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February 12, 2019

A-E-I-O-U, I Love You – Children’s Books about Love

Uni the unicorn

Discover 11 great books about love for little learners — recommended by the Brighter Readers Book Crew!

Did you know science shows that giving hugs to your little one every day can make a big impact in their health and in their life? The words we say and the love we give make a big difference today and well into the future of your little learner. So while you cuddle up to enjoy these book recommendations, know that you are doing more than helping them learn words. With quality time and affection, you are protecting them against stress and improving their physical health.

We asked members of our Brighter Readers Book Crew to share their favorite children’s books about love. Their recommendations share the different ways kids express and deal with feelings, too. Check our list out and share your favorite reads about big feelings with us in the comments!

Lisa Land is the mother of two awesome little boys! This is her pick:


Mac Barnett, author, and Jon Klassen, illustrator
Best for:
Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, school-age

Annabelle lives in a black-and-white world, where everything is drab. So imagine her surprise when she finds a box filled with yarn of every color. Armed with the yarn and knitting needles, she makes herself a sweater, but after she finishes, she finds that she has extra yarn left over. After knitting a sweater for her dog, her classmates, and various (hilariously unsurprised) bunnies and bears, she still has extra yarn. So, Annabelle turns her attention to things that don’t usually wear wool cozies: houses and cars and mailboxes.

“This is a fun story of unending happiness to those with love and kindness in their hearts. The pictures are great!”

After you read: Make a pile from clothes that your little one has outgrown. Now, find things around the house that can wear them and have a giggle! House plant wearing a onesie? Potatoes wearing little socks? With older children, talk about donating clothes that are no longer of use to you and make a trip together to a donation center.

Read more about teaching children the art of giving.

Lindsay Hadley is a former SCAD professor, turned design director for Pattern Magazine — proud mama of #MiloLisko and the cutest Labradoodle you ever did see. This is her pick:


Lisa McCourt. Author and, Cyd Moore. Illustrator 
Best for: Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

“I love that it’s a bedtime chat between a mother and son, perfect for a bedtime chat between a mother and son. The book does a great job describing unconditional love in an imaginative way. I always tell my kiddo that he’ll always be my baby — even when he’s got his own babies. Well, this book goes a step further. The mom tells her little boy she’ll love him even if he turns into a Cyclops or a Swamp Monster or a Skunk — I love you, Stinky Face. If a kid might have fears about being imperfect or flawed, it’s a nice way for a parent to reassure him or her that we’ll always love them anyway.”

After you read: Come up with your own examples of how much you love each other. “I’ll love you even if you grow 20 legs!”

Mynda Cruz is a youth librarian at Tippecanoe County Public Library. These are her picks:


David Ezra Stein, author and illustrator
Best for:
Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Mouserella misses her grandmouse, so she writes her a letter. At first she can’t think of anything to say. But once she starts, the news begins to flow: She found a cat whisker at the zoo, taught her ladybug to fetch and made shadow puppets with Dadmouse during a blackout. And just like that, the events of the past few days come to vivid life in her letter, as does her love for Grandmouse.

After you read: pick a family member or friend to write a letter to. Have your little learner make scribbles or draw a picture, and join them in writing a letter too! For older kids, write their name in pencil and have them trace it, so they can learn how to sign their own correspondence.


Liz Climo, author
Best for:
Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Rory the dinosaur loves spending time with his dad. But today he wants to go on his own adventure and explore his island home. He can’t wait to tell his dad about the things he can do all by himself. From crossing rivers to finding shelter from the rain. Little does Rory know, his father is never far behind. There’s nothing Rory’s dad won’t do for his intrepid son — he’ll even let him think he’s made the journey all by himself.

“This is one of our favorites at Tippecanoe County Public Library.”

After you read: Ask, “where would you go, if you wanted to have an adventure?” And, “what would you pack in your bag to prepare for an adventure?”


Maurie J. Manning, author
Best for:
Four-year-olds, five-year-olds, school age, read along with preschool and pre-k learners

A little girl wakes in the night to mysterious, inviting noises. She rouses her brother, and they sneak downstairs and peek into the kitchen. To their amazement and delight, their parents are dancing and singing “Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!”— as they clean up and put food away.

After you read: Have a cleaning dance party. Play your favorite music and pick a room. Now, let’s tidy up and twirl!


