Loving Stories in Picture Books

By Eliana H. 

During this time of year, we are bombarded by messages trying to convince us to buy things for “that special someone.” Flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and more. Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day, but I hope we all have people we love. Research shows that a loving bond with a caregiver helps young children thrive. Share these picture books about love with your little one, or any other stories you like, to help develop that bond. For more tips from The Basics about maximizing love and managing stress, visit https://thebasics.org/brain-boosts/maximize-love-manage-stress/

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (ages 5-11) 

The cover depicts a barefoot child in a blue top and pants with a pink jacket, and blue and pink hair, with arms outstretched in front of a heart that is comprised of gold stars.

With simple words and watercolor illustrations, this book gently invites readers to think about how they can show love. The author and illustrator work seamlessly together to show how we can support ourselves and each other with specific, concrete loving actions. Heart-opening yoga poses and a heart meditation accompany the author’s note at the end of this title.  

I Love Us!: A Book About Family by Theodore Henry, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (ages 0-3) 

The cover shows a variety of different multicultural families interacting while doing various activities - running through the rain under an umbrella, playing with a dog, drawing, making music, and eating.

A wonderful read to share with your youngest loved ones, I Love Us! shows various families participating in loving activities together. After you read, talk about the things you love about your family and what it does. A mirror at the end lets you and your little one imagine yourselves in the story! But if you want to complete the family tree activity on the final page, please do it on a separate page and not in a library copy of the book. 

Love the World by Todd Parr (ages 2-6) 

The book cover, in bright pink with yellow, blue, and green lettering, depicts the Earth with a heart superimposed for the "O" in "World," and anothe heart in the center of the "O" in "Love." Two children in brightly colored outfits are shown leaning into the frame from either side of the title with their hands outstretched, and a brown and white dog with a red collar pops up at the bottom. Small red and yellow hearts are scattered across the cover.

If you’ve ever read a Todd Parr book before, you will immediately recognize his unique style. With brightly colored illustrations and simple, rhyming text, Parr invites readers to love activities that support the community and specific parts of themselves. Throughout the book, in full-page spreads, we are reminded to “Love yourself. Love the world!” Invite your little one to talk about all the things they love after reading this volume. 

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera (ages 4-8) 

The cover shows a girl and her mama playing peek-a-boo, both wearing shades of pink. The little girl is "peeking" out from behind her hands with a little grin on her face, but the mama's eyes are completely covered although she, too, is smiling.

This quiet, beautiful book celebrates the special bond between a little girl and her mama. As she says on the first page, the little girl wants, “to be everywhere Mama is.” She shows readers things that are hers and her mama’s before bringing us along on a walk in the rain. As day ends and she falls asleep, the little girl remembers parts of the day, especially “me and Mama.” 

When a Grandpa Says “I Love You” by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell (ages 3-7) 

The cover depicts two anthropomorphized bears; the grandpa bear wears blue checked pajamas and square glasses, and the baby bear is in pale red pajamas, holding a flashlight. The two look as though they are in a tent and the grandpa is making shadow puppets. There is a wooden chair to the right of the frame, holding up the tent.

Many grandfathers don’t say “I love you” in words, although some certainly do. Even those that aren’t saying it out loud display their love for grandchildren through their actions. A wide range of animal pairs show grandfather-grandchild relationships in the illustrations of this book, all participating in a variety of activities that demonstrate loving feelings they share. Follow a reading with a discussion of the ways that we can show love to a special person. 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (ages 4-7) 

The cover depicts Aidan in a rainbow-colored coat and yellow pants, on the shoulders of his Dad and being kissed by his pregnant mom, who is wearing a white dress. A white cat looks up at them from next to Aidan's mom, and there are flower blossoms and petals floating across the cover.

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. It took some time, but Aidan’s family all adjusted to make sure his life fit who he is. Now Aidan’s mom is expecting a baby, and Aidan knows that being a big brother is an important job. He helps his parents get things ready for his new sibling, but he also worries that he won’t be a good big brother. Thankfully, Aidan’s parents remind him that loving someone is the most important part of that job. 

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

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