5 Stories about Friendship

Saturday, November 14, 2020
This year during distance learning, my students have missed their friends! Seeking ways to support not just their speech and language goals, but their social-emotional development, I turn to my favorite tool - stories. Stories have helped my students feel safe tapping into and expressing feelings they otherwise may not have shared. 

Here are just a few preschool and early elementary favorites about friendships weathering the storms of time, distance, differences, and hurt feelings. 

  • "The Scarecrow" by Beth Ferry
"The Scarecrow" is a beautiful story of love between adversaries. All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow, but when he helps a baby crow, they form an unlikely friendship. When the crow grows stronger and flies away, Scarecrow misses his friend through the cold winter but is joyfully reunited with him in the spring. 

The language in this story is simple but poetic and offers opportunities to build vocabulary, phonemic awareness, and talk about the changing seasons. If you love this book as much as I do and are looking to dive a little deeper, this story companion offers questions for discussion and interactive visuals to retell the story. 

Themes: overcoming differences, opening your heart, hope

  • "The Lion and the Bird" by Marianne Dubuc

"The Lion and the Bird" is very similar to "The Scarecrow," offering a wonderful chance to compare and contrast the two stories. In it, a lion rescues a hurt bird who stays with him through the winter, flying away in the spring, then returning the following winter. 

This book is minimalist in its language and illustrations, relying primarily on dialogue. Many pages have no words at all, offering lots of opportunities to describe and infer. 

Themes: acceptance, patience, loyalty

  • "Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day" by Carmen Agra and Pete Oswald

"In two little houses, on two little hills, lived two best friends." Rita and Ralph meet every day to play under the apple tree between their houses. They do their special handshake and play their favorite games, until one day Ralph accidentally throws a rock and hurts his friend Rita. 

Rita and Ralph both have big feelings they have to learn to deal with in order to stay friends. Not only are the illustrations in this book adorable, they're wonderful for drawing attention to non-verbal cues and talking about feelings. Rita and Ralph's argument also creates space for students to share personal narratives about a time they overcame a disagreement with a friend. This book gets bonus points because it is also in Spanish!

Themes: forgiveness, compromise, making amends 

  • "Ollie and Augustus" by Gabriel Evans 

When Ollie starts school, he worries his dog Augustus will be lonely so searches to find him a friend. However, "None of the dogs seemed to understand Augustus' favorite things." 

The amusing illustrations offer lots of opportunities to describe what goes wrong on each of Augustus' playdates and make inferences about what each dog might be thinking. In the end, Augustus is ok, waiting patiently with a hug for Ollie to return from school. 

Themes: it's ok to be different, friends come in all shapes and sizes, love endures even when separated  

  • "The Hug" by Eoin McLaughlin

"The Hug" can be read from the perspective of the hedgehog by starting in the front, or the tortoise by starting in the back. All each animal wants is a hug, but Hedgehog is too prickly, and Tortoise is too hard. 

Both animals are rejected several times before meeting joyfully in the middle. This story is perfect for sequencing, retell and talking about attributes like "hard," and "prickly."

Themes: persistence, there's someone for everyone, the importance of connection

*Note: Eoin McLaughlin's latest, "While We Can't Hug," talks about other ways we can show love too! 

Isn't it amazing it how stories can touch our hearts? I hope you and your little ones enjoy these as much as we have. 

Have a favorite story that has gotten your kids through the year? Share it below! I'd love to hear from you!

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