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Friendship and Bullying: 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

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! book
#1
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Goodfather

Rob Biddulph is a phenomenal children's book author and illustrator, and I love his work in The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!. His creative rhyming leads readers through a wonderful tale of the value of competition and friendship, while his fun illustrations bring the story to life.

From the award-winning author and illustrator of Blown Away, Rob Biddulph, comes a delightfully hilarious story about a grizzly bear named Fred who loses his GRRRRR. Each year, for as long as the forest has stood, a contest is held for the bears of the wood… Fred is the champion. He’s the best. But being the best takes time and training, especially when it comes to having the loudest growl. Then, one morning, disaster strikes—Fred’s GRRRRR is gone! Oh, no! Will Fred find his GRRRRR and realize that there’s more to life than being a winner?

My Friend Maggie book
#2
My Friend Maggie
Written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Hannah E. Harrison's illustrations are always so detailed and wonderfully colorful and expressive and this book is no exception. This books reminds us that participating in bullying may make you feel part of the in-crowd initially, but bullies are rarely nice for long, even to their "friends," and it's far better to be true to our true friends from the get-go. The message is fantastic, and I really appreciated the little example of forgiveness included as well.

"Paula and Maggie are best friends until Paula starts playing with some new friends instead, but when her new playmates turn on her, it's Maggie who rushes to Paula's defense"

Strictly No Elephants book
#3
Strictly No Elephants
Written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse book
#4
Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
Written by Marcy Campbell and illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come. Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse--the best and most beautiful horse anywhere. But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse? The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important. Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

The Rag Coat book
#5
The Rag Coat
Written and illustrated by Lauren A. Mills
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

With paintings that capture all the beauty of Appalachia in authentic detail, this tender story about a resourceful mountain girl's special coat will touchreaders with its affirming message of love and friendship.

  1. Stick and Stone - When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare. In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.

  2. The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark - Mr. Fish finds the courage to speak up for his friends when a shark comes to the park and bullies them.

  3. The Recess Queen - A fresh & original twist on the common issue of bullying. Kids will relate, & parents & teachers will appreciate the story's deft handling of conflict resolution (which happens w/o adult intervention) Mean Jean was Recess Queen and nobody said any different. Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced. If kids ever crossed her, she'd push 'em and smoosh 'em lollapaloosh 'em, hammer 'em, slammer 'em kitz and kajammer 'em. Until a new kid came to school! With her irrepressible spirit, the new girl dethrones the reigning recess bully by becoming her friend in this infectious playground romp.

  4. Skateboard Sibby - Super skateboarder Sibby Henry won't let the loss of her board defeat her. Eleven-year-old Sibby Henry liked her old life. Now she's living in a new town with her nan and pops, and mad at her dad for messing everything up. On her first day of school, she sees a dope skateboard park, but she's lost her precious board. To make things worse, Freddie, a super skater and a super jerk, dominates the park. Sibby tries to stay chill, but when Freddie gets in the face of her only new friend, Charlie Parker Drysdale, things get too hot for chill. Never one to back down, Sibby accepts when Freddie challenges her to a competition on the half pipe. She won't let anything stop her from proving herself.

Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P. I. , Book 2) book
#10
Shadow of a Pug (Howard Wallace, P. I. , Book 2)
Written and illustrated by Casey Lyall
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Middle-school detectives Howard Wallace and Ivy Mason are itching for a juicy case--but when they're forced to prove that uber-bully Carl Dean didn't pugnap the school mascot, they're not thrilled. Now Howard and Ivy have to play nice with Carl, dodge a snoopy reporter, and deal with Howard's worst enemy, Miles Fletcher. Can Howard handle these complications and still be there for Ivy when her life is turned upside down?

Angus All Aglow book
#11
Angus All Aglow
Written by Heather Smith and illustrated by Alice Carter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Angus loves sparkly things,so much so that he can hear them.To Angus,shiny objects not only look beautiful; they also crackle, buzz and go whiz-bang-POP! His unique ability is lost, however, when Angus wears his grandma’s beaded necklace to school, and his classmates tease him for his atypical choice. Saddened by their laughter, Angus stops hearing the sparkle. A gentle story of acceptance, generosity and friendship, Angus All Aglow reminds us that it only takes one kind gesture to restore your sparkle, and returning the kindness can make you glow from the inside out.

Out of Place book
#12
Out of Place
Written by Jennifer Blecher and illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide bullying campaign, she sets out to find a way to leave her home on Martha’s Vineyard for New York City, where her best friend lives. But Cove discovers that friends can appear in the unlikeliest places, and maybe home isn’t the worst place to be after all. Jennifer Blecher’s debut novel is a voice-driven story about bullying, friendship, and self-reliance that hits the sweet spot for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First. Twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein’s year has gone from bad to worse. First, her best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. Then, without Nina around, Cove became the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible. But opportunities can appear when you least expect them. Cove’s visit to a secondhand clothing store leads her to a surprising chance to visit Nina, but only if she can win a coveted place in a kids-only design competition. Cove doesn’t know how to sew, but her friend at the retirement home, Anna, has promised to teach her. And things start really looking up when a new kid at school, Jack, begins appearing everywhere Cove goes. Then Cove makes a big mistake. One that could ruin every good thing that has happened to her this year. One that she doesn’t know how to undo. Jennifer Blecher’s accessible and beautifully written debut novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. This voice-driven friendship story is for fans of Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger and Jodi Kendall’s The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City. Includes black-and-white spot art throughout.

