Everyone knows you can’t get good at grammar without friendship. Children’s literature has some great models of friendship at its finest.
In growing-up order, here are five such examples of best friends through the ages.
Frog and Toad
“We will skip through the meadows and run through the woods and swim in the river. In the evenings we will sit right here on this front porch and count the stars.”
—Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Are Friends
Friendship can take effort, especially if you’re dealing with a hibernating amphibian. Frog’s trying to get his pal out of hibernation, and all Toad can say is “Blah.” But Frog proves the importance of patience and gentle encouragement—and in this case, a slight bend of the truth, since it takes telling Toad it’s a month later than it really is to coax his buddy out of bed.
Toad may be a little curmudgeonly. But in the end, the fun of frolicking together makes it all worth it.
George and Martha
“And why didn’t you tell me that you hate my split pea soup?” “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings,” said George. “That’s silly,” said Martha. “Friends should always tell each other the truth.”
—James Marshall, “Split Pea Soup,” in George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
Nothing says friendship like pouring soup in your shoes to avoid telling your bestie you’re not a fan of her cooking. But even though sparing friends’ feelings is important, so is telling the truth. The two happy hippos, George and Martha, give their fair share of friendship lessons—from honesty to hot air balloons to plain old togetherness. And luckily for them, they usually get a healthy portion of chocolate chip cookies to keep their friendship sweet.
The BFG and Sophie
“You stay where you is in my pocket, huggybee,” he said. “We is doing this lovely bit of buckswashling together.”
—Roald Dahl, The BFG
There’s plenty of adventure to be had between friends—even if your version of buckswashling with your best buds doesn’t involve jumping across oceans or trapping a pack of giants. Sophie starts out a spunky but lonesome orphan, and has the good luck to get kidnapped by the Big Friendly Giant. The friendship that blossoms isn’t just about sharing adventures: it also shows the importance of caring for one another—even if you can’t fit into your friend’s pocket.
Charlotte and Wilbur
Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.” “You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!”
—E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web Friendship means thinking the best of your friends and telling them so—in a spiderweb or just in words. And it sometimes means a bit of bossiness to go along with those much-needed confidence boosts. After all, as a piglet, Wilbur was a little lonely and more than a little runty. But Charlotte’s extremely literate web-spinning skills (she must be a fan of Grammarly) win the attention of all the humans around and Wilbur’s continued involvement with this mortal coil. From the barn where Wilbur goes for a daily manure roll and Charlotte spins pig-related messages that give Spiderman a run for his arachnid money, they develop an intelligent, slightly zany, and very cute friendship.
Lyra and Roger
“We better rescue him, Pantalaimon,” she said. He answered in his rook voice from the chimney. “It’ll be dangerous,” he said. “Course! I know that.”
—Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
Nothing says friendship like risking your neck to help a buddy in trouble. Sure, in most cases your friend won’t have been kidnapped by a mysterious international organization set on luring you into the mix, but hey, there’s always hoping.
Lyra is a girl with a mind of her own in a world that looks similar to but not exactly like ours. Her first partner in crime from the university city where she runs wild as a young ’un is Roger (the one who needs rescuing), but the friendships in The Golden Compass get deeper—and weirder—the further you read. Among the friends Lyra makes are a hot air balloonist, a polar bear warrior, a pack of gypsies, witches, and daemons—kind of like human souls who can take animal form. The friends in this story are fiercely loyal and willing to face danger for the people they care about—even if it means leaving their whole world behind.
These are only five of the many fabulous friendships in children’s literature. They may seem too good to be true, but these sets of pals face conflict, quarrels, and less-than-tasty food, just as the rest of us do. Except, to be fair, they do it in a more literary way.
Which set is most like the friendships you cherish? Take the quiz below to find out!