“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” – William Shakespeare
Thank goodness for friends! They are what make life full of connection and adventure. They are the inspiration for my new picture book, You and Me, which considers the journey, the what-ifs, and the serendipity that brings friends together.
Friendship is a common theme in children’s picture books because it is the place where kids learn to navigate the world at large. Friendships teach us how to share, listen, empathize, work things out, be selfless and vulnerable, and learn about the kind of person we want to be. Through the years I’ve read countless wonderful children’s books about friendship and all of its components. I would love to share a few of my favorites.
Amos and Boris by William Steig: This is a beautiful tale of a friendship forged between a mouse and a whale. Their friendship begins as Boris the Whale saves Amos the Mouse, who finds himself fighting for his little life in the middle of the great big ocean. As Boris carries Amos to safety they share their stories and dreams and become fast and deep friends. Amos wonders how he can ever repay Boris for saving his life and ultimately gets the chance to prove the depth of his friendship when Boris becomes beached on the shore. I love this book because it shows how true friends find a way to be there for each other no matter the obstacles. I can’t help shedding a tear or two when reading this story.
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems: This is just one of the stories in the “Elephant and Piggie” series, all of which tackle the layers and challenges of friendship with simplicity and humor. This particular story makes me laugh out loud when a snake wants to join in Gerald (Elephant) and Piggie’s game of catch. The dilemma? Snake has no arms (albeit a great sense of humor)! But Gerald and Piggie are determined to include their new friend and keep his self-esteem intact. I must have read this one hundred times and with each read I laugh and feel proud of the way these friends find a solution.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers: This is the story of a boy who finds “a penguin at his door.” Deciding the penguin must be lost, the boy does everything in his power to bring the penguin home to the South Pole only to realize that “home” is being with each other. The boy’s empathy and kindness and the connection between these two characters, expressed in so few perfectly chosen words, makes me ache in my heart.
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel: I like this series of short and sweet stories because they tell of a friendship that is already well established. Frog and Toad’s personalities balance each other out and they know just how to care for each other and run interference when life gets them down. Each tale is sweet and tender with a little bit of an edge and an appreciation for the occasional curmudgeon in all of us.
My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann: This story is the ultimate friendship tale of acceptance and appreciation. Through bold and beautiful illustrations, Mouse expresses his love for his friend Rabbit, in spite of the trouble that always seems to follow him. We all have friends like this (or maybe we are that friend)! Although the situation is fantastical, the message of the story is real and full of fun!
These stories have touched my heart and captured the true meaning of friendship.
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