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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

The Rag Coat book
#1
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.

Three Little Words book
#2
Three Little Words
Written by Clemency Pearce and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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

Best Friends: We Are A Family book
#3
Best Friends: We Are A Family
Written by Roger Priddy
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

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.

The Magic Misfits book
#4
The Magic Misfits
Written by Neil Patrick Harris and illustrated by Kyle Hinton, Lissy Marlin
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!)

The Trees of the Dancing Goats book
#5
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

Time for a Hug book
#6
Time for a Hug
Written by Phillis Gershator and illustrated by David Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A little rabbit receives hugs around the clock.

The Storm Whale in Winter book
#7
The Storm Whale in Winter
Written and illustrated by Benji Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this sequel to The Storm Whale, the boy, Noi, is caught in a storm at sea and his whale friend comes to his rescue. When Noi's dad sails out on one last fishing trip before winter, Noi waits for him at home. But as the storm worsens and his dad does not return, Noi decides to go looking for his dad. But the storm is powerful and dangerous, and soon Noi, too, is stuck in the icy sea. When it seems that all hope is lost, a friend comes to help Noi and his father. Poignant and evocative, this is a beautiful celebration of friendship and family, and the special bond between a father and son.

How Do I Love Thee? book
#8
How Do I Love Thee?
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A gorgeous reinvention of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous "Sonnet 43" from the bestselling author of the BabyLit board books and the acclaimed illustrator of Over and Under the Snow. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Whether in soft sunlight or rain-drizzled night or winter's frost-etched breath, three children share the love and joy of friendship while exploring the wonders of nature. Bestselling author Jennifer Adams has reimagined Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beloved "Sonnet 43," best known by its opening lines, creating a lyrical, evocative ode to the love of family and friends. Christopher Silas Neal brings the poetry to life with his beautiful, imaginative, and whimsical illustrations.

Diwali book
#9
Diwali
Written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Learn all about the traditions of Diwali with this third book in the delightful board book series Celebrate the World, which highlights special occasions and holidays across the globe. Each autumn we gather with our friends and family and light our brightest lanterns. It’s time for Diwali, the festival of lights! In this lovely board book with illustrations from Archana Sreenivasan, readers learn that the five days of Diwali are a time to pray for a bountiful season, celebrate the special bonds between siblings, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

Ruby in the Sky book
#10
Ruby in the Sky
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this heartfelt middle-grade debut about family, friendship, and finding your own identity, Ruby Moon Hayes learns there's more to a person's story than what other people tell. When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to Vermont, Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She doesn’t want kids at school asking about her missing father or discovering that her mother has been arrested. But hiding isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail, who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house. No one in town understands Abigail—people whisper about her, about her boarded-up house and the terrible secrets she must be hiding. As Mom’s trial draws near and Abigail faces eviction, Ruby is forced to make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves.

Great Expectations: A Babylit Storybook book
#11
Great Expectations: A Babylit Storybook
Written by Stephanie Clarkson and illustrated by Mandy Archer
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

In Great Expectations: A BabyLit Storybook, preschoolers follow Pip's story, learning about the value of family and friends, fortune and loss, and love. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. BabyLit(R) primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Gibbs Smith is now presenting a delightful collection of picture books, lovingly designed and crafted for young children. Each book retells a story from the literary canon, bringing a classic to life for an entirely new audience. Stephanie Clarkson began her writing career as a journalist at Britain's Daily Mail newspaper and continues to write for the British press while dreaming up stories for children. Steph has written everything from pocket money books to gift titles and is the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups. She lives in Surrey, England. Mike Byrne lives in the Surrey countryside with his wife, cat, and two young sons where he spends his days doodling and illustrating children's books fuelled only by tea and biscuits. Mike is the illustrator of Sproutzilla vs. Christmas and My Colourful Chameleon.

Nowhere Boy book
#12
Nowhere Boy
Written by Katherine Marsh
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A timely, poignant tale of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.

You and Me, Me and You: Brothers book
#13
You and Me, Me and You: Brothers
Written and illustrated by Miguel Tanco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The beauty of the brotherly bond is on display in this touching tribute to a special sibling relationship. Whimsi-cal illustrations capture the highlights of brotherhood: building sandcastles, flying a kite, making mischief, and cherishing childhood moments together. Bright pops of Pantone orange bestow each illustrated spread with charm, and a cloth spine adds a delightful specialness. At once a sweet picture book for young children and a treasured gift for parents, this heartfelt testament to the inimitable brotherly bond goes straight to the heart

Simple Art Of Flying book
#14
Simple Art Of Flying
Written and illustrated by Cory Leonardo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Quirky characters, plucky humor, and a heartwarming message come together in this big-hearted debut novel about friendship and the true meaning of family. Sometimes flying means keeping your feet on the ground… Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land. In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, eating a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to a family reunion. But soon he’s forced to choose between the life he’s always dreamed of and admitting the truth: that sometimes, the bravest adventure is in letting go.

Blackberry Juice book
#15
Blackberry Juice
Written by Sara Cassidy and illustrated by Helen Flook
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

After moving into their new home, a keeling-over farmhouse in the country, nine-year-old Cyrus and his brother, Rudy, have trouble adjusting to all the changes. The fresh-from-the-farm egg yolks are blindingly yellow. The eccentric girl next door has a very unusual sense of style. And Rumpley, a donkey they inherited with the farmhouse, doesn't even know how to bray. Nothing about the country feels warm or familiar. But when Cyrus is stranded one evening by the tide, he finds his lifeline in an unlikely companion. Blackberry Juice is the sequel to Not For Sale.

