That's What Friends Do – Cathleen Barnhart

This is hands-down the best IM book I have ever read. “That’s What Friends Do” perfectly captures what it feels like to be trapped in a situation you don’t understand and don’t know how to escape. It’s about the “little things”  that build and build and build until one day, someone’s world is changed forever. Parents and kids need to read this story. 

Samantha Goldstein is a girl who doesn’t understand why everything is changing. Not why her best friend, David, or the new guy, Luke, or ANY guys in her life are starting to find excuses to touch her, not why the girls at school are mad at her (for NO reason), and not why her parents are fighting but pretending like they’re not — but she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t know if it’s something that she’s misunderstanding or if it’s wrong, but either way, she doesn’t know how to find the words to tell her parents. 

This book goes so deep into the middle-grade mind and will teach readers how to find boundaries, mend friendships, and ask for help when they need it. A MUST READ.

Recommended Age: Anyone who is currently in middle school or who interact with anyone who is. The relationships between Sammie, Luke, and David are relatable and realistic and fully acknowledge the fact that middle school is hard. Barnhart’s writing is honest, but gentle.

If you liked You Go First, Inside Hudson Pickle, Sweet Pea

Content Warnings/Discussions to have with kiddos: David thinks to get Sammie to like him, he has to “make a move” – this includes planning to kiss her, hold her hand, and touch her leg, all without asking how she feels. Sammie struggles with knowing whether she’s making these things happen, or if these are things that are “normal.” This story gives every opportunity to talk about CONSENT and what it means to give and receive it.