The best friendship books

50 authors have picked their favorite books about friendships and why they recommend each book.

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Pink and Say

By Patricia Polacco,

Book cover of Pink and Say

I love this book, which combines a true story from the Civil War with gorgeous illustrations by the amazingly gifted author.  Pink, who is white, and Say, who is Black, are two young Union soldiers, little more than boys…as my own great grandfather once was.  Their survival depends upon their relationship, and the story, as retold by Polacco, reminds us—as all these books do—of our interdependence.

Pink and Say

By Patricia Polacco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pink and Say as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Sheldon Russell Curtis told this story to his daughter, Rosa, she kept every word in her heart and was to retell it many times.
     I will tell it in Sheldon's own words as nearly as I can.

He was wounded in a fierce battle and left for dead in a pasture somewhere in Georgia when Pinkus found him. Pinkus' skin was the color of polished mahogany, and he was flying Union colors like the wounded boy, and he picked him up out of the field and brought him to where the black soldier's mother, Moe Moe Bay, lived. She…


Who am I?

I’d like to say I have no expertise in this topic. And yet…don’t we all?  We’ve all lived through it. I was born in 1937—in Honolulu, the daughter of a US Army officer. WW II was a pervasive part of my childhood, as my father spent time in the Pacific and then after the war ended, we lived in Occupied Japan for some years.  But war had always been a part of my family’s history, as is true for so many people. My great grandfather left a written account of his capture and imprisonment during the Civil War.  And much more recently, my own son, an Air Force pilot, died in the cockpit of a F-15.  Ironically, he had married a German wife, and he is buried in her village cemetery near her grandfather, who served on the Russian front years earlier.  His child, my granddaughter, puts flowers on both of those graves. All of these pieces of my own history combine, I think, to create this passion I have for the telling and retelling of stories that can make us more aware of the futility of war.


I wrote...

On the Horizon

By Lois Lowry, Kenard Pak,

Book cover of On the Horizon

What is my book about?

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. This masterful work emphasizes empathy and understanding in search of commonality and friendship, vital lessons for students as well as citizens of today's world. Kenard Pak's stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.

Garcia & Colette Go Exploring

By Hannah Barnaby, Andrew Joyner (illustrator),

Book cover of Garcia & Colette Go Exploring

Garcia the bunny craves to shoot up to space while Colette the fox dreams of exploring the deep seas. Garcia builds a rocket and Colette, a submarine. Off they go on their separate adventures with their peanut butter sandwiches, of course! In this cleverly worded book, the author compares the two journeys – their similarities and differences, and how the two friends miss each other’s company. Garcia and Colette finally find a way to enjoy their interests together. The illustrations complement the words perfectly. A great read for little humans.

Garcia & Colette Go Exploring

By Hannah Barnaby, Andrew Joyner (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Garcia & Colette Go Exploring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE FULL-SPEED-AHEAD ENTHUSIASM ... IS INFECTIOUS'
-- Kirkus, starred review


Best friends Garcia and Colette are eager to go exploring -- only they can't agree on where to go. Garcia loves everything about space and Colette is obsessed with the sea.

Garcia builds a rocket ship and Colette constructs a submarine, but even though they find amazing things on their journeys, they soon realise they each left something very important back home ...

From new talent Hannah Barnaby and bestselling Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner comes a book about friendship, adventure and compromise.



PRAISE FOR GARCIA AND COLETTE GO EXPLORING

'full…


Who am I?

Who doesn’t like space? I love learning about space! Tip: Picture books are easier to comprehend compared to graduate courses – there’s only so much of Newton-Euler dynamics, inertia tensors, eccentricity vectors, etc. one can handle. Plus, there are no nasty mind-boggling equations in picture books. I mean, do you really want to calculate the maximum flight path angle and the true anomaly at which it occurs? Or solve Kepler’s equations for hyperbolic eccentric anomaly? No, right? Always stick to the picture book if you have a choice! I mentioned some fun picture books (fiction and non-fiction) with amusing or complementing illustrations that helped me on my journey to understanding space. Enjoy!


