Today we read My Best Friend written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by E. B. Lewis. What a fantastic friendship book!
It is summertime and Wednesdays are spent at the pool. Lily has picked out her new best friend and it is Tamika. Tamika, though, already has a best friend and no matter what Lily does, Tamika is not impressed. Lily feels rejected and yet keeps trying to find something that will make Tamika take notice. Taunts by Tamika and her friend Shanice don’t seem to dissuade her from trying to get Tamika to like her best.
This book inspired us to ask: What really makes a friend? Our discussion throughout the story centered on the choices we make when choosing friends. As soon as we looked at the cover, hands were up – making connections and predictions, sharing stories and asking questions. The intensity of reactions lasted through each page and then everyone settled down with their Response and Ideas books and did some writing. As a teacher, I appreciated that this book allowed the children to come to their own conclusions. All of them deal with friendship issues daily and need chances to reflect on their choices and struggles. Students connected easily to the characters in this story and did some independent thinking on something that they regularly confront in their school and personal lives.
A sample of reactions:
Gary: Tamika was mean to Lily but not to Shanice. When Shanice was away, Lily got to play with Tamika, but when Shanice was back, Tamika was mean again. When Lily learned to dive, Tamika wasn’t looking. Keesha was. Now Lily is Keesha’s best friend. A real friend doesn’t be mean or make fun of you.
Annie: A real friend is not insulting another person. Friendship is about giving compliments when someone does something. Don’t wear of do something just to make someone like you. Be friends with someone who is nice to you.
Jenny: A real friend would share with you, play with you and stand up for you. I think the message of the book is you can’t just pick a friend to be your friend without knowing them because they might be mean to you.
Jena: A real friend is somebody who likes you for who you are not somebody who uses you when they don’t have a friend. A real friend plays with you all of the time, not just sometimes. A real friend doesn’t stick their tongue out at you, they don’t ignore you and they don’t tell secrets behind your back. I think the message of this book is that friends are nice to you all the time and they like you for who you are.