I wouldn’t call myself an overly emotional person in real-life. When things go wrong, my tendency is not to cry. However, when it comes to books—especially picture books—all it takes is one uplifting phrase or illustration and I’m weepy. Looking back at my reading for the year—much of which I can’t talk about for ~award~ reasons, I’ve realized there have been a handful of books over the past few months that have made me actually cry. I am writing this on an airplane where I just read #2 on this list to review for a magazine, and actually had to wipe my tears with my sweater.
So, if you want some HEARTWARMING or frankly, heart-string-tugging readers, check out these children’s titles
- Every Dog in the Neighborhood
This is a picture book that I enjoyed a lot—especially the illustrations. I love a book where the main character has a task. In this one, he’s counting the dogs in the neighborhood, and having some wholesome interactions. However, then I got to the END of the book, and, like so many great picture books, I was punched right in the heart strings and taken for a teary ride.
- If You Were a Princess
This book made me cry in front of a stranger on the plane. Part inspiration, part biography, this short picture book looks at a lot of different princesses—past and present—from all over the world. It looks at what makes them unique, not their tiaras or fancy gowns. It’s well written and well illustrated, but (and this isn’t a spoiler) there’s a LOVELY little line at the end where it says, “the most well-loved princesses make others feel like royalty too.”
- Lolo’s Light
This one was kind of an obvious one for the tear-induction. This middle grade novel follows a girl and her grief after her next door neighbor, a baby named Lolo, dies of SIDS while the young girl is babysitting. It has a slightly spiritual, but not really religious, bent to it, but is both emotionally devastating and has a hopeful end. I can’t think of any young kids I’d actually give this book to, but can see it devastating some moms easily!
- Attack of the Black Rectangles
I reviewed this for Booklist and gave it a starred review because I was truly blown away by it, and its timeliness, but I did not expect It to make me cry. It’s a book about rules and censorship and I wanted to fight for Mac and his friends, but at the end of the book, a special guest appears in the story, and while I know this is fictionalized, I found myself tearing up and crying just imagining it!
- Playing Through the Turnaround
Like Lolo’s Light, this is another book that had me tearing up for pretty obvious reasons. A book about music and a sick, older teacher—-a recipe for tears. I found it incredibly dry at some times—-especially since I’m not a musician—but when the teacher’s final days came and we got to see his early interactions with one of the protagonists reflected upon, I was a teary little mess.
What books have made you cry recently? Why does Booklist keep assigning me such great books that make me a little weepy? Is there any particular trope, character type, or situation that you know will make you cry? I often cry during picture book biographies, especially those of powerful women, because I just love seeing people succeed.