These favorite picture books about friendship demonstrate being considerate, compassionate, caring and honest with friends in child-friendly ways. The lessons kids learn at an early age about being a good friend will serve them well into adulthood, and these books provide a wonderful resource for growing those important attitudes and behaviors.
Let us know what books you have used to help teach your kids about being a good friend!
As an Amazon Associate, Upparent may earn commission from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.
My Friend is Sad
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: My Friend is Sad, by Mo Willems is a gem in the Elephant and Piggie series exemplifying friendship. Elephant is sad so Piggie does what any friend would do and tries to cheer him up. Only Elephant doesn't recognize it is Piggie and he gets upset because he wants to share the fun and excitement with his best friend.
Elephant and Piggie are the best of friends and this book shows children that being there for your friend is important as is wanting to share happy things with them. It shows compassion and a caring nature, and the fact that friends will do almost anything for each other.
Little Blue Truck
Shila: Little Blue is a truck who is friends with all the farm animals, and all the farm animals are quite fond of Little Blue. Why? Because he's simply nice. A bigger, rude truck passes through and makes a limited impression to all. He gets stuck in the mud and nobody cares. But Little Blue shows him that relying on friendship can get you through tuff times. And making friends relies on you being nice.
This is a popular board book where you can bet that kids will memorize each page, and love hearing you read the "beep beeps!"
Strictly No Elephants
Amanda Banta: Strictly No Elephants by Taeeun Yoo, is a sweet story with a simple yet important message about being a good friend. A boy and his pet elephant are turned away from a neighborhood pet club because the club won't allow elephants and together with a girl and her skunk, form their own club that welcomes all animals and their humans. My boys enjoyed the illustrations of the boy and his elephant caring for each other (an elephant holding an umbrella is pretty funny) and the book sparked a few really great questions about being inclusive and careful of other people's feelings.
Frog and Toad Are Friends
Vanessa M.: I'm always thrilled when a childhood favorite of mine is well received with my own kids, and Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel is a book my kids enjoy just as much as I did! Frog and Toad are best friends, and this collection of stories centers around their friendship, illustrating all the ways friends are there for each other. Whether they are looking for lost buttons, greeting the spring, or waiting for the mail, Frog and Toad exemplify the joy of friends simply being together. Makes a great read-aloud book, and also perfect for emerging readers.
Lost and Found
Jennie Utsinger: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers tells the story of a boy who finds a penguin who he believes to be lost and travels to the North Pole to return him to his home. After their adventures, the boy leaves the penguin at the North Pole, and then realizes the penguin was not lost, but lonely. The two friends reunite with a hug. This book highlights the simple joys of spending time together in a friendship.
The Best Friends Book
Shila: The bold stick-figured illustrations of Todd Parr's recognizable books demonstrate in silly ways how being a good friend operates. Best friends accept you, share with you, forgive you, and even travel to outer space to keep you company!
The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Friends
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Friends by Stan and Jan Berenstain teaches children that being a good friend requires compromise and the realization that individuals cannot always have things their way. It also delves into the topic of arguments, making up after a disagreement and learning from mistakes to be a better friend.
The book will help children realize that friendships are not perfect and one has to cooperate, be kind and share to make it work. It teaches kids to be honest and caring while having fun, taking turns and treating others the way you want to be treated.
Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: My son treasures Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon. It's about Penguin (full series) and his friend, Pinecone. Penguin is selfless and sacrifices his desire to keep Pinecone because Pinecone needs to live in warm weather. Their friendship withstands the distance, and they keep a never-ending cycle of friendship going.
The story shows that selflessness and putting your friend's needs first are crucial to being a good friend. It reinforces to keep your memories close, that it is okay to say goodbye but you can maintain your friendship even if you live far apart.
Nugget & Fang
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Nugget & Fang by Tammi Sauer is about the unlikely friendship of a shark and a minnow. The main theme of trust shines through as the minnow's school friends think the shark will eat them all, and are in disbelief the pair can be true friends.
