack finds he has a lot to express.

An unusual but fun read, Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog is a series of free-form poems. Awesome for reading aloud.

Community Feedback

Got this book for my son and ended up enjoying it myself! We both found the story of Jack learning to appreciate poetry through his love for his yellow dog, Sky, to be both emotional and funny. This book is a great way to introduce poetry to kids, especially since it's an easy read and can be enjoyed by various age groups.

The Jungle Book

Best for Animal Friendship

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is a series of stories about Mowgli, a human boy raised in the jungle by wolves. Mowgli is friends with a panther and a bear, but the tiger, Shere Khan, is the man-cub’s sworn enemy.

Kipling was a powerful storyteller, and kids will love the exotic and wild setting.

Community Feedback

I'm thrilled to have read "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling, as it offers a fascinating journey through various stories and poems that feature anthropomorphized animals and moral lessons. My personal favorites were the adventures of Mowgli and his animal friends, as well as the tale of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the brave mongoose. However, I must caution that this book is not the same as the Disney version and contains some graphic violence, making it essential for parents to read it first before sharing with their children.

Because of Winn-Dixie

Best Award Winner

One day in summer, India finds a dog while on a trip for groceries. The dog, Winn-Dixie, changes her life in a myriad of ways – including helping her make friends and open up to her dad.

This award-winning story by Kate DiCamillo is heart-warming both for adults and children who are 9 or older.

Community Feedback

Got this book for my child and they absolutely enjoyed it, even mentioning they'd read it again. I personally found the characters endearing, especially the bond between Opal and her dog, Winn-Dixie, as they navigated life in a small town and formed new friendships. While the story is short and simple, it's heartwarming, charming, and perfect for animal lovers or those looking for a feel-good read.

Those Pesky Rabbits

Best For Teaching Kindness

Mr. Bear only wants to be left alone. His rabbit neighbors, however, keep trying to spend time with him. Maybe Mr. Bear could learn a thing or two about friendship.

Best for toddlers, Ciara Flood’s book is aesthetically pleasing and a little longer than the average book for this age range.

Community Feedback

I recently bought this book for my young children, and they were instantly captivated by the heartwarming story and beautiful illustrations. The tale of a bear having a change of heart about the pesky rabbits teaches a valuable lesson on kindness and good behavior. It's a delight to read with my kids as they constantly discover new nuances in the art, making it feel fresh each time. This book has quickly become a bedtime favorite, sparking engaging conversations between us while reinforcing positive life lessons.

A Ball for Daisy

Best for Upset Friends

Daisy is a dog who loves her ball more than anything. One day, though, her ball is destroyed by another dog. Daisy has to deal with the loss of her favorite toy.

This New York Times bestseller by Chris Raschka is a super choice for kids aged 3 to 7 who have strong bonds with beloved possessions.

Community Feedback

I'm really impressed with this wordless picture book, as it beautifully conveys emotions and tells a simple yet engaging story through its illustrations. My toddler and I enjoyed narrating the story ourselves, which helped my child understand the concept of loss and recovery. This book has become a favorite in our household, providing a heartwarming story and sparking our creativity in storytelling.

George and Martha

Best for Children and Adults

George and Martha is a series of stories by James Marshall about two hippos who do everything together. They often learn valuable friendship lessons, like how important privacy and respect is.

Although these are great books for kids, adults will also appreciate the dry humor used throughout. That’s a welcome addition when your child wants you to read the same book every night.

Community Feedback

Bought this compilation of George and Martha stories for my 3-year-old twins, and it quickly became a family favorite. These timeless tales are both funny and heartwarming, featuring powerful lessons about friendship and understanding. I've enjoyed reading them to my kids as much as they've loved listening to them. The stories are simple yet profound, making it an ideal book for children aged 5 and up. Some of our favorite stories include "The Trip," "The Attic," and "The High Board." This collection of all George and Martha stories is a great value and a wonderful addition to any home library.

Library Lion

Best Silly Yet Sweet Story

A lion visits a library for the first time. However, he has to follow the librarian’s strict rules. It turns out the lion is better suited to the library than the reader may think.

A silly concept made sweet in Michelle Knudson’s beautiful story for young readers who are ages 4 to 8.

Community Feedback

Got this book for my family, and it's become a favorite for both the kids and adults. This heartwarming tale, beautifully illustrated by Michelle Knudsen, teaches a valuable lesson about when it's okay to break the rules. From the engaging story of a friendly lion in the library to the touching bond between him and Miss Merriweather, this book is sure to please readers of all ages.

