Two books that I highly recommend for your bookshelf are Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney and Pouch! by David Ezra Stein. I include these in the same category because they kind of cover the same subject matter: being afraid of making new friends.
Roly Poly Pangolin follows a young pangolin—similar to a anteater or armadillo—who is out exploring his world. He sees a little monkey and is scared. He hears a noise and is scared. He gets so scared that he starts to run away, trips, and rolls up into a ball (as pangolins do). When he peeks out of his ball, he sees a young girl pangolin who is jut as scared as he is. They become immediate friends, and then Roly Poly isn’t scared anymore, and even plays with the monkey from earlier.
The illustrations in Roly Poly are almost cartoony, and Rose loves looking at them and pointing at the pangolin. The other thing that I love about this book is in the inside covers, which feature a pattern meant to look like the pangolin’s hide. This is actually Rose’s favorite part of the book, as she will turn to it over and over again to look at.
Pouch!, is about a young ‘joey,’ or baby kangaroo, who takes his time exploring farther and farther from the safety of his mother’s pouch. Each time he hops farther away and encounters something that sends him scrambling back to his momma. He hops along and encounters a bee, and runs back to his pouch. He hops farther and encounters a rabbit, and runs back to his pouch. He hops even farther and encounters a bird, and runs back to his pouch. On his last excursion he encounters another baby kangaroo, and is finally able to not be afraid. This is one that, once Rose is older, will be even more fun, as she will be able to participate in the story by yelling “pouch!” each time the young Joey runs back to his mom. It’s a simple story, but one your kids will love.
The other great thing about both of these books is that with older kids, you can use this as an opportunity to educate your child about different animals. Get a book about kangaroos with real pictures in it from your library to read in tandem. Look up pictures of pangolins online.
And if you want to do even more, you can even help with conservation efforts for both species. Kangaroos are a threatened species, while pangolins are endangered. You can go to http://www.cafepress.com/savepangolins and buy a t-shirt for yourself or your kid, with the funds going directly to pangolin conservation efforts, or you can go to http://www.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions/Kangaroo.aspx and adopt a kangaroo through the World Wildlife Fund. The kangaroo adoption has multiple price options, with the cheapest getting you a certificate and photo of your kangaroo, to the most expensive option getting you a gift box, plush kangaroo, and framed photo.
And in case you were wondering what a pangolin looks like in real life, here you go: