An Award-Winning Book Club for Kids
Shop Now

Friendship and Family: 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

Share this list
Add to list
Anne of Green Gables
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.

Add to list
Counting by 7s
Written & illustrated by Holly Goldberg Sloan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

Add to list
Summer of the Gypsy Moths
Written & illustrated by Sara Pennypacker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A foster child named Angel and 12-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella’s great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system. 50,000 first printing.

Add to list
True (. . . Sort Of)
Written by Katherine Hannigan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Can friendship save you? The day Ferris Boyd moves to town, Delly Pattison is sure a special surpresent (a present that is a surprise) is on its way. Instead, Delly ends up in even more trouble than usual. The Boyds’ arrival in River Bluffs means big changes for Brud Kinney, too. He can’t believe who he’s hanging around with. Ferris Boyd isn’t like anyone Delly or Brud have ever known. Ferris is a mystery and a wonder. Through friendship, though, Delly, Brud, and Ferris discover truths that will change their lives. And bring them the best surpresent of all. Includes an all-new afterword featuring a short story, photographs by the author, and more

Add to list
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Written by Susan Wojciechowski & illustrated by P. J. Lynch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The spirit of Christmas heals a sorrowing woodcarver’s heart in this splendid reissue of a Candlewick holiday classic, dressed in a radiant new cover. The spirit of Christmas heals a sorrowing woodcarver’s heart in this splendid edition of a holiday classic, complete with a CD masterfully narrated by James Earl Jones.

The Rag Coat book
Add to list
Off & Away book
Add to list
Three Little Words book
Add to list
Pokko and the Drum book
Add to list
  • The Rag Coat - 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.

  • Off & Away - How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picturebook is a treasure.

  • Three Little Words - Perfect for Valentine’s Day, graduation, birthdays, or anytime a hug is required, this beautiful book lets children know their parents will always be there for them! What are the three little words that make everything better? I Love You! Preschoolers will love snuggling with their families and counting all the ways that the three little words “I love you” can solve most every childhood concern. With warm, cuddly, reassuring illustrations of adorable animal families, this book lets children know that their parents will always be there with lots of hugs and kisses. “Each time the phrase I love you is introduced, Pearce describes it with a different adjective, such as mighty, friendly, or winning, which emphasizes the myriad ways unconditional love can rescue upsetting moments…. The bouncy rhythm makes it fun to read aloud, especially since little ones will easily catch on to the repeated refrain. Great for any time a kiddo needs a boost of confidence.”—Booklist

  • Pokko and the Drum - From E.B. White Read Aloud honor artist Matthew Forsythe comes a picture book about a magical drum, an emerald forest, and the little frog who dares to make her own music. The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home? Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom.

Add to list
Little Elliot, Big Family
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Mouse heads off to a family reunion, Little Elliot decides go for a walk. As he explores each busy street, he sees families in all shapes and sizes. In a city of millions, Little Elliot feels very much alone-until he finds he has a family of his own!

Add to list
The Magic Misfits
Written by Neil Patrick Harris & illustrated by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hinton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series. (Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story—you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

Add to list
Madame Badobedah
Written by Sophie Dahl & illustrated by Lauren O'Hara
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Who is Madame Badobedah? Mabel sets out to prove that an eccentric new hotel guest is really a supervillain in this witty storybook about an intergenerational friendship.

There’s a strange new guest at the Mermaid Hotel — a very old lady with a growly voice, bags stuffed with jewelry and coins and curiosities, and a beady-eyed pet tortoise. Mabel, whose parents run the hotel, is suspicious. Who is this “Madame Badobedah” (it rhymes with “Oo la la”) who has come to stay indefinitely and never has any visitors? To find out, Mabel puts on her spy costume and observes the new guest. Conclusion? She must be a secret supervillain hiding out from the law. The grown-ups think Madame Badobedah is a bit rude — and sad — but when she invites “dahlink” Mabel for a cup of forbidden tea and a game of pirates, the two begin a series of imaginary adventures together, and Mabel realizes that first impressions can sometimes be very wrong. Conjuring two quirky heroines that young readers will love, Sophie Dahl adds her talented voice to a grand tradition of books that celebrate the alliance of the old and young in the face of humdrum adults, while Lauren O’Hara’s illustrations are as packed with intriguing details as Madame Badobedah’s suitcases.

Add to list
The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel
Written & illustrated by Natasha Lowe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this charming coming of age tale about a young witch found in a flowerpot who’s on a journey to discover her roots.

The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought she would have one, but her flowerpot child was a miracle and she decided to name her Mabel. As Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic.

When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the magic curriculum but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and tries to understand why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be.

Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love each other and look after each other and that’s most important of all.

Add to list
Way Past Mad
Written by Hallee Adelman & illustrated by Sandra de la Prada
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Keya is way past mad. Her little brother Nate messed up everything—even breakfast. She heads to school kicking rocks and sticks. When her best friend Hooper tries to help, Keya shouts, “I don’t even like you.” It’s not true, but Hooper storms off, kicking rocks and sticks too. Keya gave him her mad! Now it’s up to Keya to find a different way past mad and to make things right. A relatable story that speaks to kids’ emerging emotional intelligence skills.

