By Shereen Vinke, WSP Volunteer
For most of us involved in the Women’s Storybook Project, reading holds a special place in our lives. We have fond memories of our parents reading to us as small children, their voices bringing stories alive for us, or we cherish memories of our own little ones snuggled on our laps, pudgy fingers pointing at favorite pictures for the thousandth time. Best-loved books from those early years bring back visceral memories, recalling the feelings of love and safety we experienced while reading together.
Because they can’t be there for those everyday, snuggly moments, our incarcerated moms find it all the more important to choose books that will tell their children over and over how precious and loved they are, how much their mom treasures them even though she can’t be with them. Many moms even choose love-themed, affirming picture books for their older children, wanting to offer them a continued sense of security and belonging.
Because of the popularity of love-themed books with our incarcerated moms and the importance of reaffirming that loving relationship across the miles, we thought we’d offer a list of love-themed books you may not have read before. These books offer new ways to say “I love you,” broadening the scope of the message by including different ethnicities and different styles of writing and illustration, allowing every mom to find a book that speaks to her. If you’re considering books for donation to WSP or simply looking for a new way to say “I love you” to a child in your life, consider these options:
- I Love You Because You’re You (Baker) features a little fox whose mom assures him that she loves him no matter his mood.
- The Moon Sees You & Me (Buroughs) offers pictures of cute, anthropomorphic animals going about kid activities while assuring the reader that the same moon and sun and wind shine on us even when we’re apart.
- No Matter What (Gliori) is the story of Small Fox, who feels grumpy and questions the love of Large Fox, receiving affirmation of the parent’s unconditional love.
- Mama, Do You Love Me? (Joosse) tells of a little Inuit girl whose mom assures her that she loves her as much as a variety of things and even if she behaves badly.
- The Wonderful Things You Will Be (Martin) features children of different ethnicities, describes the myriad possibilities open to them, and expresses the parent’s support of their dreams.
- I Love You, Stinky Face (McCourt) is a sweet, silly story about a son who questions whether his mom would love him even if various terrible things were true–like if he were a stinky monster.
- I Love You As Much (Melmed) has a baby on the cover, but the interior is filled with lovely illustrations of mom/baby animal pairs in nature along with rhyming text about how much each mother loves her baby.
- The I Love You Book (Parr) uses bright, crazy-colored drawings to affirm that the parent loves their child no matter their mood.
- I Believe in You (Richmond) is a book that affirms the mom’s joy in watching her child grow and her commitment to be her child’s champion throughout life.
- I Love You So/I Love You So Much (Richmond) is a book written in verse that describes all the things that the mom loves her kid more than. (The first title features a White boy and his mother, while the second title features a Black girl and her mother using the same text. The book is also available in Spanish)
- Silly Wonderful You (Rinker) describes some of a child’s frustrating traits and habits and affirms that the mother loves her just the way she is.
- That’s Me Loving You (Rosenthal) is a perfect book for those that are separated from loved ones, offering kids signs that mom’s love is there, even when mom isn’t.
- I Wish You More (Rosenthal) is a book featuring children from different cultures along with the writer’s (mom’s) hopes for her child.
- I Love You Through and Through (Shustak) is a great book for toddlers, in which the narrator professes to love every part of the little boy in all his moods, forever.
For more information about these books or to look for hundreds of other ways to say “I love you” in book form, check out our Amazon wishlist and get lost in an online rabbit hole!