Friendship and Love: 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

Penguin and Pinecone book
#1
Penguin and Pinecone
Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Geisel Honor-winning author/illustrator Salina Yoon introduces readers to a beloved character in Penguin and Pinecone—a picture book about friendship that will warm your heart!

When curious little Penguin finds a lost pinecone in the snow, their friendship grows into something extraordinary! But Grandpa reminds Penguin that pinecones can’t live in the snow—they belong in the warm forest far away. Can Penguin help Pinecone get home? And can they stay friends, even if they’re miles apart?

Prolific author/illustrator Salina Yoon’s spare text and bright, energetic illustrations bring to life this endearing story celebrating friendships lost and found, and overcoming the odds to be with the one you love.

The Rag Coat book
#2
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.

The Trumpet of the Swan book
#3
The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can’t trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can’t even make a sound. And since he can’t trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena’s affection—he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?

Three Little Words book
#4
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

Charlotte and the Rock book
#5
Charlotte and the Rock
Written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

An unexpected friendship forms between a girl and her pet rock in this charming story that’s perfect for fans of What Pet Should I Get?

Charlotte has always really wanted a pet, so when her parents present her with one for her birthday she expects a cat, dog, or maybe a bird. Instead, she receives a rock. Rocks can’t cuddle, fetch, or even help her eat her vegetables, but that doesn’t stop Charlotte from loving her rock as if he were real. If only he could love her back…or can he?

  1. 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.

  2. We are Better Together - You can’t paint a picture without paint, or make a milkshake without milk. This charming book of teamwork and friendship shows how individual things are so much better, when they all work together! Flour, eggs, butter, and sugar all join together to make a cake; paper, scissors, and tape wrap a beautiful present. 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 teamwork in its many forms.

  3. 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.

  4. Heart and the Bottle - 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.

Bear Out There book
#10
Bear Out There
Written and illustrated by Jacob Grant
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Bear and Spider are back in another charming odd-couple friendship story, perfect for fans of Peter Brown and Greg Pizzoli. Bear’s favorite place is inside. He loves sharing his tidy home with his friend Spider. Spider loves the outdoors! When Spider’s kite flies away, Bear must venture out and into the messy forest to help his friend. As their quest in the forest goes from bad to worse, Bear and Spider show readers that being a friend means being there for each other, no matter what.

Time for a Hug book
#11
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.

Hey, Boy book
#12
Hey, Boy
Written by Benjamin Strouse and illustrated by Jennifer Phelan
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the classic style of The Giving Tree comes a touching debut picture book about the unfaltering love between a boy and his pet.

One day a boy finds a dog. He takes him home, already dreaming of the adventures they will have and the games they will play.

But when the boy gets hurt, he and his new best friend are separated. Will the boy be able to grow up quickly enough to get his furry companion back, or will life keep getting in the way?

With dreamily spare text and sweeping yet simple illustrations, Hey, Boy is a reminder that true friends always find their way home to each other.

Small Bunny's Blue Blanket book
#13
Small Bunny's Blue Blanket
Written and illustrated by Tatyana Feeney
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Small Bunny does everything with Blue Blanket. Blue Blanket helps him paint the best pictures, go the highest on the swings, and read the hardest words. They need each other.

But one day, Small Bunny’s mother insists Blue Blanket needs to be washed.

She says Blue Blanket will be as good as new after. But Bunny isn’t sure he likes new. Will his friend ever be the same?

I Loathe You book
#14
I Loathe You
Written and illustrated by David Slonim
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Unconditional loathing is disguised as monsterly love in this sweetly humorous picture book from acclaimed author-illustrator David Slonim. Just how much does Big Monster loathe Little Monster? Let it count the ways… I loathe you more than tooth decay More than blizzard snow in May More than garbage in a dump More than splinters in my rump No matter what, through thick and thin, I loathe you there and back again! Author and illustrator David Slonim depicts a tender, tongue-in-cheek celebration of a very special kind of loathe…er, love.

  1. Daddy Honk Honk! - An arctic fox adopts a baby goose in this heartwarming read-aloud perfect for dads and their little ones When Aput the fox finds an abandoned goose egg, he has no idea what’s in store for him. He doesn’t know anything about babies and he certainly doesn’t know what to do when the gosling hatches and mistakes him for its daddy. So he decides to find the gosling a home. But with each page turn, Aput learns more about caring for a baby and, with a little help from his friends, he discovers what a baby needs most is love.

  2. Max and the Superheroes - Max is crazy about superheroes, like all his friends, but the one he loves most is Megapower—especially when she turns into his Mommy and gives him a goodnight kiss.

