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Parents of the previous generation who wanted to bestow all their mushy, gushy love on their kids–in book form–had Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever and Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You for bedtime reading. Cuddled under the covers, snug and cozy while turning pages, is there any better way to share a deep parent-child bond?

But it’s time for those books to move over and make way for new Valentine’s classics!

I can’t think of a better gift for the holiday than a book. Candy rots their teeth, plus you end up eating most if it yourself, don’t you? (Well, I do.) And where will you store yet another Build-A-Bear that gets forgotten by March?

Valentine’s Day belongs to books. And these three are perfect picks to declare all your mushy, gushy love. And grandparents, take note. These books are just right for you and your grandkids, too.

I Love You More Than Rainbows
by Susan Crites
Illustrated by Mark & Rosemary Jarman
Published by Thomas Nelson

With whimsical illustrations as bright as rainbows, Susan Crites’s book uses analogies children can easily understand to explain the concept of love. Kids are crazy about ice cream cones with sprinkles on top, puppies, birthday parties, sleigh riding and hot cocoa. But as great as those childhood favorites are, parental love still trumps them all.

Try inserting your child’s favorites while you read this book. With my kids, “I love you more than albino rock pythons, Sun Chips and Daphne from Scooby-Doo” might work well. Don’t ask about the snake, but I could use help finding something to rhyme with Scooby-Doo. Yabba-Dabba Doo? Anyone have a Hanna-Barbera rhyming dictionary?

But I digress…

With a jaunty rhyme that never gets too sing-songy, this book is a joy to read aloud, and the bold colors will delight a young audience.

Published by Thomas Nelson, I Love You More Than Rainbows won a Mom’s Choice Award and is available in hardcover and in board book form—at a great price, too. There’s even a Kindle version.

Me with You
by Kristy Dempsey
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Published by Philomel Books

When Kristy Dempsey wrote this story, she couldn’t imagine that her editor and illustrator Christopher Denise would interpret her characters as granddaughter and grandfather. But after reading this book, you’ll agree, there’s no more perfect a pair.

Me with You celebrates the joys of being yourself around someone you love, the comfort a great relationship brings. Grandpa is always there to support his favorite young cub, even when she’s feeling selfish and gruff. The two allow each other to express themselves, always knowing their love will not waver.

Me With You also highlights the importance of spending time apart from those you love, “to be the kind of you that you can be when you’re alone.” This book is a good choice for children who are apprehensive about separation from a loved one.

This rhyming book offers a smooth, gentle beat, and the light, airy illustrations breathe of spring. Denise has mastered body language and facial expressions to demonstrate the deep bond shared by this “pair beyond compare.” A favorite page features Grandpa in a Babe Ruth pose, pointing to the outfield as his granddaughter cheers him on. (I have to mention the blades of grass, which you may think are insignificant, but I’ve never seen such luscious fields, I want to take off my shoes and run across this book.)

You don’t have to be a grandparent to fall in love with it this Valentine’s Day.

You’re Lovable to Me
by Kat Yeh
Illustrated by Sue Anderson
Published by Random House

The theme of You’re Lovable to Me is unconditional love: parents love their children no matter what they do.

Mama Bunny is having a rough day keeping track of her Bunny Babies and all their hare-y mischief. But no matter what they do, Mama Bunny reminds them that through their joy and sadness, their frolic and frustration, “You are my bunnies. And you’re lovable to me.”

Once her bunny babies are tucked in, Mama bunny crashes on the couch. Oh, how we parents can relate! Mama Bunny’s father arrives and upon seeing his exhausted daughter, he reminds her, “You’re lovable to me.”

If this review had a soundtrack, it would be Elton John’s “Circle of Life!” This book reminds our children that we were once children, too–and that everyone needs to be reminded that they are loved.

Sue Anderson illustrates in a simple, pastel style that takes advantage of white space, complementing the sweet story with a gentle, relaxed mood. The nostalgic feel of this book makes it my top pick for being a New Valentine’s Classic!

What are your New Valentine’s Classics?

How many of you know your grandparents? I mean, really know their stories? Their favorite childhood friend, how they met their spouse, the hardships they endured in their marriages, the passions they pursued, the loves they left behind, the joys that comprised their lives?

I don’t know my grandmother beyond the surface. She collects owl and cardinal knick-knacks. Her eyesight is fading. She enjoys making hooked rugs and solving word puzzles. She sleeps beneath a golden crucifix.

I know she married a man 10 years her senior at just 17 years old and had two children before she turned 20. I know she was a young girl during the Depression. I know her brother lived with her almost his entire life. I know she watched her husband die of Lou Gehrig’s disease. But I don’t know any of the stories associated with these things. I know one sentence each, and I’ve told you all I know.

I’m eager for more about her life. I want to understand what she went through to ensure I could have the happy, secure life I have today. She is a part of me, but it is all mystery.

As I fell asleep last night, I thought about this blog and how it may remain online for many years into the future. Ten, twenty, maybe even 100 years or more. Then there’s my Shutterfly albums. And YouTube. A permanent record of my life in words, photographs and movies exists out there. Future archeologists need no shovels.

So if you are my grandchild reading this after I have passed, I don’t know you, but I love you. I would like to tell you all my stories. Please sit in a comfortable chair and read about how I wanted to be an author. I hope I inspire you.

Tell me, was I successful? Do you have my books at your bedside?

Please don’t forget to comment. Who knows, maybe in 100 years they’ll figure out a way for me to read it. I’m sure the spammers will lead the way with that technology.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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