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Friendship and Bravery: Books For Kids

Reading about friendship helps us learn how to be a good friend. While friendship can change as we age, it's essence remains the same; friendship is loyalty, fun, communication, support, compassion, and love. Enjoy our list of our favorite books showing the joy, journeys, hardships, and value of friendship! We hope you might even make a few (book) friends along the way.

“Reading for me, is spending time with a friend.” – Gary Pauls

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book
#1
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Written by J. K. Rowling
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Let's Go, Hugo! book
#2
Let's Go, Hugo!
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

Hugo is a bird that's afraid to fly. I love this story, because he faces his fears and ends up so happy once he's learned how to fly. I also love that he has such wonderful friends along the way that help him practice and help him through his nerves when he's scared. Sometimes it's helpful to have friends that can help you to overcome your fears. :) Plus, the illustrations in this story based in Paris are gorgeous!

Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower -- or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#3
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of The BFG and Matilda! Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Brave Enough for Two book
#4
Brave Enough for Two
Written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

In the spirit of "Goodnight Moon" and "The Night Gardener" comes a heartwarming picture book about a little girl, her stuffed-animal owl, and their loving friendship from debut author-illustrator Voss. Full color.

Brave Molly book
#5
Brave Molly
Written and illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally...Molly faces her fears. Author-illustrator Brooke Boynton-Hughes delivers a modern classic in this moving adventure that honors everyday acts of bravery and the power of friendship to banish the monsters that haunt us.

Come with Me book
#6
Come with Me
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her papa what she can do to make the world a better place. “Come with me,” he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her mama what she can do—her mama says, “Come with me,” and together they set out for the grocery, because one person doesn’t represent an entire race or the people of a land. After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own—walk the dog . . . and her parents let her go. “Come with me,” the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world. In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.

Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue book
#7
Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue
Written and illustrated by Naoko Stoop
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7

'I hope it's not too far away,' says Red Knit Cap Girl. 'Follow the light of the Moon,' calls Owl. In this heartwarming follow-up to Naoko Stoop's debut Red Knit Cap Girl, Red Knit Cap Girl meets a lost Polar Bear Cub. Determined to help him find his way home, to an Arctic land of ice and snow, Red Knit Cap Girl, White Bunny, and Polar Bear Cub set off on an unforgettable voyage. Gorgeously illustrated on wood grain, Red Knit Cap Girl's curiosity, imagination, and joy will captivate the hearts of readers young and old. Simple prose and luminous pictures will remind readers that even small actions - such as recycling - can help to solve big world problems, in this inspiring story that celebrates friendship, bravery, and the importance of home.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King book
#8
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King
Written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Like a bolt from the blue, Jack's little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre. When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive. Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below. But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king! Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk.

The Cook and the King book
#9
The Cook and the King
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The king searches his kingdom far and wide for the perfect cook. He’s very particular, and none of the cooks can get the job done just right. Until the king meets Wobbly Bob. The king thinks Wobbly Bob might be the perfect fit, but there’s just one small hitch—Wobbly Bob is afraid of everything. He’s afraid that he’ll nick himself with the sharp kitchen knives, and he’s afraid he’ll get dirt from the vegetable garden on his new apron. Wobbly Bob needs a companion to help him feel brave, so the king himself tags along every step of the way. This tale of unlikely friendship is a fun and hilarious romp from a bestselling team.

The Bfg book
#10
The Bfg
Written by Roald Dahl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book
#11
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Written and illustrated by C.S. Lewis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

This hardcover edition, featuring the original jacket art and black-and-white illustrations by Pauline Baynes, allows readers to celebrate the book that started it all. In 1950, C. S. Lewis introduced the world to Narnia and its unforgettable characters. Over sixty years later, readers of all ages are still enchanted by the magical series. Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has been captivating readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone read, but if you would like to journey back to Narnia, pick up The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Firestorm! book
#12
Firestorm!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old Poppy is an orphan living in a bad neighborhood in Chicago, pick pocketing so that she has a place to sleep at night. Justin’s world couldn’t be more different—his father owns a jewelry store—but when he and Poppy meet, they become fast friends, thanks in part to Justin’s sweet pet goat. Through their friendship, Poppy realizes that she doesn’t want to be a thief anymore and she begins to feel like she may have a place with Justin’s family. But when Justin makes an expensive mistake at his father’s store, Poppy is immediately blamed. In response, she flees . . . right into the Great Chicago Fire. Poppy and Justin must rely on their instincts if they are going to survive the catastrophe. Will anything be left when the fire finally burns out?