The Teenage Guide to Friends

Best Non-Fiction

Nicola Morgan has produced this guide on life for teens. It includes a range of topics, including making friends and keeping friendships strong. It also covers bullying and cyber-bullying.

This is non-fiction that is incredibly useful for teenagers. It can also be read by parents who want to understand their teens better.

Community Feedback

Excellent resource for navigating the complexities of teenage friendships! This book is divided into four main sections that cover a variety of topics, such as making and managing friendships, empathy, behavior and personality, and even negative friendships and social media. While I don't agree with all the author's viewpoints, the book offers valuable information and advice that is easy for teens to understand, making it a helpful guide for those who may be struggling with friendship issues.

Code Name Verity

Best Historical Fiction

Verity is a prisoner of war. Imprisoned by the Gestapo, she tells her prison guards the story of her life. This includes talking about the women she has become close to.

Best for teens, this book about female friendship and set during World War II is by pilot-turned-writer Elizabeth Wein.

Community Feedback

This gripping novel is set in England and occupied France during World War II, and follows the story of a captured wireless operator and her female pilot friend. The compelling narrative explores the courage and resilience of these women as they navigate their respective roles within the war effort. The friendship between the two main characters is beautifully written, and the unique writing style adds to the overall impact of the story. Although the beginning starts off slow, the story quickly picks up and becomes hard to put down. This powerful and emotional novel provides a fresh, female perspective on the events of World War II and is highly recommended for anyone interested in historical fiction.

My Friends

Best Introduction to Friendship

My Friends is the story of a little girl who learns a variety of skills (climbing and marching) from animal friends and inanimate objects she meets while exploring the countryside.

Taro Gomi’s colorful and simple book is fantastic for toddlers and children who are just beginning to read.

Community Feedback

Great book for introducing young children to action verbs and vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. My two-year-old often asks to read this sweet story, and we both enjoy the unique illustrations featuring friends in nature. The simple and colorful artwork captures my child's imagination, making it a favorite among both my little ones. Although I didn't appreciate the hair-pulling illustration, the overall message of learning from everyone and everything still shines through in this delightful book.

Margaret and Margarita

Best Introduction to Languages

Two girls with no one else to play with spot each other at the playground and try to make friends. The problem is, Margaret only speaks English, and Margarita only speaks Spanish.

This bilingual picture book by Lynn Reiser teaches children that language never needs to be a barrier to friendship.

Community Feedback

If you're seeking a bilingual book that teaches children about embracing cultural differences and learning a new language, this book is a fantastic choice. As an educator, I've witnessed firsthand how this story captivates young minds, particularly when read aloud in both English and Spanish. The simple storyline, which follows two girls at a park making friends despite language barriers, provides ample opportunities for discussion on friendship and cultural understanding. Moreover, the side-by-side presentation of the languages helps young readers grasp new Spanish words in context. While some may find the story a bit simplistic, it remains an engaging and educational resource for both monolingual and bilingual classrooms.

Mrs. Katz and Tush

Best for Bonding of Multi-Generations

Larnel, an African-American boy, makes friends with Mrs. Katz, a Jewish lady. The two neighbors bond over their shared historical struggles. They learn that, despite their age difference, they are more alike than they think.

Patricia Polacco’s book is a wonderful read for children 4 years old and above.

Community Feedback

Best heartwarming story of friendship and understanding between two neighbors from different backgrounds, brought together by a tail-less kitten named Tush. This beautifully illustrated book had my children giggling, tearing up, and asking for it to be read over and over again. A must-read, capturing the essence of love, compassion, and the bonds of family and friendship that transcend age, race, and culture.

You Are Friendly

Best of Diversity

In this book, children learn all the different ways they can make friends — sharing, being polite, and being kind to animals. There are so many ways to make friends.

Todd Snow’s book for pre-schoolers is stunningly illustrated and includes an ethnically diverse group of friends.

Community Feedback

When I first read this book to my students, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it incorporated kindness into our kindergarten social studies unit. The bright illustrations and simple, thoughtful text held my preschoolers' attention and sparked meaningful discussions about being a good friend. This adorable book effectively defines kindness in simple terms, making it perfect for young children, although it might be best suited for 2-3 year olds. As a part of the "You Are Series," this book serves as a fantastic tool for empowering children, teaching them the importance of being themselves and embracing the differences in others.

Do You Want to Be My Friend?

Best Almost Wordless Book

A little mouse is desperate for a friend. He goes on a journey, asking all kinds of animals if they can be friends. He doesn’t have much luck, though. That is until he meets another mouse.

