Monday 7 August 2017

Will You Be My Friend?

Author: Molly Potter,  Illustrator: Sarah Jennings
Featherstone Education/Bloomsbury Publishing 2017
Complimentary copy provided by Bloomsbury Education in exchange for an honest review. 

Excerpt from back: Will You Be My Friend? is full of practical advice on helping children understand how to make friends, what it means to be a true friend and how to cope with broken friendships. Enjoy sharing this book with your child and help them navigate their way through the sometimes confusing world of friendships. 
Friendship is a key ingredient for creating a sense of belonging and feelings of security. However, forming and maintaining friendships is not always easy: children need to engage in pro-social behaviours such as initiating play, co-operating, understanding different view-points, sharing, turn -taking and solving problems. 

'Will You Be My Friend' is a great resource for teachers and parents,offering little readers a chance to reflect on social skills and think about what it takes to be a good friend. As adults we can't make friends for children, but we can help them to understand the key ingredients of friendly behaviour. 'Will You Be My Friend' suggests practical things to do & ways to behave e.g. asking questions to show someone you're interested or making eye contact while apologising. 

A dip-in guide book, it covers 12 main areas: 
What is a friend?
How do I make friends?
What can friends do together?
What to do when a friend upsets you?
What makes us a good friend?
What might make us a not-so-good friend?
How could you show a friends that you care?
What do your friends think of you?
What would your perfect friend be like?
Nice things you could say to a friend
How to help a friend who is upset
Saying sorry to a friend
Each double page spread gives eight examples and pictures of friendly behaviour. For example, if you'd like to show a friend that you care, you could notice new things about them, show concern for how they feel or make a card for their birthday.  With simple language and practical examples, children can easily relate to the content. 

The only example I don't feel comfortable with is the suggestion that, 'A friend is someone who we trust to keep our secrets.' While trust and keeping confidences are indeed a key part of relationships and important social skills, this book appeals to a young age range.As a parent and educator, I tell my three and four year olds that it's important not to have secrets. For slightly older children, in my opinion, this example warrants important discussion about good and bad secrets, or the difference between a surprise and a secret. 

Cute and colourful vignettes each depict a social scene-  allowing the child to identify what's happening and reflect on the emotions of characters.
Ideal for sharing at the start of the school/pre-school year when new friendships are forming, this book is a great resource for the PSHE/SPHE library shelf and can be revisited at any time, to offer gentle reminders about pro-social behaviours & explore ideas for maintaining friendships.For example,if a friend has upset you, you can tell them how you're feeling (using 'I statements'), listen to each other or clearly explain what would help you feel better. 
Importantly, it also describes behaviours which could be not-so friendly, helping children to reflect on things that may 'risk upsetting or annoying another person'  e.g. boasting, interrupting others or teasing. For some children, such explicit examples may be helpful.
The book also includes a guide for parents with information about empathy skills, using 'I messages', and advice about how we as adults can be important role models for children by valuing and working at our own friendships.

I look forward to sharing this book both as a parent and an early childhood professional. 'Will You Be My Friend" is a gem of a book  and a valuable tool to support social learning.

Available at the affiliate links below. 

You may also find the following links helpful:
Parenting Science: 'How to Help Kids Make Friends.
Child Mind Institute: 'Kids Who Need A Little Help To Make Friends- what parents can do'
Extension.Org: 'Young Children Need Friends' 

See also 'How Are You Feeling Today?' from the same author & illustrator
Happy Reading, 
Missus B

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