I wrote...

Simon's Skin

By Nidhi Kamra, Diane Brown (illustrator),

Book cover of Simon's Skin

What is my book about?

Simon thinks his skin is bo-rring. Simon doesn't like boring. So, he tries on different skins, and to his surprise, each comes with its own challenge. Simon soon makes a pleasant discovery about his own skin. This book is about a little boy who discovers he is perfect the way he is.

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame,

Book cover of The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows is the most preposterously convincing book ever written about animals who can talk and wear waistcoats and operate boats while still maintaining their essential animal natures. It is also a heady mixture of high adventure and serious mysticism. The Christmas chapter, “Dulce Domum,” can stand alone from the rest of the book, and it’s a must-read every December. Mole and Rat want to spend a jolly Christmas at Mole’s old place—but they have to find it first in all the snow. If you’re like me, this will make you appreciate home, however humble.

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wind in the Willows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side . . .

Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There's boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad's latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?

PLUS A behind-the-scenes journey, including author profile, a guide to who's who, activities and more.


Who am I?

When our two boys hit their difficult years around age seven or eight and the other kids at school were starting to doubt Santa Claus, they began to ask questions about how he operated. Luckily I had answers, which became, eventually, The Christmas Chronicles. Now that I was outed as a Santa supporter, I started doing Christmas readings here and there, including every year on a radio holiday show for Access Utah, a PBS affiliate. That’s given me the delightful task of seeking out all kinds of Yuletide literature. These are a few of my favorites. 


I wrote...

The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus

By Tim Slover,

Book cover of The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus

What is my book about?

In this new holiday classic, Tim Slover crafts a marvelous, magical novel about how Santa Claus became the man he is today. After reading The Christmas Chronicles, you’ll believe all over again in the magic of the season.
 
Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling new novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.

Imaginary Fred

By Eoin Colfer, Oliver Jeffers (illustrator),

Book cover of Imaginary Fred

Can imaginary friends count as best friends? Totally. Imaginary Fred is a brilliant riff on imaginary friendship, told from the point of view of the imaginary friend. When imaginary Fred befriends non-imaginary Sam, the two have so much fun that Fred panics he’ll be replaced by a real kid (again!). But when real Sam brings home his new friend real Sammi, Sammi befriends Fred too…and her own imaginary friend Freida becomes Fred’s total B(I)FF! The book is quirky/funny, but really moving too. Everybody gets a best friend.

Imaginary Fred

By Eoin Colfer, Oliver Jeffers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imaginary Fred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR, IRISH BOOK AWARDS
An extraordinary collaboration between Irish Children's Laureate, Eoin Colfer, and picture book superstar, Oliver Jeffers!

Sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one. An imaginary friend like Fred...

Fred floated like a feather in the wind until a lonely little boy wished for him and found a friendship like no other.

The perfect chemistry between Eoin Colfer's text and Oliver Jeffer's artwork make for a dazzlingly original colour gift book.


Who are we?

Besides creating inventive best friends Melia and Jo, Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson created problem-solving best friends Peg and Cat, stars of Peg + Cat picture books and the PBS TV series which airs around the world. While creating those sets of best friends Jen and Billy became best friends themselves, brainstorming together, learning together, singing and dancing together, sharing pizza, inspiring and supporting each other, and laughing together many times a day. So yeah, they know a lot about best friends. 


We wrote...

Melia and Jo

By Billy Aronson, Jennifer Oxley (illustrator),

Book cover of Melia and Jo

What is our book about?

Tech whiz Melia loves to create things in her backyard laboratory. Artistically inclined Jo loves to swirl and leap and go wild with words. When Jo leaps into Melia’s yard the two girls find that if you blend the arts and science, something unbelievable happens. Together, they form a STEAM dream team! Melia and Jo is inspired by two of history’s boldest adventurers: famous flyer Amelia Earhart and singing/dancing/comedienne Josephine Baker.

