Inside: Picture books about friendship for teaching children about how to make friends and be a good friend.
Update – February 2023: I’m freshening up this list with 5 more titles for you. These new releases will give you even more fabulous choices! (Updating this whole list is a big job, so right now you’re seeing it only partly complete – check back tomorrow for the rest!)
Update – July 2020: I just added ten new books and a pretty new cover to this list for you. I’ve noted a few which will work well for children during social distancing. Some I added just because I’ve newly discovered them – and think you’ll love them as much as I do.
I like using books to help me teach children new concepts. Sometimes it’s easier for children to make a connection when they hear a story and see the pictures.
This annotated list of picture books about friendship is an engaging way to teach children about what it means to be a good friend.
Picture Books About Friendship
35 soon to be 40 picture books about friendship to choose from here, you’re sure to find several you love! I’ve categorized these titles to help you narrow down to the very best ones for you.
(Disclosure: Books and Giggles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. All of the book links in this post are affiliate links)
Picture Books About Making Friends
Some children make new friends easily, and others need a little help. These books help explain how friendship works, and reassure kids that eventually they will find people they connect with.
Violin and Cello by Catherine Greer is a captivating new friendship book perfect for budding musicians. Two children go from lonely practices in adjacent apartments to playing a duet together.
I discovered Moo Bird as a panelist for the Cybils book award. It didn’t make the final cut, but I really loved it. This book for very early readers celebrates differences and finding friends.
Making friends can be difficult for kids and adults alike. Friends by Rob Lewis tells the story of Oscar, a rabbit who is new in town. This sweet story shows how trying new things can help budding friendships.
Along a similar theme, Unlovable is about an “unlovable” dog who finds a friend that he has a lot in common with. The ending is lots of fun! (I once read this simple story to a class of sixth graders, and even they loved it!)
Brave Mice Make New Friends is a warm story about two mice who leave their comfort zone to find a whole new world of possibilities and new friends.
Neighbors can be friends too. Those Pesky Rabbits is a cute story about how to be welcoming and kind to others around us, even when we don’t feel like being in the company of others.
Oh Dear, Geoffrey! is a heartwarming story about a clumsy giraffe who makes friends with birds and monkeys.
Hedgehugs is an adorable story about two hedgehog friends who are too prickly to hug each other. Your littles will love the silly solution they find!
Tea with Oliver shows that you don’t have to look alike to be good friends. Use this to talk about “making friends” skills such as introducing yourself.
A Small Blue Whale is a sweet story about a whale who wonders what friendship would be like. He learns that friends not only play together but also help each other. (You could also include this title in your stack of penguin books for kids!)
On the Night of the Shooting Star introduces a bunny and a dog who break out of their own little worlds and find friendship.
Together Always is a fitting choice for children who have a friend move away. In this story, Best friends Pig and Goat learn that they can be friends even when they aren’t physically together.
I couldn’t decide whether to add Our Favorite Day of the Year to this friendship book list or to my Back to School book list. I ended up putting it here because I think it would be good to revisit all year long.
In Raybot, even robots need friends. Raybot searches the world for a puppy he can befriend.
In Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably), Snapsy and an overeager rooster named Bert navigate friendship. This hilarious book is a lot of fun to read aloud if you like to do funny voices.
Picture Books About Being a Good Friend
The 2023 Caldecott winner, Hot Dog by Doug Salati can help you talk about being a good friend. In this simple story, a woman understands that her dog is feeling overwhelmed by the hot, noisy city and takes him to the beach.
I’m Sticking with You – Good friends stick with you through good times and bad, and Bear and Squirrel show us how.
How to Help a Friend is a lyrical exploration of what different friends may need. What a lovely way to introduce taking others’ perspectives!
Being a good friend is helping your friends to be happy. The Pout-Pout Fish is dreary and sad until his friends show him that there is a much brighter way to live.
Happiness is infectious if we share it. Hooray For Hat is a perfect example of how one frown can be turned upside down with a simple act of kindness.
One fantastic aspect of friendship is learning from each other. You may find that you learn something special from the most unexpected friendship, just like in My Friends by Taro Gomi.
Tarra & Bella is a true story about an elephant and a dog who were exactly what one another needed at the right moment — which turned into a lifelong friendship. Grab the tissues!
No matter what is happening in our lives and how we feel about ourselves, there’s always an opportunity to help others. This is something I think we all want our children to understand, and Little Elliot, Big City can help show them!
It’s hard to put Strictly No Elephants in a category. This lovely picture book about friendship covers how to treat a friend, making friends, and more. Plus, if you like play dough, you may also like the activity we did to go along with this book.
Have you fallen in love with the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series? This one, How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? is all about how to play with friends. Sharing, playing nice, and talking can be hard for kids at times. This book shows toddlers and preschoolers how they should behave.
Adventures in life are best done with your best friend at your side. The Frog and Toad books show how two friends get along and treat each other thoughtfully.
Friends are excellent at helping see things in a different way. In The Most Magnificent Thing the girl is having a really hard time creating something and her friend helps her calm down and see things in a way that results in success.
When someone is down or sick, friends are often the perfect fix. A Sick Day For Amos McGee shows just how comforting friends can be.
Should I Share My Ice Cream is another fun Elephant & Piggie early reader. (We’re huge fans of the series here!) This story is about sharing and being generous with our friends.
Best friends often don’t need words – they just understand each other. This is shown clearly in the Caldecott Honor book Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. This fun story is a simple 34-word conversation between two friends.
Children’s Books About Friendship Problems and Resolving Differences
These stories can help teach children about sharing, bullying, and understanding other perspectives.
When you least expect it, your enemy may become your best friend. Enemy Pie tells a story of the classic ‘killing them with kindness’ in the best way! This is another story that I loved reading aloud as a teacher, and it’s one of my very favorite picture books about friendship.
We all make mistakes and most of us have a silly side. We try to teach our kids that when someone is being teased, it’s best to have compassion. Stanley’s story, in Crazy Hair Day, will help kids understand this!
Sometimes it can be difficult to share, especially if what you are sharing is important to you. The Rainbow Fish realized that friendship is more special than his most prized possessions.
Sticks and stones can break our bones, but what happens when Stick and Stone are friends? This book has a strong anti-bullying message – a fantastic lesson for all kids to learn.
Sometimes it just takes one person to stick up for what is right. In One that is what happened with Blue, Red, and all of their other color friends. Besides the anti-bullying message, this book is filled with color and counting practice. You may like to check out the invitation to play that we set up to go with this story.
How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow is a story about how disagreements and fighting can hurt more than just the two people that are fighting.
If you’re going to get into mischief, you’d want it to be with your friends right? That’s what happens in Not Me!, but no one will fess up to the mess.
Tiger and Badger is about problem solving and working out arguments with anyone, but especially your friends.
Each of these books teaches something important about what friendship is. Picture books can shed light on something kids may not understand yet, or on a concept completely new to them. All of these picture books about friendship would be perfect in the classroom or at home.
I’m always trying to find new books to add to our collection. Comment below with your favorite friendship books if they didn’t make our list.