Friendships are one of the most important parts of childhood—and school. Classroom conversations about making new friends, supporting and appreciating friends, and navigating friendship challenges are always in season, and there’s no better way to launch them than with a good book. We’ve pulled together this list of children’s books about friendship to give you some new choices to add to your classroom library. (Pssst: We love picture book read-alouds for all ages, so check these out no matter what grade you teach!)
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1. The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Ali, and Hatem Aly
This sequel to the bestselling book The Proudest Blue, written by the first American woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympic Games, spotlights the deep connections we can form with friends and siblings by helping others.
Buy it: The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship at Amazon
2. Walter Had a Best Friend by Deborah Underwood
Walter and Xavier are best friends … until they aren’t. This touching story explores the idea that friendships don’t have to last forever and how to deal with the roller coaster of emotions from sad to lonely to hopeful that can happen during friendship transitions.
Buy it: Walter Had a Best Friend at Amazon
3. Friends Are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu
Best friends Dandan and Yueyue meet one last time for their favorite activity—making paper snowflakes—before she moves to America. Will she ever find a friend in her new country like she did at home? Important insights about the challenges of being an immigrant are woven into a sweet and relatable story about making new friends while holding on to old ones.
Buy it: Friends Are Friends, Forever at Amazon
4. Old Friends by Margaret Aitken
Marjorie loves baking, knitting, and gardening so she goes undercover to find friends with similar interests at the local senior center. This heartwarming and upbeat book shows that friendship can come in many forms and highlights the importance of being true to yourself.
Buy it: Old Friends at Amazon
5. The Little Book of Friendship by Zack Bush and Laurie Friedman
This is the perfect instruction manual for how to be a friend. Filled with activities, practical ideas, and short vignettes, this nonfiction book is a great addition to any classroom library and can be easily incorporated into social-emotional learning lesson plans.
Buy it: The Little Book of Friendship: The Best Way To Make a Friend Is To Be a Friend at Amazon
6. Wolf Girl by Jo Loring-Fisher
The perfect story for anyone who feels like they don’t quite fit in. Shy Sophie feels most comfortable in her wolf suit, but when she wears it to school, her classmates make fun of her. Through this emotion-filled story, Sophie goes on a magical journey that teaches her (and her classmates) that good friends let you be you.
Buy it: Wolf Girl at Amazon
7. Sometimes It’s Nice To Be Alone by Amy Hest
Full of beautiful illustrations that show a young girl enjoying solo activities, this tender book celebrates what we can gain from being alone and what we can gain from being with a friend. This is a particularly good book for more introspective and introverted students.
Buy it: Sometimes It’s Nice To Be Alone at Amazon
8. A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey
Henry really wants a friend, but when things often feel too loud and too close, this seems like an impossible task. This heartwarming book provides an important perspective about friendships from a child on the autism spectrum.
Buy it: A Friend for Henry at Amazon
9. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Brian feels invisible until a new friend joins the classroom and Brian helps welcome him. The timeless message about the power of kindness to help kids feel seen, heard, and valued makes this a perennial favorite for readers of all ages.
Buy it: The Invisible Boy at Amazon
10. Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison
Doug likes a lot of things—including his rock collection, harmonica bands, and his many friends—but he thinks hugs are just way “too squashy.” When you need children’s books about respecting personal boundaries and different ways to show you care about a friend, definitely reach for this one!
Buy it: Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) at Amazon
11. The Pirate Tree by Brigita Orel
Sam resists Agu’s attempts to join his game of pirates at first because he’s unfamiliar, but Agu wins him over with his real-life experience sailing the high seas. Gorgeous and thought-provoking, this book will help kids talk about how new friends can lead to new learning and new fun.
Buy it: The Pirate Tree at Amazon
12. We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reímos by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
If you or your students speak Spanish, you’ll definitely want to add this unique children’s book about friendship across language barriers to your shelves. (And if you don’t, it’s still a great one to enjoy with kids, using the glossary to help.) Using a mix of English, Spanish, gestures, and open-mindedness, two groups of friends find common ground—and laughs—at the park.