Dear Dragon

By Josh Funk, Rodolfo Montalvo (illustrator),

Book cover of Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale

George and Blaise are assigned to be pen pals and soon become friends during their correspondence. Unlike the reader/listener, the two don’t know one is human and the other is a dragon. I really enjoyed the book’s humor, which is due to dual perspectives shown by the illustrations. It’s amusing to see the characters’ assumptions when they receive letters. For example, when Blaise mentions his dad is in demolition, the human imagines a construction vehicle, while “in reality,” the dragon’s father knocks down castles with his strength and powerful wings.

Surprised when they meet, the two are able to look past their physical differences and enjoy their across-species connection. This book is a fun read with entertaining letters, clever rhymes, comical artwork, and a message of acceptance.

Dear Dragon

By Josh Funk, Rodolfo Montalvo (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dear Dragon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweet and clever friendship story in rhyme, about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath.

George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face?

"When I was a kid, my best friend was Josh Funk. Now he's becoming a friend to a whole new generation.”--B.J. Novak, author of The New York…


Who am I?

I've had 20 reproducible books published in the educational market, and more than 200 of my articles, word puzzles, poems, plays, and stories have appeared in magazines such as Highlights and on websites like the Disney-themed PassPorter.com. I enjoy creating book trailers and free activity kits which can be found on my website. One of my picture books is Dough Knights and Dragons. Curious about the origin of doughnuts, I created an imaginary tale about them with the goal of encouraging friendships of all kinds, setting children’s imaginations on fire, and motivating youngsters to always be hungry for books.


I wrote...

Dough Knights and Dragons

By Dee Leone, George Ermos (illustrator),

Book cover of Dough Knights and Dragons

What is my book about?

A knight and dragon meet serendipitously and bond over their love of baking. But the two secret friends are required by law to duel in an upcoming tournament. Can the unlikely pair cook up a plan to obey the edict but still save their friendship?

No matter what our differences ... tall or small, dragon or knight, castle inhabitant or cave dweller, there is always something we can find in common. Whether in an imaginary kingdom or a real-life setting, friendship rules. Children will devour this scrumptiously clever tale which shows that when conflicts arise, peaceful and creative problem solving can come to the rescue.

Bluebird

By Bob Staake,

Book cover of Bluebird

Bluebird is a wordless picture book with a bird as an animal friend. The story is cinematically presented with spare, selectively coloured, and exquisitely designed images. It is a touching and heartbreaking story about a bird who befriends a lonely boy and the tragic consequences brought on by carelessness and bullying. The level of care that went into every panel of every page from cover to cover is outstanding. Be swept up by this work of art!

Bluebird

By Bob Staake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bluebird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers will be captivated as they follow the journey of a bluebird as he develops a friendship with a young boy and ultimately risks his life to save the boy from harm. Both simple and evocative, this timeless and profound story will resonate with readers young and old.

'Deeply impressive and moving.' - Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

'A book of true beauty.'- The New York Times


Who am I?

I am an illustrator, author, and animator. When I write and draw, I hope to vividly bring characters and settings to life in the imaginations of readers. Mischievous dogs, mysterious old houses, and brilliant mathematicians are some of the subjects I’ve had the pleasure of putting on the pages of books. I love animals and art, so artistic picture books with animals at their heart, give me a lot of joy. Because the illustrations in a picture book tell stories, I look for artwork that expresses character, mood, and movement. The best picture books leave a mark in visual memory that connects to the feeling of a story.


I wrote...

Tricky

By Kari Rust,

Book cover of Tricky

What is my book about?

Tricky was my first picture book. It is about a pair of rascally troublemakers and what happens when one of them (a dog!) sees the error of his ways. It is a tale of revenge and reform told in a fun and lighthearted picture book. The story was inspired, in part, by some trickster dogs from my own life.

