My Friends: Books for Young Children

These books for young children celebrate the importance of friendship, as well as the ups and downs that friends sometimes go through together. This booklist also highlights a diverse range of cultures and abilities among friends.

Related resources

A Letter to Amy

Age Level: 3-6

Peter finds a special way to invite Amy, the only girl and a singular friend, to his birthday party. But the wind catches his letter just as he puts it in the mailbox. Keats' well-liked character (first introduced in A Snowy Day) is back for another everyday drama.

A Tisket, a Tasket

Illustrated by: Ora Eitan
Age Level: 3-6

The song made famous by jazz great Ella Fitzgerald in the 1930s has been re-created, re-energized and newly presented in a picture book version. Sprightly cut paper collage illustrations show two children losing and ultimately finding both a lost basket and a friendship.

Bein' With You This Way

Illustrated by: Laura Bryant
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: On a beautiful sunny day, an African American girl visits the park and rounds up a group of her friends for an afternoon of fun and playground games. As they play, this happy crew discovers that despite their physical differences — straight hair, curly hair; brown eyes, blue eyes; light skin, dark skin — they are all really the same. With the irresistible and exuberant beat of a playground rap, Bein' with You This Way invites readers of all ages to join in this celebration of diversity.

Benny Doesn't Like to Be Hugged

Illustrated by: Purple Wong
Age Level: 3-6

A little girl uses rhyming verse to describe the unique traits of her autistic friend. Benny likes trains and cupcakes without sprinkles, but he can also be fussy sometimes. The narrator doesn’t mind, however, because “true friends accept each other just the way they are.” A gentle story encouraging children to appreciate and accept our differences.

Best Friends

Illustrated by: Maria Victoria Torrey
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

Join two best friends, an Asian Indian boy and girl, as they spend an active day outdoors running, climbing, sliding, and more. Spanish version available.

Block Party (Confetti Kids)

Illustrated by: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Age Level: 3-6

The neighborhood is having a block party where everyone is responsible for bringing a food dish. Padma is excited about the party until she learns that her mother is planning to bring lentil soup. Padma thinks soup is so boring! Everyone else will bring fun things like pizza or hot dogs. Plus Padma worries that her friends won’t like the soup—but to her delight, she discovers that they not only like the soup, they want to learn how to make it.

Burro's Tortillas

Illustrated by: Jacqueline Rogers
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: In this humorous Southwestern retelling of "The Little Red Hen," Burro finds it difficult to get any help from his friends as he diligently works to turn corn into tortillas. In addition to its Southwestern flavor and clever puns, the delightful story imparts an accurate picture of the traditional way that tortillas are made. (Spanish version available through Kindle.)

Estela's Swap

Illustrated by: Enrique Sanchez
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Estela is attending her first swap meet, where she plans to sell a music box to make money for lessons with the Ballet Folklórico. When a strong wind ruins the flowers the woman across from her is selling, Estela decides to give her the music box so she can listen to cheerful music while she makes new flowers. Although Estela may not have enough money for the lessons, her heart is full. And in this charmingly illustrated story, the flower seller has a wonderful surprise for Estela.

Everybody Wears Braids

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

A celebration of the many different ways a multiracial group of seven friends braid their hair. Spanish version available.

Fishing Day

Illustrated by: Shane Evans
Age Level: 3-6

Reenie and her mother often fish along a river nicknamed Jim Crow, where they often see Peter and his father fishing, too. Since Reenie is black and Peter is white, they never speak — until Reenie reaches out to bridge a divide even wider than the river. A hopeful ending concludes this expressively illustrated recollection of the author's childhood.

I'm New Here

Age Level: 6-9

Maria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to their American elementary school. The words that they hear around them and see on the page are confusing. They each long for the language that they understand and the friends who understand them back home. They feel as though they don’t fit in—they are alone, confused, and sad in their new school. After observing those around them, each new student slowly gains the confidence to interact with their new surroundings. They realize that their peers and teachers are very supportive, welcoming, and excited to learn what these new classmates have to share.

Jamaica's Find

Illustrated by: Anne Sibley O'Brien
Age Level: 3-6

Though Jamaica wonders who lost the stuffed dog and struggles with the decision to try and find its owner, she ultimately returns it to the playground where she found it. When the dog is reunited with its rightful and very relieved young owner, Jamaica finds a new friend.

Let's Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends

Age Level: 3-6

Until children get to know someone who may seem different, they often respond to them with fear or anxiety. That usually changes when people become known as individuals. Six children with different disabilities are introduced in an even, calm text and authentic photographs while typical children’s responses to them are explored and validated.

Music Time

Illustrated by: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Age Level: 3-6

Henry dreams of becoming a rock star drummer and practices at home whenever he can. One day while Henry is drumming, his mom has to work, and asks him to stop playing. Henry decides to go outside to play his drum and he sees his friends. Henry wants to keep practicing, but he also wants to play with his friends. By playing Freeze Dance, he can do both. And when his mother finishes work that evening, they figure out how to enjoy music together too.

My Pal, Victor

Illustrated by: Robert Sweetland
Age Level: 6-9

Dominic and Victor are friends who share stories, jokes, and games and cheer each other on. At the end of the book, readers discover something special — the boys don't let the fact that Victor is in a wheelchair get in their way of having fun! Colorful illustrations bring this simple yet thoughtful story to life. Winner of ALA's 2004 Schneider Family Award.

New Words, New Friends

Illustrated by: Diego Jimenez Manzano
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

New Words, New Friends is a storybook resource for teachers, librarians and parents to teach young children who speak different languages how to learn and play together. This heartwarming story of friendship that grows under the guidance of a nurturing and mindful teacher is the backdrop for an intentional social story on building communication skills for children in culturally and linguistically diverse preschools, story hours, or child care programs.

One Green Apple

Age Level: 6-9

In this heartwarming story, Farah is trying to get used to a new country and language. She knows what's happening around her, but without the words to say what she's thinking in English, she feels alienated from her classmates. A trip to the apple orchard helps her begin to bridge those gaps, however, and she realizes that "Laughs sound the same as at home." As she practices her first "outside-myself word," she knows that she will be able to say more in time. Beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Farah, her classmates, and the apple orchard to life.

One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

The Chinese-American girl introduced in Round Is a Mooncake (2000) and Red Is a Dragon (2001, both Chronicle) counts her favorite things. In bouncy verse, she engages in activities with her multicultural friends and family…A glossary gives two-sentence explanations for the Asian elements, from Eight Immortals to mahjong tiles, adding versatility and ethnic interest to the book without intruding on its simplicity. — School Library Journal

Rosa Rides Her Scooter

Age Level: 3-6

Let’'s find out which toys Rosa and her friends are playing with today! An important series that celebrates inclusivity, promotes gender equality and embraces the uniqueness of every child.

Under My Hijab

By: Hena Khan
Age Level: 6-9

Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab.

Want to Play? (Confetti Kids!)

By: Paula Yoo
Illustrated by: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Age Level: 3-6

It’s a warm, sunny day, and the gang heads to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Henry wants to play basketball, and Padma wants to play Follow the Leader. Finally Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!

We Play Music

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

It’s a celebration of sound when a group of neighborhood children gather on a stoop to play their instruments. Spanish version available.