By Carolyn Hecken
Love Yourself! That’s the theme of this month’s Über Moms Newsletter. You may ask, what connection is there between loving one’s self and book recommendations about the immensely profound love shared by parents and their children everywhere? Well, I asked myself that, too.
And then a question popped into my mind: when do I love myself best? I love myself best when the conversations and interactions I have with my children, my family, my friends and relations consciously stem from a place of love, patience and respect. What better way is there to honor loving oneself than to focus on the abundance of love there is to shine on others?
There’s truly no love greater than that flowing between parent and child. It is for this reason that I’d like to share some of my favorite children’s books. These eight books wonderfully capture the magical bond between babies, children, their loved ones and those in the world around them.
Thanks for reading along! As always, please do take a moment or two to recommend one of your favorites in the comments below.
Guess How Much I Love You
written by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
(Ages 0 & up)
After reading this lovely little tale about Little and Big Nutbrown Hare, it will not surprise you to learn that since its publication, it has been translated into 53 languages!
In this book, we meet Little and Big Nutbrown Hare, who sweetly compete to express the breadth and depth of their immense love for one another in the quiet moments before settling in for a night’s sleep. Beginning with arms stretched out wide, Little Nutbrown Hare demonstrates to Big Nutbrown Hare just how great its love is – to which Big Nutbrown Hare responds, “But I love you this much,” stretching its long arms even wider.
And so their efforts continue, with each demonstration of love outdoing the last until, finally, just as Little Nutbrown Hare is ready to settle in, Big Nutbrown Hare replies “I love you right up to the moon – and back.”
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the playful back and forth that Little and Big Nutbrown Hare engage in as together they strive to define the unquantifiable. And, perhaps the quality I appreciate most about this book is that it is written in such a way that the relationship between Big and Little Nutbrown Hare transcends both gender and generational bounds to capture the universality of love between those big and small.
This book is truly a joy to read over and over again with your little ones. The bright, vibrant watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the soft touch and nature of this story.
If you would like to learn more about the inspiration behind Guess How Much I Love You, visit the official site.
written by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
This is hands down one of my absolute favorites for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. There are so many things I love about this board book; it’s hard to know where to begin! I guess it’s appropriate to start with the title, Everywhere Babies, which alludes to the inclusive message of the book. In particular, it features the inclusivity of the human experience, which transcends age, culture, custom and conventional family structure to embrace babies and their relations from all parts of the world and all walks of life.
The adorable illustrations paired with the soothing rhymes focus on the deep connection and joyful interaction babies of all shapes and sizes share with their loved ones in a variety of ways: from finger rhymes to being carried on shoulders, in carriers or in strollers. This book reminds us that love is universal and unites us all in the unique, yet common experience of familyhood.
I cannot recommend this book more highly! It is wonderful, brilliant, yet simple and captivating. It will have your little one asking you to read it over and over again. Even my four-year-old still enjoys having this book read to her!
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
(Ages 0 – 3)
Like Everywhere Babies, this sweetly written and beautifully illustrated board book captures the magical and intimate bond between babies and their loved ones. The author’s clever use of repetition and rhyme creates an element predictability that’s both fun and engaging. Similarly, Oxenbury’s simple and enchanting illustrations further convey this element of predictability, flipping one page to the next to reveal one darling baby after another.
Whether born far away, on the ice, or in a tent “these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes.” And, in the end, we encounter a baby born who “was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine.” And, as you’d imagine, this little baby had “ten little finger and ten little toes.”
This mesmerizing book has had us counting ten little fingers and ten little toes and kissing a sweet little nose time and time again!
I Love You Because You’re You
written by Liza Baker, illustrated by David McPhail
As you can guess from the title, I Love You Because You’re You offers readers a clear and affirming message of unconditional love. While this book can be read from any age onwards, children between two and five will be able to comprehend its message on a broader level.
In this story, the mother fox repeatedly expresses her love for her pup throughout a wide range of situations and emotions (from feeling playful, to fearful, to angry). I appreciate, specifically, this aspect of the book because love is abstract and immeasurable. In tying a mother’s love to all kinds of different situations, it helps make the unconditionality of love become more tangible for growing minds to comprehend.
