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Friendship and Imagination: 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

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse book
#1
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.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#2
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!

Duncan the Story Dragon book
#3
Duncan the Story Dragon
Written and illustrated by Amanda Driscoll
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Duncan the Dragon loves to read. When he reads a story, his imagination catches fire! Unfortunately . . . so does his book. Fire breath is great for roasting marshmallows, but it’s not so great for reading. Duncan just wants to get to those two wonderful words, like the last sip of a chocolate milk shake: The End. Will he ever find out how the story ends? This bright, warm tale champions determination, friendship, and a love for books. And milk shakes!

Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear book
#4
Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear
Written and illustrated by Monica Carnesi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Beatrice & Bear meet one spring day and become best buddies. They play together through summer and fall. Then winter comes and Beatrice can't find Bear anywhere. She hears he's gone to hibernate -- but where on earth is that? When Beatrice learns that hibernation is not a place and that Bear will be sleeping all winter long, she fears it will be a lonely season...unless she can come up with a brilliant plan. This delightful story of an irrepressible bunny will engage readers on many levels as it celebrates creativity, making the best of circumstances, and the joy of the changing seasons.

Heart and the Bottle book
#5
Heart and the Bottle
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play. But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play. Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance reminiscent of The Giving Tree that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.

All about Cats book
#6
All about Cats
Written and illustrated by Monika Filipina
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A hilarious look at what cats get up to when humans aren't around. Contrasting personality traits are put side by side to show how cats - like people - are diverse. The book celebrates positive relationships and the power of the imagination.

The Secret Garden book
#7
The Secret Garden
Written by Brooke Jorden and illustrated by David Miles
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Join Mary, Dickon, and Colin on their heartwarming journey of friendship and gardening magic. Filled with interactive wheels and pull-tabs, and lavishly illustrated, The Secret Garden is an unprecedented kid's introduction to Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic novel. Unlike many board books that tackle the classics, Lit for Little Hands tells the actual story in simple, engaging prose. Gorgeous springtime illustrations transport the reader to the gardens and halls of Misselthwaite Manor, while tons of interactive elements invite kids to help Mary discover the secret garden, make friends, and help Colin walk! Fans of the novel will be delighted by the book's attention to detail and clever use of original text and dialogue. And the book's super-sturdy board means everyone can enjoy this tale over . . . and over . . . and over again! The magic of the secret garden will return each time you read!

Sophie's Squash book
#8
Sophie's Squash
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

"Perfect for the fall season, Sophie's Squash is a delightful story of friendship and imagination." - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor On a trip to the farmers' market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. From then on, Sophie brings Bernice everywhere, despite her parents' gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot. As winter nears, Sophie does start to notice changes.... What's a girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble? The recipient of four starred reviews, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, Sophie's Squash will be a fresh addition to any collection of autumn books.

We Forgot Brock! book
#9
We Forgot Brock!
Written and illustrated by Carter Goodrich
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Phillip and Brock are best friends, although everyone else thinks Brock is imaginary, so when Phillip gets tired out at the Big Fair while Brock is still having fun, they are separated and it will take a very special twosome to bring them back together again.

Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse book
#10
Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse
Written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

For another loco adventure. In his room for a time-out, Skippyjon Jones lets his imagination take him to a shack where his Chihuahua friends are yipping and yapping and hiding out from the bad Bobble-ito, who has taken over their doghouse. How El Skippito chills the Chihuahuas and banishes the Bobble-ito will make more amigos for this endearing and irresistible rascal, who made his first appearance in the favorite Skippyjon Jones.

Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair book
#11
Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair
Written by Alice Kuipers and illustrated by Diana Toledano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Polly and her magic book, Spell, have all kinds of adventures together because whatever Polly writes in Spell comes true! But when Polly and Spell join forces to make the school fair super spectacular, they quickly discover that what you write and what you mean are not always the same. Filled with the familiar details of home and school, but with a sprinkling of magic, this book is just right for fans of Ivy + Bean, Judy Moody, and Dory Fantasmagory, as well for aspiring writers, who, just like Polly, know the magic of stories.

