In So Many Words
Reader-recommended books for kids
We asked readers to tell us about their favorite children’s picture books that say family is forever. These classic tales subtly, but powerfully, reinforce the idea that love is what makes a family. (Click on the titles for details on purchasing these books.)
On the Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel & Friends), tells the story of a child’s birth, but without mentioning parents. Whenever we read the line, “So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name,” we add our daughter’s birth name. We talk about how, across the world, mommy heard about her new little girl for the first time.
When our daughter joined our family, a friend who’s also an adoptive parent sent us Little Miss Spider, by David Kirk (Scholastic). Beetle Betty and Little Miss Spider find each other and become a family. I have read it to our daughter so many times that I can recite it from memory.
The Rainbabies, by Laura Krauss Melmed (HarperCollins), describes a childless couple’s longing for a child to raise—and the magical arrivals, first of tiny babies to care for, and then the daughter who would complete their happiness. At a time when my daughter was struggling to understand why families adopt, this beautiful fairy tale, illustrated with exquisite paintings, was a perfect read.
—Susan, New York City
I love Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch (Firefly). Each night, when her son is sound asleep, a devoted mother whispers to him: “I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, your mother I’ll be.” By the end of the book, the mother is elderly, and her grown son repeats it back to her. This is one book that can always make me cry.
We love the original Corduroy series, by Don Freeman (Viking Juvenile). Corduroy is a bear at a department store, waiting to be purchased. Despite his many adventures, what he longs for most are a home and a friend. The story is about finding someone to love, and we like that the little girl who finally finds Corduroy and takes him home is African-American.
I bought Max Lucado’s Just In Case You Ever Wonder (Tommy Nelson) for my daughter when she was about to come home from Guatemala. This tender story of a parent’s unconditional love for a child perfectly captures the way I feel. I’m already planning to purchase a copy for my second daughter before she comes home.
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn (Tanglewood), is a wonderful storybook to help children through separations from parents. A little raccoon doesn’t want to leave his mom to go off to school, but she comforts him by kissing the palm of his hand and telling him that, whenever he feels lonely during the day, he can touch his cheek and feel her kiss. To this day, our son wants me to kiss his hand every morning—and, to this day, I’m always happy to oblige.
Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman (Random House), is a current favorite in our household. My five-year-old is able to read it on her own, and the story’s simple text describes the bond between mother and child in a way that is easy for any young child to understand.
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