14 Books About Love

14 books about love for kidsValentine’s Day at our house isn’t about mom and dad getting dressed up and going out for a nice dinner (although maybe it will be again soon! ) instead we celebrate it as a family and talk about love, friendship and respect.  These 14 picture books are about all kinds of love. Romantic, platonic and lots of love you find in families. Some of these may not even seem like books about love but dig a littler deeper and you’ll see they are… or at least I think they are. These are some of my very favorite picture books and I hope you love them too.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race , they don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of who loves who in your family your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away, but now not only does he love it he is very very specific that only I can read it to him . It’s become a big favorite in our house.

owen and mzee

Best Friends (Owen And Mzee) by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff is a board book with real photographs of the friendship of orphaned baby hippo and his 130 year old adoptive tortoise named Mzee. The text is simple and perfect for toddlers, although older children will better understand how amazing the story is. There are so many learning opportunities between these pages from the Tsunami, to learning about hippos and tortoises. The real lesson though is about friendship and I like that it shows animals being affectionate , something rare to see and something that can help foster a true appreciation for animals in young kids.

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide is such a fantastic ( and funny) fairytale about a little princess who has a very odd problem. She can’t keep her feet on the ground so her parents worried that she will literally float away weigh her down. The problem with being weighed down is that she can’t be herself and one day when she is set free to float she discovers that that is who she is. The only problem left is how does she get down? Luckily a little boy with a big heart and a kite comes to help . He’s not a rescuer coming to fix everything simply a true friend helping . His quiet actions teaches more about love than any grand romantic gesture. I love this book and the messages of breaking free from your limitations and of being yourself while staying connected to those you love.


Mama, Do You Love Me?
by Barbara M. Joosse is a well loved book. I have read it many times but never reviewed it. There are a lot of books about children testing their mom’s unconditional love but this one stands out for me. In it the little girl seems to go out of her way to aggravate her mom and really test her love. The mother is fantastic because she isn’t gushy or sickeningly sweet, she says she would get angry , worried, sad depending on what her daughter tests her with. However after each honest answer she follows it up with how she will always love her. Kids need to know even if they make us sad or angry it doesn’t change the depth of our love for them.

Did I Tell You I Love You Today? by Deloris Jordan is a very practical yet heartwarming look at all the ways parents show love to their children everyday, from feeding them healthy food to praying after they go to bed. My son loved all the big boy things in the book like, the school bus, basketball and the playground. I teared up reading the book, but I cry at American Idol so that may not be indicative of anything!

books about love

Henry in Love by Peter McCarty is a sweet book that will transport you back to your elementary school crushes but it won’t just appeal to the adults it’s got plenty for the little ones too. Henry has a crush on Chloe although all that is every really said is that he thinks she is lovely. The best part is that Chloe seems to like him back.  This book can teach children a lot about interpreting people’s actions to explain feelings. Simple but expressive illustrations give subtle clues that give great opportunities for conversations about what it means to love not just to feel love.

I love you stinky face

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt is a wonderful mushy book that will still appeal to kids that aren’t so into mush. A little boy in his PJs asks his mom if she will still love him even if he was a series of terrible monsters. It reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up.

 

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is perhaps the classic tear jerking picture book. I read this for years and years to children and had no problem getting choked up, it never bothered me, then I gave birth and I can’t read it without sobbing. The premise is simple, a mom sings this simple song to her son as he grows ” I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living , my baby you’ll be.” until she can’t sing it anymore and it’s his turn. For days after I read this I tear up as I lay my son in his crib. * Edited to add that many readers have commented that they do not like this book at all! What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us!

The I LOVE YOU Book Kids need to know that love is unconditional and this book drives that point home is a simple , bright and funny way. I cried through reading most of it , but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically loved that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add on to a shape activity about hearts.

kishand2

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

tango

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson is a much debated book. It’s the true story of two male penguins in central park zoo who didn’t have any interest in the girl penguins but definitely liked each other. When the zoo keepers noticed that they were in every way a matched pair they also noticed that they prepared for a baby just like the other penguins. Time after time they were sad until they were given an egg to care for. Just like all families love and care is what matters when creating a family and baby Tango and his two daddies have thrived . My son loved this book and asked me to please go see the penguins when I was in NYC. I didn’t have time to but I wish I had. Their story simplifies a very debated topic and I think it’s a great book not only to explain how all families are different but also how love and care are really what makes a family even for penguins.

