February is just days away, and so I have teamed up with my good college friend, Diana, and her amazing sister-in-law, Eva to share ways to spread love. Diana and Eva are each sharing on Instagram (you can check them out at @mudpiekitchenshop and @cheftactics). I also shared a bit on Instagram, but wanted to give more information here about the books I chose, plus share some things we have done in our family to spread love.
Books about spreading love
I was going to stick with an even dozen but ended up tossing in two cute books I saw at the library, so here are fourteen books on this topic. They run the gamut from board books to a middle grade fiction novel. Some are silly books to read aloud with lots of giggles and cuddles. Some would make great bedtime reads. Many are perfect discussion starters that can lead to your family serving in your community.
1. Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
This sweet classic is always a good reading choice. Little Nutbrown Hare and his daddy compete in fun, adorable ways to see which one loves the other one most. It’s a board book I love to give as a baby-shower gift with its wonderful message and lovely illustrations.
2. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt, illustrated by Cyd Moore
A constant favorite for many years at our house, the original fell apart and I had to buy a new board book. It makes kids feel loved and makes them giggle at the same time. A mom reaffirms her love for her son as he comes up with all sorts of silly scenarios.
3. Wherever You Are, my love will find you by Nancy Tillman
With rhyming text and magical artwork, this board book creates a tender ode to our children perfect for bedtime reading.
4. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A warm tale about a boy’s Sunday routine with his grandma highlights love between generations and also reminds us that we all have something to give no matter how little we may have monetarily. As a bonus, the illustrations by Christian Robinson are amazing.This book would be awesome to read before going out and serving in your own local soup kitchen or volunteering in other ways in your community.
5. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
This book is more traditionally highlighted at the start of the school year since it’s all about Mrs. Raccoon calming Chester Raccoon’s fears of separation on the first day of school. But it’s a wonderful book for reading any time of the year especially if you have a child who struggles with change and anxiety.
6. A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams
I adore the warm vibe of this book as a community rallies around a family (grandmother, mother, and daughter) who lose their home to a fire. So much love in the family and the community both make this a splendid read anytime!
7. My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck, illustrated by Mark Buehner
I’m so glad I found this fun book at my library! It’s sure to get you a monster-hug after you read it aloud! It’s got cute rhyming text and silly pictures and lots of love.
8. I Love You, Too! by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
This tender tale of baby animals finding presents for their mothers is another treasure I stumbled upon at the library. I like the way both the mothers and children express love. This one would also be a fun Mother’s Day read in a few months!
9. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
This is a joyous book about the power of community and spreading love and beauty through urban art. I especially love that it’s based on a true story with more information in the back.
10. Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia
A poignant true story, this picture book came out last year and is one of my favorite picture book biographies. It illustrates the ways we are all connected to each other and the impact our small acts of love can have.
11. Just In Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado
More than any other book we own, this one brings back wonderful memories of being a young mother with little ones. I cherish every time I read this aloud to my children and meant every word. You will not regret owning this book. Even teenagers need a reread occasionally.
12. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
A picture book companion to the equally amazing middle-grade book Wonders, this reminds us to choose kindness. An awesome book for starting conversations about spreading love at school and about people who are different from us.
13. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, illustrated by Garth Williams
A heartwarming illustrated chapter book about a family and an old man who end up helping each other through a cold winter in Paris. This makes for a beautiful read-aloud for the whole family.
14. Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Geared for 5th through 7th graders, this book has a cast of characters trying to navigate middle school while dealing with health and family issues. Published last year, it deftly reminds us that everyone is struggling and could use a friend.
Family activities to spread love
Just last night at the dinner table, four of my kids (the fifth one was on his way home from a college visit) were starting to argue and squabble with one another. I was able to change the whole mood at the table with one effective activity. We took turns naming things we liked and appreciated about each other. We started with my youngest, and each person named something about him. Then, he named something he liked about his sister just older than him and we all followed suit. It continued until everyone had said something nice about everyone else. It took zero preparation and supplies and happened while we were already together having a meal. It would be perfect for a road trip or any other time that all or most of the family is together.
I also love to spread love in the community WITH my family. We have done all sorts of things from picking up trash at the playground to leaving miniature candy canes and notes on cars in a store parking lot during the holiday season. One year my oldest daughter collected hygiene items for refugees in Phoenix, and inspired by her older sister, my youngest daughter that year had friends bring donations instead of presents to her birthday party. And one of my favorite memories is from years ago when my children helped feed the homeless and hand out hygiene items to them.
Honestly, most days we are just living our normal lives. We aren’t constantly out doing big projects, but I am usually trying to encourage kind words, politeness, and empathy. The books we read and the activities we do as a family can have a huge impact on spreading love in the world.
What are some ways your family spreads love at home and in the community? Please share in the comments!