Book Review: Friend or Not

Friend Or Not: A Child’s Perception And A Parent’s Insight, by J. Reef

My review: ★★★

This book is a communication tool, rather than a book you’d read for entertainment or helping a child learn to read. On each page is a prompt to fill in the blank about a child who is or is not a friend. For example “I like to play outside with _________” or “_________ calls me names, and he/she is not my friend.” This is a good way to get your child talking about negative feelings and experiences they may be having a hard time expressing. The book starts with the prompts for friends and then moves into the prompts about people who do not behave like friends. That gets the child used to the activity of sharing their feelings before having to move into negative feelings.

The artwork is of high quality. (I actually like the interior art better than the cover.) The book also portrays a good diversity of children.

My 10-year-old and 6-year-old saw this book sitting out and actually asked me if they could read it. My 10-year-old went through it first, then helped my 6-year-old go through it (he can’t read this well yet, but he can certainly answer the questions). Neither of them had any examples of people who upset them, but if they did, I’m confident I would have heard about it.

The book is fairly short, and is aimed at common bullying experiences like name-calling and hitting, not traumatic experiences like serious abuse. It is an excellent tool for discussing upsetting feelings with children in the 3-8 year old age range. (It was certainly fine for my 10-year-old, though I think she already has the internal tools for such discussions without needing the book.)

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