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Imaginary Friends: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about imaginary friends?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to imaginary friends. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about imaginary friends.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about imaginary friends, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Dotty to popular sellers like Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.

We hope this list of kids books about imaginary friends can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle. New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

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Last Meeting of the Gorilla Club
Written by Sara Nickerson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A moving new middle grade novel about childhood anxiety and grief, from the author of The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose, and Me.
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We Forgot Brock!
Written & 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.

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The Flops
Written & illustrated by Delphine Durand
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-99

A cryptozoological kids book that not only introduces the scientific method but also emphasizes the importance of imagination and play.

A book full of advice about how not to make a flop’s life hard! What is a flop? A flop is malleable, can’t make a telephone call on its own, can’t wear a collar, and many other things besides. There are also hundreds of different sorts of flops. In a humorous, pseudo-scientific guide, Delphine Durand creates a world teeming with flops, describing their characteristics and lifestyles with great humor and precision.

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Dory Fantasmagory
Written & illustrated by Abby Hanlon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Move over, Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean! Here comes a lovably energetic little sister with a BIG personality—and an imagination to match!

As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: outsmarting the monsters all over the house, escaping from prison (aka time-out), and exacting revenge on her sister’s favorite doll. And when they really need her, daring Dory will prove her bravery, and finally get exactly what she has been looking for.

With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious book about an irresistible rascal is the new must-read for the chapter book set.

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  • Rumple Buttercup - A charming and inspiring story written and illustrated by Criminal Minds actor/director, Matthew Gray Gubler. Rumple Buttercup has five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and his left foot is slightly bigger than his right. He is weird. Join him and Candy Corn Carl (his imaginary friend made of trash) as they learn the joy of individuality as well as the magic of belonging.

  • Great Bunny Escape - When a friend’s pet bunny escapes into the World of Make-Believe, Daisy and Posey have to track him down in this ninth Daisy Dreamer chapter book! Have you ever heard the phrase “quick like a bunny?” People say it all the time about me. It means that I am fast. But I just met something that’s even faster than me. And guess what? It’s a cute and fluffy bunny! I am bunny-sitting for my friend, Lily. Bunny-sitting means I am caring for her bunny—not sitting on it. Obviously. Watching a bunny is easy, unless you have an imaginary friend named Posey who draws doors to the World of Make-Believe and leaves them open. Because Lily’s pet is quick like a bunny, and it loves to run through open doors. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

  • Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury - Beginning with the day Hobbes sprang into Calvin's tuna fish trap, the first two Calvin and Hobbes collections, Calvin and Hobbes and Something Under The Bed Is Drooling, are brought together in this treasury. Including black-and-white dailies and color Sundays, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes also features an original full-color 16-page story.

  • Posey, the Class Pest - 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.

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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!

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My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon
Written by Angie Lucas & illustrated by Birgitta Sif
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a young boy loses his mother, an invisible dragon swoops in and perches on top of his head. A most unwelcome guest, the dragon follows him to school, sleeps on his chest at night (making it hard for him to breathe), and even crashes his birthday party. As the boy comes to terms with his mother's death, however, his relationship with the dragon changes in surprising ways.

My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon is a story for children dealing with loss, particularly the death of a parent. Although grief is a heavy topic, Angie Lucas and Birgitta Sif handle it deftly for children, using the metaphor of the dragon, a light tone, and touches of humor. The book shows that healing takes time and that it's OK to experience a wide range of emotions as you process a really big loss.

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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.

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Dotty
Written by Erica S Perl & illustrated by Julia Denos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s Ida’s first day of school. She carries her new lunch box and a long, blue string with her special friend Dotty attached to it. A big, colorfully spotted pal with horns, Dotty just happens to be invisible. On that first day of school, Ida and Dotty find out there are plenty of other imaginary friends in attendance. But as the year passes and fewer and fewer imaginary friends come to class, Ida begins to wonder if Dotty is welcome at school anymore . . . Perceptive and warmly funny, with charming art from exciting illustrator Julia Denos, Dotty is a celebration of the power of friendship and imagination.

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When a Dragon Moves in
Written by Jodi Moore & illustrated by Howard McWilliam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

On a beautiful day at the beach, a young boy brings his bucket, shovel, and imagination, and builds a perfect sand castle. Right away, a dragon moves in. The boy decides to befriend his dragon and they spend time roaming the shore, flying a kite, braving the waves, defying bullies, and roasting marshmallows–all while Dad is busy sunbathing and Mom is engrossed in her book. Unfortunately, no one believes the boy when he tries to share the news of this magnificent creature. That’s when the mischief begins, and the dragon becomes a force to be reckoned with. While adults will recognize the naughty antics as a ploy for attention, children will dissolve into giggles as the dragon devours every last sandwich, blows bubbles in the lemonade, and leaves claw prints in the brownies. Maybe the dragon really is running amok on the beach, or maybe it’s a little boy’s imagination that is running wild.

