The best children’s books about friends that bring on all the best feelings

Who am I?

I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. In addition to the usual two-year program, I studied an extra semester, where I read all the best children’s books about friendship. I wanted to learn how the great authors such as A. A. Milne, James Marshall, and Arnold Lobel wrote stories full of so much heart and humor. My love of friendship stories burgeoned from there. And now, it’s with great delight that I offer you my Best Children’s Books About Friendship—and, of course, my very own friendship story, Big Bear and Little Fish.  

I wrote...

Big Bear and Little Fish

By Sandra Nickel, Il Sung Na (illustrator),

Book cover of Big Bear and Little Fish

What is my book about?

Bear Loves Being Big. At the carnival, she wants to win a teddy bear as big as she is. Instead, she wins a fish. A very little fish. Bear doesn’t quite know what to do. She worries and makes lots of assumptions. But with the help of Fish, Bear learns that although she and Fish are different, they are also a little the same.

Gentle, accessible prose by Sandra Nickel is paired with richly textured illustrations by Il Sung Na in this sweet story about accepting others for who they are.

The books I picked & why

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George and Martha

By James Marshall,

Book cover of George and Martha

Why this book?

George and Martha, two very large hippos, are so unique they are a delight to read about. Martha loves making split pea soup, pots and pots of split pea soup. She loves looking at herself in the mirror and even wakes up during the night to look at herself. George likes to peek in windows. You can imagine these traits aren’t the most friend-winning qualities around. But George and Martha talk things out. They set each other straight. And best of all, they are always there for each other. I feel all warm and glowy every time I read about them, and I bet your young readers will too.

Frog and Toad Are Friends

By Arnold Lobel,

Book cover of Frog and Toad Are Friends

Why this book?

I also feel all warm and glowy when I read Frog and Toad are Friends! Toad is a bit of a grump, it’s true. But Frog is normal as normal can be and a wonderful example of how great friends act. He loves Toad as only a best friend can, and he would do anything for him. My favorite of the five chapters is “The Letter.” By secretly writing a letter to Toad, Frog turns Toad’s sad waiting-for-a-letter time into the best part of the day. It is, truly, what friendship is all about. 


By A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard (illustrator),

Book cover of Winnie-the-Pooh

Why this book?

For me, Winnie-The-Pooh is the quintessential ensemble friendship story. The Hundred Acre Wood is populated with such distinct characters. A bear with very little brain. A bossy rabbit. A scared of nearly everything piglet. A gloomy donkey. A not as smart as he thinks he is owl. And, yet each of these very different characters accepts the other as he is. Well, perhaps Rabbit doesn’t, not all the time. But he does come around in the end. These friends, along with Christopher Robin and Kanga and Roo, create ten of the most beautiful friendship stories ever written. Although Disney did a lovely job animating them, there is nothing quite like cuddling with a small one and reading this book together.

The Lion and the Bird

By Marianne Dubuc,

Book cover of The Lion and the Bird

Why this book?

The Lion and the Bird is the perfect friendship book for quiet times, for easing into the day after just waking up or for calming down when it’s time to say goodnight. Adults and children alike, will be drawn into this sweet story, where the lion discovers an injured bird, nurses it back to health, then waits for it to return the next year. The combination of the gentle text with the charming illustrations makes my heart swell every time.

Frank and Bean

By Jamie Michalak, Bob Kolar (illustrator),

Book cover of Frank and Bean

Why this book?

Frank and Bean opens with Frank, who visits the great outdoors to find peace and quiet. Then, Bean shows up. He is literally a one bean band, with a drum, trumpet, triangle and more. Needless to say, they don’t initially hit it off. But then it gets dark, and fears bring them together. Before you know it, they are making beautiful music together. The text is full of wry humor presented with a wink for adults, while the illustrations are pitched perfectly to make five- to eight-year-old readers giggle along. I love this friendship story because it’s so much fun to read out loud. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in toys, deadpan humor, and hippos?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about toys, deadpan humor, and hippos.

Toys Explore 21 books about toys
Deadpan Humor Explore 9 books about deadpan humor
Hippos Explore 7 books about hippos

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Phantom Tollbooth, Pippi Longstocking, and Frog and Toad if you like this list.