Valentine’s Day is creeping closer, and soon enough stores will be full of red and pink heart-shaped decorations. Before the bombardment of love-infused marketing takes hold, start a conversation with your little ones about love and how it ties in to kindness, family, and respect. Any of these 18 children’s picture books about love are a great jumping off point for conversation. For some other children’s picture books about kindness, visit some more lists of books promoting celebrating LGBT love and diversity.
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack and Stevie Lewis
This is the only romantic love book on the list, but it’s between a heroic prince and an equally heroic male knight, and it delights me more than can be expressed with words (think many exclamation points and a long string of letters that make no sense together). Gorgeous art and an exciting dragon-battling fantasy plot mix with same-sex romance.
Honey Baby Sugar Child by Alice Faye Duncan and Susan Keeter
A poetic expression of a mother’s love accompanied by beautiful painted illustrations.
The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and Thomas Knight
A little girl doesn’t like sleeping alone (she’s afraid of the dark), so she attempts to move her father to a cot so that she can have his spot and be cozy with her mom. This silly book is from the toddler’s point of view, full of adorably childish reasoning.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli and Paul Yalowitz
This one made my heart swoon. Mr. Hatch lives an orderly, lonely life. One day he receives an anonymous valentine, and it changes him completely. Suddenly he is a caring neighbour and helpful friend.
Homemade Love by bell hooks
A poetic story about a child called ‘Girlpie’ by her mom (because she’s a treat that’s been handmade by her parent’s love). Though she often messes up, she knows that she will be forgiven easily.
Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear and Esmé Shapiro
Yak and Dove are opposites but their friendship is strong anyway. A witty, hilarious book with adorable illustrations and a lovely message about how differences make us special.
Love Monster by Rachel Bright
Monster looks very different from everyone else in Cutesville, which is populated by a cornucopia of fluffy, pastel creatures. In a search for love, Monster discovers that being different is okay.
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson
This is a super sweet book about animals planting a seed. I actually thought this book was just about gardening until a co-worker told me more about it – it’s actually about kindness and sharing.
That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Poetic prose accompanied by Teagan White’s adorable illustrations. The message reassures children how much they are loved, even if their parents are far away.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown
Stella brings her two daddies to her class’s Mother’s Day celebration. At first she doesn’t know if she should go because she doesn’t have a mom, but then she remembers that her dads love her and take care of her. And then my heart squeezes and she cries a little, no big deal.
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang
I discovered this book while searching for titles for a pride storytime. A cute, inclusive celebration of all forms of family.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
Rhyming prose describes all the ways adoring parents think about their children. It’s a simple one, but has a comforting and loving message for kids.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina and Angela Dominguez
A beautiful story about a grandmother and granddaughter getting to know each other despite language barriers. Plus! A parrot! Medina and Dominguez are always excellent, and this collaboration is no exception.
You’re Lovable to Me by Kat Yeh
Another family-focused tale, this one is about a family of bunnies. The little ones apologize for their shenanigans and their mom assures them that she will always love them.
Love Is by Diane Adams
A little girl adopts a lost duckling and they spend a happy year together. They learn to take care of one another and, eventually, that love can sometimes mean letting go.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis
I love Jacqueline Woodson and this is a gorgeous, important book about the consequences of treating people thoughtlessly. It doesn’t have a happy ending, so use it to open up discussions. Maya keeps trying to play with Chloe and her friends, but she keeps getting rejected. Eventually Chloe learns in school about being kind, but by that point it’s too late and Maya has moved away.
How Kind! by Mary Murphy
A simple, easy book about how acts of kindness can beget more acts of kindness. Farm animals illustrate this lesson.
Listening With My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia and Ying Hui Tan
Esperanza‘s role in the school play doesn’t go how she expected, so she has to remember to be kind to herself about it. A great reminder for kids and their adults to love themselves.
That’s it! Those are my suggestions for children’s books about love to share with your beloveds. Let me know if I missed anything.