Learning how to start conversations, invite friends to play and apologize when we make mistakes is hard. Even for adults. You can give your child a jumpstart on becoming a superstar friend by brainstorming how to behave before he starts a play date, setting up play dates so that he has plenty of opportunity to practice and, of course, reading books about friendship. Here are my favorites:
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The first step in being a great friend is, of course, becoming one. These titles share helpful tips on starting a friendship with someone new.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
American Girl: Friends Making Them and Keeping Them by Patti Kelley
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend by Herman Parish
Having Diverse Friends
The world is filled with people of different backgrounds, beliefs and ethnicities. Learning how to navigate those differences is an important step toward future success. As I often remind my three little kids, they may not like everyone they meet but they do need to be kind and respectful to them.
Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabela Matkoff
My Friend Has Autism by Amanda Doering Tourville
Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
In Jesse’s Shoes by Beverly Lewis
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
The Family Book by Todd Parr
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
Being a Steadfast Friend
True friendship means sticking through the good AND the bad. These titles help kids learn the importance of friendship during tough times.
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
A Rainbow of Friends by P.K. Hallinan
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller
It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
Working Through Conflict
And, of course, friendships come with inevitable conflict at times. That’s why it’s so crucial to teach kids how to compromise, speak up for what they believe is right and forgive.
The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends by Jan and Stan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears: The Forgiving Tree by Jan and Mike Berenstain
The Juice Box Bully by Bob Sornson
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
Being True to Yourself
Sometimes it can be tempting to just do what everyone else is doing – even when it doesn’t feel right. These stories are great ways to teach kids the benefits of staying true to themselves.
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
I Like Myself! By Karen Beaumont
American Girl: Stand Up For Yourself and Your Friends by Patti Kelley Criswell
One of the things that’s surprised me most about parenting is how tough it can be to come up with the right words when my kids experience sticky social situations. These books have been really helpful to me and I hope they’ll help some of you too.
The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends by Natalie Madorsky Elman and Eileen Kennedy Moore
Raise Your Child’s Social IQ by Cathi Cohen, LCSW
Join the Conversation
What are your family’s favorite friendship books?
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