All About Love Book List Part 1

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (probably hiding from the cold), you know that Valentines Day is fast approaching! I know it’s one of those holidays that gets a lot of grief and I personally don’t celebrate it with my spouse, but I do love to celebrate and make a big deal about holidays with the kiddos. It gives us something to look forward to, a “theme” for a few weeks so to speak, and of course, it’s a great opportunity to teach them about love and all the forms that can take. Personally, I don’t like focusing on romantic relationships when teaching young children about love: I want them to know life is more than just finding a girlfriend/boyfriend. You can get a job you love, dedicate yourself to a cause, find passion in a skill, and your life will be filled with love. So, I’ve put together the first of TWO book lists for Valentine’s day that includes 7 books “All About Love” and I’ll be posting Part 2 next week! You will notice that few of them are specifically “Valentine’s Day” books but they all center around love, which is great because they are books we can keep on the shelf year-round!

All About Love Book List Part 1

1. I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

2. I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker

3. Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin

4. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

5. I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman

6. Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke

7. Whoo Loves You by Sandra Magsamen

1. I Love You Through and Through

This book makes a great read-aloud! The text is simple and sparse, and all about how much your child is loved. I like that it uses a lot of opposites (I love your top side, your bottom side; your silly side, your mad side) and is focused mainly on the silly and fun illustrations. Sometimes less is more with a book for little ones!

Caroline Jayne Church does a great job with illustrations as always. I love the big, simple outlines and bold patterned fill given to each object and the exaggerated, almost caricature-like style of her figures. We have quite a few other books she has illustrated and this one does not disappoint!

I give this book 4/5 stars

2. I Love You Because You’re You

My older son got this as a gift last Valentine’s Day from Grandma and Grandpa and we absolutely adore it! It’s a very similar text style to “I Love You Through and Through” where it is formatted around opposites, there’s no real “story” to it other than to just tell your child that no matter what, no matter their mood, they are unconditionally loved. I love the rhymes in this book, they’re sweet, simple, and they flow fantastically. There are no spots where you trip up when you’re reading out loud, which is a huge thing for me!

David McPhail did the illustrations for this and what can I say? They’re just spectacular. This is more the style I love! The mom and child are foxes shown in human settings and there are a few other appearances by a couple of rhinos coming for a playdate and an owl doctor. Soft lines and a lot of motion in each illustration, even the simpler pages tell a complete story in themselves! You feel as if you’ve walked into a scene rather than just being shown the literal representation of the text accompanying it. I like a little imagination and thinking, a little subtlety. And the child character, I just love him! His expressions are spot on and on each page, I recognize a child I know in real life.

I give this book 5/5 stars

3. Dragons Love Tacos 2

Oh yes I did. I love food, especially tacos and if you don’t, well, you aren’t invited to my next dragon taco party. So there. If you haven’t read the first DLT, you should, it’s funny and goofy and in my opinion, just as much for the adult reading it as the child. The premise of this sequel is that the world is having a taco shortage so the kid and the dragons take a time machine to the first book when they had the taco party to bring tacos to the present day. See what I mean about goofy? There are so many things in the illustrations that I feel are there for the adults (though it never goes to an inappropriate place, just silly fun) and the language reminds me of a lot of the dads I know talking to their kids; part informative, part sarcasm, part oh-my-gosh-do-i-really-need-to-spell-this-out, all fun. The story is original and goofy, the text is fairly simple, they let the illustrations tell just as much as the words so it can be enjoyed by all ages.

Daniel Salmieri did the illustrations in this book, as in the first DLT and he made me laugh out loud several times with the utter goofiness in his illustrations. I’ll be honest it’s not my favorite style, but what I love about it is you can tell how much fun was had while making it. And isn’t that what we teach our children about art? It’s all about having fun!

I give this book 4/5 stars

4. Hug Machine

This has got to be one of my favorite books we’ve discovered recently! I love everything about it! It’s about a very affectionate little boy who refers to himself as “the hug machine”. You follow him throughout his day as he hugs everyone and everything. This is SUCH a fun read aloud, especially if you are goofy like me and adopt a silly voice. This book is just straight fun, and bonus: Big T has been hugging me nonstop since we read it so I’m all about that extra love!

Scott Campbell has illustrated for years (FUN FACT: this is the FIRST book he both wrote and illustrated!) and has such a great style. The illustrations had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion! A few of my specific favorites are on page 2 where he is hugging his mom and on page 16-17 when he encounters a poor porcupine who never gets hugs-that one I had to take a break I was laughing so hard! The expressions of every figure are fantastic, and I love that there was so much diversity in the people Hug Machine was hugging: young, old, black, brown, white, happy, sad, animals, inanimate objects, you name it. Hug machine hugs all, and I think we could all learn a thing or two from him!

I give this book 5/5 stars

5. I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love

I love me some Nancy Tillman. You know when you have those moments of just overwhelming unconditional love for your children and you just can’t quite put it into words? Enter Nancy Tillman. There’s a reason she is so successful. I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love is full of metaphors that can be adapted to fit several situations where you’d want to remind your children of your unconditional love. It talks about the child literally transforming into all sorts of animals and how no matter what, the parent will know and love them for the uniqueness that is them. I’m particularly loving this book because Big T is going through this super fun stage (that I secretly hope never ends!) where he is OBSESSED with dress-up play. Every day he becomes everything from a wizard, to Santa, to a chef, to a knight, to a t-rex, to a circus leader, and the list goes on! We fully support this overflow of imagination and we continue to get different costumes he requests. I love reading this book to him to remind him that no matter how he changes, he is still loved for who he is. I think this is a perfect book for parents who have a transgender child, a child of the LGBTQ community, or a child who is struggling with which path to take (cheerleading or soccer? Robotics or drama?). Even though it’s a children’s book, don’t let that stop you from gifting this to your teenager or fully-grown adult child. Its message is universal and timeless. Our desire to be loved, supported, and accepted never goes away.

I give this book 5/5 stars

6. Full, Full, Full of LOVE

I found this book while searching for age-appropriate books to introduce my boys to Black History Month. Big T is 3 years old and Little T is 10 months, so I wasn’t looking for anything heavy and dark. What I’m focusing on for them at this time is to know that people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. I am making more of an effort to have more diverse books in our collection this year. Full, Full, Full of LOVE is a book that focuses on the love within an extended family. Jay Jay and his aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents go to Grannie’s house every Sunday for a big dinner. You read this book and you just feel the warmth and comfort coming out of every page. There really is something special about the love of grandparents and this book captures it perfectly!

Paul Howard illustrated this book and he has a realistic, yet soft style. I love that he didn’t try to “glam” the characters up in any way-that’s what makes it feel like home! Gran is a big soft woman and is in her comfy cooking clothes. No hourglass figure and apron and putting on a show trying to “wow” people. What I love about his illustrations is the people just FEEL genuine-so much so that I’m about ready to see if Gran has an extra seat for next Sunday!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

7. Whooo Loves You?

This is a nice, short, simple book for the especially little ones! I’d recommend for ages 1 and under. Little T doesn’t have the patience to sit through a lot of longer books and is very grabby with his hands, so this fun lift-the-flap board book is a go-to for us. There are 5 pages total and each page shows a different animal and a cute, love-related play on words.

The illustrations are simple, which is perfect for tiny eyes-too much going on and their little brains get overstimulated! There is just enough detail to keep it from being dull and I like the dashed-line effect around the edges where it looks as though the shapes were hand-stitched onto the page.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

I hope you found my reviews helpful and informative and hopefully you found something that appeals to you on this list! Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week and HAPPY READING!

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