Few children make it through childhood without the companionship of an imaginary friend, and so there are many books that address that theme. Children of all ages enjoy reading stories about imaginary friends because they are entertaining and easy to relate to.
Imaginary Friends Books for Preschoolers (Ages 2 - 5)
Preschoolers love life and are fascinated by the world around them. They love to be read to and enjoy vibrant, engaging pictures. The following children's books are perfect for preschoolers.
Ellison the Elephant, by Eric Drachman
Ellison the Elephant follows Ellison, an elephant who is mocked because of the unique sound he makes with his trunk. His thoughtful imaginary friend, Weasel, helps him come to appreciate his uniqueness, and soon, all the elephants are trying to imitate Ellison's sound. Children will especially enjoy the audio CD that comes with this book. In addition, there is an interactive Ellison the Elephant book App available for Android devices. The book also won the Benjamin Franklin Award for best children's book and audio book in 2005.
Emma Kate, by Patricia Polacco
In this book, a girl named Emma Kate has an imaginary friend who just happens to be an elephant. The book follows the two friends on their adventures and has a sweet surprise ending. Emma Kate is consistently highly rated on Amazon, and Kirkus Reviews compares the story's imaginary elephant to Dr. Seuss's Horton.
Dream Friends, by You Byun
This beautifully illustrated book follows Melody, a young child who only has friends in her dreams. She and her dream friends have many adventures, but Melody longs for a real friend. With the help of one of her dream friends, Melody learns to make real friends. Dream Friends is great for kids that are shy and have trouble making friends. The book has received glowing reviews for its sweet story and attention-grabbing illustrations.
Imaginary Friends Books for Early Readers (Ages 6 - 9)
Early readers are just beginning to delve into the world of reading and love to read aloud. The following books contain simple words that are easy to sound out, making them great for beginning readers.
Jessica, by Kevin Henkes
Children with imaginary friends will relate to this book about Jessica and her imaginary friend, Ruthie. Ruthie accompanies Jessica everywhere, even to school. At school, to everyone's delight, Jessica discovers there is a real Ruthie. This book made The Horn Book's Fanfare Honor List in 1989, and is a cherished early reader.
My Imaginary Friend, by Shirley Povondra and Kathryn Andrew
This poignant book introduces Kathann, a young girl affected by sexual abuse, and Becky, the imaginary friend who helps her cope. My Imaginary Friend helps address the painful topic of sexual abuse in a way kids can understand and may help kids who have experienced sexual abuse find the courage to share their stories with trusted adults. This book won a 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award.
Ted, by Tony DiTerlizzi
Ted tells the story of a young boy who longs to spend more time with his father. An imaginary friend named Ted steps in and helps the boy's father remember the fun of childhood and the importance of spending time with his son. Publishers Weekly praises the book for its unique twist on having the father 'grow down' rather than the child 'grow up.'
Imaginary Friends Books for Independent Readers (Ages 8 - 12)
Independent and middle grade readers are able to read independently and are often looking for action and a bit of the unusual in the books they read.
Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins, by Emily Jenkins
This is the second book in a series about Hank and his invisible bandapat, a creature native to the Peruvian Woods of Mystery. Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins finds Hank trying to find the perfect Halloween costume while trying to keep his invisible friend from eating all the jack-o-lanterns in the neighborhood. Invisible Inkling is noted in particular by the Horn Book, for droll illustrations that allow the reader to see the bandapat when the characters in the book cannot.
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends House of Bloo's, by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is an orphanage for imaginary friends whose children have left them. This book follows an imaginary friend, Bloo, in his quest to stay with his human friend, Mac. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends House of Bloo's is only one of many in a series based on the hit Cartoon Network television show and kids who are fans of the show will love seeing their favorite characters in print.
Reading About Imaginary Friends
As long as there are children, there will be imaginary friends. Reading a children's book about imaginary friends is a wonderful way to explore the concept of friendship, help foster a child's imagination, and even help a child make the difficult decision to let go of an imaginary childhood buddy. To find the perfect book about imaginary friends, visit the links above or, better yet, take a family trip to your local library.