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.