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that makes me cry just when I think of it. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s not sad. It’s about a little boy who is acting up and gets sent to his room. While in his room his imagination runs wild and he is transported to a world where there are no rules , no parents and no consequences for bad behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild. I think this is an amazing love story about parents and children and unconditional love.

tough stuff 6

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!

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Books About Bedtime Challenges

Bedtime challenges are one thing that most families face from time to time. Reading books about anything that your family may be facing is such a great way to talk about it when emotions are calm. These books make me feel normal and I hope at least one may really help you too!

Looking for Sleepy by Maribeth Boelts is a perfect bedtime book. I really think it’s brilliant. I was gifted it and it probably wouldn’t have jumped off the book shelf to me if I had been browsing at the book store but I am so glad it ended up in our hands. The book is about a little bear and his papa bear getting ready for bed. They go through their bedtime routine, starting by looking for sleepy hiding under toys, in the bath , in his pjs, in the bedtime stories etc… I love the dad in this book. I love how he’s patient and kind and the illustration on the page where they are reading in bed and his toddler’s hand is awkwardly on his head cracks me up. My favorite part though is that when the toddler asks Papa to stay a little longer while he falls asleep Papa does. I enjoy books that are reassuring and provide a sense of security for young children at bedtime and this does that with ease. Awesome book!

I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed (Charlie and Lola)by Lauren Child is a story about Lola who will not go to bed easily. Charlie her older brother has been asked to help his parents and get her to bed and Lola makes him work for it. She is full of imaginative ways to stall the inevitable and Charlie plays along all the while trying to stay one step a head of his little sister. Kids love Charlie and Lola because they are absurd and funny and if you can read it to them in a British accent it’s even funnier.

Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill is an absolutely fantastic story about a little girl who needs to count sheep to get to sleep but there is one big problem the sheep are too tired to jump. They promise her to find  replacements but animal after animal is just not working out. I laughed out loud at many pages of this book  ( especially the chickens) and my daughter loved it even if she didn’t get all the layers of humor. Very sweet book .

Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban is a classic. Frances and her very loving mom and dad are struggling with bedtime. She goes to bed but then keeps getting out of bed with reason after reason as to why she can’t sleep. The start of this story is really sweet and her parents were kind and gentle with her trying to alleviate her fears without fixing  everything for her. As the evening wears on and her parents go to bed themselves their patience is tested. Now I am not a fan of spanking and I have never spanked my kids so I had t explain to them what a spanking was and why Frances didn’t want one. I don’t think that you should avoid this book if you are ideologically against spanking I think it’s a great opportunity to talk about different discipline techniques and a chance to talk about frustration and sleep when you aren’t frustrated because your kids can’t sleep.

Snowbaby Could Not Sleep by Kara LaReau is a sweet winter themed story about a little Snowbaby that simply can not get to sleep. He counts snowflakes, his Snowmama gets him extra snow because he was too hot and still he can’t sleep. What finally gives him enough comfort is when his parents make him his very own Snowpuppy to snuggle all night long.  I like gentle books like this because as a child I had terrible nighttime anxiety and as a mom have always been very gentle at bedtime until I knew my kids felt secure enough to handle each new stage of nighttime independence. My toddler who is 2 loved this book .


Mortimer (Classic Munsch) by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book, it’s not the calmest and is pretty funny so you may want to read this one before some more chill books, but it’s so cute I couldn’t leave it off my list. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, but whether reading it to a group of preschoolers or to my son I have never had a child not sing along with Mortimer who is driving everyone bonkers by not going to sleep! Instead he is singing and making noise and not even the police can stop him!


Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root is hilarious especially if you like me start the night in the bed with just your spouse and wake up with the whole family in your bed.  The family in the book is asleep all in their own beds but as the night wears on each child comes in and when the dog does the bed simply can’t hold. My kids liked this book but I loved it, it spoke to me especially the bit about the dad sleeping through each child waking up and the mom welcoming them with open arms. That is our family exactly. You will all giggle at the funny sleeping positions too.