Imagine That book
#12
Imagine That
Written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Beloved characters Hoot and Olive return in this beautiful picture book about imagination, rainy day adventures, and the spirit of friendship. Olive is a little girl with a big, bright imagination. Hoot is her stuffed-animal owl...and her best friend. The two love adventures of all sorts. But on the rainiest of days, there is only one thing to do: stay inside and imagine a whole new world. Just as they’re about to begin their adventure, Hoot makes a shocking discovery—his imagination is broken! Like the best of best friends, Olive comes up with some ideas to help him. But nothing is working: not the head unscrambler, the earmuffs, or the hypnosis. Just as the two are about to give up, Olive remembers the secret ingredient to imagination, and they give it one more try. Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin, George and Martha, and Frog and Toad are certain to fall in love with the next adventure in the Hoot & Olive series.

Posey, the Class Pest book
#13
Posey, the Class Pest
Written by Holly Anna and illustrated by Genevieve Santos
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Daisy brings her totally true imaginary friend, Posey, to visit her totally real school in this seventh Daisy Dreamer chapter book! Nerd alert! Guess what? I, Daisy Dreamer, have a big confession. I love school. You know what else I love? Posey. He’s my totally true imaginary friend. So if I were to mix school and Posey together, then I would have the absolutely, most perfect day. Obviously. Unfortunately, sometimes mixing two great things together makes for an absolutely huge mess, like grape juice and fluffy carpets, or lollipops and long hair. Well, I would not recommend mixing school and Posey together, unless you love having a classroom pest. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

Wolf in the Snow book
#14
Wolf in the Snow
Written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home? Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.

Dory and the Real True Friend book
#15
Dory and the Real True Friend
Written by Abby Hanlon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

The star of Dory Fantasmagory is heading to school. Her older siblings, Luke and Violet, warn her to leave her imaginary friend, Mary, at home—or better yet, leave her whole imagination at home! But on her very first day she meets a new friend, a girl whose imagination and style are just about as wild as her own. Now she just has to convince her siblings that she’s not making it all up!

Dory Dory Black Sheep book
#16
Dory Dory Black Sheep
Written by Abby Hanlon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Ever since Dory met Rosabelle, a real true friend whose imagination and high spirits match her own, school has been pretty good. But now the class is learning to read, and it’s proving to be a challenge for Dory. While Rosabelle can read chapter books in her head, Dory is stuck with baby books about a happy little farm. Dory wishes for a potion to turn her into a reader but things don’t go as planned. Suddenly, a naughty little girl who looks an awful lot like Dory’s imaginary nemesis, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, shows up. And a black sheep leaves the pages of the farm book to follow Dory to school. It really needs her help–this seems like a job for a superhero! And it would help if she knew how to read.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend book
#17
Confessions of an Imaginary Friend
Written by Michelle Cuevas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Jacques Papier has the sneaking suspicion that everyone except his sister Fleur hates him. Teachers ignore him when his hand is raised in class, he is never chosen for sports teams, and his parents often need to be reminded to set a place for him at the dinner table. But he is shocked when he finally learns the truth: He is Fleur’s imaginary friend! When he convinces Fleur to set him free, he begins a surprising and touching, and always funny quest to find himself—to figure out who Jacques Papier truly is, and where he belongs.

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book
#18
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.

