Cultivating friendships is a huge part of going to school. It’s always a good time for class chats about making friends, helping and appreciating friends, and tackling friendship challenges. A solid collection of children’s books about friendship is an essential tool. We’ve pulled together this list of recent favorite children’s books about friendship you’ll want to add to your shelves. (Pssst: We love sharing picture books with all ages, so check these out even if you teach big kids!)
1. Friends Beyond Measure: A Story Told With Infographics by Lalena Fisher
We love unique children’s books about friendship to get students looking at the topic in new ways. Friends Ana and Harwin describe their joyful relationship in diagrams, charts, timelines, and graphs. All the data points to fun, until they find out Harwin’s family must move overseas. The two mourn the news, and then get to work drawing up new ways to represent their friendship. This title is especially perfect to share when you’re learning about representing data in math and science.
Buy it: Friends Beyond Measure: A Story Told With Infographics on Amazon
2. How To Make a Friend by Stephen W. Martin
This clever look at “making” a friend shows a child on a dramatic adventure to build a robot—who ends up falling in with the wrong robotic crowd and meets its demise in an unfortunate explosion. The real friendship advice sprinkled throughout the story invites classroom conversation. It ends on a positive note when the child meets a peer who’s also interested in robots.
Buy it: How To Make a Friend on Amazon
3. Ways To Play by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Riley’s cousins are always so bossy, telling Riley the “right” way to play with toys. The ways Riley enjoys playing, like lining up toys or tearing up piles of paper, aren’t the same. The kids find common ground and learn that there are many ways to play that are fun. This is a sweet and helpful story about appreciating how friends like to play and finding ways to play together harmoniously.
Buy it: Ways To Play on Amazon
4. This Book Is My Best Friend by Robin Robinson
What starts as two children arguing over the same book at the library turns into a lesson about the magical power of perspective-taking. Readers can infer, as the story unfolds, that one child loves the book because it’s a comfort during time spent at the hospital with an ill parent. The other child loves the book because it’s a refuge in their chaotic home. As the children learn about and connect with each other, an empathetic friendship develops.
Buy it: This Book Is My Best Friend on Amazon
5. Fresh Juice by Robert Liu-Trujillo
Art and his dad head to the farmers market on the hunt for ingredients to make juice to fight a cold. They run into some challenges along the way, and plenty of friends are eager to help. It’s nice to share children’s books about friendship that aren’t solely focused on childhood friendships. After all, we need friends at all ages!
Buy it: Fresh Juice on Amazon
6. Sora’s Seashells by Helena Ku Rhee
This poignant book acknowledges that making friends in new situations can be hard, and offers an encouraging example of how sharing more about yourself can help foster connection. Sora loves collecting shells at the beach with her grandmother during her summer visit. Then, while she’s already struggling to make friends in her new kindergarten class, her grandmother passes away. The sadness is too much to bear. But taking a risk to open herself to new friendships helps.
Buy it: Sora’s Seashells on Amazon
7. Feathers Together by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso
Two storks, Malena and Klepetan, miss each other terribly when an injured wing means Malena can’t migrate with the flock as usual. They exchange feathers and promise to hold each other in their hearts. A human friend cares for Malena during winter while she can’t fly, and the pair joyfully reunite the next spring. This is a nice friendship-themed story for identifying story elements and practicing retelling and summarizing. Check out all the titles in the Feeling Friends series, all inspired by real-life animal friendships.
Buy it: Feathers Together on Amazon
8. Valentine’s Guest House by Sam Sharland
Elsie and her mom, Valentine, run a guest house. When a tiger comes looking for a place to stay, they choose to welcome and accommodate him, building a new friendship in the process. This entertaining look at themes of inclusion and community can get kids talking about how to create a friendly, welcoming classroom and school.
Buy it: Valentine’s Guest House on Amazon
9. How To Help a Friend by Karl Newson
We’re always down for children’s books about friendship that spell out for kids how they can be a good friend—and this one does it so sweetly! A child helps all her animal friends by giving them just the kind of support they need. This is a fantastic conversation starter for younger kids about relevant human friendship situations.
Buy it: How To Help a Friend on Amazon
10. In the Neighborhood by Rorio Bonilla
Raise your hand if your childhood neighbors were your first example friendship! This group of animal street-mates hasn’t really connected yet; they all feel like they don’t have much in common. When one neighbor has a problem, though—the internet stops working!—it turns out another neighbor can easily lend a hand. This starts a chain of helping and connecting. Get kids talking about ways to form friendships in their own communities.
Buy it: In the Neighborhood on Amazon
11. The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
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 on Amazon
12. 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 on Amazon
13. 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 on Amazon
14. 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 on Amazon
15. 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 on Amazon
16. 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 on Amazon
17. 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 on Amazon
18. 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 on Amazon
19. 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 on Amazon
20. 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) on Amazon
21. 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 on Amazon
22. 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 on Amazon
23. 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. But 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 on Amazon
24. 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 can appreciate this story and connect its themes to their lives.
Buy it: The Someone New on Amazon
25. 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 on Amazon
26. 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 on Amazon
27. 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 on Amazon
28. 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 on Amazon
29. My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki
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 on Amazon
30. 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 on Amazon
31. 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 on Amazon
32. All About Friends by Felicity Brooks and Mar Ferrero
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 on Amazon
33. 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 on Amazon
34. 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 on Amazon
35. The Shadow Elephant by Nadine Robert and Valerio Vidali
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 on Amazon