This is an almost wordless book by Eric Carle. It’s great for parents or teachers to ‘tell’ to their toddler-aged children.

Community Feedback

If you're looking for a simple and whimsical Eric Carle book, this one might not be his best work, but it still offers charming illustrations that my little one enjoys flipping through. Though the book lacks words and the blue elephant character we were anticipating, it provides an opportunity for us to make up our own stories and use our imaginations while reading. The minimal dialogue can be a challenge, but it has sparked some interesting conversations between me and my children about friendship and acceptance.

Hunter’s Best Friend at School

Best for Teaching Individuality

Hunter and Stripe are two raccoons who do everything together. However, Stripe is in a trouble-making mood at school one day. Hunter has to decide if he should follow suit like he normally would.

Laura Malone Elliott’s book for 4- to 7-year-olds is a good pick for teaching children about setting a good example.

Community Feedback

If you're searching for a children's book that teaches valuable life lessons about friendship and making the right choices, Hunter's Best Friend at School is a fantastic option. This delightful picture book follows the story of two friends, Hunter and Stripe, as they navigate the challenges of staying true to themselves while maintaining their friendship. The engaging illustrations and relatable storyline not only captivate young readers, but also provide parents and caregivers with a useful tool for discussing important topics like setting a good example and supporting friends to be their best selves. Although the book may be a bit wordy for its target age group, the message it conveys is worth the read for both children and adults alike.

11 Birthdays

Best for Teaching Forgiveness

Amanda has a problem. She has fallen out with her best friend.

Even worse, she will now be spending a birthday without him for the first time. But suddenly, her birthday seems to be repeating itself.

This is a funny, magical book for pre-teens by Wendy Mass.

Community Feedback

My experience with this book was nothing short of delightful, as I found myself immersed in the adventurous and interesting tale of two kids caught in a feud over apple trees. The story's unique premise of a deja vu curse and the protagonists' journey to break it kept me engaged throughout. Wendy Mass's writing style and creative storytelling make this novel a must-read for anyone who enjoys problem-solving, plot twists, and heartwarming friendships.

Strictly No Elephants

Best for Teaching About Exclusion

It’s Pet Club day! Unfortunately, only cats and dogs are allowed. One boy, however, has a pet baby elephant.

He’s going to show Pet Club that friendship and pets come in all shapes.

This lovely picture book by Lisa Mantchev shows children aged 4 to 8 how important both pets and friends can be.

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I'm delighted with this beautifully illustrated book that promotes inclusion, kindness, and embracing diversity. My young children, aged 2 and 5, enjoy reading it together, and it has sparked conversations about accepting others, no matter their size or color. The story follows two children who create their own pet club after being excluded, teaching a valuable lesson about overcoming adversity and supporting inclusion. The engaging illustrations keep my 18-month-old son captivated, allowing for interactive storytelling through the images. This charming book has become a well-loved classic in our household, perfect for preschoolers learning to navigate social interactions and emotions.

Tiger Heart

Best Brand New Release

Fly is a chimney sweep who meets a caged tiger. The pair form an instant bond, and Fly is determined to get the tiger back home. This will involve traveling through mystical lands.

A brand new 2020 release, this fantasy adventure by Penny Chrimes is a good choice for pre-teens.

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In using this book for nightly reading sessions with my 10-year-old son, we were captivated by the engaging storyline and well-developed characters. Previously, we had enjoyed the second book in the series, where we were introduced to Stick and Fly, protagonists from different books who reference each other. Tiger Heart, the first book in the series, proved to be just as intriguing and satisfying, leaving us eager for more stories from the talented Ms. Chimes. Her exceptional writing style transforms seemingly ordinary characters into big-hearted heroes that readers of all ages can appreciate.

Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Best to Teach Sharing

Gerald is an elephant and Piggie is a pig. They are best friends despite being opposites. Gerald has an ice cream cone, and he has to decide if he’ll share it.

Mo Willem’s book has an elementary vocabulary and teaches kids about sharing. It’s great for ages 4 to 8.

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Great book for kids, "Should I Share My Ice Cream?" has quickly become a favorite in our household. My twins, who are five, love the humor and the illustrations featuring Gerald the Elephant and Piggie. This book teaches them about friendship, empathy, and sharing in a fun and engaging way. The simple and short sentences on each page make it perfect for young readers to follow along and practice their reading skills. I'm glad we added this book to our collection, and we'll definitely be checking out more Elephant and Piggie books in the future.

