Once children grow beyond toddlerhood, they begin to realize that there are people their own age around them, and that they might be interesting to play with. One of the ways they learn and grow is through exploring what it means to have and be a friend. What do friends do? Who can be friends? What does having a friend feel like? The issues of friendship can be endlessly interesting and frustrating for years. Books at your library can help your youngster try these things out without necessarily learning the hard way.
Start with the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. Featuring two lovable and funny characters -- an optimistic (and sometimes reckless) pig and a cautious, pessimistic elephant -- these books are easy enough for beginning readers, yet full of interest and humor. Children will love both the raw emotions as the two unlikely friends face different crises, and the humor that shines through the simplicity of the language. Titles in the series include: “I will surprise my friend”, “I love my new toy”, “Are you ready to play outside?”, “Elephants cannot dance”, “Watch me throw the ball”, “Pigs make me sneeze”, “Can I play too?” and “I am going”.
Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Continuing the idea of unlikely friends, Bink is wild and outgoing, while Gollie is reserved and quiet. Bink is short, while Gollie is tall. But the both love roller-skating. Three chapters explore the adventures of wildly bright socks, an impromptu trip to the Andes, and an unexpectedly marvelous pet. This still has lots of pictures and not too many words per page, and is a good next step up from Elephant and Piggie.
Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows. Seven-year-old Bean is always active and always getting into trouble, but when a new girl moves in across the street, she isn’t thrilled. The new girl looks like she’s stuck up and always has her nose in a book. When Ivy moves into a new house, she just knows that the strange and wild girl across the street wouldn’t be a suitable friend. What could they possibly have in common? Then one time, desperate to get away from her big sister, Bean hides near Ivy, and Ivy rescues her. Longer than “Bink and Gollie”, this series is perfect for ages 6-9; two more unlikely friends who have wonderfully funny adventures together.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. This old-fashioned series is a step up from the “Ivy + Bean” series, but again features unlikely friends who become inseparable. Betsy is the only girl her age in the neighborhood and is thrilled when a new girl moves in. After a rocky start, they finally become friends when Tacy comes to Betsy’s fifth birthday party – becoming so inseparable that people start referring to them with one name: “Betsy-Tacy”. They build a house out of a piano box, make a sand town, and play dress-up and go calling just like their mothers. This series has been loved for so long that its early 1900 setting has become historical fiction, but the deep friendship it portrays is still true for girls today.
The adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-fu cavemen from the future by George Beard and Harold Hutchins. Enough of these girly friend books, here’s one for the boys. From the author of the “Captain Underpants” books, and with a similar sensationally silly sense of humor, cave-guys Ook and Gluk and their pet dinosaur living hundreds of thousands of years ago have amazing adventures with time travel, evil corporations, and kung-fu. Forget worrying about their friendship, they’re like most boys and off having adventures saving the world!
These are some of the "friend" books that have crossed my desk recently. I invite you to come visit at the Information Desk, and we'll find the perfect book for you and your child!