Ask Emma (Ask Emma Book 1) book
#13
Ask Emma (Ask Emma Book 1)
Written by Sheryl Berk and illustrated by Carrie Berk
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Emma Woods knows just how to fix all her peers' problems-or so she thinks-in this first book in the brand-new middle grade series Ask Emma, from the bestselling creators behind the Cupcake Club series! When 13-year-old Emma Woods gets that tingling feeling in her fingertips, she knows she's on to a great idea-and starting an advice blog for her classmates at Austen Middle may be one of her most brilliant ones yet! Who better to give advice on friendship, style, school, and even crushes than someone who's going through it too? But when Ask Emma goes live, she quickly realizes not everyone sees it that way. Suddenly, Emma is bombarded with peers asking her to help them postpone quizzes, get out of detention, and cut gym class short. This wasn't exactly what she had in mind. . . .What's worse, someone is posting hurtful comments, telling her to mind her own business. Despite her good intentions, Emma's blog seems to only be getting her-and her friends--deeper and deeper into trouble. Will Ask Emma come to an end before it's really begun? Or can Emma find her voice, write what's in her heart, and truly stand up for what she believes in? This book will include an appendix on cyberbullying resources.

Lost Boys book
#14
Lost Boys
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Based on historical events, this unforgettable and inspiring tale for middle-grade readers is about a young boy torn from the only life he’s ever known and held captive as a prisoner of war. In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country. War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it. Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to? In this unforgettable tale of friendship and survival against the odds, Reza finds solace through music and forges his own path, wherever that might take him. Lost Boys is a stunning debut from Darcey Rosenblatt. It is perfect for readers interested in current events, history, and the Middle East. Praise for Lost Boys: “In Rosenblatt’s ambitious debut novel, Reza, a 12-year-old Iranian boy, clings to friendship and his love of music as the Iran-Iraq War tears his world apart. . . . Reza’s story is compelling . . . .” —Kirkus Reviews “This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s oppressive rule and that nation’s war with Iraq. . . . The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. . . . [T]he resilience of Rosenblatt’s protagonist strikes a strong chord.” —Publishers Weekly

Mighty Jack book
#15
Mighty Jack
Written and illustrated by Ben Hatke
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything...a dragon.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street book
#16
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street
Written by Lindsay Currie
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful read that Kirkus Reviews calls “just the ticket for a cold autumn night.” Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones. When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years. With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

Stolen Identity book
#17
Stolen Identity
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When someone is out to frame Frank and Joe for the theft of an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript, they use a group of skateboarders as sources of information in their attempt to clear their names.

The Knight's Armor: Book 3 of the Ministry of SUITs book
#18
The Knight's Armor: Book 3 of the Ministry of SUITs
Written by Paul Gamble
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

When twelve-year-old Jack Pease and his partner, Trudy, operatives of the Ministry of Strange, Unusual, and Impossible Things, try to find Trudy's mother, who is being held prisoner by an evil scientist named Mr. M, they uncover a nefarious scheme that involves the legend of King Arthur, Merlin, and the Excalibur.

More than a Princess book
#19
More than a Princess
Written by E.D. Baker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Aislin of Eliasind is more than just a princess -- she's half-fairy and half-pedrasi, with magical gifts from each side of her heritage! One day, as Aislin is venturing through the woods, she is alarmed to hear a band of humans coming through. How did they get past the guarded magical passageway that leads to her hidden kingdom? Mistaken for a human herself, Aislin is captured, and soon realizes she's in even bigger trouble--she's being used as a pawn to help the king of this nearby kingdom, Morrain, find a secret passageway to the warring land of Scarmander, so he can capture his enemies by surprise. Aislin must find a way to break free, while also minding the beautiful human princess and ladies-in-waiting she now shares a castle with, who are all too ready to point out her differences. Thankfully, Aislin's inner strength goes beyond her magical qualities. And with a few loyal friends by her side, she's ready to stand up for herself and her kingdom once and for all. A classic and original fairy-tale that celebrates beauty and goodness in all its shapes and sizes, More than a Princess will resonate with readers who love magic, suspense, girl power, and adventure.

Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand book
#20
Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand
Written by Kat Shepherd
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Baby-Sitter's Club meets Goosebumps as a diverse group of friends encounter supernatural problems on their babysitting gigs in this spooky new middle-grade series.

Dog on a Digger book
#21
Dog on a Digger
Written and illustrated by Kate Prendergast
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Dog likes to ride along while his human companion works the big excavator at the construction site. But today, when they stop at the snack bar for something to eat, Dog’s little puppy friend goes missing. Luckily, Dog has a brave and ingenious idea for coming to the rescue — with the help of the excavator, of course! Incorporating bright yellow accents, Kate Prendergast’s wonderfully detailed pencil drawings tell a satisfying story of a loyal, resourceful, and clever pup. Two perennial favorites — canines and heavy machinery — come together in a charming wordless book sure to please readers of all ages.

Friends book
#22
Friends
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

From the creator of the all-time classic VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR comes a sweetly resonant story about the power of friendship. When a best friend moves away, it can be painful for the child who is left behind. But the spunky boy in this upbeat story makes up his mind to find his missing playmate. Young readers will cheer on the boy as he braves currents, climbs mountains, and dashes through rain before, finally, reuniting with his friend. A story alive with love and perseverance, brightened with vibrant art and Eric Carle’s trademark fostering of imagination. This deeply personal story for Eric is dedicated to his longtime wife, Bobbie, and it is their bond that inspired the book. For anyone who has ever scaled mountains to be with the one he loves, or for anyone who has simply known the love and joy of a great friendship, this book will strike a resonant chord.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!