Buy it: We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reímos: A Story That’s Part Spanish, Part English, and a Whole Lot of Fun at Amazon
13. A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams
Isabella is so excited for her first day of school—her “make-new-friends day”—after moving to the United States from Colombia, and then a snowstorm cancels school! A chance encounter shows her there are lots of ways to make new friends and have fun playing together. This touching personal narrative is one of our favorite new children’s books about friendship.
Buy it: A Thousand White Butterflies at Amazon
14. The Someone New by Jill Twiss
Jitterbug the chipmunk is hesitant about accepting a newcomer to her woods until her friends help her see the positives of welcoming “someone new.” Sign of a great book: Students of any age could appreciate this story and connect its themes to their lives.
Buy it: The Someone New at Amazon
15. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
We just keep coming back to this gorgeous book for all the literacy mini-lessons. Daniela and Evelyn are the best of friends, but Evelyn’s impending move is hard to swallow. Their poignant conversations show how friendship can transcend circumstance—and can help real-life friends facing a similar situation.
Buy it: Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away at Amazon
16. Frank and Bean by Jamie Michalak
So many early chapter books have fantastic characterizations of friendship to discuss with kids (Frog and Toad, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Narwhal and Jelly … we could go on and on). Frank and Bean are as different as could be, but over time that changes from a headache to a mutual win. (For more friendship-themed books for early readers, check out 18 Standout Graphic Novels for Kids in Elementary School.)
Buy it: Frank and Bean at Amazon
17. The Hike by Alison Farrell
Three friends go on an epic outdoor adventure. Each one brings different strengths to the hike that help make it a success for all.
Buy it: The Hike at Amazon
18. How To Apologize by David LaRochelle
Making amends when you’ve made a mistake is a key part of friendship. This book manages to be both fun and serious as it teaches readers exactly what the title promises.
Buy it: How To Apologize at Amazon
19. My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano
An exuberant, child’s-eye celebration of a friendship that’s just meant to be. This one is moving for children and adults alike!
Buy it: My Best Friend at Amazon
20. 48 Grasshopper Estates by Sara de Waal
Sicily is a STEM wizard, constantly making creations from parts she finds in her apartment complex. Making friends, though? That’s harder. Throughout Sicily’s attempts, a parallel story of a neighbor boy unfolds in the illustrations—a fun example of how friendship can occur in unexpected places, and a reminder for kids that a big part of friendship is considering others’ experiences.
Buy it: 48 Grasshopper Estates at Amazon
21. Circle Round by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Simple, counting text describes a diverse group of children who come together at the playground. The illustrations will give your class lots to talk about and can help open a brainstorming session about inclusive ways to welcome others to play.
Buy it: Circle Round at Amazon
22. All About Friends by Felicity Brooks
Approaching friendship discussions through stories works for lots of kids, but for some, a more explicit primer can be helpful. This is one of the most comprehensive nonfiction children’s books about friendship we’ve seen. It uses straightforward language and plenty of charming pictures to teach key skills like how to use friendly body language, how to initiate conversations with friends, and strategies to use when friends argue.
Buy it: All About Friends at Amazon
23. Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival
Meesha never feels like she gets it quite right unless she’s making “friends” with craft supplies. When Josh quietly reaches out, though, she learns that doing something she loves alongside a friend can feel twice as nice. Share this story to honor the experiences of kids who find it challenging to connect with others.
Buy it: Meesha Makes Friends at Amazon
24. In a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Llewellyn and his friend Evelyn collect their favorite memories in jars. When Evelyn moves away, it’s devastating—until they find a way to use their special memories to stay connected. We love this hushed, beautiful children’s book about friendship for the range of ideas and conversations it inspires.
Buy it: In a Jar at Amazon
25. The Shadow Elephant by Nadine Robert
Friendship is often lots of fun, but sometimes being a friend means helping during hard times. When Elephant feels down, Mouse instinctively knows he needs time to let the feelings pass, with a quiet friend resting by his side.
Buy it: The Shadow Elephant at Amazon
Excited to share these children’s books about friendship with your class? Don’t miss our Children’s Books for Teaching Social Skills and our Picture Books To Teach Students About Kindness.
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