Elmer and Rose

Best of Colorful Pictures

Elmer and Wilbur are patchwork elephants. One day, their grandfather tells them they have to take another elephant, Rose, back to her herd. Rose is bright pink – as is her herd.

This picture book by David McKee is beautiful in its imagery. It’s a gentle book for young readers.

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My experience with the Elmer series has been delightful, especially as a kindergarten teacher. This series teaches valuable lessons about individuality, friendship, and acceptance, making it a perfect addition to our classroom discussions and activities for children aged 3-6. My students and I genuinely appreciate Elmer's vibrant personality, as well as the introduction of his pink friend, Rose, who adds a new layer of charm to the story. These books have not only become favorites among my students but have also made excellent gifts for baby showers and young children.

Just Jaime

Best for Middle School

Jaime has a group of good friends. However, on the last day of school, her friends are suddenly excluding her. Even her best friend, Maya, is being off with her.

What can Jaime do?

This book by Terri Libenson is great for pre-teens. They are sure to connect with the topic of friends falling out.

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Excellent book that many young readers can relate to, especially when it comes to friendship and middle school experiences. I enjoyed the interaction between the main characters and found the story to be engaging and insightful. This book tackles the important issue of bullying and the complexities of friendship, offering valuable lessons for readers. The contrasting points of view provide an opportunity for readers to understand situations from different perspectives.

The First Rule of Punk

Best for Rockers and Individuals

It’s Malu’s first day of school. And already, she has upset the most popular girl in school. And the kids don’t like her punk-rock look either. But Malu knows that being a punk means being yourself.

Celia Perez’s story of a Mexican-American girl trying to be herself is a good example for pre-teens, especially those who feel different.

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As a fan of middle grade stories, I found "The First Rule of Punk" by Celia C. Pérez to be an engaging and heartwarming tale. This book follows Malú, a strong and creative girl with a passion for punk music and zines, as she navigates the challenges of being the new kid in school and embracing her Latino culture. I appreciated the blend of themes like family ties, self-expression, and personal growth, making it a relatable and enjoyable read for both kids and adults. This book has inspired me to explore more about Mexican-American culture and punk music, and I believe it's an excellent choice for readers aged 7 and up.

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles

Best for Girls

This book is all about helping girls with their friendship troubles. Topics include backstabbing, feeling excluded, and how to balance a friendship of three.

This is another non-fiction book, this time by Patti Kelley Criswell. It’s great for pre-teen girls and parents.

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My 10-year-old daughter and I found this book to be really helpful in navigating the challenges of friendships and bullying. After reading it together, I noticed she began to approach situations with her friends differently and even set healthy boundaries. This book has not only provided valuable advice and relatable scenarios, but also improved our communication as parent and child.

The Girl and the Bicycle

Best Adult-Child Friendship

A little girl longs for a bicycle from her local shop. However, she doesn’t have enough money. She ends up working for a friendly neighbor to make money and finds a great friend doing so.

Mark Pett’s sweet and emotional wordless story would make a lovely gift.

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My experience with this beautifully illustrated picture book has been nothing short of amazing. The story, told entirely through pictures, is both touching and heartwarming, showcasing valuable character traits such as determination, empathy, and generosity. As a teacher, I've shared this book with my students numerous times, and it always becomes a class favorite, sparking meaningful discussions about character and emotions. This wordless book is perfect for young children, as it allows them to "read" the story on their own and encourages the development of their imagination.

Four Feet, Two Sandals

Best International Story

Lina and Feroza are two girls living in a Pakistani refugee camp. Lina finds a shoe, and Feroza finds the matching one. Can the girls learn to share?

This tale is better for slightly older children due to the theme of refugees. But Karen Lynn Williams’ story is both heartwarming and educational.

Community Feedback

Great for teaching empathy and friendship, this book tells the heartwarming story of two Afghan refugee girls who form a bond through the act of sharing a pair of sandals. The beautiful illustrations and simple language make it an accessible and engaging read for young readers. This book not only sparks meaningful conversations about the hardships faced by refugees but also highlights the power of kindness and friendship in difficult times.

I Will Always Write Back

Best for Teaching Class Differences

Caitlin’s class has an assignment: to write to someone in another country. Martin receives Caitlin’s letter. Over six years, the two become best friends and change each other’s lives.

This is a true, heartwarming dramatic story by Caitlin Alifirenka. It’s a good pick for pre-teens and early teens.

