During my sophomore year in high school I went to my mom with a bout of teen angst saying, "I want to be popular." I had plenty of friends. Enjoyed a variety of activities. But I felt like I was missing something. I've never been voted to a high school court or been nominated for a class office. It seemed like there was a magical "something" out there that others had figured out, leaving me in the dark.
So my mom made me a bet: if I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, she'd pay me a nickel for every instance that I used one of the techniques in the book. I focused on finding ways to give people GENUINE COMPLIMENTS. In order to do this, I had to constantly be on the lookout for things that I liked in other people.
I started doing it. I don't think the nickel thing lasted more than a few weeks, because the immediate results were far more beneficial. Within a matter of months, I'd been elected to represent my class on a royal court and was eventually chosen as Student Body President.
Now, granted, this began with somewhat questionable motives. But I doubt that my mom did it because she wanted me to be "popular." She did it because she knew it would teach me an incredible life lesson. And it did. I learned a TON about what makes people tick. What began as a solution for self-centered teen angst became a set of life skills that have served me ever since, even helping me to become more altruistic.
As an adult, I've turned to the book again to help several students, including my own children. Lately, I've begun reading sections of it aloud to one of my children who sometimes struggles in social situations. After each chapter, he makes a poster to summarize the big ideas. I can tell the lessons are sticking as he has started to apply the knowledge to daily life situations.
I hope to someday see the book rewritten for kids. But until then, filtered and condensed, it can still serve as an amazing resource for kids who struggle to make and keep friends. Try it. I bet ya a nickel that it'll work! :)