Michael Kaplan, author and Stephane Jorisch, illustrator
Best for:
Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Betty Bunny is the youngest in her family of rabbits and she’s just discovering the important things in life, like chocolate cake. She declares, “I am going to marry chocolate cake” and takes a piece to school with her in her pocket. Mom values healthy eating and tells Betty Bunny she needs patience when it comes to dessert. But Betty Bunny doesn’t want patience, she wants chocolate cake!

After you read: Ask, “what do you love the most in the world?” And, “how do you know you love it so much?”

Vicki Lehman is a professional development specialist at Child Care Answers. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and spent her first seven years out of college teaching in a pre-K classroom. Some of her favorite books are by Dr. Seuss. This is her pick:


Rachel Bright, author and illustrator
Best for:
Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-oldsS

Love Monster is a slightly hairy monster trying to fit in with the cuddly residents of Cutesville. But as it turns out, it’s hard to fit in with the cute and the fluffy when you’re a googly-eyed monster. And so, Love Monster sets out to find someone who will love him just the way he is. His journey is not easy — he looks high, low and even middle-ish. But as he soon finds out, in the blink of a googly eye, love can find you when you least expect it.

After you read: Ask, “Have you ever felt the way Love Monster feels in this story?” And, “what do you think people can do to make new friends?”

Shirley Mullin is a teacher and librarian. She owns and operates Kids Ink, Children’s Bookstore. This is her pick:


Written by Kabir Sehgal and Shrestha Sehgal, illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
Best for:
Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, reading along with pre-school and pre-k learners

It’s time for the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan, the celebration of the special lifelong relationship shared by brothers and sisters everywhere. Join two sisters as they lovingly make rakhi—thread bracelets adorned with beads, sequins, sparkles, and tassels—for their brother. And then see their brother present them with toys and sweets and special gifts!

After you read: ask your child, “who do you want to give a present to?” “What gifts say ‘I love you’ to the person who gets them?”

Kirsten Eamon-Shine has a six-year-old son and way too many children’s books at her house. She also directs Early Learning Indiana’s communications. This is her pick:


Matt de la Peña, author and, Loren Long. Illustrator
Best for:
Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, school age, read along with preschool and pre-k learners

“This book covers everything from the wonder of new-parent love to comforting loved ones in the face of tragedy. It’s a beautiful, lovingly written and warmly illustrated book that offers readers the chance to celebrate bonds and to confront fears. We gave this to our then-five-year-old for Valentine’s Day last year, and I am so happy with our gift. As we read it together, he cuddled into me, asking questions about which moments were true for our family or for others. We especially appreciated the diverse family and community vignettes, which reflect our own world — with people of different colors, cultures, family structures and physical realities.”

After you read: Ask, “what did you like the most about this story?” And, “what are your favorite ways that we show love in our family?” Don’t forget to tell your little one all the ways you appreciate how they show you love too!

Andrea Freund works as a fundraiser in higher education, and she’s the mama to one of the cutest little book readers this side of Germany (where Andrea is from). This is her pick:


By Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author and, Brigette Barrager, illustrator
Best for:
Four-year-olds, five-year-olds, school age, read along with preschool and pre-k learners

Uni is just like all the other unicorns, except for one thing: she believes that little girls are REAL. But Uni the unicorn is told there’s no such thing as little girls! Somewhere there must be a smart, strong, wonderful, magical little girl waiting to be best friends. In fact, far away (but not too far away), a real little girl believes there is a unicorn waiting for her, too. This magical story of friendship reminds believers and nonbelievers alike that sometimes wishes really can come true.

After you read: Ask, “do you have a best friend?” And, “what makes a friend a best friend?” You can also make yourselves some unicorn horns with paper and art supplies. Then, take best-friend-family-unicorn selfies together!

Jennifer Delgadillo is a proud auntie and the content specialist for Early Learning Indiana. This is her pick:


Tomie Depaola, author and illustrator
Best for:
Four-year-olds, five-year-olds, school age, read along with preschool and pre-k learners

“This is the story of how Bobby and grandpa learn how to walk. First, Bobby as a toddler. Then, grandpa after having a stroke. I love this story because it shows children how relationships change as people grow. Also, how there are special ways of saying “I love you” that go beyond words. The story also has lessons in empathy and friendship.”

After you read: Ask, “why do you think Bobby and grandpa’s friendship is so special?” You can also build towers of blocks together and then sneeze!

Brighter Readers Book Crew is a group of early education professionals, child advocates, parents and book-loving experts that want to share their love of stories and books with families all across the state. Do you want to share the books you love and why you think they are great? Send a message to with the subject line Book Crew.

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