Picture books about romantic love – part 1

Thanks for joining my “Mommy and Me” Book Club. I hope you’re enjoying my ongoing “stay in bed and read” series. See my previous post on The Art of Hearing Heartbeats for a book summary and “quotable quotes”.

As you’re reading The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker in bed (or in your favorite armchair), feel free to share these picture books with your children.

For every “mommy book” read, I’ll suggest a “me book” for your children with a similar theme. It is my hope that this “Mommy and Me” book club is a fun activity for you and your children.

Picture Books About Love (Eros, Storge, Philia, Philautia, Agape)

In this five part series, I’ll explore the different kinds of love that make our hearts skip a beat.

In The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Su Kyi, Tin Win’s adoptable mother, comments on the perfect, symbiotic love of Tin Win and Mi Mi when she observes:

“The smallest human unit is two not one.”

This quote got me thinking about Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and all the loves a person can experience in his or her lifetime.

Some say there are four kinds of love. Others, like the ancient Greeks, believe there are seven love types.

  • Eros (Love of the body, erotic or romantic love):  The Greeks described this passionate and intense “loss of control” kind of love as arousing romantic and sexual feelings.
  • Storge (Love of the child, familial love):  According to the Greeks, storge flows between parents and children, children and parents. Storge can also be found among childhood friends.
  • Philia (Love of the mind, affectionate or brotherly love):  The Greeks valued this above erotic/romantic love because it’s love, without sexual attraction, between equals or friends.
  • Philautia (Love of the self, self-love):  Duh, this is the greatest love, says the self-proclaimed, self-loving stay-in-bed-mom. No narcissism here. On the contrary, philautia is similar to the Buddhist idea of self-compassion. As Aristotle awesomely announced, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”
  • Agape (Love of the soul, spiritual love):  So you can’t experience agape, or unconditional, boundless love, until you’ve learned philautia. Isn’t that a good enough reason to stay in bed and love yourself a little bit more? Agape is the purest and most radical form of love, free from desires and expectations, and it loves despite the shortcomings and flaws of others. Buddhists describe it as “mettā” or “universal loving kindness.” It’s felt when we know a divine truth, e.g. “love is all accepting, all forgiving”.

Which types of love have you experienced? Is it possible to experience them all in one lifetime? What about in a single moment?

If you’re interested in learning more, check out all the love types here.

Here are some picture books to make your heart full.

10 Picture Books About Romantic Love (Eros)

Rapunzel

1. Rapunzel (2002 Reprint Edition) | Paul O. Zelinsky

Shouldn’t every picture book list about romantic love start with Rapunzel? I’m a big fan of the film Tangled (2010), so I couldn’t resist reading this gorgeously illustrated, Caldecott honored (1998) classic story about a prince who finds Princess Rapunzel in an inaccessible tower and wins her heart. The book contains elements from the Brothers Grimm and earlier folklore. (Age Range:  5-8 years)

Falling for Rapunzel

2. Falling for Rapunzel (2005 Reprint Edition) | Leah Wilcox

What I like about this telling is our Rapunzel is untraditional, the way I like my princesses. The prince beholds his pretty princess perched in her tower and, with a quickening heart, he thinks he can save her the traditional way. This book shows the prince, and all of us, how dreams come true. (Age Range:  5-8 years)

Prince & Knight.jpeg

3. Prince & Knight (2018) | Daniel Haack and Stevie Lewis

Phooey on princes and princesses! The modern day calls for a modern-day romance story between a heroic prince and a chivalrous knight. This book charmingly mixes a heartwarming same-sex romance with a riveting dragon-battling fantasy plot. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

Love Is You & Me.png

4. Love is You & Me (2013) | Monica Sheehan

“Love is me, and love is you. You see, when you smile I smile too. When you’re around, the skies are blue.” This book is filled with buoyant rhymes that make our hearts skip a beat (or two). (Age Range:  4-8 years)

XO, OX A Love Story

5. XO, OX:  A Love Story (2017) | Adam Rex

An obsessive oz loves a graceful gazelle, but his love is unrequited, or is it? Still, the ox continues to write her heart-filled handwritten love notes. This book reminds us that patience and persistence will always win the prize. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

Frog in Love

6. Frog in Love (2005) | Max Velthuijs

“Hello Frog,” said Piglet. “You don’t look very well. What’s the matter with you?”

“I don’t know,” said Frog. “I feel like laughing and crying at the same time. And there’s something going thump-thump inside me, here.”

Is this not the perfect description of infatuation? Frog is worried because his heart is beating so fast; could he be in love? This book explores the big emotions that come with being in love. (Age Range:  5-6 years)

When an Elephant Falls in Love.jpeg

7. When an Elephant Falls in Love (2016) | Davide Cali

An infatuated, lovesick elephant can’t stop doing silly things; oh, how his heart hurts! He hides from his crush, eats too much cheesecake despite trying to be healthy (I love this!), and writes letters he’ll never send. This book brings home the point that the very best things in life come to those who wait. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

Before You.jpg

8. Before You (2016) | Rebecca Doughty

“I was a flower with no pot

I was a polka with no dot” 

How does love transform you? The lively text and enchanting illustrations can be shared between lovers, parents and children, or friends. This book charms us, as we read-aloud to the special someones in our hearts. (Age Range:  4-7 years)

Love Monster

9. Love Monster (2014) | Rachel Bright

The eponymous creature of Cutesville searches high, low, and even middle-ish (so cute, right?) to find someone who will love him just the way he is. Turns out it’s hard to fit in when everyone’s cute and fluffy and you’re a monster. This book tells us that love strikes our hearts when we least expect it. (Age Range:  2-4 years)

Love Bugs

10. The Love Bugs (2010) |Simon Puttock

“Dear ‘Red’,
Your wings are so beautiful!
I wish you were my friend.
Or EVEN my valentine?
From ‘Blue'”

Love is in the garden air on Valentine’s Day, but red Ladybird feels lonesome until she receives a letter from a secret admirer that speeds up her heart – could it be the blue Dragonfly? Also who is shy Beetle writing to? This book transports us to a momentous moonlit wedding where all is revealed in magnificent miniature detail. (Age Range:  3-6 years)

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Home is where the heart is. But finding your way home (and to your heart) can be hard. 

So surrender and embrace your path, and find love (all seven kinds) along the way.

What other picture books would you add the list?

What kinds of love have you experienced?

7 thoughts on “Picture books about romantic love – part 1

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