A list of children’s books about love and family | The Children’s Book Review
Back a few years ago during a SCBWI Lines & Letters conference in Colorado, I was incredibly lucky to hear award-winning author Matt de la Peña do an early reading of his then-forthcoming picture book, Love (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers), illustrated by bestselling illustrator Loren Long. In general, it’s usually a wonderful thing to hear an author read his or her own work—but in this case, it was outstandingly moving (yes, a watery-eyes kind of moving that filled the large room with a buzzing energy that, at that moment, could only be described as love).
Ever since I have wanted to get my hands on a copy so I could also get a closer look at the rich illustrations. And now I have a copy! Love makes my heart skip a beat every time I pick it up, and it inspired me to put this list of books together: Ten Kids Picture Books About Unconditional Love.
There’s no doubt about it, love shows itself to us in many different ways. It doesn’t always look the same to every child, parent, or family. However, when we give love unconditionally and feel loved unconditionally we certainly feel happier. Aha! Parenting, an excellent parenting site run by Dr. Laura Markham (Clinical Psychologist, mom, and author) says: “Unconditional love is like a muscle. It needs a daily workout. Compassion is the heavy lifting of life. You know it takes daily practice to build that kind of muscle.”
In one of her articles, she provides ten steps to unconditional love, and I believe that some snuggly family reading with books that focus on love and unconditional love could only aid in giving the “unconditional love muscle” some of the daily attention it needs. So, in an effort to fill the hearts of the children and adults in your home, as well as my own, here are ten kids’ books that can help instill unconditional love.
10 Amazing Picture Books About Love
Written by Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Loren Long
Publisher’s Synopsis: From Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long comes a story about the strongest bond there is and the diverse and powerful ways it connects us all.
“In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.
A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life.”
In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524740917
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal
Illustrated by Holly Hatam
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter Paris Rosenthal comes to the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl,
Dear Girl is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life.
Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she’s perfect—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on tabletops.
This book encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062422507
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, this delectable follow-up to the bestselling Cookies and Christmas Cookies defines words that are associated with love.
From letting your friend have the last cookie (selfless) to waiting to lick the bowl together (considerate), here is a book for anyone looking for the right words to say I love you. Meanings are illuminated in this different kind of dictionary, which is every bit as heartwarming as the experience of baking cookies with someone you love.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s sweet little lessons, mixed with warm and inviting illustrations by mother-daughter duo Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer, make for a book that will hit the spot! Go ahead, have another bite! (And another.)
A lovely Valentine’s Day present, especially with some home-baked cookies.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2009 | ISBN-13: 978-0061740725
Written and Illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
Publisher’s Synopsis: The New York Times bestseller that celebrates the dreams, acceptance, and love that parents have for their children . . . now and forever!
From brave and bold to creative and clever, Emily Winfield Martin’s rhythmic rhyme expresses all the loving things that parents think of when they look at their children. With beautiful, and sometimes humorous, illustrations, and a clever gatefold with kids in costumes, this is a book grown-ups will love reading over and over to kids—both young and old. A great gift for any occasion, but a special stand-out for baby showers, birthdays, and graduation. The Wonderful Things You Will Be has a loving and truthful message that will endure for lifetimes.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Random House Children’s Books | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0-385-37671-6
Written by Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher’s Synopsis: A mother’s love leads to a mother’s dream — every mother’s dream — for her child to live life to its fullest.
A deceptively simple, powerful ode to the potential of love and the potential in life, Someday is the book you’ll want to share with someone else…today. The perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Graduation Day or Any Day – share a copy with every special person in your life.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 2007 | ISBN-13: 978-1416928119
Written and Illustrated by Dallas Clayton
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Dallas Clayton wrote An Awesome Book! for his son, everything changed. A self-published sensation, Dallas has visited schools and stores across the United States, hand-selling his book one kid at a time. An Awesome Book of Love!, his heartwarming follow-up, explores the many faces of love. This book is a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day—or really for any day, you’d like to tell someone special how much you care.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0062116666
Publisher’s synopsis: There are oh so many things a mom loves about her young child. But most of all, she just loves him, no matter what.
Bestselling author and illustrator LeUyen Pham combines her experience as a mother and her proven storytelling skills in a humorous and heartfelt love letter of a book. In All the Things I Love About You, Mama lists the reasons she loves her little boy: the way his hair sticks up in the morning, the way he says “Mama” (even in the middle of the night), and the way he laughs. Simply written and beautifully illustrated, All the Things I Love About You honestly speaks to the unconditional love between a mother and her child. Children and parents alike will treasure this heartwarming book and, in reading it together, appreciate the small actions that make love grow stronger every day.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-0061990298
Written and Illustrated by Nancy Tillman
Publisher’s synopsis: . . . I wanted you more than you’ll ever know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go. . . .
Love is the greatest gift we have to give our children. It’s the one thing they can carry with them each and every day.
If love could take shape it might look something like these heartfelt words and images from the inimitable Nancy Tillman. Here is a book to share with your loved ones, no matter how near or far, young or old, they are.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | 2010 | ISBN-13: 978-0312549664
Written by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
Publisher’s Synopsis: Celebrate twenty years of sharing love to the moon and back with this anniversary edition with an elegant new cover.
Sometimes when you love someone you want to find a way of describing just how much. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not an easy thing to measure! A wonderful book for bedtime reading, this story captures the deep and tender bond between parent and child.
Ages 3+ | Publisher: Candlewick | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0763674489
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Clement Hurd
Publisher’s Synopsis: Celebrating 75 years, The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, beloved children’s book author of Goodnight Moon.
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
A little bunny keeps running away from his mother in this imaginary game of hide-and-seek. Children will be profoundly comforted by this lovingly steadfast mother who finds her child every time.
The Runaway Bunny, first published in 1942 and never out of print, has indeed become a classic. Generations of readers have fallen in love with the gentle magic of its reassuring words and loving pictures.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2017 (Revised) | ISBN-13: 978-0064430180
About the Author
Matt de la Peña is the author of Last Stop on Market Street, which won the Newbery Medal and was chosen for a Caldecott Honor. He is also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis and six critically acclaimed young adult novels. Matt teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country. Matt lives in Brooklyn.
About the Illustrator
Loren Long is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Otis series. He’s also the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestseller Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama, as well as the re-illustrated, #1 New York Times bestseller The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. He lives near Cincinnati with his wife, two sons, and two Weimaraners.
The book list Ten Kids Picture Books About Unconditional Love was curated by Bianca Schulze. Discover more books like the picture books listed here by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Love, Picture Books, and Unconditional Love.