Picture books about familial love – part 2

Welcome back.

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’ve been exploring 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. The ancient Greeks believed there were seven love types. See my previous post.

Our previous post crushed on eros (love of the body, erotic or romantic love).

Now we’re swooning over storge (love of the child, familial love) and the picture books that celebrate love between a parent and child. According to the Greeks, storge flows between parents and children, children and parents. Storge can also be found among childhood friends.

Here are some picture books to make your heart full.

10 Picture Books About Familial Love (Storge)

I Love You, Stinky Face

1. I Love You, Stinky Face (1997) | Lisa McCourt

“But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?”

My mom lovingly calls me “stinky tuna”, so this book title really stood out to me and touched my heart. A toddler asks his mom would she still love him, even if he were a super smelly skunk. One hundred times “yes”! This book celebrates the unconditional love of a mother for her child. (Age Range:  Preschool and up)

Love You Forever

2. Love You Forever (1995) | Robert Munsch

I was introduced to this heart-wrenching “can’t read it without crying” book at a grade school book fair. Through the touching story of a mother and her changing son, this book sends your children the message that you’ll love them forever and like them for always. I like to say the book’s refrain when I kiss my babies goodnight, but I leave out the “as long as I’m living” part. (I own a copy and so does my gram!) (Age Range:  4 years and up)

The Runaway Bunny

3. Runaway Bunny (1942) | Margaret Wise Brown

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

From the author of the beloved Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny is another classic picture book about a little bunny who keeps running away from his mom in a pretend game of hide-and-seek. The comforting words and loving pictures will melt your heart, really and truly. This book reassures us that no matter where we go (or what we do), a mother’s love will find us. (Thanks to my great-aunt for getting the book for our home library!) (Age Range:  Preschool and up)

Guess How Much I Love You

4. Guess How Much I Love You (1994 UK, 1995 US) | Sam McBratney

This book will always tug at my heartstrings – my mother and father-in-law put it on display in my son’s nursery when they painted and decorated the room as a gift and as a surprise…Guess How Much [They] Love [Us]”? A lot! This book illustrates the boundless love, “…right up to the moon and back” kind, parents (Big Nutbrown Hare) have for their children (Little Nutbrown Hare). (Age Range:  Preschool and up)

The Giving Tree

5. The Giving Tree (1964) | Shel Silverstein

“Dah! Dah!! Dah!!!” my son used to say while pointing to the black and white picture of Shel Silverstein on the back of the book. Like this Love You Forever, The Giving Tree is a bittersweet interpretation of gift giving and a portrayal of a person’s capability to love in return. This book, instructive for the head and the heart, means even more to grownups as they complete the stages of life presented in the book, e.g. childhood, youth (adolescence), manhood (adulthood), and old age. (Age Range:  1-8 years)

I Love You Through and Through

6. I Love You Through and Through (2005) | Bernadette Rossetti Shustak

“I love your hair and eyes,
Your giggles and cries.”

Babies and toddlers will feel loved “through and through” after reading his sweet book. You’ll have a soft spot in your heart for I Love You Through and Through. This book portrays a parent’s unconditional love for his or her child through the adorable illustrations of a toddler and a teddy. (Age Range:  2-3 years)

All the Things I Love About You

7. All the Things I Love About You (2010) | LeUyen Pham

This heartfelt, epistolary story illustrates the boundless love between a mother and her little boy. Mama lists all the reasons she loves her son, e.g. the way his hair sticks up in the morning (hey, just like mine!). This book shows us how the little things in life are what forge an unbreakable bond between a parent and child. (Age Range:  4-8 years)

No Matter What

8. No Matter What (1999) | Debi Gliori

“Small said, “But what about when we are dead and gone, will you love me then, does love go on?”

…Large (replied) “Look at the stars, how they shine and glow, some of the stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies, for you see…love like starlight never dies*…” 

Little fox’s mother promises from the bottom of her heart she’ll love her little fox no matter what, even after death. This book illustrates a parent’s endless capacity for love. (Age Range:  N/A)

*DISCLAIMER:  Just be sure you get the original UK version, not the US version which waters down the message that love goes on “no matter what” after death. 

You're Lovable to Me

9. You’re Lovable to Me (2009) |Kat Yeh

“No matter what your feelings are, whatever they may be . . . I’m your mama. You’re my bunnies. And you’re lovable to me.”

Old-fashioned illustrations and lulling rhymes charm readers in this tale of multigenerational love, in which penitent bunnies apologize to their mother for their daily pranks. My favorite part of the book is when Mama Bunny’s own papa drops by for tea and tells her she’s “his” bunny. This book depicts how a parent loves her bunny with all her heart and soul. (Age Range:  3-7 years)

The I Love You Book

10. The I Love You Book (2013) |Todd Parr

“I love you when you need hugs

I love you when you hide my keys”

The I Love You Book is a picture book that feels more like a hug. Parr’s book finds the right balance between heartfelt and lighthearted. This book reminds your children how much they are loved each and every day. (Age Range:  5 years and up)

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Love your children the way you were loved (or wish you were loved) as a child.

So use the above parents (bunny, fox, hare, and otherwise) as loving models!

What other picture books would you add the list?

What kinds of love have you experienced?

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