There’s no shortage of books about love.
I take that back. You can’t have enough books about love, so there may actually be a shortage.
That said, we’re pulling together our favorite books about love that would work well in a classroom setting, plus some tips on how to frame the book to work with Love First.
We love to use this book during the Love Neighbor unit because we tend to focus a lot on pastoral projects and fostering intergenerational relationships. Mr. Hatch lives alone and appears not to be connected to his neighbors and co-workers. By all accounts, he is very much alone. When the mailman accidentally delivers him a valentine, he perks up and wonders who his secret admirer might be. He feels loved, and while he tries to find his secret admirer, he can’t help but pour a little love on those around him. Mr. Hatch’s love toward others is reciprocated and it changes his life, which insulates him from the disappointment of learning that the valentine was never meant for him. This is another book that rings true because we all know a Mr. Hatch who needs a special valentine this season.
One of the greatest things about love is that it never runs out. There’s always room for more!! This simple book about an umbrella that grows to include more and more people is a great way to describe how our love grows, too. There are a lot of ways to use this metaphor for fun projects about inclusion.
This is especially great for younger children who can sense when they feel loved and when they make others feel loved, but who may not be able to articulate how to make that love grow. Using the concrete idea of a ‘love spot’ can help children talk about ways in which their spot grows and what they need from others to feel loved.
Love is not always big and bold and courageous. Sometimes it’s just being there, comforting, understanding, remembering. These are actions of love, too, but for some children these are the ones they can imagine themselves doing more easily and right away. This book reinforces that children have love inside them, and it’s ready to go in big or small ways, but always meaningful. A favorite line in the book: “love is connection.” This is important to discuss with children because we are always acting toward someone or something else. Love is meant to be shared. It’s meant to connect us to someone or someone else.
Love is….an action. And what better way to demonstrate all the ways to love by following a little girl and her duck friend. “Love is noisy midnight feedings….It’s early mornings, messy bath times…” We try to impress upon children that love is not just a warm and fuzzy feeling. It can be, and that’s great. But it can also be the little things we do for those we love, even if it doesn’t always feel like fun. Midnight feedings are not fun! But we know it’s a necessary thing to do to care for our littlest ones (even if it’s a duck!), so we do it.
This book is especially useful when talking about the feeling of love. Although we often talk about love as an action, we all know it can be a feeling, too. Especially during Easter when we talk about Jesus’ resurrection. We often say to children, ‘love never dies’ and this book is a great way to reinforce that not only does love not die, but it is something that you can carry with you always, whether you’re with a loved one or not. This book can be especially helpful for children who don’t live with their parents or whose parents have died.
Anyone who has gathered for a family meal can tell you that . If children in your classroom don’t have the occasion to have joyful family gatherings, use this as an opportunity to talk about where they gather where they feel full of love. It might be at school in the lunchroom sitting with friends, at church coffee hour sitting with other people from church, at scouts, with their teacher, etc. We want children to be able to notice the places and people that make them feel loved. And if they can’t name a place – or don’t have a place – we know we need to work harder to be those people and that place.
This one might not be ideal for a classroom setting, but it’s so much about love that I couldn’t leave it off this list. I started reading this book in the throes of early motherhood, and I still cry every timeI read it. Poor Mrs. Peters will do anything to get her children to eat. It’s a silly book, but rings true – for me, anyway – about the lengths to which parents stretch in order to do the most basic loving things for their children. In Mrs. Peter’s case: feed the kids. While I wouldn’t endorse the lengths of her self-sacrificing, I think Mrs. Peters’ frustration and exhaustion that comes from loving her children is very, very real. And I think children will be able to notice the great lengths that people who love them go to. It might be a parent, grandparent, or even a teacher or counselor. It has a happy ending when her children return the loving gesture, so there’s a lot of room for talking about how we show love in the little, mundane things that we do for those we love and how we can love back those who love us.