The Importance of Friendship in Children’s Fiction

There are so many classic friendships in children’s literature:  Charlotte and Wilbur; Peter Pan and Wendy; Scout and Dill; Tom and Huck; Anne and Diana; Harry, Hermione, and Ron.


Not only are these children great friends, but their friendship makes the story.  These friends are loyal, and they put themselves on the line for our hero because if they did not, she would fail. The whole story would fail.

Our hero must have friends because she is going into a dark and dangerous world and having a friend that has his back means everything.  Even if they quarrel and leave each other, friends always comes back at our hero’s greatest hour of need. So we forgive you, Ron Weasley.

Sadly, the theme of friendship seems to take a back seat or even die altogether when adults become the protagonists of the books.  We might have friends like Charlotte and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, but their friendship plays second string to their romances.

But once we get into mainstream fiction, we have much more dangerous and powerful forces at work:  sex, money, greed, jealousy, and politics, and these ruin the best friendships.

If you don’t believe me, consider these great  books.

Friends that are bystanders/powerless to help:  The Great Gatsby, The Portrait of a Lady, and I, Claudius.  

Friends that are not to be trusted:  The Da Vinci Code, Catcher in the Rye, The Count of Monte Cristo, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The Once and Future King, Wives and Daughters, Othello, The House of Mirth, Angle of Repose, and Gone with the Wind. 


Friendship becomes very muddy while navigating adult literature.   Perhaps this is why so many of us turn to children’s literature.  We know who we can trust.

Fortunately, there’s not a lot of adultery, money, greed, and politics interfering with my friendships, but that doesn’t mean that I l have an easy time maintaining them.   I have five children, dinner to get on the table, a budget to maintain, and a husband who barely gets enough attention as it is.  So it’s very easy for me to put off making that phone call or put off getting together for lunch with a good friend until it’s more convenient, which of course it never is.

But as I’ve been reading more children’s literature, I’m beginning to remember.  I’m slow beginning to treat friendship as a higher priority.

How do you find time to maintain your friendships?



  1. It’s a struggle finding time for friendships. Friends that are in my area I see by happenstance. Those who are not in my immediate area are seen rarely. It can only happen with a plan. Everyone seems booked all the time.

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