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10 Heartfelt Picture Books for Readers of All Ages

While adults may think picture books are typically just fun stories for kiddos, some know they can also be wonderful and emotional experiences. In the list below, BCPL staff members have come together to share their favorite heartfelt and touching stories that readers of all ages can enjoy. Prepare yourself for a bit of crying and a bit of smiling with this bundle of beautiful stories

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros
Emily Cornett, Early Literary Specialist says: 
My current favorite heartfelt picture book is The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros. I was not prepared for how deeply I would relate to the little boy watching his grandpa’s “remember balloons” float away into the sky. It is a beautiful and unique way of explaining dementia to children.

Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco
Ginger Stapp, Early Literary Specialist says: 
Tucky Joe and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite picture books for elementary school-age students. An American soldier helps a child during the Vietnam War and later in life sees the results of that kindness. This author’s work has always touched my heart because the characters she creates through her stories and art are vibrant, real, and good. The emotions she shows in her work are deep without being overdone. Adults and children will enjoy her work when they read it together and it is great for starting conversations and building a desire to know more about history. Like a lot of good children’s fiction and media, her work is for everyone, not just for children.

Ida, Always by Carson Levis
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb
Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist says: 
Two books that have always stuck out to me as intensely heartfelt are Ida, Always and Paul Meets Bernadette. While Ida, Always tells the important story of two polar bears trying to grapple with the concept of loss, Paul Meets Bernadette tells the sweet story of what happens when you make a new friend. Both stories are subtle, poignant, and beautiful.

Floaty by John Himmelman
Jenny Plummer, Youth Services Librarian says: 
Floaty by John Himmelman is the story of an elderly man who hates everything and the very special puppy that appears in a basket on his doorstep. This silly story with heart is perfect for fans of the film Up!

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Wilanne Stangel, Youth Services Associate says: 
A heartfelt favorite is How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz. This is a fictionalized story of Shulevitz’s own childhood experiences as a refuge from war-torn Europe during WWII. Having lost everything, Uri’s father goes to the market to see what little bread he can find for his family. Finding that he can’t afford enough to satisfy his family’s hunger, he returns instead with a large, colorfully illustrated map. The map winds up “feeding” his son in many other ways; feeding Uri’s imagination, curiosity, and fostering his love of illustration which ultimately led Uri to his life’s work.
Another favorite is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. Based on a family story that has been passed down through generations of Polacco’s family. It’s the story of one of her ancestors who goes off as a young boy to fight in the Civil War. He meets up with another young boy, who has escaped slavery to fight for the Union forces. It’s a beautiful story and quite a tearjerker!

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Cindy Donaldson, Youth Services Associate says: 
My very favorite heartfelt book is The Velveteen Rabbit. Oh, yes, becoming real…it does, in fact, hurt sometimes. But it is worth it…

Love by Matt de la Peña
In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford
Krista King-Oaks, Youth Services Manager says:
I had been working in libraries and children’s literature for over a decade before I became a mother, and while it sounds cliché, when my daughter was born, it was as if I were seeing picture books with brand new eyes. There is the assumption that picture books are for children; however, there are many books created specifically with adults in mind. Two of my favorites – which were both gifted to me and are featured in her newborn photos – are Love by Matt de la Pena & Loren Long, and In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford and Brian Pinkney. While both books are created by acclaimed authors of color, the messages are universal for any parent. Two years later, I can’t open either book without tearing up.


Suggestions written by BCPL staff and complied by Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist

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