We all feel lonely from time to time, but sometimes children can feel overwhelmed by loneliness and isolation. Grown-ups can help children develop emotional intelligence by sharing tales of others experiencing similar emotions. These children’s books that address loneliness are positive stories that show actions that lonely individuals and others take in order to foster connection in the world.
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Picture Books about Feeling Lonely
The Invisible Boy
by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton
Sometimes when I read a book I can hear the wheels turning inside my son’s head as he processes the story. That was the case with this book about a boy who feels invisible, ignored, and left out at school. Then one day a new kid comes to class and a small act of kindness turns things around. It’s a gently told story which teaches empathy and kindness. There are even questions for discussion in the back of the book. Ages 4 and up.
You Are Never Alone
by Elin Kelsey
Lyrical text invites the reader to ponder their intimate connection with the natural world. Weaving science into the narrative, the reader learns about how everything from microorganisms to tiny plankton to clouds work together to maintain life and the environment. But in a splendid touch, Kelsey doesn’t forget about the emotional life of humans, and how an animal might “soothe lonely times” or how sunshine “fills you with hope.” Kim’s three dimensional illustrations are a feast to behold. Ages 5 and up.
Nobody Hugs a Cactus
by Carter Goodrich
I adore this book. Hank the cactus is a little grumpy. He wants to be left alone and as tumbleweeds and animals pass by, Hank on his ledge, shoos them all away in his surly way. When a cowboy suggests he needs a hug, Hank is repulsed by the idea. At first. But the idea grows on him and he sets out to convince someone to hug him. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it is perfect. Ages 3 and up.
by Jack Foreman
With only a few words per double page spread, we see a lonely dog looking for a friend. Soon he is accepted by a group of children playing soccer and a similar tale begins with a lonely boy. The boy voices his thoughts about what it is like to feel left out. When the dog’s ball rolls over to him, the group of children, “say hello!” A deceptively simple book with a big message. Ages 3 and up.
The Red Tree
by Shaun Tan
Find it: Amazon
Tan’s spare text and highly imaginative paintings address the darker side of loneliness. A lonely girl wakes up, feeling the sometimes surreal sensation of being alone, waiting for something to happen, wandering in a confusing and vast world. When she returns to her room, she finds a red leaf springing up from the middle of the floor and turning into a tall red tree, it lifts the girl’s spirits. Sure to spark some interesting conversations! Ages 5 and up.
by Antje Damm
Elise lives alone. She never goes outside because she is scared of everything. One day a paper airplane flies into her house. The next thing she knows, a strange boy is at the door and asks if he can come in. She invites him in and the two have a pleasant time. Elise reads to him and they have a snack. When he leaves, Elise starts to fold her own paper airplane. I love the message that when we allow ourselves to connect with others, it brings joy into our lives. Damm’s unique illustrations consist of photographs of dioramas. A lovely, calming book. Ages 3 and up.
Caspian Finds a Friend
by Jacqueline Veissid, illustrated by Merrilees Brown
Caspian lives in a lighthouse. He is lonely and wishes for a friend. In the gorgeous, dreamy illustrations we watch as Caspian writes a message and places it in a bottle. After he receives a one word reply, he and his new friend meet and share wonderful adventures. The calming, poetic text is a joy to read aloud. Ages 3 and up.
The Storm Whale
by Benji Davies
This book tells the story of a boy who brings home a baby whale he finds on the beach. He tries to keep it hidden in the bathtub, but his father eventually finds out. This is a gentle tale that focuses on the relationship between a boy and his working father, what it feels like to be lonely and how to make a connection with those we love. The illustrations are lovely. Ages 3 and up.
Herman and Rosie
by Gus Gordon
Herman and Rosies was one of my favorite books way back in 2013. Herman and Rosie are two musicians, but they are lonely, just waiting to meet someone they can call a friend. There is a lot of delectable detail in the book, both in the descriptions of the characters, and also in the drawings. It’s truly a love story – of the city, of music, of life. Ages 4 and up.
Nothing Rhymes with Orange
by Adam Rex
It doesn’t seem fair, does it? I mean all the other fruits have lots of rhyming words, but Orange feels lonely and left out of the fun! Here’s another silly take on the pleasures of rhyme and your kids won’t be able to resist trying so very, very hard to think of a word that rhymes with orange. And in among the word play silliness, there is a touching story about Apple looking out for his friend, Orange. Ages 3 and up.
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