Celebrate the differences that make life richer and more interesting with this inclusive board book about a budding friendship.
I am messy. You are neat.
I like salty, you like sweet.
What’s your favorite treat to eat?
Will you be friends with me?
I received this book free to review; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no cost to you.
Will You Be Friends with Me?
by Kathleen Long Bostrom & illustrated by Jo de Ruiter
Age Range: Baby – 3 years
Grade Level: Preschool and up
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: WorthyKids (July 7, 2020)
Making friends is something all children do, but sometimes it can feel scary. They might worry that no one will like them or that they are too different to find a friend. In this sweet board book, the narrator lists all the ways children can be different from a prospective friend: “I wake early. You sleep late. My hair’s curly. Yours is straight. I say, ‘Now!’ You say, ‘Wait?’ Will you be friends with me?” Instead of worrying that these differences will make friendship impossible, the narrator decides that: “We’re all different. That’s okay! Life is much more fun that way.” Perfect for children heading to school or any child in a new situation trying to make friends, this encouraging book reassures readers that diversity is what makes friendship–and life–so interesting.
In a time when our differences are front and center in the news and social media, Will You Be Friends with Me is the book we need. Yes, this is a children’s book, but we adults could use this reminder too – we don’t have to be alike to be friends! This should be obvious! Do you like everything your friends do? Of course not!
The children in Will You Be Friends with Me know this. They’ve got different interests, different personalities, different abilities, and they look differently. Do these differences separate them? Do they fight over whose hair is best or whose choice of snack is best? No! That’s just silly!
I absolutely love the message that Will You Be Friends with Me conveys to kids. The illustrations are adorable and fit just right with the lessons of kindness and acceptance that the book shares. I highly recommend that you buy this book for the little ones in your life.
Special thanks to, Kathleen Long Bostrom for writing this guest post!
My mom sang us the goofiest songs when we kids were growing up. They’re imprinted in my memory like a duckling on her mama. One of the songs, appropriately enough, references a duck. It popped into my head as I pondered what I’d write in this blog about kindness sung to the tune of “Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue”):
Be kind to your web-footed friends.
For a duck may be somebody’s mother.
As goofy as that song was, the advice is sound. Be kind to others, because.
- Everyone is someone’s mother—or father, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend.
- Kindness makes the world a better place.
- We’d all prefer to be being treated kindly by someone rather than being criticized, ridiculed, belittled, or ignored.
Treat others the way you want to be treated, to paraphrase a certain oft-quoted and much read book.
And most importantly, perhaps, in this day and age, or any day and age, be kind to those who are not the same as you, who are different. Whether that’s in skin tone, ability, belief. Be kind. Be kind to everyone, whether you like, agree with, or even know them. NO exceptions. As the author Henry James said in a letter way back in 1883, “Three things in human are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind; the third is to be kind.”
I’d argue that respect for others is, in fact, the foundation for kindness. If we respect people, we treat them with kindness, because we believe them to be deserving of it, and we wouldn’t think to treat them otherwise.. Conversely, if we treat them with kindness, that shows respect. It’s much too easy to treat another person poorly if we don’t respect them.
However, there will be times when we don’t truly respect a person, but can still opt to be kind.
In 1999, Pearson Education published my book, The Value-Able Child. In preparation for writing the book, I brainstormed with my editor and came up with ten values that seemed especially important: cooperation, courage, friendship, honesty, kindness, loyalty, respect, self-control, sharing, tolerance. I personally made sure that kindness was included as a value.
I started each chapter with a fingerplay. For kindness I wrote (to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot,” another of childhood song):
Kindness is a value full of fun. (Hold up pointer finger on right hand)
Kindness is simple once you’ve begun. (Snap fingers)
Who should you be kind to? (Shrug shoulders)
Everyone! (Raise hands)
And you can show them how it’s done! (Point finger one by one at all the children)
The premise is simple enough, but takes intention and effort on our part. Treat everyone with kindness, not just those who are the same as we are. Criticizing, ridiculing, belittling people who are different, or with whom we don’t agree, results in nothing worthwhile.
When I was writing my new book, Will You be Friends with Me?, I imagined one child reaching out to another who was different in one way or another: type of hair, skills, personality traits. I imagined the narrator to be shy (like me) and even a bit tentative. You’re different from me. Can we still be friends?
Jo de Ruiter, who beautifully illustrated the book, added another layer to the words that I had also intended as I wrote—children with different colors of skin and physical abilities. When we embrace people who don’t look or at like us, it’s a win for everyone.
The book was written for the youngest of ages, but by design it’s also a message for every one of us. Children will learn to make friends with people who are different if they see us doing it. When babies and toddlers see us treating others with kindness, that will be imprinted on their precious little hearts where it will stay forever. And that’s where to begin if we want to make this world a kinder place.
Kathleen Long Bostrom is a Presbyterian minister who has written more than 50 books, including the award-winning Little Blessings series, multiple VeggieTales books, and the upcoming board book version of This Little Light of Mine.
Her books, both for children and adults, have sold close to three million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages including Chinese, Russian and Indonesian. In fact, Italian versions of her books may be found at the Vatican bookstore in Rome.
Kathleen and her husband Greg, and Ellie — her little empty-nest dog — live in Carlsbad, California. Kathleen is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency. For more information please go to www.kathleenlongbostrom.com.