When you read a book to a child you are creating life long memories. You can choose picture books that teach concepts like math, that share the joy of nonsense language, or books that start conversations about hard topics. And then there are the times you want just the right book to offer comfort to your child, whether it is for bedtime reading or to help them get through tough times.
This list of comforting picture books will warm your heart and feel like a big ol' hug for both you and your children. You'll close the book feeling all warm and cozy inside, ready to snuggle up. And don't we all need that?
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Comforting Picture Books
by Jo Loring-Fisher
I adore this picture book-length poem inspired by the principles of mindfulness. Fisher depicts children around the world taking the time to enjoy seemingly small, but very comforting moments like feeling a cat's purr, wondering at the vastness of the night sky, gathering floating cherry blossoms and imagining the sounds of the sea. The book concludes with an illustration showing a gathering of all the children, each with a keepsake from their moment of mindfulness. Absolutely wonderful and encourages children to cherish moments of comfort.
by Jason Pratt, illustrated by Chris Sheban
This sweet picture book travels through the life of a father and son. The father begins a tradition of offering "three squeezes" to communicate comfort. Pratt writes the story in soft and lovely rhymes from the first squeezes to the last.
The Rabbit Listened
by Cori Doerrfeld
Taylor (depicted as gender neutral so any child can identify with Taylor) is building a block tower when a bird comes and knocks it over. Taylor is very upset and several animals come over to try and fix the situation. They go about it all wrong, however. They shout, vow revenge or try to dismiss Taylor's grief, not exactly comforting. The rabbit, however, listens and allows Taylor to experience an entire range of emotions over the loss of his tower. I absolutely adored this book and parents will learn a good lesson for themselves when reading it, too!
Maud and Grand-Maud
by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Kenard Pak
I have a soft spot for picture books about intergenerational relationships and this story invites us to enjoy the comforting nature of a special bond between a grandmother and her grandchild. Maud narrates the book and describes her weekly visits with Grand-Maud. They watch black and white movies, eat breakfast for dinner and Maud imagines a future where she has her own granddaughter. A book as warm and comforting as Maud's homemade flannel nightgown.
by Christian Robinson
Robinson's new book encourages children to value themselves and find comfort in their value. Plus, if kids value themselves, they are better set up to value others. Robinson's delightful illustrations depict kids from all walks of life and his simple but powerful text is accessible by all. Truly a wonderful book that belongs in every home, library and classroom. Go ahead and watch Robinson read his book on YouTube here.
Together We Grow
by Susan Vaught, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Vaught and Murphy's picture book reminds us that offering comfort to others is an important part of living in a community. During a storm, a fox family seeks shelter in a barn but the farm animals, fearful of their natural enemy, reject the pleas and turn the strangers away. However, a small duckling–perhaps the most vulnerable one of all–recognizes the needs of the fox family. Not only does the resolution offer comfort to both reader and fox, but it delivers the important message of inclusion and empathy for refugees.
Plenty of Hugs
by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Kate Alizadeh
We all need plenty of hugs, am I right? Well, you will certainly get them while reading this wonderfully comforting picture book. Two women and a child experience joyful moments like riding bikes, going to the zoo, getting ready for bedtime, all the while giving and receiving "plenty of hugs." This is a great book for bedtime reading.
In My Anaana’s Amautik
by Nadia Sammurtok, illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko
An inuit toddler narrates the wonderful and utterly comforting experience of being wrapped up in the coziness of an amautik. Their narration describes the experience using sensory language like how it feels and smells. A soft sprinkling of Inuktitut words throughout the text enhances, rather than detracts, from the experience (glossary included) and I'm guess your child will never think of the northern terrain as frozen and barren again.
'Ohana Means Family
by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak
I ADORE this book, and I can't believe this is the first time I've featured it on a book list. Loomis's cumulative rhyme wraps you in a warm embrace as she and illustrator, Pak, lovingly guide you through the experience of a multi-generational family preparing poi for a family gathering. The book celebrates Hawaiian traditions that bond family together, including the food and the land. The rhythm of the words is just divine. An endnote gives further information and a glossary.
Like the Moon Loves the Sky
by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan
The family and language depicted in Khan's comforting picture book come from Muslim tradition but the feelings and values are completely universal. Each illustration of the family is accompanied by words of comfort, affirmation and unconditional love that begin, "Inshallah." Inshallah, you feel loved, like all children should. Inshallah, you seek knowledge, reflect and read. An endnote explains the use and meaning of Inshallah in a wider context.