The best children’s books about friendship and diversity

Andrew Wald Author Of A Surprising Friendship
By Andrew Wald

Who am I?

I am a psychotherapist working with individuals and couples since 1974 and have had over 57,000 sessions. How people relate to one another has been a fascination of mine since I was a youngster growing up in a suburb of Chicago. I believe that we are “wired” for relationships of all kinds and it takes a conscious effort to see the best in each other for them to thrive. Differences can be the spice of a relationship, not the division of them. My book, my practice, and my life focuses on those concepts. In 2012, I co-authored a popular book on relationships, Togetherness: Creating and Deepening Sustainable Love.


I wrote...

A Surprising Friendship

By Andrew Wald,

Book cover of A Surprising Friendship

What is my book about?

In a world filled with so many different people and animals, friendships come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Because all people and animals are unique and special, no two friendships are the same.

A Surprising Friendship is a heartwarming story of Zoey the Canadian goose and Henry the Black bear that celebrates diversity. Their fun and shared adventures show how differences can be overcome with kindness, acceptance, and a willingness to discover what we have in common with others who are not like us. Also, unavoidable obstacles can be overcome with a strong desire to maintain the friendship.

The books I picked & why

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The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein,

Book cover of The Giving Tree

Why this book?

Like my book, this is a story about two characters who are different and have a creative and unique relationship. Although the tree and the “boy” are different, they share a bond that lasts a lifetime. The enduring devotion and connection that the tree expresses to the “boy” strike at the heart of the meaning of friendship and love. It’s hard to read this book and not feel moved by it.

The Giving Tree

By Shel Silverstein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Giving Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As recommended by Meghan Markle as the one book she can't wait to share with her child - the timeless fable about the gift of love

Once there was a little tree ... and she loved a little boy.

So begins the classic bestseller, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree…


Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak,

Book cover of Where the Wild Things Are

Why this book?

This classic children’s book about a boy’s voyage to a land of monsters demonstrates how creatures who are very different can have a caring relationship. I liked how it shows children that potentially scary beings can be friendly. It exemplifies for children the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its’ cover.”   

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Where the Wild Things Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read-along with the story in this book and CD edition!

One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper.

That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins.

But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet,…


Can I Play Too?

By Mo Willems,

Book cover of Can I Play Too?

Why this book?

This simple, sweet, picture book, like others in the Elephant and Piggy series, deals with different animals who are trying to solve a problem together. I liked the book because it portrays how differences don’t matter when you care about another. To show how differences can be overcome and not be reasons to divide is wonderful, especially when the concept is shown to the very young reader.

Can I Play Too?

By Mo Willems,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Can I Play Too? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for children just learning to read, this highly original book is told entirely in speech bubbles with a repetitive use of familiar phrases. From the award-winning author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In Can I Play Too? Gerald and Piggie meet a new friend, Snake, who wants to join in a game of catch. But don't you need arms to catch...? Mo Willems creates another hilarious escapade starring the…


The Velveteen Rabbit

By Margery Williams, Charles Santore (illustrator),

Book cover of The Velveteen Rabbit

Why this book?

This heart-warming story, which should be on every children’s reading list, illustrates how by being loved, one becomes “real,” or whole. I enjoyed how the author demonstrates to children the theme that being loved helps us feel alive. The straightforward story also shows the desire in all of us to have a community that invites inclusion. Also, the watercolor illustrations help bring the story to life.

The Velveteen Rabbit

By Margery Williams, Charles Santore (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Velveteen Rabbit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved story of the Velveteen Rabbit, the toy rabbit made real by the love of a boy, is now available in a beautiful Little Apple Classic book.

Originally published in 1922, the classic story of a toy rabbit who loves a boy so much he eventually becomes real, has charmed children-and adults-for nearly a century. Author Margery Williams wrote this treasured classic that has warmed many hearts for decades. This story is among the top 100 books for children recommended by the National Education Association, chosen in a 2007 online poll, and also won the IRA/CBC Children's Choice award.…

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Book cover of A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Why this book?

This beautifully illustrated book struck me because of the deep caring demonstrated throughout the book.  I liked how it showed that when you show caring to someone (in this case a variety of animals), it can be reciprocated in kind. I believe that love is shown through acts of kindness which this book points out to the young reader.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Sick Day for Amos McGee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every day Amos McGee spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it's time they returned the favour.

A delightful picture book about true friendship.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in friendships, life satisfaction, and play and playing?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about friendships, life satisfaction, and play and playing.

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Play And Playing Explore 10 books about play and playing

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