How to Help a Friend

Templar/Candlewick/. Dec. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536226676.
PreS-Gr 3–Everyone deals with life’s stresses in his or her own way. “Some friends need a great big hug…some prefer to be alone.” “Some friends want to watch TV, while others need to laugh.” This story, simply delivered in rhyming couplets, is accompanied by vibrant illustrations of a girl who has brown skin interacting with animal friends—a polar bear, an elephant, lemurs, and the like—in a variety of scenes ranging from her living room to Antarctic ice floes. The message: everyone is different. What makes one feel better may not work for another, and vice versa. Rather than focusing on intrinsic physical or personality traits, this book focuses on needs and behavioral proclivities, bringing a fresh take to the “it’s okay to be who you are” theme for young readers. While the focus of the story is on how different friends might react in a time of need, young readers will be introduced to a buffet of calming and self-regulation techniques, perhaps even finding things they can already relate to themselves. The most surprising lesson? “Some friends don’t want anything except to just feel sad.” And that’s okay.
VERDICT This book would surely be on Mister Rogers’s shelves, and is recommended for any SEL collection where books about empathy, understanding, and friendship are needed.

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