These ten texts will teach students about friendship and conflict in relationships!
Adolescence is a time of change. As kids get older, they may find their friendships change with them. Reading about kids dealing with conflict from moving to a new town, navigating peer pressure, or feeling left out of social events can help students gain perspective on these issues and realize they are not alone in dealing with them.
Here is an excellent selection of ten multi-genre texts for middle and high school students from CommonLit about friendship and the conflict that can arise within them!
“We Have Been Friends Together” by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (6th Grade)
In this poem, the speaker describes a conflict that arises in a friendship. The speaker talks about the relationship, which began when both people were very young, and she remarks on the joys and struggles they have overcome together before their falling out. This text is an excellent introduction to poetry with a subject many students can relate to! Students can discuss what small words or actions they think could undo a long friendship.
“My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn” by Sandra Cisneros (7th Grade)
In this classic short story by renowned Chicana author Sandra Cisneros, the narrator describes her friendship with Lucy Anguiano. Written in the voice of a young girl, this story is sure to remind students of their friends who feel close enough to be family. Challenge your students to write a similar short story about one of their own friends!
“The Party” by Pam Muñoz Ryan (7th Grade)
In this short story, the narrator deals with not being invited to a popular girl’s birthday party when most of her friends are. This is a great text for talking about how the desire to be accepted can make us behave differently, and what really counts in a genuine friendship. Have students track how the narrator’s feelings towards Bridget and going to the party change over the course of the story to start a discussion about what it truly means to be a friend.
“Old Games, New Territory” by Khat Patrong (7th Grade)
This engaging CommonLit Original short story follows Rashid as he tries to adjust to his new life in Florida after a loss forces him to move. A game of basketball gets ugly when a talented player named Gigi joins in and Rachid is injured when trying to defend her. The pair form an unlikely friendship as Rashid discovers the two have a lot more in common than he realizes. Have students make text-to-self connections by discussing how they might have reacted in Rachid’s position, and what they might have done differently.
“Amigo Brothers” by Piri Thomas (7th Grade)
Competition can bring friends closer, or push them apart. In this text, students will read about how friends Antonio Cruz and Felix Vargas prepare for the boxing match of their lives as they struggle to reconcile their dreams with their friendship. They have grown up together, trained together, and now they must face each other in the ring. Your student athletes will relate deeply to this text!
“Momentum” by Catherine Doty (7th Grade)
In this poem by Catherine Doty, the speaker describes the consequences of doing something reckless in order to impress a group of friends. The bold imagery and free verse structure create tension in this poem, which can be used to talk about what happens when peer pressure goes awry. Students can annotate passages they find particularly important or moving.
“The Stolen Party” by Liliana Heker (7th Grade)
In this short story, Rosaura attends a birthday party for Luciana, a girl for whose family Rosaura’s mother is employed as a maid. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Rosaura gets her wish to go, only to discover that Luciana does not actually see her as a friend. This story provides a great opportunity to discuss how social class differences can be a source of conflict within friendships, as well as family relationships.
“More Facebook Friends, Fewer Real Ones, Says Cornell Study” by ABC News (8th Grade)
This news article discusses findings of a Cornell study which showed that although people had greater friend numbers on social media, such as Facebook, they had fewer close friends to support them in real life. Study participants said they had, on average, fewer close friends as compared to a similar study done in 1985.. However, the article does also acknowledge that social media is not entirely a negative influence. Use this text to spark debate among students: do they think social media has made them feel more or less connected to their peers? Why or why not?
“Going to School As A Refugee” by Caroline Garrison (8th Grade)
In this informational text, students will read about how two refugee children navigate classes, social life, and learning English as a second language as they attend an American public school. Although students SB and Salomon discuss difficulties with exclusion and prejudice from other students in this new environment, they find common ground in their experience as refugees despite having very different backgrounds. Use this text to highlight the importance of community and foster class discussion about how friends help us to overcome challenges in school.
“Help-Giving” by Set to Go (9th Grade)
This informational article examines a set of skills we develop as we move into adolescence: “help-giving.” Help-giving is all about how we help others. It is an important responsibility that includes skills like identifying that peers might be struggling, actively listening and communicating with others, and identifying how and when to take action should one of their friends need professional help. Use this text to spark conversation about when it’s important to seek help for a friend, and why it might be difficult for them to reach out.
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