Two young girls hugging in nature

10 Books to Celebrate Friendship and Kindness

Do you remember how you met your childhood best friend? Not where or when you met them, but how you met them. Did you bond over a favorite crayon or say hi at the swings? Maybe they invited you to their lunch table in the cafeteria? As with any relationship, friendships start with kindness, but where do children learn these important life lessons?

Children mimic what they see IRL, but books are also a great resource to help model important qualities of friendship like kindness, compassion, generosity, and self-esteem.

Introducing Big Heart World

First Book’s mission focuses on educator support to provide equal access to education; however, many of our resources also support families. We’ve recently partnered with Big Heart World, an organization dedicated to helping children grow up confident and ready to share their emotions, to curate book lists that match their monthly themes.

Two young girls hugging in nature

Our Friendship Book Picks

To celebrate July’s Friendship theme, Our Marketplace Title Selection team handpicked 10 books educators can add to their classroom libraries and parents can add to their home bookshelves. Eligible educators, supporting Title I schools and organizations can shop our collection on our Marketplace for brand-new books at a reduced cost; families can shop these titles and support First Book through Bookshop.org. 10% of your purchase directly supports First Book.

1. The Kindness Book

Written by Todd Parr
No matter what other people choose to do, you can always choose to be kind—and what a wonderful thing to be! Today’s parents and teachers are looking for ways to instill empathy and kindness in children at a young age—this book is the perfect introduction to a timely and timeless topic.

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2. Ways to Welcome

Written by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by  Joey Chou
When everyone knows they’re welcome, the world is a better place—and you might just make a new friend. This timeless picture book about small acts of kindness in a big world is one that kids and grown-ups will reach for again and again.

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3. Thank You, Omu!

Written by Oge Mora
Award-winning author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu’s stew, with an extra serving of love.

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4. We’re All Wonders

Written by R. J. Palacio
Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy from Wonder on an original adventure.

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5. Jenny Mei Is Sad

Written by Tracy Subisak
This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for introducing kids to the complexity of sadness, and to show them that the best way to be a good friend, especially to someone sad, is by being there for the fun, the not-fun, and everything in between.

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6. Be Kind

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Jen Hill
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference—or at least help a friend.

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7. Our Little Kitchen

Written by Jillian Tamaki
With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another.

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8. I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

Written by Kerascoët
Inspired by real events, I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help.

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9. Chrysanthemum

Written by Kevin Henkes
For nearly thirty years, Chrysanthemum has been a household and classroom favorite, celebrating diversity, self-esteem, and acceptance for every child who has ever felt out of place for being different.

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10. You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood

Written by Aimee Reid, Illustrated by Matt Phelan
You Are My Friend is a gentle homage to Fred Rogers and shows how his simple message still resonates with us today: “There’s no person in the world like you and I like you just the way you are.”

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Ready to Partner with Us?

First Book works closely with leading businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to promote equal access to quality education for kids in need. Together, we have distributed more than 200 million new books and learning materials to schools and programs serving children from low-income families.

We are deeply grateful for the support of our generous partners and eager to collaborate with other outstanding organizations that care about making a difference on behalf of kids and heroic educators. We would love to explore ways to work together and provide many more books and resources to kids who need them.

To learn more about partnering with First Book, contact us at 202.393.1222 or e-mail us.

image of a young woman laying in the grass, smiling and reading a book. There is light blue boxes with purple text that say, 'Share Your Favorite Summer Read for Our New Online Album. Take a selfie with your favorite summer read and upload it by July 22 to celebrate our First Book family and the work we’re doing together! Send your selfie.'