  3. How Do I Love Thee? - 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.

  4. We Are Brothers, We Are Friends - Being a big brother is a BIG job. There’s lots to show your little brother . . . Trains . . . Planes . . . How to be a dinosaur. There are games to play and adventures to be had. And if trouble comes, it’s big brother to the rescue because there’s no better friend than a brother.

Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks book
#19
Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks
Written by Victoria J. Coe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fenway’s dog’s-eye-view of the world is as enthusiastic as ever, but his favorite short human is not acting the way he expects—and he doesn’t like it one bit!

Fenway’s life is pretty great, except for the strange stripey chipmunks that have suddenly appeared in the Dog Park behind his house. He’s determined to catch them, but one of their hiding places contains some stinging insects. Ouch! Fenway thinks he can take care of this injury himself, but his humans don’t let him. They take him to the Place of Fear and then Hattie doesn’t even help him take off the Cone of Doom! Fenway never would have expected Hattie to do these things to him. Doesn’t she love him anymore? But even though his family is acting weird, Fenway is determined do whatever it takes to make them all happy again.

Two Brothers, One Tail book
#20
Two Brothers, One Tail
Written by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by Jay Fleck
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A sweet and charming picture book about the unending love between a boy and his dog. Two brothers, two hands Two brothers, four paws Two brothers, ten fingers Two brother, ten claws With simple rhyming text by Richard T. Morris and charming illustrations from Jay Fleck, Two Brothers, One Tail is a heart-warming story about a boy and his brother, who just happens to be a dog. Perfect for fans of Bad Dog, Marley and Harry the Dirty Dog!

A Twin Is to Hug book
#21
A Twin Is to Hug
Written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by John Nez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Hand in hand, side by side, a twin is your friend. Every step of the way, from beginning to end. Having a twin can be great! With a twin, you have a lifelong bond, a partner in crime, and a food-I-don’t-want-to-eat eater. But with a twin, you also have to share, and take turns, and compare. It’s not always easy, but for better or worse, a twin is a friend who will always be by your side. With a small trim and expressive illustrations, this package will make the perfect gift for the expectant mother or twin in your life.

We Are Best Friends book
#22
We Are Best Friends
Written by Roger Priddy
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

There are some things that just belong together - milk and cookies, pen and paper, salt and pepper, all best friends forever. This charming book of friendship is full of best friend pairs, and is designed with a mixture of photographs and fun illustrations to engage little ones and make them smile. With cute rhymes to read and share: ‘Knife said to Fork: There’s no one better. I love it when we are together.’ This is a great book to celebrate friendship and love in its many forms.

Bear at the Beach and Other Adventures book
#23
Bear at the Beach and Other Adventures
Written and illustrated by Clay Carmichael
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In Bear at the Beach & Others Adventures, kids and parents will find a collection of three stories from writer and illustrator Clay Carmichael. The loveable and stuffed Bear is center stage, taking on adventures of the heart at home and afar. In Bear at the Beach, our plush protagonist sets out to find a father who will love him unconditionally, but learns that his little girl, Clara, gives him all the love he needs. In Used-Up Bear, time has left our favorite stuffed toy in dire, threadbare straits. Will Clara throw Bear away in favor of a shiny new toy? The surprising and heart-warming conclusion cements Bear’s place in Clara’s life. Bear loses Clara in Lonesome Bear, and befriends new toys on his search for his best friend. Full of emotions that young children can relate to, Clay Carmichael’s endearing collection is a gentle introduction to reading

  1. L Is for Love - Introduce your brilliant baby to the ABCs with this colorfully illustrated primer about love and friendship. Valentine’s Day is a time to reflect on the themes of love and friendship, and what better way to introduce toddlers to these concepts than with a new ABC volume from artist Greg Paprocki. The book’s 26 fully illustrated pages take aim just like Cupid’s arrow at lovebirds, sweethearts, BFFs, and secret admirers. Part of the BabyLit Alphabet Series. Greg Paprocki works full-time as an illustrator and book designer. In addition to illustrating several Curious George books, he’s provided illustrations for a number of books for Gibbs Smith, including A Is for Atom, S Is for Santa, B Is for Boo, and The Big Book of Superheroes. He began his career as an advertising art director after studying fine art and graphic design at the University of Nebraska.

  2. Come All You Little Persons - From above earth, from above sky, from below earth, from under water, come all you little persons come exactly as you are. Come little bird person, come little bee person, come little tree person - little persons from all over the world join together to celebrate the dance of life and love in this stunning poem from John Agard. Stunningly illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, this is a book that both little persons and big persons will treasure and pore over for a lifetime, and is a true poem of our time.

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