Just to clarify, I’m not saying a book is the only way to tell your child that you love them. Of course you should tell them as often as you like, in whatever ways you like.
However, these gorgeous books are bursting full of beautiful emotion and sometimes authors are capable of putting into words what we want to say better than we can ourselves. All of them bring a tear to my eye, even the ones I’ve read time and time again. If you find it difficult to say those three little words, or if you just want to give your babies a gift that expresses how you feel, then any of these picture books are perfect. We own all of these and I highly recommend any of them as an addition to your child’s bookcase.
One of the most-famous children’s books about the love between parent and child, this follows Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare as they each try to convince the other that they love them the most. “This much,” said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go. Big Nutbrown had even longer arms. “But I love you THIS much,” he said. The story continues in a similar style until the final page – which chokes me up every time. Little Nutbrown Hare tells Big Nutbrown Hare that he loves him/her right up to the moon. “That is very, very far,” says Big Nutbrown Hare. As Little Nutbrown Hare snuggles down into bed, Big whispers “I love you right up to the moon – and back.” Just gorgeous.
Little Monkey is misbehaving, throwing figs down from the trees, jumping on Big Monkey’s newly-made bed… until Big Monkey snaps and sends Little Monkey to bed. Little Monkey is upset. “You don’t love me.” “Yes I do,” said Big Monkey. “I may not like the naughty things you do sometimes, but I love you always, even when you’re naughty.” This is an adorable tale of unconditional love. We refer to it sometimes when our children are upset that they’ve been told off for misbehaving. And just like the Little Monkey in the book, our children are only too keen to remind us that shouting at them is naughty too, but they still love us regardless.
Penguins are my favourite animal. I love them – and this book makes them seem even more adorable. The baby penguin in this book is overwhelmed by how big everything in the world is, when he (or she – it doesn’t say) is so very small. However, he soon realises that even though he’s small, he is the most important thing in the life of the parent penguin. Again, it doesn’t stipulate mummy or daddy, meaning this book would be perfect for any parent, grandparent or carer. Simple but beautiful.
Three baby owls wake to discover their mother has gone. They presume she’s hunting for food but start to worry as time goes on. They wait bravely and patiently for her to return, huddling together on one branch, wondering whether she’s lost or a fox has eaten her. “What’s all the fuss?” she says when she returns. “You knew I’d come back.” And that line gets me every time. The three owls sat in a line remind me of my three children. I hope I’ll always be able to come back to my babies.
A Cardiff Mummy Says reader recommended this to me, after reading my post on 10 books every baby should read before their first birthday. I hate it when people recommend books to me because I can’t stand the thought of missing out on a brilliant book. It costs me a fortune! I found this one in our local library a little while ago. I had a quick read – and before I knew it there were tears in my eyes. Big tucks Small into bed and, thinking Small is asleep, proceeds to tell him all the things he never seems to have time to say in the day. “You’re everything I always dreamed of / You’ve got so much beauty inside / The way that you smile, that you laugh, that you dance / Makes my heart burst with pride.” I’ll stop there because I can feel my eyes welling up again! This isn’t overly-gushy or too sentimental, it’s a heartfelt yet humorous book that I went straight out to buy after that library trip.
You know those mornings when your child won’t eat their breakfast or get dressed and they keep mucking about when you’re already running late leaving the house in the morning? So does the mother bear in this story. Mum is in such a rush that she forgets to give Billy Bear his favourite toy Rabbit when she drops him at nursery, and she doesn’t even tell him that she loves him when she says goodbye. Poor Billy is distraught when he realises… but as the nursery staff comfort him, mum returns with Rabbit and to tell Billy she loves him. No matter how busy or stressed you are, there’s always time to say “I love you”.
I’ve already written on my blog that all three of my children have a copy of this wonderful book. The illustrations are so tender and charming, and the words are full of the utter wonderment at the precious gift of a baby being born. Every child deserves to know they are as special and as loved as the words in this book depict.
Simple words and tender illustrations combine in this charming book that expresses just how much the big bear loves the little bear… or possibly the other way round. It’s great that this book doesn’t stipulate who loves who, or what gender they are; just that they love the person as deep as the sea, as blue as the sky and “because… you are you”.
The words in these books are so simple, showing all the things the mummy or daddy helps their little one to do. However, it’s the illustrations that really make the book. They’re so tender, thoughtful and full of emotion, you can’t help but find yourself absorbed in them. This is the perfect present for any new mum or dad.
Are any of these among your favourites? Are there any you would add to the list? Do let me know on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting @cardiffmummy
Regular readers of my blog will know how much I adore children’s books. You can catch up on all of my book posts here.