Best Children's Books About Making-friends

Books that help us realize that friends make the world go round

Updated Feb. 9, 2019

We all need friends! Friends never stop being important, but they can have an especially big impact on us when we're growing up. These stories help our little readers learn about how to make friends, how to choose good friends, and maybe most importantly, how to be a good friend.

The Secret Garden book
#1
The Secret Garden
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle

A fun classic filled with adventure and friendship. A story of a young girl who finds herself feeling alone, as many of our young readers will. However, through The Secret Gardner, readers can experience the fun of branching out and trying new things, and the friends that come along the way.

After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.

Blue Chameleon book
#2
Blue Chameleon
Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Chameleon can turn himself into anything and appear to fit in anywhere, but it seems that neither the swirly snail, the green grasshopper nor the striped sock want to be friends. Will he ever find someone to talk to? Someone just like him? With a subtle and witty interplay between words and illustrations this introduction to colors and shapes (and chameleons!) is sure to delight kids of all ages.

Enemy Pie book
#3
Enemy Pie
Written by Derek Munson and illustrated by Tara Calahan King
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

If there's one sure way to get rid of an enemy, it's to turn them into a friend! The dad's sage advice and gentle steering allow a little boy to learn just that all on his own.

It was the perfect summer. That is, until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street and became neighborhood enemy number one. Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: Enemy Pie. But part of the secret recipe is spending an entire day playing with the enemy! In this funny yet endearing story, one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning your best enemy into your best friend. Accompanied by charming illustrations, Enemy Pie serves up a sweet lesson in the difficulties and ultimate rewards of making new friends.

Spike, the Mixed-up Monster book
#4
Spike, the Mixed-up Monster
Written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle

This cute monster has to figure out how to navigate through the adventure of making friends. Very fun!

Meet Spike, a lovable monster—and a real-life salamander—who’s looking for friends in this lively picture book that includes Spanish vocabulary. Spike is a scary-looking salamander who keeps trying to frighten other animals—until he finds that using fear is not the best way to make friends. And since Spike lives in Mexico (he is an endangered species called the axolotl), this story is peppered with easy-to-understand Spanish words. In addition to a charming tale of friendship, this picture book contains nonfiction information about the axolotl and a Spanish/English glossary.

Ruff!: And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day book
#5
Ruff!: And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day
Written and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle

A fun story all about friends and teamwork! This is a story that can really help get everyone excited to work with friends to accomplish any task, big or small. Ruff is sure to exemplify the qualities of making friends by being a friend.

Meet Ruff the Dog, star of the picture book Ruff! And the Wonderfully Amazing Busy Day. He’s an adorable new animal character created by bestselling illustrator Caroline Jayne Church. What Ruff wants most is to make some friends. He accidentally digs up the house of a little grey mouse named Hubble. By the time Ruff helps Hubble make a new home, he has a friend. Then he and Hubble decide to help Lottie, a duck who has also lost her home. And soon Ruff has a second friend! Caroline Jayne Chruch’s full-color illustrations bring all the animals in her charming story to life.

Andi Unexpected book
#6
Andi Unexpected
Written by Amanda Flower
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story shows how grief is manifested in different ways, but how the two sisters and their guardian bonded together and strengthened one another in their difficult times. I also loved that the mystery was about Andi's family history and linked to the great depression, both of which are great topics for readers to learn about. I loved following along in their sleuthing and detective efforts to figure out the answer to their mystery. :)

The first in a new middle-grade mystery series, in Andi Unexpected, twelve-year-old Andi Boggs, discovers evidence of her forgotten namesake, a missing relative, which leads her into a family mystery rooted in the Great Depression.

The Invisible Boy book
#7
The Invisible Boy
Written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The book is gorgeously and emotionally illustrated, letting the colors speak to the emotions of Brian —the invisible boy— in this story. A powerful reminder that bullying takes many forms and that one person and one act of kindness can truly make a difference, even if they're the only one.

A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend... Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.

A Unicorn Named Sparkle book
#8
A Unicorn Named Sparkle
Written and illustrated by Amy Young
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

When Lucy sees an ad in the newspaper for a unicorn, she sends in her twenty-five cents and waits four to six long weeks for her very own unicorn to arrive. She imagines the flowers that she'll braid into his beautiful pink mane, and she even picks the perfect name for him: Sparkle. But when Sparkle arrives, his ears are too long, his horn is too short, he smells funny—and oh, he has fleas. Lucy isn't pleased, but in the end she warms up to Sparkle and realizes that even though he wasn't exactly the unicorn she wanted, he might be just the one she needs.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! book
#9
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the award-winning author and illustrator of Blown Away, Rob Biddulph, comes a delightfully hilarious story about a grizzly bear named Fred who loses his GRRRRR. Each year, for as long as the forest has stood, a contest is held for the bears of the wood… Fred is the champion. He’s the best. But being the best takes time and training, especially when it comes to having the loudest growl. Then, one morning, disaster strikes—Fred’s GRRRRR is gone! Oh, no! Will Fred find his GRRRRR and realize that there’s more to life than being a winner?

Hey, Duck! book
#10
Hey, Duck!
Written and illustrated by Carin Bramsen
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Carin Bramsen's Duck and Cat make their board book debut! A small little duckling is trying to befriend another duck, but what if that "duck" . . . is actually a cat? Toddlers will love this quack-tastic story about fun and friendship.

My Friend Maggie book
#11
My Friend Maggie
Written and illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Paula and Maggie are best friends until Paula starts playing with some new friends instead, but when her new playmates turn on her, it's Maggie who rushes to Paula's defense"

Maurice the Unbeastly book
#12
Maurice the Unbeastly
Written by Amy Dixon and illustrated by Karl James Mountford
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

No ordinary beast, Maurice is neat, polite, photogenic, and his roar is delightful to the ear, which leads his parents to enroll him at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts, where he realizes he has a few things he can teach his fellow beasts.

Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching book
#13
Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching
Written by Laura Gehl, Joyce Wan and illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Peep cannot wait for Egg to hatch so they can have fun together, but Egg is not quite ready.

The Way Back Home book
#14
The Way Back Home
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes an imaginative tale of friendship in a world where what makes us different isn’t nearly as important as what makes us the same. When a boy discovers a single-propeller airplane in his closet, he does what any young adventurer would do: He flies it into outer space! Millions of miles from Earth, the plane begins to sputter and quake, its fuel tank on empty. The boy executes a daring landing on the moon . . . but there’s no telling what kind of slimy, slithering, tentacled, fangtoothed monsters lurk in the darkness! (Plus, it’s dark and lonely out there.) Coincidentally, engine trouble has stranded a young Martian on the other side of the moon, and he’s just as frightened and alone. Martian, Earthling—it’s all the same when you’re in need of a friend.

Papillon: The Very Fluffy Kitty book
#15
Papillon: The Very Fluffy Kitty
Written and illustrated by Anna Kang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

Papillon is a very fluffy kitty. So fluffy that he's lighter than air! His owner tries to weigh him down, but Papillon just wants to fly. One particularly sunny day, he floats right out the window! Exploring the wide world is exhilarating, but it's also a little scary. Will his new friend, a bird, be able to help him find his way home? Whimsical art and airy text come together seamlessly in this delightful debut by A. N. Kang.

Dory Fantasmagory book
#16
Dory Fantasmagory
Written and illustrated by Abby Hanlon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Dory, the youngest in her family, is a girl with a very active imagination, and she spends the summer playing with her imaginary friend, pretending to be a dog, battling monsters, and generally driving her family nuts.

Wemberly Worried book
#17
Wemberly Worried
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start.And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class book
#18
Chamelia and the New Kid in Class
Written and illustrated by Ethan Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class is a cute story about learning to overcome jealousy. Chamelia is alarmed when she loses attention she is used to receiving because of a new student in her class. She learns an important lesson--that putting others down to make herself look better doesn't feel good. It's a valuable and important lesson for children to learn. In the end, Chamelia is able to make her wrong right and make a new friend at the same time.

Chamelia is a chameleon who loves to stand out in a crowd. She's always the star of the show, especially at school. But when a new kid in class becomes the center of attention, Chamelia feels left out. Can she figure out how to beat her competition? Or will she learn to share the spotlight and make a new best friend? Join the fabulous Chamelia in this funny and charming story about friendship, school, and the true meaning of being a star!

Dylan the Villain book
#19
Dylan the Villain
Written and illustrated by K. G. Campbell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

A surprising and laugh-out-loud showdown between two pint-sized super-villains, perfect for young fans of Despicable Me. Dylan’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Snivels, have always told him that he is the very best and cleverest super-villain in the whole wide world. And Dylan’s confident that it’s true–until he starts school and meets Addison Van Malice. Sure, Dylan’s costume is scary. But Addison Van Malice’s is bone-chilling. And yes, Dylan’s laugh is crazy. But Addison Van Malice’s is bananas. And Dylan’s inventions are certainly super-villainous. But Addison Van Malice’s are demonic! When their teacher, Ms. Ick, announces a Diabolical Robot Building Contest, Dylan sees his opportunity to prove that he really is the most evil villain of all. But Addison’s not giving in without a fight. And so begins a competition of skill and wits that doesn’t go the way anyone expected…

Animal Inn 3-Books-in-1! book
#20
Animal Inn 3-Books-in-1!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The first three novels in the Animal Inn chapter book series, where the fur—and fun—flies at an animal spa and hotel, are now available together in a fur-tastic paperback edition! The Animal Inn is an all-inclusive pet resort and spa for animals from dogs to rabbits, cats to ducks, parrots to lizards. From doggie and kitty daycare, to grooming, and group play—you name it, and the Animal Inn has it. The Inn is run by the Tyler family along with their pets Leopold, the Macaw; Fuzzy and Furry, the gerbils; dogs Dash and Coco; felines Shadow and Whiskers; and a rollicking horde of animal visitors. In A Furry Fiasco, when the animals hear that a new boarder—a Komodo Dragon—will be coming to the Inn, they panic! Will it gobble them all up and then devour their family? In Treasure Hunt, the animals are convinced a pirate with a glittering treasure is visiting the Animal Inn. Will the animals have to walk the plank in order to survive? Arghhh! And in The Bow-Wow Bus, Cassie Tyler’s first grade class takes a field trip to Animal Inn for a meet and greet. And it’s a furry good time for all—even for the newest kid in class, a goldfish named Blub.

Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur book
#21
Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur
Written by Cirocco Dunlap and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Crunch is a lovely and quiet brontosaurus who has hidden himself in some shubbery and is rather shy. He would like to play, but it will require some gentle coaxing from you! If you are patient and encouraging, you will find yourself with a new friend! This picture book is a warm, funny example of how to engage with someone new, who is perhaps a bit different from you. Lessons in friend-making (such as minding personal space and demonstrating interest in another’s hobbies) are delivered so subtly that children will absorb them unconsciously as they delight in Crunch’s silly hat and dance moves!

That's Not How You Do It! book
#22
That's Not How You Do It!
Written and illustrated by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Lucy knows how to do everything. All her friends ask her for help if they need to know the right way to do something. When Toshi arrives, Lucy thinks he can't do anything properly at all. She can barely hide her frustration. When she finally tries to teach Toshi the right way to do things, she learns a very important lesson herself.

The Snowman Shuffle book
#23
The Snowman Shuffle
Written by Christianne C. Jones and illustrated by Emma Randall
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Spin like a snowflake, swoosh like the wind, and shuffle like a snowman in this interactive board book. The rhyming text and fun instruction will delight both adults and children and chase away any winter blues!

Ella WHO? book
#24
Ella WHO?
Written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Sara Sanchez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Mom . . . there's an elephant in the living room. It's moving day--and look who slipped in the door: an elephant! But when a little girl tries to tell her family about their unusual guest, the distracted grown-ups just say, "Ella WHO?" Even as children giggle at the girl's adventures with the smallish pachyderm, and at the fun, recurring refrain, they'll relate to the poignant theme about making--and sometimes letting go of--new friends.

The Red Boat book
#25
The Red Boat
Written and illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.