Five Kid Books That Show Love in all Kinds of WaysValentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about chocolate overload or mylar balloons or Hallmark’s version of what true love is. Classic children’s books celebrating love are wonderful, but there is more than enough love to go around. Here’s a list of five books to share with children that present a wider perspective of what love can look like.1) “Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship” by Craig Hatkoff. This is based off the true story of a baby hippo stranded on a coral reef away from his mother after the 2004 tsunami. He is taken to a nature reserve to live where he meets Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise who takes his protector. Baby hippo Owen sleeps next to Mzee and follows her around while she looks after him and cares for him. The real photos are a testament to adults and children alike that just because you may look very different from someone else doesn’t mean that you can’t share a loving bond. 2) “The Gardener” by Sarah Stewart. This is an older picture book and one of my all time favorites. A little girl gets sent to live with her uncle in the city when her parents are financially struggling. The story is told through letters to home by the little girl, who is a beacon of light to her uncle who never seems to smile. She becomes friends with her city neighbors and starts to build a surprise rooftop garden for her uncle and for herself. The illustrations are amazing, and the story unfolds in the most awe-inspiring way. The love that the main character shows to her community and to her uncle made me tear up with hope.3) “Mommy, Mama, and Me” by Leslea Newman. Not so long ago, there were no depictions of African-American children in mainstream children’s books. Ezra Jack Keats’ book “The Snowy Day” was revolutionary for simply showing a child, who happened to be black, enjoying the wonders of snow and nature in his neighborhood. In that spirit, “Mommy, Mama, and Me” is a simple board book showing a child with two moms having fun and going through the day of a toddler (cooking, bath, bedtime).
4) “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams. This is a wonderful inter-generational story of love that revolves around a grandmother, a mother, a daughter and a big, comfortable chair. A fire destroys most of the family furniture, and with the help of donations, they fill their lives with all of the essentials again, except for a comfortable chair. The daughter knows that this is what her mother needs because she works so hard and deserves to sit down and rest. They save up to buy this rose-covered chair and the reader is filled with just as much ease and satisfaction as the family. This is a prime example of empathy and compassion, a love story that transcends into a bigger vision of overall kindness.5) “Toot and Puddle” by Holly Hobbie. This book, and the series of picture books that follow these two little pigs, revel in the love of friendship. One pig is a homebody and the other has a wandering soul, but they share their stories to each other through it all. When they meet again, it’s like they never were apart. Holly Hobbie’s illustration work is amazing. She paints landscapes that are filled with beautiful snow-covered maple trees and world scenes bursting with vivid color. But it’s the relationship between Toot and Puddle that makes me keep coming back to the book to read it again to my children and share with them a friendship built on respect of differences and fun.
Which children’s books would your family add to our list?