Teaching Kids about Being Friends (Book Review)

Goodgame, Randall. Are We Still Friends?. B&H Kids, Nashville, TN. 2019. 64 pages.

There are life lessons parents would do well to teach their kids at an early age. There may be few more important than lessons on friendship. As I have talked with parents of older youth in the church, I have noticed the common theme of the need to teach the youth how the Christian faith informs their friendships. Yet, this is not merely a matter for older youth. From an early age, kids would do well to learn what it means to be a friend and how to treat friends. They now can in Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame.

A Story of Trust and Forgiveness

Illustrated by Cory Jones Are We Still Friends? is the latest addition in “A Slugs & Bugs Story” library. The story uses the principle of Ephesians 4:32 and follows Doug and Sparky as they gather with others for a picnic day. Sparky has brought along Flavor-Blasted Pizza Chips to snack on, which happen to also be a favorite treat of Doug’s. When Sparky gets pulled into a rematch of a picnic game, Doug is left alone with the bag of chips. Tempted to take a bite, he reasons he’ll only try one chip. Before Doug knows it, the bag is gone. When Sparky realizes his chips are gone, Doug lies to cover his wrongful actions before finally confessing to what he did. The story ends with a lesson that friendship is best built on trust and forgiveness.

An Engaging Lesson for Kids

Randall Goodgame does an exceptional job teaching kids about being a friend and he writes in a way that engages children on their age level and understanding. The book does not merely tell about what it means to be a friend but shows how to be one through the message of a story. The use of rhyme makes the reading of the book catchy for children’s listening ears. This is good because the topics of trust and forgiveness are crucial elements of friendship that kids need to learn and know. By taking kids through this book, they will see how sin can hurt friendships and how the gospel informs them.

A Little More Detail

With so much commendable content for parents and guardians to teach their children about friendship, there was one aspect the story did not address, even briefly. For a book that touches on themes of both trust (real friendships need it) and forgiveness (real friendships offer it), it would have been helpful to include in the story that as forgiveness is offered, trust may need to be rebuilt in some ways. An ideal place for the author to have addressed this would have been after one of the other characters offered Sparky a new bag of pizza chips. Instead of just stating in the story that they feasted on the chips, the story could have had Doug facing consequences and, while forgiven, not getting to partake in the feast. It is possible, however, that scene in the story was meant to portray grace, which I would have no issue with. If that was the case, though, I wish it would have been made clearer. Either way, a little more detail could have been added to that portion of the story.

Start with This Book

In the end, Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame provides parents with an engaging resource for their children to learn what it means to be a friend and how the Christian faith informs their friendships. Because the target audience of the book is 4-to-8-year-olds, this book is preparation for kids as they develop and deepen friendships in their youth and as they get older. If you are a parent who wants to encourage and equip your child what it looks like to be a friend and how to treat friends, then start with this book!

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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