Best Friends: We Are A Family book
Add to list
Famously Phoebe book
Add to list
The Trees of the Dancing Goats book
Add to list
Marsha Is Magnetic book
Add to list
  • Best Friends: We Are A Family - Like peas in a pod, and leaves in a tree, we all belong to a family! Whether they are big, or whether they are small, this charming book shows young readers that there are all kinds of different families to be found in the world around us, from a bunch of balloons, to eggs in a box, and fingers on a hand. Designed with a mixture of photographs and fun illustrations to engage little ones and make them smile, there are cute rhymes to read and share in this celebration of family in its many forms.

  • Famously Phoebe - Phoebe was the shining star of her family. Then someone came along to take her place.
    For as long as Phoebe can remember, she’s known the clickety click click of a photographer snapping her picture. Thanks to the camera-carrying “paparazzi” (aka Mom and Dad), she’s always been the star of the show . . . until the day a tiny newcomer arrives on set. Will Phoebe learn to share the spotlight and assume the role she was born to play: big sister? This sweet tale of sibling rivalry resolved is perfect for every older brother and sister.

  • The Trees of the Dancing Goats - Trisha loves the eight days of Hanukkah, when her mother stays home from work, her Babushka makes delicious potato latkes, and her Grampa carves wonderful animals out of wood as gifts for Trisha and her brother. In the middle of her family’s preparation for the festival of lights, Trisha visits her closest neighbors, expecting to find them decorating their house for Christmas. Instead they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic. It is difficult for them to enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate their holiday. Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors, “But what can we decorate them with?” Babushka asks. Although it is a sacrifice, Trisha realizes that Grampa’s carved animals are the perfect answer. Soon her living room is filled with trees — but that is only the first miracle of many during an incredible holiday season. Based on a long cherished childhood memory, this story celebrates the miracle of true friendship.

  • Marsha Is Magnetic - It turns out that the best way to draw others to you is by being yourself in this sweet, STEAM-minded picture book from New York Times bestselling author Beth Ferry. Marsha is a scientist who has never met a problem she couldn’t solve. But when it comes to making friends to invite to her birthday party, she is stumped. Luckily, Marsha knows the solution to being stumped: the scientific method. With equal parts creativity, determination, and humor, Marsha sets out to attract as many friends as she can—what could possibly go wrong? In this hilarious celebration of friendship and ingenuity, Beth Ferry and Lorena Alvarez show readers that the best way to attract friends is to simply be yourself.

Add to list
The Little Green Girl
Written & illustrated by Lisa Anchin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Mr. Aster, who likes routine, is happy to care for Little Green Girl when she arrives in his garden, but not interested in helping her see the world beyond its walls.

Add to list
Big Cat, Little Cat
Written & illustrated by Elisha Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A 2018 Caldecott Honor book There was a cat who lived alone. Until the day a new cat came . . . And so a story of friendship begins, following the two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back. This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about the act of moving on.

Add to list
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Written by C. S. Lewis & illustrated by Pauline Baynes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

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.

Open the door and enter a new world! 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 with a magical land and unforgettable characters for over sixty years.

Add to list
Bear Is Not Tired
Written & illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Bear and his duck family do everything together. That is, until winter arrives. Bear is supposed to hibernate this time of year, but he doesn’t want to miss out on any of the fun. But can Bear really stay awake all winter long? Gentle humor and endearing illustrations bring a delightful twist to a bedtime routine that children and their parents will easily recognize.

Add to list
A True Home
Written by Kallie George & illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they’ll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn soufflé and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.

This delightfully enticing start of a new chapter book series tells a tale of friendship, courage, and community, with exquisite black-and-white illustrations throughout. Praise for the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series “[This] gentle tale of magic and self-reliance will entertain confident new independent readers. Clover’s sweet story is a good next step for lovers of the Magic Tree House.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will be envious of the world of magic that Clover becomes ensconced in and eager to read future installments.” -Publishers Weekly

“[A] charming story, delicately written, with a winning heroine. . . [and] a conclusion that will satisfy young readers.” -Booklist Online

“Graduates of sparkly chapter-book series will be right at home and looking for the next installment posthaste.” -Kirkus Reviews “[T]he gentle but intrepid Clover continues to charm.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Time for a Hug book
Add to list
Lights on Wonder Rock book
Add to list
  • Time for a Hug - A little rabbit receives hugs around the clock.

  • Lights on Wonder Rock - E.T._ meets _The Giving Tree in this stunningly illustrated picture book about friendship, family, wonder, and magic that shows how, sometimes, the things we’re searching for have been right in front of us all along. From the award-winning creator of _The Bear and the Piano._  Heather wants more than anything to go to outer space, where the stars sparkle with magic and wonder. When a UFO lands behind her house and she meets a friendly alien, it seems that all of her dreams have come true. But soon her new friend has to return home. Will the spaceship ever come back for her? And if it does, is Heather ready to leave everything on Earth behind? In this tale about dreaming big while appreciating what you have, best-selling picture book creator David Litchfield’s innovative visual storytelling uses wordless, light-filled spreads and graphic novel style layouts to transport readers through space and time and celebrate the power of family and human connection.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did you know you can help us improve this list? Check out our Community Handbook and learn how to add tags to books.

Suggested Links