For the "read me a story" crowd -- toddlers up to about age 5, cuddle up on the couch with I Love You Through And Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak. This story will reassure your child that no matter what she's feeling, no matter how sad she might be, you still love her. Build on those feelings with Sam McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You, which demonstrates how great a parent's love for a child is.
But suppose you have two young children vying for your attention? Then select I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse. This mother answers her two sons with specific praise for their distinct talents. At bedtime, when pressed to tell them who she loves best, she explains that she loves one the reddest, and one the bluest. It's a nice way to explain to kids that love is boundless and unique and without a "most."
Late elementary students who prefer to read their own books will enjoy Love, Hate and My Best Mate: Poems About Love and Relationships, complied by Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters. It makes for a nice exposure to poetry as well as exploring the themes of relationships and how people make us feel. You may even find it inspires your child to try his own hand at writing a poem or two.
Stargirl and Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli are a nice pair of books for tweens who are beginning to explore the idea of love. The first book is Leo's story, and what he discovers about himself when he begins to fall for Stargirl. The sequel is Stargirl's story when she moves away with her family and pines for Leo, still back in Arizona. These are lovely books that offer something a little different from standard tween fare.
For a more conventional tween novel, Francine Pascal's My First Love and Other Disasters is about a girl who gets the boy -- and realizes that he doesn't magically fix all the other problems in her life. It's a cute story by the author who brought you the famed Sweet Valley High series (remember those?!), and much of it will still resonate, even with the jaded tweens of today.
Take some time to explore the theme of love in literature with your kids. You may be pleasantly surprised.
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