Anna, Banana, and the Big-Mouth Bet book
#13
Anna, Banana, and the Big-Mouth Bet
Written by Anica Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Meg Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Anna has a loose tooth! It’s as wiggly as her dog Banana’s tail. But while Anna is poking at her loose tooth, class clown Justin keeps poking fun at Anna and her friends. Anna tries to make Justin leave them alone and gets pulled into a high-stakes bet. If Anna wins, Justin has to play nice; but if Anna loses, she has to do something so jaw-droppingly embarrassing, even Banana can’t believe it. There’s no wiggling her way out of this one. Anna has to win this bet.

24 Hours in Nowhere book
#14
24 Hours in Nowhere
Written by Dusti Bowling
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, America's least livable town. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of escaping, life there is made even worse by bully Bo Taylor. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a spiny cactus, Rossi Scott, one of the best racers in Nowhere, rescues him by relinquishing her prized dirt bike. Gus agrees to do anything to get it back--even if it means going into a deadly mine to hunt for gold. A gripping story about friendship, hope, and finding the power within ourselves.

  1. Real Friends - Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it's worth the journey. When best friends are not forever . . . Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

  2. The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

  3. Cupcake Diaries 3 Books in 1! #4 - Three Cupcake Club adventures are now available as one sweet treat of a book! Join Katie, Mia, Emma, and Alexis as they form the Cupcake Club—and fast friendships. This book includes three stories in the Cupcake Diaries series: Mia’s Boiling Point; Emma, Smile and Say “Cupcake!”; and Alexis Gets Frosted.

  4. The Reckless Club - From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a new middle-grade Breakfast Club drama set in a old folks' home. On the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn't be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won't be caught and they can't get in trouble. They're wrong. As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, where they'll push creamed carrots into toothless mouths, perform the world's most pathetic skit in front of residents who won't remember it anyway, hold gnarled hands of peach fuzzed old ladies who relentlessly push hard candies, and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they've done and everything to do with who they're becoming. All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they've done, why they did it, and what they're going to do now.

Bad Apple book
#19
Bad Apple
Written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

It takes a firm apple to stand up to bullies. When Mac, an apple, meets Will, a worm, they become fast friends, teaching each other games and even finishing each other’s sentences. But apples aren’t supposed to like worms, and Mac gets called “rotten” and “bad apple.” At first, Mac doesn’t know what to do–it’s never easy standing up to bullies–but after a lonely day without Will, Mac decides he’d rather be a bad apple with Will than a sad apple without. Edward Hemingway’s warm art and simple, crisp text are the perfect pairing, and themes of bullying and friendship are sure to hit readers’ sweet spots all year round.

A Boy Named Queen book
#20
A Boy Named Queen
Written by Sara Cassidy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Evelyn is both aghast and fascinated when a new boy comes to grade five and tells everyone his name is Queen. Queen wears shiny gym shorts and wants to organize a chess/environment club. His father plays weird loud music and has tattoos. How will the class react? How will Evelyn? Evelyn is an only child with a strict routine and an even stricter mother. And yet in her quiet way she notices things. She takes particular notice of this boy named Queen. The way the bullies don’t seem to faze him. The way he seems to live by his own rules. When it turns out that they take the same route home from school, Evelyn and Queen become friends, almost against Evelyn’s better judgment. She even finds Queen irritating at times. Why doesn’t he just shut up and stop attracting so much attention to himself? Yet he is the most interesting person she has ever met. So when she receives a last-minute invitation to his birthday party, she knows she must somehow persuade her mother to let her go, even if it means ignoring the No Gifts request and shopping for what her mother considers to be an appropriate gift, appropriately wrapped with “boy” wrapping paper. Her visit to Queen’s house opens Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world, including an unconventional goody bag (leftover potato latkes wrapped in waxed paper and a pair of barely used red sneakers). And when it comes time for her to take something to school for Hype and Share, Evelyn suddenly looks at her chosen offering — her mother’s antique cream jug — and sees new and marvelous possibilities.

The Little Bully book
#21
The Little Bully
Written by Beth Bracken and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

When Fred makes fun of Billy at school, Billy has to learn how to deal with his friend's bullying.

Tugboat Bill and the River Rescue book
#22
Tugboat Bill and the River Rescue
Written by Calista Brill and illustrated by Tad Carpenter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Fans of Little Tug and Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo will love this lyrical, heartwarming story by Calista Brill, brought to life by Tad Carpenter’s bright and lively illustrations. Perfect for readers who can’t get enough of things that GO! Bill is a tugboat. Mabel is a barge. Together they go up and down the choppy river. The other ships are big and vain. They tease Bill and Mabel. But when a kitten falls in the water, it’s up to Bill and Mabel to save the day!

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!