Reading stories about people of a similar age is one of the recommended ways for children to build empathy for others and get a sense of how to thrive in everyday life, from their school days to holidays and during more troubling times.

We’ve gathered together some of the books which have been published to entertain children and to lend parents a hand with the ups and downs of childhood friendships, being a good friend and learning to share.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
This is a much-loved classic tale of a spider and a pig who are great friends. We think this Puffin book is perfect for reading aloud as a family and we always find it difficult to put down. A key message of this classic is the importance of being kind to each other.

Frog and Toad are Friends, Arnold Lobel
We suggest you save space on their shelf for this picture book of short stories which are all about treasuring our friendships. Described as gentle in tone and perfect for stimulating conversation with children.

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon
A paperback book in which the character Dennis shows what it takes to be a friend by interacting and honouring differences between all of us. Acceptance, true friends and celebrating differences are key themes.

Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine by Holly Hobbie
This book tells a sweet story of friendship and patience with adorable illustrations and covers why even when our friends are in bad moods we can help them out. Like a hug in print.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
All about sharing – thinking about sharing, deciding to share, the joy in sharing and what becomes of the ice cream! We love the facial expressions of the characters in this joyous picture book. You might find yourself reading this children’s book every day!

Hello Friend! by Rebecca Cobb
New in 2019 is a picture book about kindness, empathy and friendship from the award-winning Rebecca Cobb. The publishers sum it up as telling the story of one big-hearted and enthusiastic little girl who is insistent on making friends with a certain little boy. And why wouldn’t he want to be friends with her? She’s very good at sharing.

For more practical advice on building empathy, visit

For more inspiration visit The Booktrust for books about friendship, here

For some books to help older primary school children with bullying, visit