Top 10 Books to Celebrate Love

Cuddle up with your little ones and enjoy these books full of love.

By Dr. Shawna Della Cerra

Love isn’t just romantic: it comes in many different forms, all of which deserve to be celebrated! So, I’ve gathered together the TOP 10 BOOKS to celebrate all kinds of LOVE. This is a selection of love-themed reads that are perfect for gifting on Valentine’s Day and reading all year round. This month, let’s take a moment to rejoice in the one thing that makes the world go round! Let’s celebrate Love!

Love is so often honored through the creative arts because it is something intrinsic and present within all living beings. One does not necessarily have to be alive to be loved! We love people who have left us or some who have not yet been born. Love is what gives us wings to fly, the will to get up in the morning, and the inspiration to create life.

It doesn’t have to be romantic, just love, in all its simplistic goodness. Let’s embark on this journey together as we share in a celebration of love!

Importance of Love

Love – Matt de la Peña

Love, from Matt de la Peña, is an extremely moving picture book. Individuals face challenges every day. Through Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña’s poetic words and bestselling illustrator Loren Long’s stunning illustrations, readers are reminded of where love can be found. Love is a gorgeous book with unbelievable imagery that celebrates all the ways love shows up and is shared in our lives.

Love Yourself

Maybe - Kobi Yamada

A particularly self-possessed child and a tiny pink pig wander through a surreal but benevolent landscape while a narrator contemplates the nature of potential. Illustrator Gabriella Barouch outfits the child in a cap made of leaves with a beaklike bill, lending a mythic mood to the journey.

“You are the only you there ever has been or ever will be,” intones Yamada (What Do You Do with an Idea?), who details possibilities for the child’s future (“Maybe you will invent something”). Climbing a stairway inside a book, the child discovers a dark space where there is an enormous polar bear and several species trapped within bird cages and glass domes.

“Maybe you are here to help in ways that only you can?” the narrator asks as the child liberates the creatures. The scene abruptly shifts; the child muses, then stitches together a pair of leafy wings that enable the pig to fly.

“One thing is for sure, you are here,” the narrator concludes. “And because you are here… anything is possible.” With its inscrutable protagonist and ruminating narrator, both of whom serve to keep readers at a distance, this is one odd entry in the inspirational genre. 

You are the only you there ever has been or ever will be. You are unique in all the universe. Just the odds of you being here at this exact place and this exact time are so great and so rare that it will never happen again.

Written by New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada, this story is about everything you will do and everything you can be. It is a story about all the possibilities ahead of you. It is for who you are right now, and it’s for all the magical, unbounded potential you hold inside. With its beautiful visual storytelling and timeless message, Maybe is an inspiring story for kids of all ages.

Love of Children

Child of the Sea - Maxine Rose Schur

My favorite books as a child were folk tales and fairy tales. Child of the Sea, by Maxine Rose Schur, will sweep you into a sea of love with its folkloric vintage feel. Through lyrics, this poetic folktale artfully creates a story experience of the fisherman and his wife who long for a child of their own and their journey of love and letting go.

Their dreams come true when the fisherman discovers a baby girl in his fishing net. Though their family is happy and united, their daughter, Merella, longs to return to the sea. With the sense of belonging being rooted in safety, home, and finding your place in the world, Child of the Sea will bring cognizance to each reader’s importance.

One More Hug – Megan Alexander

Place Love You Forever on the shelf for a bit because author Megan Alexander and Illustrator, Hiroe Nakata, have written a beautiful book that will make parents tear up.

One More Hug follows a mother and son as the son grows up. When the son is in his youth, he is always asking his mother for “one more hug.” As he continues to grow, he continues to ask his mom for hugs during his moments of needing reassurance. Lastly, the boy is all grown up and ready to go out into the world on his own. It is during her son’s departure that this loving mother wishes for just “one more hug,” and her son may have one more surprise up his sleeve.

Parents, a word of advice: read this with a box of tissues nearby. Though your tears will be of the sweetest kind, you will fall in love with One More Hug, which reminds both children and parents that the strong love and need for reassurance goes both ways.

Love of Nature

Holly’s Hollyhocks – Marsha Jackson

With gorgeously illustrated children’s books about nature, I can tour the world without leaving the comfort of my home. However, after reading Holly’s Hollyhocks, I want to remain home and watch pulchritudinous hollyhocks that I’m now motivated to plant and grow in my very own backyard.

Just like I’ve learned the benefits of companion planting in my garden, Jackson’s sweet story and Whatcott’s alluring illustrations are a great companionship. You soon will think you are smelling actual hollyhocks as Holly shows you an example of having a goal, working hard, and truly making the world a more beautiful place to live.

Love of Friends

Skimmer & Birdy: Let’s Help Nell – Carrie Turley

Have you ever wondered how you can put a smile on someone’s face that was having a hard day? Skimmer and Birdy are the perfect elephants that can help you come up with a plan to help a friend beat their blues.