Love you Forever
written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
(Ages 0 & up)
This is an excellent children’s classic in oh so many ways. I can remember my mother reading this book to me as a child. In fact, it was one of the first children’s book that came to mind when I fell pregnant with our eldest, and it was among the first books my mother gifted us shortly after his birth.
The story follows a mother and her love for her son as he grows from childhood into adulthood. No matter his age, interests, or behaviors, he remains, always and forever, her baby. In the end, the cycle of life comes full circle with his mother’s passing and the birth of his own child. Expressing his unconditional love for his newborn daughter, he rocks her back and forth, passing along the same song sung to him by his mother.
This perfectly balanced combination of repetition and song contributes greatly to the soothing, gentle rhythm of the book. Merely thumbing through the book now brings up vivid recollections of the many times I’ve read this book to my children and the enjoyment it’s peaceful melody has brought them time and time again. Even our two eldest will cuddle up for a listen when they hear me reading it to our two youngest before bed.
It was only after I had become a mother that I came to learn of the inspiration behind this widely beloved book. It then made perfect sense as to why this book resonates with many people, on many levels. Robert Munsch’s book actually started off as a song – the song that he had made up after he and his wife had had two stillborn babies. Since it’s his story, I think it best to read it just as he tells it here.
Before you click on the YouTube Video, I’d like you to know that I have intentionally chosen a video in which the reader does not the sing the song. One of the most intimate and magical elements of this book is that each reader can create his or her own melody to match the lyrics.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
(Ages 0 & up)
What parent doesn’t spend at least some time wondering what wonderful things their child will do and become?
With its thoughtful, cleverly composed lines and smooth, vibrant illustrations, it’s no wonder Emily Winfield Martin’s book, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, has topped the New York Times Bestseller list!
This lovely book, a more recent discovery and a delightful addition to our family library, takes us on a journey of exploration, stoking and indulging our imaginations as we contemplate the myriad of ways in which our little ones will grow and thrive in the world. Will they stand up and be brave? Face the unknown? Make creations of their own? The various and innumerable possibilities pleasantly captivate the mind.
Check it out for yourself!
You’re Here for a Reason
written by Nancy Tillman, book design by Nancy Tillman & Kathleen Breitenfeld
This positively charming and brilliantly written piece of children’s literature has become an instant favorite of ours! While the rhythm, melody and loving tone makes this book an uplifting read at any age, it’s moderately complex sentence structure may first be best suited for kids preschool-aged and older.
Nancy Tillman artfully shares with readers both big and small the place and value each person holds in the world as well as the significance and uniqueness of his or her own contribution. Any description I provide here can do this book no justice.
Please, have a listen and a read for yourself:
Wherever You Are my love will find you
written by Nancy Tillman, book design by Nancy Tillman & Kathleen Breitenfeld
As can be gleaned from the title, Wherever You Are my love will find you is a carefully composed literary ballad about the power and ubiquity of a parent’s love. Nancy Tillman magnificently transforms the abstract nature of love into mentally and visually tangible imagery. Follow the flowing and encompassing swirl of love from one magically illustrated page to the next. Her heartfelt words of deep and permeating love constitute an emotionally enriching experience for all.
Rather than to continue this moderately clumsy and inchoate description of this most splendid book, I’ll let you listen and read for yourselves!
Carolyn Hecken is an avid learner of life, mother of four vibrant, spirited children, doula (D.A.M.E., June 2013), childbirth educator (HypnoBirthing®, June 2016) and breastfeeding counselor (EISL, September 2017). She holds a BA in Linguistics from the University of Washington and a MA in European Linguistics from the University of Freiburg. Home is wherever she’s surrounded by the laughter and shenanigans of her children, the zany humor of her husband and the company of compassionate friends. Admittedly, sunny weather and an exceptionally good cup of coffee don’t hurt either. In August 2017, this ÜberMoms writer’s nomadic family travels landed her for a two-year stint in Hamburg. Carolyn is passionate about supporting mothers, babies and their families during the one of the most memorable and momentous experiences in life – pregnancy, the birth of baby and familyhood.