Crushing on Love: 12 Books Featuring Many Kinds of Love for All Ages

From first crushes to love of country, a grandmother's fiercely protective love to second grade boys finding the confidence to admit their feelings, we've collected a few titles we think your patrons will really fall for. 

Love has many forms and can happen to everyone


With its origins in old feasts and ceremonies, February 14 has been associated with romantic love since about the 14th century, with cishet romantic love as the emphasis. With picture book, graphic novels, and YAs in one list, this collection has some glitter and one particularly sentimental entry, but it’s not about that.

Here we center and celebrate in recently reviewed books the kind of passion that is stoked from embers or burns bright from the first, between child and parent (Strong As Stone), two second-grade boys (From Archie to Zack), a girl for her country (Blazewrath Games), and a grandmother for her grandson-turned-grandmouse (The Witches). In times when our screens seem to deliver nothing but rage and confusion, these books offer patrons the very good news that in all its many facets, love is never wrong, and it’s here to stay.

Picture Books

Strong as Stone by Christopher Browne. illus. by author. Viking. ISBN 9780593204665.
PreS-Gr 1–In a fantasy set in prehistoric times, Stone and her father live among the elk, mastodons, and bison in small tents alongside mountains. She and her father do everything together. He teaches her how to climb tall trees, how to hunt, and whenever she is hurt or scared he tells her she is as “strong as stone.” This strength is tested when he becomes ill, but Stone’s love for him means there are no obstacles in her quest for medicine. An unusual setting will have children imagining the truths of prehistory, and to hear a unique take on “warfare.”

Mary Engelbreit’s Little Book of Love by Mary Engelbreit. Illus. by author. HarperCollins/Harper. ISBN 9780063017221.
PreS-Gr 3–In a more traditional vein comes this simple Valentine’s Day book with quotations and illustrations for children and adults. All of the quotes are about the meaning of love, and the coffee-table style encourages readers to focus on the non-commercial aspects of the holiday, including appreciating friends, family, and sweethearts. Featuring quotes from Maya Angelou, Henry Thoreau, Mother Teresa, and others, this collection gives readers what they have come to expect from her work: a greeting card look at a holiday through famous people’s words.

From Archie to Zack by Vincent X Kirsch. illus. by author. Abrams. ISBN 9781419743672.
Gr 2-4 –In one of the most heartfelt books of the season, Kirsch clearly captures the shy trepidation of revealing one’s love to one’s crush in a colorful, animated story of two young boys, one white, one Black, who treasure their friendship. A pure and perfect capture of first love, joyful and painful in the worries and doubt; the love on the page is so vivid it raises goosebumps of veracity and provides parents with a model to share with any child in the throes of a lasting crush.

Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson . illus. by Qin Leng. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536201475.
Gr 3-5–A dedication to trans activists and some characters who are nonbinary in dress and clothing make a simple message of love and acceptance resonate subtly. In this wordless book, there is comfort in familiarity, but sometimes a little change can shed new light on everything. Readers quickly accept that they don’t really know everyone’s genders and that the story deliberately transcends such labels. Muted watercolor illustrations give way to more vibrant hues as the grandparent gets comfortable with the new residents. A heartwarming message of renewal, hope, friendship, and community.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina. illus. by Sonia Sánchez. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536207040.
K-Gr 4–Daniela goes over to her friend Evelyn’s apartment to play just as they do every day, because she is her “mejor amiga.” They play games, just like always, and laugh, just like always; but the more Daniela talks about their games, the more she alludes to the fact that Evelyn is moving. A wonderfully true tale of the happiness that best friends share and the complicated emotions that are faced when one of them goes away. Medina and Sánchez have created a winning emotional story about two best friends who will always be best friends, regardless  of upheaval.

Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar. illus. by author. Yali. ISBN 9781949528947.
PreS-Gr 3–This needed and valuable mirror text depicts a traditional Hindi community, where two brides are about to wed each other but not everyone approves. Ayesha saves the day by leading the way back to the wedding ceremony; her love for her cousin shines here and throughout the book. With a dearth of picture books authentically addressing marriage traditions within the South Asian community, and particularly LGBTQ+ couples, this is a welcome addition.

Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine by Jonathan Stutzman. illus. by Jay Fleck. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452184890.
Toddler-PreS–Growing fan favorite Tiny T. Rex is back in this sweetly earnest tale of how hard it can be to make the perfect Valentine. Spilled paint, glitter everywhere, paper rips, scissor cuts, and trouble spelling all conspire to ruin T. Rex’s card for his best friend Pointy. Toddlers and preschoolers alike will relate to the struggle of making one’s ideas a reality. Pointy’s reaction will provide a calming reassurance that it’s the thought that counts. The bright, simple illustrations highlight the wonderful mess Tiny makes and his endearing frustration. Concise text makes this perfect Valentine reading for toddler story times.

Young Adults

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz. Page Street. ISBN 9781645670797.
Gr 8 Up –In a nonstop, dragon-roaring adventure, this mash-up of magical realism and coming-of-age story will keep readers enthralled until the last page. Lana is a well-developed character, whose struggles with her white mother’s expectations, her Puerto Rican father’s heritage, and her love for her native island home give her an inner strength and determination to succeed.

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781547600601.
Gr 7 Up –Nala Robertson has a three-pronged plan for the summer before her senior year. One—Find a new hairstyle. Two—Spend time with her cousin and best friend, Imani. Three—Find love. With the strong theme of radical self-love, especially for Black girls and in a time when books about teen activists, including Watson’s own Watch Us Rise, are plentiful and teens try to make the world a better place, this title sends the necessary message that sometimes it’s okay if the person you save is yourself.

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon. Putnam. ISBN 9781984812230.
Gr 7 Up – Most of the time, Sunny Dae is OK with being a nerd, despite the bullying and casual racism he experiences at school for being Korean American in a mostly white community. He has two close friends, and together they run a successful DIY cosplay video channel. But Sunny is jealous of his older brother, Gray, a musician living in Hollywood. When his parents’ colleagues bring their teenage daughter, Cirrus (also Korean American), to Sunny’s house, Sunny makes a split-second decision to pretend that Gray’s bedroom is his own and that he is the one in a rock band. Readers will be drawn in by the sweet romance and Sunny’s hilarious narration. But in a novel filled with excellent writing, strong characterization, and abundant positive messages, perhaps the greatest strength of all is the emotional openness of the male characters.

Graphic Novels

The Witches: The Graphic Novel by Roald Dahl. adapt. & illus. by Pénélope Bagieu. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338677447.
Gr 3-6 –What a brash undertaking! To retell The Witches as a graphic novel and to replace the original illustrator Quentin Blake’s familiar style—it would be unseemly if Bagieu didn’t make it so utterly charged. The message of the boy’s acceptance of being a mouse with a lifespan that matches his caretaker dubious, and the chain-smoking grandmother (who has brown skin, as does her young charge) at the center of the tale won’t win any awards as a healthy role model, but she is the most loving person present.

The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley . illus. by author. Oni. ISBN 9781620108574.
Gr 8 Up–Stanley offers a thoughtful spin on the “Be careful what you wish for” trope. Amparo, who is nonbinary, has a crush on their classmate Iolanthe but knows the two would make an unlikely couple—while Amparo gets into fights and is facing suspension for pulling the fire alarm, quiet Iolanthe is devoted to her grades. Stellar, expressive art, featuring angular, dramatic linework, and an engaging narrative with solid nonbinary representation and well-developed characters bring this fantastical story to life.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing