Friendships can be awesome, but they can also be complicated. For kids who struggle to understand the basics of how to be a friend, or what to do when things get a little more tricky, using books is a great way to start conversations and talk about friendship with kids. There are so many great books out there - here are some of my favorites divided up by category.
For the younger crowd
Join in and Play by Cheri J. Meiners - A simple to understand book about how kids can join the group and play with others.
How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen - This is part of a books series (How Do Dinosaurs Clean their Room, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, etc) The images of the dinosaurs make kids giggle!
How To Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson - Cute, tongue-in-cheek book that describes how to lose your friends, and helps kids understand what they should (and shouldn’t!) do to make and keep friends.
How To Be A Friend by Laura Krasny Brown and Marc Brown - This book is actually divided into several different sections on different parts of friendship including how to handle some of the more challenging aspects of friends like manage arguments, how to handle bullies, etc. Sometimes what I’ve done is just read certain sections of the book at a time to focus on a particular friendship skill.
For the late elementary/early middle school crowd
How to Make and Keep Friends by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea - This book is quick and easy to read. There are 10 quick tips for 50 common social situations, like playdates at your house, joining in a group or staying on topic in a conversation. Read my review of the book here.
Girls Q&A book about friendship by Annie Fox, M.Ed - A great book about some of the more complicated situations that arise for tween girls. Annie Fox, M.Ed answers real girls questions in a relatable and practical way. Read my review here.
Making choices and making friends by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick. - This book is a part of a series focused on social competencies for kids, which I think is a great series. I find this book to be empowering for kids, letting them know that they have the power to be thoughtful and make decisions, and resolve issues in a respectful way.
Cliques, Phonies & Other Baloney by Trevor Romain - I love this author, he tackles serious issues like bullying and anger in a way that kids find humorous and relatable. I used to have kids borrow his books all the time from my office because they wanted to read more. This book is focused on managing cliques and the importance of being yourself.
Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them by Patti Kelley Criswell -This is an American Girl book, and it’s got some fun quizzes in it that kids enjoy taking. It even has craft project ideas for kids to do as a positive way to interact with one another, which you know I love.
A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles by Patti Kelley Criswell - This is another great American Girl book. I would often recommend this book to girls when I was a school counselor to help them understand that friendship troubles are common and there are things that can be done to help manage those difficulties. It helped kids focus on what a good positive friendship looks like and how to get there.
It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend - I LOVE this book. It is full of so much helpful and practical information for parents and teachers who work with kids struggling with social aspects of life. The social skill autopsy is such a great resource to help kids that I would highly recommend it if your child is struggling in social interactions.
The Unwritten Rules of Friendship - Another great book for parents with some practical advice for understanding what’s happening with their child and with some advice for what to do to help support them. It’s divided into different personality traits/behavior characteristics (the shy child, the little adult) so you can just pick what you need to focus on and read that section. Read my review here.
What books would you add to this list?
Encourage Play, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites like this one to earn small advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.