Book Week 2021: The best books about friendship for kids and young adults

It’s Book Week across Australia, and we wanted to share with you some of our favourite books about friendship. Friendships are a huge part of the human experience, and help us feel a sense of connection and belonging. We asked our staff for their favourite books about friendship to mark Book Week, and celebrate the best fictional peer-to-peer relationships.

Here are the top picks from the Peer Support Australia team.

1. A young adult book about accepting difference

Sophie Sedgwick, one of our Wellbeing Consultants, chose Wonder by R.J. Palacio as her favourite book about friendship. She is not alone. Wonder has been a New York Times’ bestseller for five years in a row. It was also listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time.

According to Wonder’s website: “It tells the story of August Pullman, who was born with a facial deformity and wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid.  He decides to leave the relative safety of home schooling to start school in Year 5 at Beecher Prep.  A beautifully written and moving story, told from Auggie’s point of view, but also from the perspective of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend and others – each with their own beliefs, experiences and personalities.  This is a story about friends and what true friendship is about.”

There are also resources available on the book’s website for teachers to use in the classroom.

2. A series of humorous books for primary school kids

Kate Dorrell, our Content Creator, has read the Weirdo series at least three times, which is a lot considering there are currently 16 books in the series. But there’s a good reason Anh Do’s kids’ books dominate the Australian best seller lists.

Kate says: “Weirdo is a likeable boy who has lots of fun with his school friends, Henry and Bella. My kids – aged 5 and 7 – love these books because they’re funny and relatable. I like them because there’s a subtle message of inclusion and kindness throughout the stories.”

3. Life lessons for kids (and adults)

Sara Blackburn, our General Manager, has bought The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse for all of her nephews and nieces.

Sara says: “Rather than a story, it is a collection of deep and profound thoughts that are the essence of supportive, other person centred friendships.”

Maeve Turner, our Administration Officer, chose this book as her favourite too.

She says: “The message of hope and kindness is beautifully complimented by incredible illustrations, which truly brings this story of friendship to life. When reading this book, it is like you are being held in a warm embrace and reminded life is full of purpose, and embracing all it has to offer; the good, the bad, the sad, the hurt, the love and the joy, is the bravest thing you can do. As we follow the individual journeys of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse we learn that even though we each see life differently, we all offer something valuable, and love and friendship will always bring us together.”

4. A classic for young adults

Michael Harris, our Social Media Manager, says The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis was ‘a favourite of mine from a young age’.

It’s part of the Narnia series, and tells the story of a boy who discovers he isn’t who he thought he was and goes on an adventure, uncovering his real identity along the way and embracing what that means for him.

Michael says: “It is a simple story but one where friendships formed along the way are a key part of his journey, and in the character development of those he meets.”

5. A picture book filled with furry and feathered friends

Jill Pearman, our other Wellbeing Consultant, loves children’s books with powerful learnings.

“I don’t get to read too many these days, now the kids are grown up,” she says.

Jill recommends a picture book by award-winning author, Richard T. Morris: Bear Came Along.

Jill says: “This one is fun and highlights the importance of friends. A lovely picture book that celebrates the joy and fun of an adventure with friends, Big Bear, Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons and Duck.”

6. An award-winning Australian book for younger kids

Our CEO, Greg Cantwell, found it hard to pick just one book. But he decided to go with Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey.

Greg says: “Often best friends have similar interests and enjoy the same things. Pearl and Charlie are best friends, yet they are very different from each other. A lovely read about friendship and what the meaning of being a friend is. Pearl and Charlie teaches readers that friends look out for each other, they support each other, they give confidence and courage to each other and they are always there for one another. I love the way it shows how sweet, loving, caring and forgiving true friendship can be, too.”

7. An Australian kids’ classic

Nadia Kudiarskyj, our Program Leader, says her favourite book about friendship is the Australian children’s classic: Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen.

Nadia says: “Its not so much the story in the book – the idea is funny and super simple but has always had a great impact on my students  – I love how the book breaks through the illusion that it’s the big things in life that take you down (that will sink the boat) but that actually it can be the littlest of things that can result in a meltdown moment (the boat sinking) – as a result of course of the ‘bigger’ things not being acknowledged… and eventually weighing you down.”

“In friendships its always good to be reminded of this .. so when you see and feel a friend not at their best, not quite themselves or reacting to something that they normally wouldn’t. Check in and ask what’s really going so that the support they get is the right support they need – and not the support that simply addresses the tiny little mouse.  A book for any age at any stage in life in friendships.”

What are your favourite books about friendship?

We would love to hear! Let us know on social media by tagging us into your post.

Find out more about Book Week at The Children’s Book Council of Australia.