You Can Be a Friend

By:  Tony & Lauren Dungy
Illustrator:  Ron Mazellan
Publisher:  Little Simon Inspirations
Ages: 4-8 yrs.                                                
I purchased You Can Be a Friend,  for my granddaughter before she starts kindergarten next fall.  I am grateful to authors  Tony and Lauren Dungy, for writing this inspirational and important book about family values and friendships.   Having friends is one of the most beneficial aspects of a child’s life.  But what if the child has a disability?   The Dungys artfully show  that “having limitations can never limit the boundaries of friendship.”   The Mazellan’s illustrations are simply beautiful.
Jade is over-the-hill excited when she discovers  a new girl moving into the house across the street.  Her wish has come true.  She has grown up in a family of all boys and there are no other girls living nearby.   She will have a friend at last.  The Dungy family bakes cookies for the new family, and they go welcome their new neighbors.   When Jade meets  Hannah, she’s not ready to find her in a wheel chair.   She assumes that Hannah can’t do any of the things that she does.  Jade’s not sure if she can be friends with Hannah.  Over time Jade gets to know Hannah and they become good friends.  Hannah teaches Jade to bowl, they share secrets and   play games.  She also realizes that there are things Hannah can’t do.   Jade’s birthday is approaching and she wants to invite Hannah to her party.  But, the party site will cause problems for her friend.  Jade has some important decisions to make.       
You Can Be a Friend is an excellent book for parents to introduce children to disabilities, and a great class room discussion book.  All children want to play and interact with other children.  Children with disabilities want to share similar experiences with their siblings and friends.   Having a good friend means sharing both the good and difficult times.   
About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

7 thoughts on “You Can Be a Friend

  1. Even as adults, we all need and desire friendship. Though about disability, this sounds like a book with a truly universal message. Just feeling different from others because of e.g. having an alcoholic parent or not mastering the language can make friendship challenging for kids. We really need books like this that will help us explore these challenges with our children. Thank you for this review.

    Though the 20 minute video is about adults with disabilities, it is beautifully encouraging also, and I think you will enjoy it, Pat.
    make sure you watch part 2 also.


    • Thank you. I scheduled this to post before I left and forgot that it was released. The videos were great! Thought this was good classroom book. This is a good book really to teach that you can be friends with anyone, no matter what. Kids surprise us and I liked how Jade grew emotionally in this story!


  2. This book sounds excellent! Children very often have quite understandable fears about disabilities when they first encounter them — what happened to her? will it happen to me? is it catching? — and, as your review points out, they may think that the child will not be able to be their friend because of the child’s limitations.

    This book sounds as though it would be a marvelous teaching tool and conversation starter about disabilities, and about the fact that children with disabilities are children, first and foremost, with the same needs, desires, feelings as all other children.

    Thank you for this post, Pat!


    • Beth,
      You are so right. This is book is a teaching tool and a conversation starter for young children. Children have so many questions, as you pointed out. Jade found Hannah really no different than she was. They shared the same dreams. And, Hannah had to teach Jade how to bowl– something Hannah excelled at. Thank you for you comments!


  3. This is a beautiful post Pat and a lovely book. It is true we all need friendship for without it, it is a sad world. Regardless of our fears and disabilities we need friends. This reminds me of a quote that goes something like ….”A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway”.
    I watched the movie link that Joanna provided and shed a tear…. it was indeed very moving and shows that we need to look at the beauty in each of us regardless of our faults and inabilities. Greater the struggle the more joyeous the triumph indeed.


    • You’d be proud of me–I am responding to all of you by iPad! Glad you liked the book. After an intense month of reviews honoring Autism month, I found this new lovely story all-encompassing of special needs. Hannah represents a child with any disability. I loved your quote about friendships. The movie link brought me to tears. We all radiate our own beauty!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s