Tag Archives: friends

Making Friends

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

What does it take to be a good friend? Sharing adventures, working out problems, and accepting each other despite differences is a good foundation for a long-term friendship.

As the parent of a young child, you can model good friendships and show your child the type of supportive people that you want to have around that add meaning and richness to your life.

You can also talk to your child about what character traits you value as a family such as honesty, kindness, being a good listener, and being able to share. Reading books together about friendship gives you the opportunity to talk about the joys and the occasional frustrations of being and having a friend. Enjoy some of these stories and learn more about friendship.

  • “Carrot and Pea, an Unlikely Friendship” by Morag Hood. Can a small, round, green pea and a tall, straight, orange carrot stick be friends? With illustrations made of simple shapes and bold color, this clever story explains to the very young child how differences can be the bond for friendship.
  • “Stick and Stone” by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Much like “Carrot and Pea,” with one round and one straight character, this rhyming story goes into more detail about what it takes to be a friend through good times and rough patches. Even though friends can be very different from each other, true friends care about one another.
  • “George and Martha” short stories by James Marshall. These two goofy hippos are best friends and do everything together. They go to the movies, the beach, eat meals, and like all best friends, laugh together and sometimes have misunderstandings. Although written over 30 years ago, these stories are timeless.
  • “Gerald and Piggie” books by Mo Willems. When an elephant and a pig get together, anything can happen! Each story explores an emotion that arises in this unlikely friendship using very simple language, with just a few words on each page.
  • “Leonardo the Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems. Being terrible at being a monster means that you can’t scare anyone! Leonardo works at becoming scary, but when he succeeds he realizes that perhaps being kind is a better way to gain a friend than being frightening.

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Filed under Feelings, friendship

The Importance of Book Series


by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Some of the greatest books of all time have been part of a series. The Little House books, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. What compels us to start a series and what keeps us reading until the very end? More than that, why do book series matter?

There are two basic types of book series. The first involves books with interwoven plots, meant to be read sequentially, from the first book to the last. The second type may feature the same characters and setting but, lacking a chronological plot, these books can be read in any order without missing major pieces of the story. Both are equally appealing to readers for each of these reasons.

So what draws us into a series and what keeps us coming back for more? When reading a series, we know there is the promise of more adventures with beloved characters to come after finishing the first book. Having a blank slate stretching multiple volumes, an author is able to develop more complex scenarios and character personalities, deepening our relationship with these fictional friends. Seeing characters work through conflict, take on increased responsibility, and grow in their relationships throughout a series is especially rewarding for children and allows them a type of reference for their future experiences. All of this, in turn, captures our attention and sparks our interest, bringing us back for more. And the more we read, the more we love reading- and that’s what’s important.

Visit your local library to rediscover the book series of your childhood or to fall in love with a new favorite you can share with the young readers in your life.

Favorite Book Series:
“The Magic School Bus” by Joanna Cole
The “Bear” series by Karma Wilson
“If You Give a….” series by Laura Numeroff
“Berenstain Bears” collection by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“Skippyjon Jones” books by Judy Schachner
“Llama, Llama” books by Anna Dewdney

“The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner
“Mr. Putter and Tabby” by Cynthia Rylant
“Imagination Station” by Paul McCusker
“The Magic Tree House” by Mary Pope Osborne
“The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson
“Tales of Magic” by Edward Eager
“Mercy Watson” by Kate DiCamillo
“Time Warp Trio” by Jon Scieszka
“Binky the Space Cat” by Ashley Spires

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Filed under activities, autumn, award winners, bedtime, children's books, classics, family reading, friendship

Learning “Same and Different” Helps Children Expand Ideas

Recently a friend shared news from her son’s preschool class about how the children are learning the “things they have in common” as a way to make friends. They explored what is the same and different about they things they like to do, their favorite memories, and the food they like the most.

You can play this game at home. Ask everybody in your family about their “favorites.” Make it specific to your family. What is each person’s favorite family dinner, the favorite place in your home, a favorite memory from the last holiday? (My answers: macaroni and cheese with ketchup, the chair with the footstool in my living room, my 3-year-old twin nephews frosting the cake.)

What is the same and different about your family members? Can your children come up with their own questions to ask the family? You’ll find out things about each other that you may not have known before asking, and you’ll be giving your child new words and ideas.

Here are some books to read to your young child about being the same or different:

“You and Me” by Giovanni Manna. A boy and a girl are friends, but are different in so many ways. They play a game of contrasts: “I’m heavy, You’re light; You’re dark, I’m bright.” Despite all of their opposite qualities, they find some important ways they are the same. The illustrations are each framed with images that expand on the text and encourage discussion.