Carrie Turley and Ryan Law’s precious book, Skimmer & Birdy: Let’s Help Nell, will mesmerize you in both rhyme and sight. For me, true friendship includes laughter, support, encouragement, service . . . and lots of laughter. Skimmer and Birdy’s friendship includes all of these traits, and with the help of their friend, Blue Bird, they show genuine compassion in noticing Nell’s needs, secretly helping this giraffe with her struggles, and making Nell smile through their act of kindness.

I put my ”thinker” on and have come up with a way to secretly help someone I know is in need. Thanks, Skimmer and Birdy, for your example. The world needs more books like Skimmer & Birdy: Let’s Help Nell.

Love of Loves

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

For middle-schoolers that are beginning to navigate the teen years, Susan was inspired to rename herself ‘Stargirl’ when she was looking up at the stars while walking through the desert. For Stargirl, the stars represent her dazzling personality when she is true to herself.

The main character, Leo, is just as intrigued by the new girl as everyone else in his school is. She’s unconventional, eccentric, lives life boldly with no fear, and she’s super confident. As Leo gets to know her, he starts to be smitten like the rest of the school — until the rest of the school starts to find her personality weird and are no longer intriguing, causing them to gang up against her. Leo is stuck between going against the grain with Stargirl or going with the crowd, so he tries to convince Stargirl that normal isn’t so bad.

Spenelli’s Stargirl will instill a desire to want to be better — more kind, not afraid to be oneself, going the extra mile to show people they are loved while remaining awed by the little things and living with boldness.

Love of Life

Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine - Herman Parish
Amelia Bedelia books are pure bliss! Just hearing her name makes me smile. Amelia Bedelia is full of life! I loved them growing up, and I love reading this new series of Amelia Bedelia books by Herman Parish, nephew of Peggy Parish (author of the original Amelia Bedelia books). Sometimes the younger kids don’t always get all the funny parts, but that doesn’t stop them from laughing about Amelia and her blunders that tickle their funny bones. Have you wondered what Amelia Bedelia, “America’s favorite housekeeper,” was like when she was a young girl? Herman Parish has written over a dozen books about the young Amelia Bedelia. This selection, Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine, tells how Amelia prepares for and celebrates the holiday of Valentine’s Day. Amelia’s mother, who likes to spend time playing cards with her friends, is not the run-of-the-mill mother figure; but her scruffy-faced father seems personable and not that strange. Amelia? She takes everything her parents, teacher, and classmates say and everything she reads literally, consequently leading to frequent mix-ups! Valentine’s Day is a great setting to share Amelia’s funny interpretations: She puts a “bandage across the broken heart” and places “peanuts into the envelope with the squirrel.” Lynne Arvil’s colorful cartoon-like illustrations portray the cutest Amelia! She is innocent, thoughtful, and kind. This picture book story could be used to point out the meaning of catchy phrases, idioms, expressions, and puns.

Love of Lost Loves

Book Nerd – Holly Maguire

Authors Alexander R. Della Cerra and Dr. Shawna L. Della Cerra are a mother and son pair who have teamed up to share a life-enriching story in the children’s book My Daddy Is in Heaven.

The narrator is a young dinosaur whose father has recently died. He shares how he and his mother are coping with their new life. They have been through many changes, and together, they are adjusting to having just the two of them at home.
The illustrations by Ryan Law attentively reflect the emotions of the young theropod. The illustrations taper off along the edges, giving the appearance of viewing the scene through a break in the clouds. This is a gentle nod to the connection they maintain with the dad in Heaven.

Details in the illustrations reinforce positivity while staying in character. For example, in a picture with the father and son playing with a train set, there is a framed print in the room that says, “We choose to be happy.”

A noteworthy observation is that the young Tyrannosaurus recognizes his feelings. He does not retreat into his sadness—he embraces his friends, his teachers, and his mother to gain strength. Also, he talks about his emotions and honestly shares that he has bad days and misses his father when he sees others playing with their dads. He astutely comments that he thinks they understood why he felt the way he did. This story has a high emotional quotient wrapped in a simple and engaging package.

I have never had this experience reading a children’s book, but my response after reading almost every page was an audible “Aww.” This could’ve been such a sad story, but I loved the relatable, sad realities that were wrapped in positivity and long-term togetherness.

Love of Books

Book Nerd – Holly Maguire

Holly Maguire’s Book Nerd illustrates the life of a book lover through vibrant artwork. From the oh-so-true quotes to the other uses for books, you catch yourself reading Book Nerd over and over.

I’m impressed with the diversity in this literature. My new favorite motto is “It’s not hoarding if it’s books.” You can never have too many books. To have one that comes with bookmarks is even better. Book Nerd is a delightful book for book lovers everywhere, and a great read to celebrate your love for books.

Love. I’m not sure if there’s been any subject about which more has been written (based purely on observation—no statistics here), and I think that’s something to celebrate. The world could use a little more love. If you’re looking for more truly fantastic books about all kinds of love to read with the loves in your life, check out I know you will fall in love with all of these books.

Dr. Shawna Della Cerra is the co-author of My Daddy Is In Heaven.

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