10 Unconventional Love Stories
for Kids

by Tom Burns

Background credit: JM Tolman/Shutterstock

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.”

  • Viking in Love

    by Doug Cenko

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    Kids and parents will fall for this quirky love story about a Viking who must conquer his fear of the sea. It’s full of humor, monsters, kittens, blow-up pool toys, and unrequited love. This adorable picture book is perfect for reading on Valentine’s Day or any day of the year.

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  • Love in the Library

    by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Yas Imamura

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    Based on actual events, this picture book gives readers a conventional love story in an unconventional location—an incarceration camp during WWII. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, this hopeful story shows us that beautiful things can happen even in terrible situations.

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  • The Provensen Book of Fairy Tales

    edited and illustrated by Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen

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    When it comes to unconventional love stories, nothing beats a fairy tale. From magic kisses to banished princes, this collection of classic fairy tales has all the weird, bizarre, and unusual love stories you could ask for.

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  • The Tale of Despereaux

    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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  • Bear in Love

    Bear in Love

    by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

    The way to a bear’s heart is through his stomach. When a bear finds treats left outside his home, he thinks he has a secret admirer. With its adorable artwork and humorous mystery, this endearing love story will leave young readers smiling.

  • I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog

    performed by Peter, Paul and Mary, lyrics by Leslie Braunstein, illustrated by Joshua S. Brunet

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    This book is adapted from a song that originated in the civil rights era, but the lesson is still essential today. It teaches young children about being respectful of uncommon and non-traditional romantic relationships. The colorful illustrations and timeless message make this book a must-read classic.

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  • Alaska's Snow White and Her Seven Sled Dogs

    Alaska's Snow White and Her Seven Sled Dogs

    by Mindy Dwyer

    The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves gets a distinct Alaskan twist in this fairy tale retelling. Set in the frigid North with sled dogs, an evil Ice Queen, poisoned peppermint drinks, and a handsome musher, this unusual story is perfect for fairy tale lovers.

  • 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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  • There's a Dodo on the Wedding Cake

    by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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    Attend the strangest wedding ever with this wacky and hilarious picture book. In this sequel to There’s a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor, violinist Mr. Snore returns to the Sharemore Hotel for a wedding. It’s an unusual affair, and Mr. Snore finds himself defending the cake from being devoured by wild animals. Kids will love poring over the detailed illustrations, looking for hidden jokes, and learning that things aren’t always as they seem.

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  • Hamster Princess: Whiskerella

    by Ursula Vernon

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    Kids that like to laugh will fall head-over-heels in love with this offbeat retelling of Cinderella. With mysterious princesses, overbearing mothers, unwanted magical spells, and not-so-evil stepsisters, this book turns the beloved fairy tale on its head. Kids will be in stitches as they read this madcap adventure.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2022.