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Growing Reader

5 Unconventional Love Stories
for Kids

by Tom Burns

The umbrella of “children’s literature” encompasses almost every kind of literary genre imaginable – comedies, mysteries, adventure stories, thrillers. There are even romances for kids, even younger kids who get grossed out by “the kissing parts.” If you want to find the perfect love-themed read for a child who’s too young for Twilight and too old for Guess How Much I Love You, try one of these less conventional, kid-friendly romances and show them that love doesn’t always have to be “yucky.”

  • Zombie in Love

    by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Scott Campbell

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    If your kids think romance is “gross,” this might just be the perfect book for them. Mortimer is a lonely zombie who wishes he had a date for Cupid’s Ball. He tries his best to woo ladies with big red hearts (real ones) and fancy new suits (acquired from a funeral home) and finally writes a newspaper ad, asking any like-minded lost souls to meet him at the dance. Campbell’s artwork is as warm-hearted as the story (Mortimer’s worm pals are a hoot), and DiPucchio continues Mortimer’s macabre romance in the recent sequel, Zombie in Love 2 + 1.

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  • The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

    by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

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    In this book, winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal, Kate DiCamillo introduces us to one of the most unlikely heroes in all of children’s literature — the minuscule, floppy-eared mouse, Despereaux, and his even-more-unlikely quest to prove his love for a human princess. As if a mouse attracting the attention of a princess wasn’t difficult enough, Despereaux also has to contend with the prejudices of a kingdom that despises rodents and an evil plot to banish Princess Pea to the castle’s dungeons. Despereaux’s story is both heartbreaking and inspirational, and his knightly, chivalrous love is simply beautiful to behold.

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  • Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa

    by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

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    Not all love stories have to be romantic. Sometimes, there’s no deeper love than the heartfelt devotion between two best friends. This early reader – a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book — tells four charming stories, all about the bond between a girl and her horse. They tease each other, get annoyed with each other, and, ultimately, love each other in the way that only close friends could ever understand.

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  • Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated)

    by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

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    This offbeat picture book, authored by the late great Florence Parry Heide, follows a young princess forced to hide an unusual talent and the one boy who loves her for exactly who she is. Princess Hyacinth just can’t stop floating into the air, causing her worried parents to lock her in the castle where she pines after a young boy named Boy, who expertly flies his kite in front of her window every day. But, when Hyacinth finally decides to cut loose and see how high she can really fly, Boy and his kite might be the only thing that can bring her back down to earth.

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  • Shrek!

    by William Steig

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    Steig’s tale of the ugliest ogre in the world searching for his even uglier bride is an imaginative classic – it’s no wonder it inspired four animated films. Shrek’s declarations of love for his bride’s most disgusting features are revoltingly hilarious and remind kids that everyone, no matter how foul or horrid, deserves to be loved.

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