Book cover of Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World)

Lottie is a wise, steady chicken and Herbie is a silly, insecure duck, but their strong friendship is at the core of all the stories in this five-book series. Herbie is extremely jealous of Lottie’s new friend, Dodo. While Lottie is away, Dodo gets stuck on her roof, overcome with a fear of heights, and Herbie comes to her rescue. Herbie feels much better when Dodo says, Now I know…why Lottie says you can always count on Herbie…and that you are ze apple of her eye.” Our whole family is very attached to the endearing personalities of Lottie and Herbie and the stained, worn pages of our copies show how frequently they have been read.

Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World)

By Petra Mathers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lottie's New Friend (Lottie's World) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who does Lottie like best? Her old friend Herbie asks himself this question when an exotic new neighbour befriends her. That question - familiar to children everywhere - is answered with warmth, humour, and insight.


Who are we?

The subject of friendship can be explored endlessly, as every friendship is unique. I am especially drawn to stories of unlikely friendships that look at the surprising and interesting ways that we show up for one another. One of the things that I see in all of the stories that Giselle and I have chosen, is that these unusual friendships make a difficult, awkward, or downright scary world a better place to be. 


We wrote and illustrated...

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

By Jacky Davis, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Book cover of Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

What is our book about?

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks is the story of two dogs taking daily walks together and is told in four vignettes. Olive is very old and wise, and Pekoe is rambunctious and inexperienced, and even though they are significantly different, they are still the best of friends. Together they explore the woods, enjoy sticks, get caught in bad weather, and confront a mean bully in a dog park.

A starred Kirkus review, calls the book, “A delight.” And says, “Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text.”

Chez Bob

By Bob Shea,

Book cover of Chez Bob

A book about a lazy alligator who opens a restaurant on his nose so he doesn’t have to chase birds before eating them? Yes, please! I’ve always been a huge fan of Bob Shea’s work, but this book is next-level awesome. The voice is impeccable! It’s impossible to read this book without slipping into your best lazy alligator voice. The masterfully chosen words will draw it right out of you. I didn’t even know I had a lazy alligator voice until I read this book. My husband is not nearly as enamored with children’s books as I am, but even he loved Chez Bob and laughed a total of 11 times. There is no doubt this book is fiercely funny, but it is also utterly charming. Seeing Bob’s affection grow for his feathered friends is what makes him an endearing and enduring character. 

Chez Bob

By Bob Shea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chez Bob as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to Chez Bob, which seems like a real restaurant...until you realize...it's on an alligator's NOSE! Bob's got a hidden plan for his customers: "Birds will come to eat, but I will eat the birds!" As they fly in from all over the world to dine on Bob's face, something starts to happen that takes the lazy, hungry reptile by surprise -- the birds stay. "More yummy birds!" he rejoices -- he'll want for nothing! But when the time is right, will Bob make the right choice?

Comic genius Bob Shea cooks up a tasty tale that proves anyone, even…


Who am I?

Three of my favorite things are reading, writing, and laughing. So, of course, my favorite books are usually the ones that make me giggle. I also have a slightly dark sense of humor which means I have a soft spot for books where one of the characters may get eaten. But I think the very best books are ones where unexpected friendships occur instead. So often our perceptions about others are wrong, and if we just take the time to get to know the animal (or person) behind those extra sharp teeth, we may find we have more in common than we realized. 


I wrote...

My School Stinks!

By Becky Scharnhorst, Julia Patton (illustrator),

Book cover of My School Stinks!

What is my book about?

Dear Diary, Today is the first day at my new school and I think there’s been a mistake. My deskmate stinks, my locker buddy bites, and my teacher is unbearable! I told Mom my classmates are WILD ANIMALS, but she said all little kids are wild animals. I think I’m going to be sick tomorrow.

