At the beginning of the school year, all our students are nervous to some degree about making friends. Some are feeling shy, or left out of groups of friends that may have formed last year, Others may feel confident, but lack the social skills needed to be friends – they haven’t yet learned to take turns, or to ask for a turn instead of just grabbing a toy, or to ask if they can join in a game.
Here are some of my favorite stories about how to make friends and how to be a good friend. Of course, since I’m a music teacher, I like to “musicalize” the stories by adding tunes or sound effects (like stomping feet), but you don’t have to. All of these stories are great on their own.
I love these ones because they’re not preachy at all – they don’t have a “message” that hits you on the head. But in a gently humorous way, they show what helping, sharing, and forgiveness look like – and how a little kindness can go a long way when it comes to making and keeping friends.
Chicken Chickens by Valeri Gorbachev Two little chicks go to the playground for the first time, and they’re afraid to go on the big playground toys. The other animals invite them to join in the fun, but they’re just too scared until a clever beaver helps them go down the slide, using a bit of ingenuity and a nice wide tail!
The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Witte Tico Tango is not behaving well. Whenever he sees a piece of fruit he wants, he just grabs it away with his beak from the other rainforest animals. He can’t hold all the fruit in his beak, though, and it falls to the ground. The other animals start to eat it, but when they see Tico Tango crying, they forgive him and invite him to share the feast. (This book has a sing-along CD included.)
I’m the Best! by Lucy Cousins Dog tells us he’s the best at everything – better at swimming than Donkey, better at digging than Goose, and so on. His friends feel bad until Mole realizes that actually, he’s the best at digging. And Ladybug, though small, is the best flying! Turns out each of Dog’s friends is better than he is at something. It’s Dog’s turn to feel bad – until his friends tell him he’s the best at being their best friend! (And having beautiful floppy ears.) Lucy Cousins’ illustrations are exhilaratingly fresh and colorful.
Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombault Poor Clarabella! She’s a crocodile, and it takes her a LONG time to brush her big crocodile teeth. So long, in fact, that she misses out on playing with her friends, Monkey, Rabbit, Zebra, and Leopard. Her friends fix the problem with a surprise gift for Clarabella – a super-long toothbrush! (This title is out of print, but well worth searching for through your library.)
Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry Oh my gosh, I LOVE this story so much. Mouse is sad – we never find out why – just having one of those days, maybe. His well-meaning friends try lots of ways to cheer him up – the birds think he’ll enjoy a trip to the treetops, the frogs take him for a swim, and so on, but their ideas don’t help. Finally, Chipmunk takes a look at mouse and, on a wordless page, gives him a warm hug. Turns out that was just what Mouse needed!