Book review: The Survival Guide for Making and Being Friends


Nicki Breuer, Odin Books
Focus on Adoption magazine
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The Survival Guide for Making and Being Friends
by James J. Crist, Ph.D.

This book is for kids and their parents. Whether or not they’re dealing with regular “kid” problems, ADHD, depression, or anxiety, making and keeping friends sometimes seems to be more difficult for certain children, and yet, it’s one of the most important skillsets for a successful life. Often, material is presented in a dense, tightly-compacted style that daunts kids before they even begin. Not so with this book. The illustrations are large, the font size is intentionally bigger, and the information is presented in easily digested bite-size pieces.

Boy holding breath Part of the great “Survival Guide” series, psychologist James Crist has created an easy-to-read book to help all kinds of kids understand that developing friendships is a skillset they can learn. This small book is loaded with practical advice for different situations, including, but not limited to, standing up against bullying, overcoming shyness, settling arguments, and learning how to act around others so you’ll be more included.

Each chapter begins with a “What would you do?” vignette that depicts kids struggling with real-life situations. The great part about the vignettes is that there isn’t an answer provided. Once the chapter is read, kids get a chance to revisit each story and create their own ending with the skills they’ve learned.

Developing social skills is an art and a skill, and Crist has provided helpful friendship phrases, simple but effective assignments to practice what they’re learning, words of advice, friendship stories, and quizzes to help encode the information.

The reading level is approximately Grade Five with an interest level of 8 to 13 years old.

You can borrow this book from AFABC’s library at our Burnaby office ( or purchase it from Odin Books ( or your local bookstore. 

Established in 1993, Odin Books is an independently owned bookstore that specializes in proividing mental health, education, and psychology-based resources to communities, organizations, schools, and individuals. They also locate and provide resources and speciality items for therapists, counsellors, individuals, educators, parents, and service providers interested in mental health and special education. Visit their website at or their brick-and-mortar Vancouver store at 108 East Broadway.