It never fails, there always seems to be that moment where we with heavy hearts turn to our book shelves to find the perfect book to talk about loneliness. When we search for a book that will say the words that we seem unable to find ourselves. Teaching children means that there is a constant stream of friendships, both good and bad, and the heartaches that can sometimes come with growing up. So I scoured my bookshelves looking for some of our favorite books to talk about friendship, loneliness, and what it means to find your place in the world. Here are some of our favorites in room 235D.
I do not hide the fact that I think Meg Medina is a writing genius and her latest picture book, Mango, Abuela, and Me illustrated by Angela Dominguez is a must add toy our collection. I loved that the story centered on the loneliness we can feel when we do not know how to connect with others different than us, even when they are supposed to be alike.
I do not know how many lists of picture books I have placed The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig illustrated by Patrice Barton on, but I am sure it is many. I have used this book with several different age groups and they all get it, they can all connect, they have all felt invisible at some point.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal was the 2015 choice for Global Read Aloud’s picture book author study and she was amazing. Having 3 little girls means that unicorns are a regular topic of conversation and so when Uni the Unicorn illustrated by Brigetter Barrager came out it was a natural fit in our household. But it is not just a book for little girls, but rather a book that can remind all of us of what it feels like to be longing for one thing you are certain is out there, even when no one believes you.
What happens when a book is not read anymore, the same as when a child feels lonely. The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer and illustrated by Chris Sheban is a great conversation starter fora complex topic of loneliness and feeling forgotten.
What happens when a dog is unappreciated by those who own him; the dog names himself Sad. Sad the Dog written by Sandy Fussell and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit is a great example of how we can find our place among friends even if we start off wrong.
The Only Child illustrated by Guojing shines a light on the deepest kind of loneliness where a child flies into their imagination to combat the hours where they are alone. This is also a great wordless picture book to have students think of China’s one child policy which is the inspiration behind the story.
The Adventures of Beekle – the Unimaginary Friend the Caldecott medal winning book from 2015 by Dan Santat also speaks of loneliness and finding that one person that makes it all better. This book has also shown up on many of our lists and with good reason.
An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto is a must add for any picture book loving classroom. The story about Solomon who lives in a shelter and the small interactions that change his perspective is one that invites further reading and discussion.
A Piece of Home written by Jeri Watts and illustrated by Hyewon Yum is not published just yet, but can be pre-ordered and it deserves to be. The story of how a boy moves from his home country and tries to make new connections is one that many of our students can relate to and one that is sure to prompt students to share their won stories of feeling out of place.
Leo: A Ghost Story written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson is a book that I love as long as I don’t think about why Leo is a ghost. Once again it speaks of loneliness and the lengths we go to to try to make a friend.
Be A Friend by Salina Yoon is at the top of my mock Caldecott list for 2017. Through its sparse text and beautiful illustrations it tells a familiar tale of what can happen when we stay true to who we are.
There are so many picture books out in the world, which do you love for starting conversations about loneliness and friendship?