Making new friends can be stressful for everyone, let alone children who through no fault of their own have to follow their parents to a new city due to circumstances such as a parent finding a new job. Fortunately, I was a very outgoing active kid who enjoyed sports and made people laugh. Making friends wasn’t a problem for me. However, that’s not the case for the shy one, the slow reader or the one who feels a sense of shame for one reason or another. These are the kids who need encouragement to bolster their self-esteem. Their fellow classmates can be part of the solution by going the extra mile to include them in get-togethers and treating them with respect. Making them part of the “group.”
When I was in elementary school, my parents hosted a party for their friends. While the party was in full swing,
one of the ladies came to see me before I went to sleep. She gave me a heartfelt thanks for inviting her son to my birthday party which took place a short while before then. Her son did not have many friends so she was thrilled that I included him. This episode stuck with me as to the importance of inclusion for those children who don’t seem to fit in. My hope is that my children’s picture book “Haley’s Friendship Challenge” will inspire children who
are popular to make an extra effort to become friends with kids who are having a hard time fitting in. A “new” friend for the new kid in town will not only make the new kid’s transition joyful but will also prove beneficial for the popular one who will gain a new perspective.
Many children who move from one city to another or to one school to another are distressed because
they miss their friends that they are leaving behind and believe that the new kids they meet will not
take the place of their “old” ones. Also new surroundings can be very intimidating. Familiarity is a huge comfort to children. Think of how many times kids want to have their parents read the same story over and over again or watch the same cartoon multiple times. Even though a story may be scary, the children know all will turn out well in the end so they are reassured. Also with so many uncertainties in their life, these stories and cartoons provide them with a sense of control. The loss of control is multiplied when a new city, new school and new children are thrown into the mix.
“Haley’s Friendship Challenge” is a beautifully illustrated story about a girl who moves to a new town. Unfortunately, she isn’t fitting in and she misses her old friends. For her birthday, Haley receives a much-coveted surprise that she shares with no one. However, her feelings change when she feels empathy for a neighborhood dog that has also lost her pals. After weeks of loneliness, Haley realizes that things are not getting better for either of them; it’s time to make new friends.