“Elmer’s Special Day” by David McKee. Elmer doesn’t look the same as his friends. He’s a brightly colored patchwork elephant and everyone else in the herd is gray. Elmer is happy about his uniqueness, however, and on “Elmer’s Special Day” all the other elephants dress up in crazy colors and Elmer becomes gray, just for fun, to see what it is like.

“Go Dog, Go!” by P.D. Eastman. This classic never gets old. “Big dog, little dog, yellow dog, blue dog.” The text is brief and the illustrations are to the point, but the story of all these dogs, with their similarities and differences, keeps children engaged and wanting to hear more.

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A Peaceful Household Can Start with Read-Aloud

Imagine a day in your family’s life without blaming and arguing. No pouting, whimpering, or throwing a tantrum! How about a day free from grabbing, name-calling, or teasing? It’s possible!

Growing up carries a certain amount of selfishness. Children have a difficult time understanding how someone else feels, and so “I want it MY way!” is often the ONLY way! Home can seem like a battle zone when disagreements heat up tempers!

Creating harmony in your family can be challenging, but is always worthwhile. Start with yourself and build your household serenity by modeling how to stay calm.

Sometimes it’s difficult, but take some deep breaths and listen more than you talk. Show your child that you respect his or her thoughts and feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. Explain to your child that other people may think and feel differently. The more you talk together as a family about situations and how to resolve conflicts, the better equipped your child will be when away from you.

A good day to start some new family habits is on September 21, International Peace Day. This is a world-wide day for recognizing peace, beginning with children. Find ideas on how to celebrate the day at http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org. Fold an origami peace dove, make a peace pinwheel, or plant a peace rock. (Directions are on the website.) And make sure to read books together that give your child ideas on how to live a peaceful life!

• For young children, Suzanne Bloom’s bear and goose characters overcome their differences and find ways to be friends in her books “A Splendid Friend, Indeed” and “What About Bear?” The richly colored illustrations have just a few words per page, but the story of a peaceful friendship is strong.

• For older children, the classroom provides many opportunities to practice getting along with others. In “Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Anne Kennedy, the students in one classroom at school all agree to spend one week being nice. No fighting or saying mean things allowed! Time after time the students forget and say rude things to each other, but in each case, they eventually remember to not jump to conclusions and to compromise.

• “The Recess Queen” by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, is a book you’ll want to read to yourself first, to see if it is one you want to share with your child. The main character, Mean Jean, is a real bully at school. She always gets her way, wins at every game, and dominates the playground. (To me, she’s a little scary!) But, the story has a great heroine, the new kid, Katie Sue. Although she is small, Katie Sue stands up to Mean Jean and even finds a way that they can be friends.

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Make Friends with Books!

Starting with his or her first smile, a baby is on the way to making friends. But the concept of friendship changes drastically as a child grows.

At first, a young child is centered on himself.  A baby responds positively to familiar faces, but treats other babies more like toys to explore. A pre-schooler’s friends are usually those children who just happen to be close at hand and have the same interests. Friendships are not consistent at this age.

By the time a child enters elementary school, she will have had experience sharing and may start understanding other people’s feelings and show compassion. It all takes time and maturity.

Making friends helps children learn how to communicate and cooperate. They practice controlling their emotions and try out ways of responding to others. Ultimately, when a child finds a friend who enjoys similar activities and outlook, it makes both of their lives richer.

Reading stories about friendship with your young child can open up conversation about what it means to be a friend, without being too directive. Try some of these books:

• “Boy + Bot” by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. The unlikely friendship between a boy and a robot flourishes when they both find out the ways they are the same and agree to accept their differences.


• “All Kinds of Friends, Even Green!” written and photographed by Ellen B. Senisi. This is the true story of a boy named Moses, who was born with spina bifida, as he reflects on what makes a friend. Not at all sentimental, this story is a straightforward look at how Moses comes to realize that one of his favorite friends is Zaki, an iguana with special needs. Moses says, “Even though she looks different than me, something inside her is the same as me. And we like each other. That is what I think being friends is all about.”

• “Nutmeg and Barley: a Budding Friendship” by Janie Bynum. A squirrel and a mouse don’t seem to have much in common. One lives high in a tree in the sunshine and the other lives in a hollow log on the ground in the shade. They try to befriend each other but through some miscommunication, their friendship fizzles. With some work at being understanding, they get over their hurt feelings and realize they have a lot in common after all.

• “One Cool Friend” by Toni Buzzeo, pictures by David Small. “Elliot was a very proper young man,” the story begins. This humorous tale of Elliot, his be-speckled father, and a real penguin, take the reader on a wild adventure that shows how much fun a new friend can be. Illustrations are mostly black line drawings with pops of color. The extra details in the pictures make re-reading the book a delight.

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