This hilarious back-to-school story is about a young boy who accidentally ends up at a school for real animals. When Stuart first arrives at Wildwood Elementary, not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm his nervous jitters. Stuart does his best to avoid his wild classmates, but soon learns friends come in all shapes, sizes, and species. 

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend is a rich and absorbing novel about the intense friendship between two young girls in the slums of Naples in the 1950s. Both girls, Elena and Lila, are poor and clever, and while they are often competitive, they learn to rely on each other. Ferrante creates a detailed and fascinating world, pulling the reader into the colour and drama of a poor neigbourhood in post-war Neapolitan Italy. At the same she creates a powerful and unforgettable picture of two girls trying to create a future for themselves. I recommend this to any reader who likes a strong narrative, engaging characters, and fine writing.

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked My Brilliant Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 5 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN ENGLISH WORLDWIDE

OVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN THE UK

OVER 14 MILLION COPIES OF THE NEAPOLITAN QUARTET SOLD WORLDWIDE

NOW A MAJOR TV SERIES

GUARDIAN 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY

58 WEEKS ON THE BOOKSELLER'S TOP 20 ORIGINAL FICTION BESTSELLERS LIST

SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2015

43 INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS DEALS

Now in B-format Paperback

From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but…


Who am I?

As a full-time writer of creative non-fiction, I am passionately interested in what makes us human. Like most people. I have always been fascinated by friendship and have had many friends throughout my life. I decided to write about friendship when a good friend 'pruned' me, that is, ended our friendship. I was bewildered and hurt and wanted to understand what had happened, which led me to write True Friends. When I discussed the topic with others, it turned out that most people had also experienced a friend break-up, but it was not much written about—until now!


I wrote...

True Friends

By Patti Miller,

Book cover of True Friends

What is my book about?

Friendships are among the most important relationships in our lives, often outlasting love affairs, marriages, even, at times, family connections. The loss of a friend can be one of life’s most disturbing events, yet these ‘friend break-ups’ are little acknowledged in our culture.

In True Friends, acclaimed author Patti Miller recounts the joyful making and then painful ending of a long, close friendship. It is a deep and influential relationship in her life, but when it inexplicably unravels, Patti is left searching for answers. As she tries to make sense of this ending, Patti considers other important friendships throughout her life, questioning who we are drawn to, what we really know of each other, and why some friendships endure while others end.

Two Naomis

By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Audrey Vernick,

Book cover of Two Naomis

I’m cheating and throwing in a middle grade novel! It’s that good! This one can be read independently or as a read-aloud. (Side note: I still read every night to my 14- and 10-year-olds and plan to for as long as they’ll let me.) A story about redefining family, Two Naomis explores the growing relationship—first antagonistic and slowly becoming loving—between Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith, whose parents become seriously involved. Hilarious and full of heart, this story is a great contemporary take on divorce and blended families. And Audrey and Olugbemisola are brilliant human beings and make a kick-ass writing team to boot!

Two Naomis

By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Audrey Vernick,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Two Naomis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A realistic contemporary story of two girls whose divorced parents begin to date—perfect for fans of Lisa Graff, Sara Pennypacker, and Rita Williams-Garcia. “A smart, endearing story about two girls who are blending families, growing up, and building a friendship.” (Kirkus starred review)

Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.

Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father…


Who am I?

When my sister got divorced, she and my nephew, Jordy, moved in with our parents. My mother was—and still is—a big music fan, and she decided to play the same music in her house that Jordy’s dad played in his. The music became a bridge; a way for Jordy to feel like he was at home in both places. I loved this and kept it tucked away for years before Here and There came to me. I feel passionate about helping kids find a way to feel safe and comfortable in themselves—no matter where they are or what they’re going through—and all the books on my list do this brilliantly.


I wrote...

Here and There

By Tamara Ellis Smith, Evelyn Daviddi (illustrator),

Book cover of Here and There

What is my book about?

After Ivan's parents separate, he has trouble finding joy at either of their homes until he discovers that the birds and music that he loves may be found in both places.

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