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How to Help Kids Navigate Friendships in Every Stage of School

Help kids navigate friendships in every stage of life.

With a repertoire of over 40 books, including beloved titles like Austenland, The Goose Girl, and Princess Academy, Shannon Hale has captured the hearts of readers around the world. Recently, she ventured into new territory with a graphic novel memoir titled Best Friends, an exploration of her own struggles with friendship during sixth grade.

Best Friends isn’t just a graphic novel; it’s a heartfelt conversation about growing up, friendship, and the challenges of adolescence. The book delves into the complexities of sixth grade, a time marked by turbulent emotions and shifting social dynamics. What sets this book apart is its honesty. Shannon, drawing from her personal experiences, candidly discusses her journey growing up in Salt Lake City, alongside her battles with undiagnosed anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


How to Help Kids Navigate Friendships

You might wonder, why a graphic novel? According to Shannon, graphic novels have a unique way of reaching out to children who might find traditional novels challenging. The decision to create an audiobook based on a graphic novel was an intriguing choice. But Shannon had a clear vision – she wanted her story to be accessible to everyone, including the visually impaired. The audiobook, narrated by Shannon herself, was a family affair, featuring her own children as part of the cast. This inclusion not only added a personal touch but also made the project deeply meaningful for Shannon.

As a mother of four, Shannon understands the intricate web of friendships that children navigate, from the innocence of elementary school to the complexities of high school. Her advice to parents is simple yet profound: be a constant, loving presence.

Elementary School

In the face of friendship troubles, children don’t necessarily need solutions from their parents; they need understanding, empathy, and the assurance that they are loved unconditionally. For Shannon, the key lies in fostering empathy, a trait that can be nurtured through shared reading experiences.

Junior High

Junior high, she admits, is particularly challenging. The adolescent years bring rapid changes, both physical and emotional. At this stage, children are essentially seeking validation – they want to know if they are lovable, imperfections and all. Shannon emphasizes the importance of providing an environment where kids feel loved, regardless of their flaws.

High School

High school, she notes, is about respecting their independence. As teenagers gain more freedom, parents need to strike a delicate balance between guidance and allowing them to make their own choices. Shannon advocates for open communication, where parents respect their children’s autonomy while being a reliable source of support when needed.

Best Friends and its accompanying audiobook are widely available, whether you prefer the Libby app, Audible, Spotify, or your local library.

Best Friends is more than just a graphic novel or an audiobook; it’s a guiding light for parents navigating the intricate maze of childhood friendships. Through her words and experiences, Shannon offers not just a story but a profound lesson in empathy, understanding, and unconditional love – the cornerstones of any enduring friendship.

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