Making Friends: A Book About First Friendships by Amanda McCardie. Illus. by Colleen Larmour
Sukie is starting a new school and shares the concerns of every child in the same situation - will she make friends. But she soon learns that making friends can happen in all sorts of ways, big and small, even unexpected. However, it is not enough to make friends - you have to work on maintaining the friendships by respecting others' differences as well as the things you have in common.
So many children who have been restricted by stay-at-home orders in parts of Australia are separated from their friends right now - even though they have visual contact through online sources or audio through the phones, it is the physical, spontaneous face-to-face contact they are missing and which is impacting on their mental well-being. Even Miss 10, the family social butterfly, is worried that she will be forgotten and won't have any friends when school eventually returns.
If nothing else, this time at home has demonstrated the critical role schools play well beyond the formal academic teaching and this book would be a worthwhile addition to any teacher's toolkit as they help their students navigate making friends and being friends again after such a long social isolation. It has a wider reach than just supporting those who will be starting a new school as a new year approaches. Readers are invited to agree, disagree and add to the situations in which Sukie finds herself - should she be embarrassed and uncomfortable that Mikkel refuses her help with his jigsaw puzzle or is it OK to say no sometimes? And cleverly, illustrator Colleen Larmour has included a picture of someone sharing kindness on almost every page, opening up not only an opportunity to look closely but also the concept of doing a random act of kindness every day.
Our children are negotiating a tricky time at the moment, different but just as confronting as children in past generations, and the strategies and coping mechanisms we help them to develop now will play a large role in how they will survive and thrive. This book has a role to play in that.