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  • My Ex-Imaginary Friend - Eleven-year-old Jack thought he had outgrown his imaginary friend, George--until his dad also disappears from his life. His mom's bipolar disorder isn't being properly treated, so while in the throes of a manic episode, she ditches Jack with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Jack decides that only George can help him figure out where people go when others stop believing in them--and how Jack can put his family back together.

    Meanwhile, the imaginary George--half-walrus, half-human, all magic--has a problem of his own: with nobody to believe in him, he is slowly disappearing. Rejoining Jack is his only hope for survival. Or is it?

  • Daisy Dreamer and the World of Make-Believe, Volume 2 - Hi! I’m Daisy Dreamer and my totally true imaginary friend Posey invited me to his amazing world of make believe! Oh, and you’re totally invited, too! <p/>Remember me? Daisy Dreamer? Of course you do, silly! And you remember my totally true imaginary friend, Posey, too. <i>Obviously!</i> But did you know that Posey comes from a totally true imaginary world! You won’t believe the things that live there, like sparkle fairies, pretty pixies, ghosts, and cloud critters, just to name a few. And guess what! They <i>all</i> have a story to tell. And guess who’s going to tell it. Yep, that’s right. Me, Daisy Dreamer, the girl with her head in the clouds. <p/>With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

  • Friend or Fiction - One creative middle-schooler discovers that the best friend a girl can have is the one she makes herself in this charming magical realism read.

  • Daisy Dreamer and the Totally True Imaginary Friend, Volume 1 - Hi! I’m Daisy Dreamer and this story is all about how I met Posey, my totally true imaginary friend. <p/>Hi, I’m Daisy Dreamer. People call me the girl with her head in the clouds because I daydream some of the time…or maybe most the time. But isn’t that what makes life so…well, dreamy? Together with my best friends, Lily and Jasmine, we love to write stories, draw, and invent games. Then one day, I drew a doodle in my special journal and you know what? <i>That picture moved</i>! All. On. Its. Own. And that is how I met Posey, my totally true imaginary friend. Now he’s got a story to tell. And guess who’s going to tell it. Yep, that’s right. Me, Daisy Dreamer, the girl with her head in the clouds. <p/>With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

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The Wishing-Well Spell
Written by Holly Anna & illustrated by Genevieve Santos
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Remember me? Daisy Dreamer? Of course you do, silly! Well, Posey my totally true imaginary friend just cast a special wishing well spell. And you won’t believe what came true!

Have you ever wished a wish? Do you remember what you wished for? Wait, don’t tell me, because then your wish might not come true. My made a wish once. They threw a coin down a well, but it never came true. At least not until my totally true imaginary friend Posey came along with a special wishing-well spell. And guess what? It wasn’t only their wish that came true. Almost everyone in town had cast wishes down that well. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not. Let’s just say be careful what you wish for because with Posey around, it might just come true.

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

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Pop Goes the Bubble Trouble
Written by Holly Anna & illustrated by Genevieve Santos
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

When bubble creatures start disappearing from the World of Make-Believe, Daisy and Posey are on the case in this eighth Daisy Dreamer chapter book! When Posey spots the quarter vending machines with plastic bubbles filled with tiny toys at Daisy’s local store, he tries to talk to them. But when they don’t answer, Daisy explains that the bubbles are just toys in the real world. So Posey invites Daisy to the World of Make-Believe, where, of course, there’s an entire world inside of those machines! Bubble creatures happily live in their plastic capsules, but it turns out there’s a tiny problem. A giant has been “borrowing” those bubble friends! Can Daisy and Posey save those bubbles before they go pop? With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.

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Crenshaw
Written by Katherine Applegate
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

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Leon and Bob
Written & illustrated by Simon James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

Leon spends his time with his imaginary friend Bob, whom no one else can see, but when a new boy the same age as Leon moves in next door, Bob suddenly disappears, leaving Leon feeling insecure and nervous about making friends with his new neighbor.

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The Ice Castle
Written by Holly Anna & illustrated by Genevieve Santos
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

“In this fifth adventure, Daisy and Posey go on a winter adventure in the World of Make-Believe”–

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  • Imaginary Fred - From the internationally bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the New York Times Bestselling illustrator of The Day the Crayons Quit comes a quirky, funny, and utterly irresistible story. Did you know that sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one? An imaginary friend like Fred. Fred floated like a feather in the wind until Sam, a lonely little boy, wished for him and, together, they found a friendship like no other. The perfect chemistry between Eoin Colfer’s text and Oliver Jeffers’s artwork makes for a dazzlingly original picture book.

  • Snurtch - Some days are Snurtch days. Ruthie is having one of those. <p/>Ruthie has a problem at school. <p/>It is not the students. It is not the classroom. It is not the reading or the writing or the math. It is something scribbly, scrunchy, grabby, burpy, and rude. It is the Snurtch. <p/>From the team behind <i>I Don’t Like Koala</i>, this clever picture book takes a discerning look at the challenges of behaving and controlling your emotions–especially when your own personal monster keeps getting in the way.

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