Journey of the Pale Bear book
#19
Journey of the Pale Bear
Written by Susan Fletcher
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family. The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England. Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom? Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy book
#20
Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy
Written by Jacky Davis and illustrated by David Soman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This hardcover picture book in the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series explores themes of making friends, compromise, and imaginative play at that favorite preschool place—the playground. Lulu and her dog Bingo meet up with Sam on the playground and want to play together. Sam likes the sandbox but Lulu thinks the monkey bars are better. They just can’t agree…until Lulu asks, “Have you ever played Ladybug Girl?” Quickly, Sam becomes the brave Bumblebee Boy, and he and Lulu, a.k.a Ladybug Girl, are superheroes who save the playground from scary monsters and mean robots. New friends want to join their game too, and soon the Bug Squad is formed with Ladybug Girl, Bumblebee Boy, Dragonfly Girl, and Butterfly Girl using their imaginations to keep the playground safe. For fans of Toot and Puddle and The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy, the Ladybug Girl series honors friendship, cooperation, and a love of the outdoors!

Zach King: Mirror Magic book
#21
Zach King: Mirror Magic
Written by Zach King
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Zach King, the award-winning social media superstar with nearly 25 MILLION fans, is back with the third and final magical installment in his hilarious, fun-filled trilogy about Zach, a seventh grader trying to control his new magical powers. Features color graphic novel sections and an augmented reality app that brings the illustrations to three-dimensional life! BIG NATE meets DANTDM in the third magical middle grade adventure by social media superstar Zach King. Since Zach finally recovered his magical powers, middle school has never been better—he’s teaming up with his best friend, Aaron, on their super-popular YouTube channel and talking to the nicest, smartest, prettiest girl in school, Rachel. But when Zach magically “passes through” a magical mirror, he lands in a world that is the exact opposite of everything he’s ever known. Instead of finding himself at Horace Greeley Middle School, he’s at Horace Greeley MAGIC School. And in this world of opposites, everyone here has magic except him. Even worse, Zach is stuck in this world AND his alter-ego, the newly magical Jack, has passed in to Zach’s world and now living his life and getting into all sorts of trouble. Fortunately, Zach can always count on his friends—even this mixed-up magical world’s versions of them! If he can just convince the guys about the truth of his world-jumping misadventure, Zach knows, they’ll work together to figure out how to put everyone back where they belong—before it’s too late. It’s another hilarious adventure from the online and Instagram sensation Zach King. The book comes complete with a free downloadable augmented reality app that animates the illustrations in the book, bringing them to full three-dimensional life.

Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping book
#22
Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping
Written by Roald Dahl
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An interactive introduction and fresh new look at Roald Dahl’s world and characters! A brilliant extension to Dahl’s wonderful stories, this book gives fascinating insights into the characters and events from Roald Dahl’s writing in a humorous, exciting and downright gloriumptious way. For the very first time, the stories behind the stories–like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and more–are brought to life in this brand new title. Inside, Quentin Blake’s iconic illustrations are combined with imagined letters, artifacts and news clippings, and editing notes from Dahl himself, to bring all of Roald Dahl’s characters alive. Whether you have read all of Roald Dahl’s stories, or are just beginning to enjoy them, this is a great companion book that will help you delve even deeper into Roald Dahl’s worlds!

Elizabeth and Zenobia book
#23
Elizabeth and Zenobia
Written by Jessica Miller and illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend Zenobia for company. And Zenobia's company can be very trying! When Elizabeth's father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia's constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father's younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago. Elizabeth and Zenobia is a wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

The Way I Act book
#24
The Way I Act
Written by Steve Metzger and illustrated by Janan Cain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

The Way I Act explores thirteen ways of behaving. The friendly verses and bold illustrations convey many positive ideas of how to act in a variety of situations. In the companion book, The Way I Feel, children learned that feelings come and go and simply are. A little older now, they are ready to think about the ability they have to control how things turn out. Like The Way I Feel, this book is ideal for children with autism.

Juna's Jar book
#25
Juna's Jar
Written by Jane Bahk and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Juna and her best friend, Hector, love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars. But then one day Hector unexpectedly moves away, and Juna is left wondering who will play with her. With the help of her special jar, Juna searches for her friend the world over. What Juna finds is that adventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places. Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Juna’s Jar is a heartwarming and whimsical celebration of friendship and the power of imagination.

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