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee book
#16
The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee
Written by Deborah Abela
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

India Wimple can spell. Brilliantly. Every Friday night, she and her family watch the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee on TV. When the Wimples suggest she enter the next bee, India finds the idea disconcerting. She's sure she's not good enough—but her family won't accept that and encourages her to sign up. There are plenty of obstacles to reaching the finals, and the whole thing seems rather calamitous to India. But with hope, hard work, and a little bit of heart, something splendiferous might be on the horizon…

The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee book
#17
The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee
Written by Deborah Abela and illustrated by Aleksie Bitskoff
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"India Wimple can spell with the best of them. How else would she have won the Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee and garnered an invitation to the Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee? India couldn't be more thrilled to travel to London along with the rest of the Wimples. And at first, it seems like a dream come true; she reunites with her spelling bee friends, and they even get to meet the Queen! But there is skulduggery afoot, with some rather mysterious goings-on going on and a series of accidents that seem to be not-so-accidental after all. India has her suspicions about who is behind the duplicitous demonstrations. But can she solve the mystery in time to save the competition?"

Happy Birthday! book
#18
Happy Birthday!
Written and illustrated by Sesame Workshop
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Celebrate a beloved child's birthday with this wonderful guest book from Sesame Street! All the Sesame friends are here to say something very special. With additional space for party guests to sign their name or write a message, families will cherish this keepsake of a memorable day for years to come! Today's your birthday, shout HOORAY! It's your special day today! Shout it high and shout it low. Shout to everyone you know!

The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days book
#19
The Summer I Saved the World...in 65 Days
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

One summer. One girl. One plan. Inspired by her late grandmother, Nina Ross sets out to do 65 anonymous good things for her family and neighbors, one for each day of summer vacation, to find out if doing good actually does any good. But things don't turn out exactly as she envisioned.

Reign of Outlaws book
#20
Reign of Outlaws
Written and illustrated by Kekla Magoon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Robyn Hoodlum's acclaimed story comes to a rousing conclusion in this high-adventure retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale that Rick Riordan hailed as "compelling." When twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley set out to save her parents, she never could've predicted that she would become Robyn Hoodlum, leader of the rebellion against the harsh government led by Ignomus Crown. But Robyn's attempt to free her parents has failed, and on top of that, her friends have been captured. And now Crown has given her 72 hours to turn herself in--or else. Now Robyn must decide between sacrificing herself, saving her parents and friends, or advancing the rebellion. With the stakes higher than ever, will Robyn be able to succeed? With an unforgettable heroine and a diverse band of characters, readers will be on the edge of their seats in this action-packed, much-anticipated series conclusion.

Miles to Go book
#21
Miles to Go
Written and illustrated by Beryl Young
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

A powerful and poignant story of two young girls' friendship, family, loss, and loyalty, set in 1940s Saskatchewan. "Beryl Young's novel Miles to Go is sparse, poetic and, at times, perfectly heart wrenching. It subtly captures the coming of age of two young prairie girls. The beauty of this story is in the little things, the life things. In short: it's wonderful."--Arthur Slade, Governor General's Award-winning author of Dust "This is a tender story about two friends dealing with tragic personal loss. Beryl Young captures a snapshot of small town life in the 1940s. Lovingly told, realistic, sad, and, like life, often very funny."--Harriet Zaidman, teacher-librarian and writer, Winnipeg, Manitoba Miles to Go is the story of a friendship between two twelve-year-old girls in a small Saskatchewan town. In the spring of 1948, each girl faces a heavy personal loss and challenges that threaten their friendship. Through a hard few months the girls learn the meaning of loyalty and the value of keeping a promise. Loosely based on the author's own experiences of growing up in rural Saskatchewan, this book's timeless themes and authentic emotion will speak to young readers.

Pip and the Bamboo Path book
#22
Pip and the Bamboo Path
Written and illustrated by Jesse Hodgson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The cute Red Panda Pip must set off on her own to find her family and friends when they get separated in the Himalayan mountains.

Gertie's Leap to Greatness book
#23
Gertie's Leap to Greatness
Written by Kate Beasley and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

The Littlest Valentine book
#24
The Littlest Valentine
Written by Brandi Dougherty and illustrated by Michelle Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Emma may be the littlest in the Valentine family, but she knows that she has what it takes to help the family business get ready for the holiday. But Emma just can't seem to do things the right way like the bigger members of her family, no matter how hard she tries. Will Emma find a way to help her family on Valentine's Day, or is the littlest Valentine just too little?

Room 555 book
#25
Room 555
Written and illustrated by Cristy Watson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Fourteen-year-old Roonie loves hip-hop almost as much as she loves her grandmother. She cannot wait to compete in her school’s dance competition. But as her grandmother’s health deteriorates, Roonie becomes more and more reluctant to visit her in the care home. These feelings of guilt and frustration cause Roonie to mess things up with her hip-hop dance partner and best friend, Kira. But while doing some volunteer hours in the hospital geriatric ward, Roonie meets an active senior recovering from a bad fall. Their shared love of dance and the woman’s zest for life help Roonie face her fears, make amends with Kira and reconnect with Gram before it’s too late.

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