Trust and honesty is of ultimate importance in a good friendship. This book shows the power of those qualities as the shark ends up saving the day for all the smaller fish and proves himself as a good friend. As a bonus, there is a little math mixed in to the story for added learning!
The Sandwich Swap
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The multiple meanings of friendship in this book are remarkable. The Sandwich Swap by Kelly DiPucchio and Queen Rania of Jordan shows true friends are accepting of each other, no questions asked. It demonstrates the important of being honest, open-minded and not keeping your feelings or thoughts bottled up inside.
This book is excellent because it shows that not only is acceptance important, but teaches it is okay to have a disagreement or fight because true friends make up, forgive and learn from their mistakes, sometimes so much that the end result is a stronger friendship.
When You Need A Friend
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: When You Need A Friend by Suzanne Chiew is about friends helping each other, no questions asked. There is a storm coming, so Badger immediately helps his animal friends so they stay safe and secure in their homes, and when Badger needs help rebuilding his house, the animals are there to provide the same help back to him.
The importance of being there for a friend and giving unconditional support is an excellent quality. It shows that you care about someone's well-being, happiness and that you have their back, especially during challenging life situations.
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Chopsticks by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal is the cute tale with talking utensils that defines friendship. The pair of chopsticks do everything together, but an accident leaves one healing while the other discovers how to be happy while independent.
The story teaches children that even the closest of friends sometimes needs time apart or alone time to pursue other interests. It does not hinder their friendship, but rather makes it stronger. Parents will enjoy the adult humor and appreciate how all the characters come together to help the chopsticks on their journey.
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Rescue & Jessica, by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, is the true-life story of Jessica, a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Told in a child-friendly manner, the book showcases the heartwarming friendship of her service dog, Rescue, who Jessica received to help her with day-to-day life after her injuries. Jessica's husband, Patrick was also a victim.
This book displays the unique friendship between human and animal as well as that of a service dog and their owner. Jessica and Rescue truly rescued each other with a loving friendship that meets both of their needs.
Panda and Polar Bear
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: In this sweet story, Panda and Polar Bear by Matthew Baek, two different bears from two different worlds become friends and teach each other about their cultures, accept each other for their differences, and work together as a team to help the other in need.
This book is excellent for children who may have friends who moved away or are making new friends in a new place. It teaches friends can visit, share new life experiences and be supportive of each other even if they live in different places.
Bloosom and Boo: A Story about Best Friends
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Bloosom and Boo by Dawn Apperley is about a cute pair of a rabbit and bear who make for a fun friendship. Blossom and Boo play together daily, make crafts, share picnics, comfort each other and help heal when one is hurt. It is a perfect friendship until Boo has to hibernate.
This story teaches children that true friendship doesn't go away, but rather remains in your heart, even if you can't see each other every day. It also reinforces to appreciate the quality time spent with friends, make it count and keep your memories close.
Little Bot and Sparrow
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Little Bot and Sparrow by Jake Parker is about a special friendship in which the Sparrow teaches Bot about the world and shows him many places. Little Bot is grateful to his new friend for helping him accomplish his dreams, but has to accept that Sparrow can't stay with him forever.
The book teaches that friendship can be between anyone and that friends help each other learn and grow and want the best for each other. It also demonstrates it is okay to say goodbye because friendship will stay in your heart with your memories.
The Great Lollipop Caper
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall is about friendship between an unlikely pair (a lollipop and a caper), as well as acceptance and forgiveness. The Caper wants the children to like him and not Lollipop but he almost ruins everything until Lollipop comes to his rescue to save the day. They each realize they have their own unique talent and this makes for a lasting friendship.
This book teaches children to accept who they are and not live their life wishing they were someone else. Appreciate the good qualities you have to offer and don't dwell on any weaknesses.
Primary photo: Upparent
Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.