By Holly E. Newton

School time can be a wonderful time for children to not only learn educationally, but also learn how to socialize and make friends. The following books have some great examples to help children share, deal with feelings bad and good, accept, agree, feel good about themselves, show kindness and more. The books are all picture books and best suited for ages four though eight.

Bright SideThe Bright Side, by Chad Otis, is a most rewarding read at many levels.  Young boy and his parents have moved, due to economic circumstances, to an old school bus. His parents teach their son to look on the bright side of everything they do which helps him be optimistic about his life and himself. But when they finally park their bus so he can go to a real school, he finds himself trying to make friends and adjust. But he takes his parents advice to heart and continuously looks for the bright side. This story not only brings out how our thoughts and actions really can make for a brighter future, but it also sheds light on kids who don’t have many possessions. This book should help youngsters appreciate the blessings they have as well have a desire to help others in need.

Who Needs Friends?, by Jia Liu, shows a darling little owl who is in search of a friend. He approaches several groups of birds with attempts of asking if they want to hear a story, or a joke or even play a game. None seems interested. When he finally finds a friend, he’s happy and quick to help his friend. I especially like that last page showcasing Good Ways to Make Friends. The bright art was done with ink, colored pencil and digital collage.

invisible thingsInvisible Things, by Andy J. Pizza and delightfully illustrated using mixed-digital collage, gouache, pencil, colored pencil, and Adobe Photoshop by Sophie Miller, has to be one of the best and most unique books of this year so far. This marvelous book relates everything around us by exploring feelings, ideas and much more. This book also helps us becomes aware of the “why’s” of these subjects. The section about feelings is perfect for new school experiences. It goes into subject matter that may be hard for kids to verbalize like fear, worries, and anger. You may even discover something new about your child. More important, they may begin to understand why they feel the way they do about certain things. This book is excellent! Be sure to check out the clever end-pages.

Your Alien, by Tammi Sauer and wonderfully illustrated using Adobe Photoshop by Goro Fujita, has the most adorable little alien crash-land in the backyard of a young boy’s house. They immediately become great friends and the boy takes him to school where he causes some havoc and disruption. They race home for dinner where the little alien ends up enjoying eating some of the foam from the couch. But it all changes after mom and dad kiss their son goodnight, (they haven’t noticed the little alien). He is very sad. The boy discovers that he is homesick and also figures out how to call back the spaceship to rescue their tiny alien son. This book was first published in 2015.

Chompy has a Friend for Lunch, by Mark Satterthwaite and ingeniously illustrated digitally using Photoshop by Pedro Eboli, is a delightful and humorous interactive book.  Chompy is a monster and the question is can a monster and a human be friends. Chompy insists that, even though his parents and ancestors, all ate humans; he would not. However, as the story moves along, he may change his mind. There are also pages that open and extend out. Chompy addresses the reader making this a very fun and engaging read aloud.

TornadoI am a Tornado, by Drew Beckmeyer, is an excellent story filled with so much to learn and draw from. Tornado feels invisible and strong. Contrast that with a simple cow who is swept up in the turmoil of Tornado’s fury. The dialogue between Tornado and Cow is hilarious making this a perfect read aloud. The emotions of Tornado and the soothing calm of Cow showcases dealing with emotions as well as being a friend in need. But there is also a bit of science involving tornadoes with wind and temperature found woven into the storyline. This book is a must!

Linus, by Stuart Housmann, is illustrated digitally and is all about celebrating enjoying your uniqueness. Linus is a colorless rectangle but wants more. After leaving the confines of his straight and perpendicular town, he discovers color, shapes, and happiness. When he brings his new colorful squiggly friends back to his home, everyone finds that there is friendship and acceptance found in all of us.


You RuleYou Rule!, by Rilla Alexander, lists the endless possibilities of you. Each open page asks an insightful question directed to you. The descriptive words showcase a list beginning with the least possible answer to the highest and most positive word possible. The question How kind are you? lists ten possible words for you to select. Each word listed begins with a negative word and progresses to a most positive word: mean, as rude as a honking horn, thoughtless, well-meaning, obliging, considerate, understanding, as comforting as a story shared, generous and compassionate. The bright illustrations were rendered in rubber stamps and digital collage. This book will surely inspire kids to be and do better!