Community Feedback

After reading this book with my 7th-grade son, we both found it to be an engaging and eye-opening experience. This true story, which began as a simple school project, shows how one small act of kindness can change lives and make a significant impact in the world. The alternating perspectives between the two pen pals kept us hooked, and it served as a great reminder of the vast differences in life experiences between the US and other countries. Although the writing style and layout might not be the most captivating, the powerful message and heartwarming story make up for it. This book is suitable for readers aged 9-99, and it could be a life-changing read for those who let it touch their hearts.

Horrible Bear!

Best for Learning Forgiveness

Bear feels bad when he accidentally breaks a girl’s kite. She calls him horrible, and he wants to react. But maybe the girl will learn that Bear isn’t horrible at all.

A nicely illustrated book for young readers by Ame Dyckman. It’s great for teaching kids how to say sorry.

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My experience with this book has been delightful, as it presents a valuable message about jumping to conclusions and misunderstandings. The story not only entertained my 3-year-old, but also served as a great conversation starter for discussing feelings and reactions. I appreciated how the characters worked together to resolve their issues and learned the importance of saying "I'm sorry." The simple yet beautiful illustrations also added to the charm of this adorable story.

Bob and Otto

Best of Friendship Through Change

Bob is a caterpillar, and Otto is an earthworm. They are best friends who love spending time together. However, Bob is about to change and grow wings.

Can their friendship survive Bob’s huge physical change?

This is a sweet book by Nick Bruel for children aged 4 to 7. It discusses friendship and insects’ place in nature.

Community Feedback

This charming book, "Bob and Otto," tells the heartwarming story of two friends, a caterpillar and a worm, who learn about the importance of their unique contributions to the natural world. As a butterfly enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful illustrations and the sweet narrative about friendship and transformation. Reading this book to my young granddaughter has been a delightful experience, as it not only entertains but also teaches valuable life lessons and introduces scientific concepts about the development of butterflies. The captivating artwork and engaging message make it a pleasure to read over and over again. Additionally, this book can be a useful tool for teaching environmental science to young children, as it can be paired with non-fiction books for comparing and contrasting worms and caterpillars.

The Selfish Crocodile

Best for Learning Selflessness

Crocodile makes sure that no other animal goes into his river. And no animal is brave enough to do otherwise. But one day, the crocodile is in pain, and it’s going to be the smallest of animals that helps him.

This moral story by Faustin Charles is excellent for young readers.

Community Feedback

After purchasing this book for my child, I've noticed it has become a favorite in our household. The brightly colored illustrations and engaging storyline hold my little one's attention and make for a fun and educational reading experience. This book has been great for teaching important lessons on empathy, sharing, and a sense of community, as evidenced by my child frequently mentioning parts of the story. The included CD adds an extra layer of entertainment and helps bring the story to life. It's a sturdy book that has held up well over time and continues to captivate my preschooler.

On Sudden Hill

Best of Sharing Friends

Sudden Hill is where Etho and Birt love to play. But the twosome is about to become a triangle when a new boy, Shu, arrives. Birt soon has to deal with feelings of jealousy.

Linda Sarah’s poetic and expressive book will help kids from age 3 and up to deal with sharing friends.

Community Feedback

I'm genuinely impressed with this book and its captivating storyline, which has quickly become a favorite for my 2-year-old. The beautiful illustrations and engaging words create a sweet, heartwarming story that teaches an important lesson about friendship. As my child grows older, he's able to connect more with the characters and their experiences, making it even more enjoyable for both of us. I've found that this book resonates with many kids and has even become my go-to gift for classmates' birthday parties. It's a wonderful addition to our collection, and I hope the author continues to create more stories like this one.

Why Is Friendship Important for Children?

Many parents want their children to be popular. They figure if their child is well-liked, they’ll be happier in life generally. While a child doesn’t need to be the most popular kid in school, friendship is always beneficial.

Before they go out into the world, you can help teach your child about friendship. And do you know what an ideal tool for this is? Books!

Children start developing friendships as toddlers, although toddlers often haven’t developed empathy yet. So, don’t be alarmed if they sometimes lash out at others (1).

As your child grows, they will naturally learn how to interact with others better. They will develop understanding and empathy, which will frequently occur through play (2).

However, you can assist your child in understanding certain friendship aspects early. You can help teach them important concepts such as how other children are different or making compromises. The books on this list can help you.

And Finally

Your child’s friends may be with them for a long time. Even if they aren’t, those early bonds will help determine your child’s social life for years to come.

Helping them learn how to make friends and deal with social conflict will be infinitely valuable to them throughout their lives.

Not just that, but many of these books will help your child’s literacy skills. That’s something else that will help them throughout their lives.

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Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.