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea is such a great book for toddlers. Dinosaur is a tornado full of energy much like a 2 year old and attacks each event in his day with serious gusto. When it’s time for bed he roars through bath and toothbrushing and then just roars like mad when it’s time for bed. Much like my little dinosaurs he eventually gets sleepy and unlike the rest of the day bedtime wins and he falls asleep. My kids love all the Dinosaur Vs. books and I do too. They are fun , simple and if you can manage a really loud gruff voice it’s that much more fun to read.

 

 


I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes is a story about a tiger who refuses to go to bed. His mom decides to let him stay up. Little tiger goes around to all his friends and asks them to play but they are all getting ready for bed or already asleep. The jungle isn’t nearly as fun at night as he thought and it’s much colder too! He’s getting scared when he finds a new friend who takes him home just in time to fall asleep. My son liked this book and so did I it addresses a child’s feeling of missing out on fun and explains the reality which is that they aren’t missing out on anything at all.
Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright made both my husband and I laugh hysterically. My son enjoyed the book but we loved it. It’s about a little boy who can’t sleep without his parents and they don’t like sleeping with feet in their faces. Can you relate?  We can , which is why we found this book so funny. What I liked was that Jake wasn’t disciplined for wanting to sleep with his parents they were just being honest that it wasn’t working anymore. They tried so many different places hoping a change of venue would be all he needed.  My son loved the page that they were all sleeping in garbage cans and I loved that Jake looked to be about 12 , it gave me hope that my son may sleep alone by puberty.

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New Books To Check Out!

 by Carrie Ann

Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice
words by Jennifer Adams, art by Alison Oliver
Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books
board book

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite stories; I’m a romantic at heart I guess. BabyLit from Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books is a fun way to introduce children to the world of classic literature. Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice is a sweet counting book focusing on elements from the story: 1 English Village; 2 Rich Gentlemen (Mr Bingley and Mr. Darcy). Each spread focusing on one number (up to 10) with the number in large type on the left side and a simple drawing to illustrate the number and story on the right. The book helps reinforce number recognition with the large number and counting elements in the illustration. Even without the Pride and Prejudice references it is a lovely counting book but who doesn’t want to count the courting couples or sisters? Even the cover art makes the book look like a piece of literature versus just a board book. I’m looking forward to seeing more classics come out in this collection.

Ones and Twos
by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
picture book
24 pages
Tundra Books
This lovely rhyming book follows two girls and a bird. The copy is fun, focusing on the numbers two and one: one bird, two eggs. One girl, two legs. The collage-like illustrations are colourful and extend into the bottom border of the page where readers can enjoy finding pairs and explore patterns. My 4-year old loved picking out the patterns (one, two, one, two) as well as finding examples of one and two in the images themselves. Ones and Twos adds an early concept book appeal with a delightful story to go along with it.

If I Could Keep You Little
picture book
32 pages
Sourcebooks/Raincoast Books

I love Marianne Richmond’s books, like the Night Night book I mentioned in an early post. If I Could Keep You Little is a book for parents as much as kids. Although it’s not a new book (released in 2010), this fall season always seems to be a time of reflection. Perhaps it’s the timing with back to school. We cherish the special moments and stages our kids are at right now like singing them lullabies or dressing them in cute outfits. Sometimes we wish they would never grow-up, never loose their dependence on us, but we also know these new accomplishments bring other special moments to share. Parents will recognize their own feelings painted through the lovely pages. This books is a great way to talk about your child’s development and achievements and might also address some fears they may have about growing up.

Happy Birthday, Hamster
picture book
36 pages
Scholastic

Birthdays are such an important thing for kids. The day is all about them. They want to feel special and they want their friends and family to feel excited for them too. Happy Birthday, Hamster follows Hamster and his friend dog as they do some errands: visit the bakery, toy store, and card shop. Hamster can only think about his birthday but dog just seems to be doing errands. But the surprise is on Hamster when they get home to find a party waiting. I love the story pattern in this boo: description of all the fun things in the shop, Hamster’s ideal choice, what dog ends up getting, then moving on to the next shop. The images are colourful and fun, the way a party book should feel. On the shop page the author uses rhymes to describe what’s in the shop, kids will love being pulled in when asked what they would choose.

I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books, Sylvia from Tundra Books and Nikole from Scholastic Canada for my review copies.

What are you reading with your kids today?

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.