My son has recently learned to say “I love you” and it is amazing each time I hear it. This weekend, there was a magical moment when we were putting our boys to bed in the cabin where we were camping, and as my husband told a story, my eighteen month old caught my eye and whispered “I love you, Mommy” in the softest, sweetest little voice.
There are many books that portray this sentiment in various ways, but one of my recent favorites is “A Kiss Means I Love You” by Kathryn Madeline Allen, with photographs by Eric Futran. It has delightful photographs of real children of various ethnicities and uses a rhyming text to introduce expressions such as sad, funny, mad, happy, sleepy, proud, etc. The first lines are “A kiss means I love you/A wave means hello/A smile means I’m happy/A tug means let’s go!” This is a beautiful way to learn about nonverbal communication.
Allen’s book is perfect for sharing with a child, discussing various feelings and what kinds of expressions people use to convey them; it also works very well as a read-aloud in a story time program. Kids can join in on the fun by practicing actions such as waving hello, laughing, cheering, clapping, etc. Parents will delight in showing their child how to blow a kiss, make a mad face, shout hooray, etc. I love that the narrative encourages interaction between reader and audience (research has proven that it is through the interaction of reading, singing, playing, and talking with caregivers that children develop the “building blocks” for language, reading and writing development). This book is a heartwarming, engaging book you won’t want to miss!