Read It and Weep: Children's Books That Make This Mama Cry

I recently had the idea to write about the children's books that make me cry.  *I LOVE them.*  I don't know what it is about certain books but I have the hardest time reading them without getting all choked up.  Perhaps I am just a big sap, but I know there are others of you out there who get the same way.  The books in my "crying list" definitely tend to be books about growing-up, the cycle of birth, life and death, moving on, letting go and new beginnings.  A very universal and relatable theme.

Here's my list and then it is your turn to share.  What books do you tearfully read to your kids?

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
Pub. by Houghton Mifflin Co. 1993

Grandfather's Journey:  Beautifully written and illustrated by Allen Say.  A boy (Allen Say's own grandfather according to some sources) who grows up in Japan and moves to California as a young man.  Throughout his life he finds he loves where he is but very much misses the places he has left behind.  On a side note: this book, is a great book to give a graduate who loves children's books and obviously a great one for someone who is moving away.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Pub by Viking Penguin Inc. 1979
Ox-Cart Man: A book that EVERYone should know and yet very few do.  This is a book was written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  Donald Hall is a famous poet from New Hampshire.  He has been (in different years) both the NH and National Poet Laureate.  Originally this story was a poem.  He then changed it and made it into a story for children.  I grew up with this book and it is the first book I ever read to our older daughter when she was only a few days old.
Ox-Cart Man is about a man who must walk for days with his ox-cart to the market to sell the things that he and his family have grown and made on their farm.  At the end of the book the man has to part with his ox and kisses her on the nose before selling her.  Then he returns home to his family with some goods from the market.  At home he has a new young ox waiting in the barn for him.

Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch
Ill. by Sheila McGraw
Pub by Firefly Books Inc. 1986
You Are My I Love You
by Maryann K. Casimano
Ill. by Satomi Ichikawa
Pub by Philomel 2001

Love You Forever: Ok first of all I know this one is a "love it or hate it" kind of book.  Lots of people get weirded out by it... while others get totally emotional.  The first time I read it to my class of 5 year olds one of the boys smiled and said "My mom cries every time she reads that book to me."  Really, who can not get choked up while reading and rereading the line "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be."
You Are My I Love You by Maryann K. Cusimano and illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa is a very similar book and gets me just as choked up with lines like "I am your dandelion; you are my first wish."

by Mem Fox
Ill. by Helen Oxenbury
Pub by Harcourt Children's Books 2008

While we're on the baby theme, another one that gets me is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  I love universal themes and I love sentimental parent and baby books and this books covers both.  This book has adorable illustrations too.  The sweet ending of "But the next little baby born was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine.  And this little baby, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers, ten little toes, and three little kisses on the tip of its nose." gets me every time.

The Country Bunny and
the Little Golden Shoes
by Du Bose Heyward
Ill. by Marjorie Hack
Pub by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1939

The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes: A book that I've been in love with since childhood.   I make sure that we read this at Easter time each year.  What a beautiful, thrilling tale about a little country bunny who wants to be one of the Easter Bunnies some day.  I love the part when she is asked to take an egg up a mountain to a sick child that lives at the top of the highest peak.  I used to lay in bed on Easter Eve hoping for an egg like the one she must bring to the boy.

Miss Rumphius
Story and Ill. by Barbara Cooney
Pub by Puffin 1985

Miss Rumphius:  Yes, Barbara Cooney again, only this time she did the illustrations and wrote the story too.  A *beautiful* book about figuring out how to make the world a better place while you are in it.  I've always loved this book.  Like many of these stories, the end is what gets me choked up, but there are other special lines that I love too.  A must read if you do not yet know this book.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale ~ Pub by Hyperion 2004
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity ~ Pub by Hyperion 2007
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion ~ Pub by Balzer + Bray 2010
All Stories and Pictures by Mo Willems
I'll end with a collection of newer books that I *adore.*   The Knuffle Bunny trio written and illustrated by Mo Willems.  I fell in love with Knuffle Bunny the first time I read it and it has brought tears to my eyes for every reading since.  Knuffle Bunny Too I've only read a handful of times and I think it is adorable but slightly less emotionally charged than the first.  Then there is Knuffle Bunny Free.  There are few books that get me so choked up that most of the pages are difficult for me to read in a regular voice.  Although, I don't think my kids even notice.  Then, as if that isn't enough... the letter to Trixie at the end?!  I was already bawling Mr. Willems Sir!

Now that I've listed my "crying list."  What books get you all choked up???

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  1. Stephanie DeutschAugust 6, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    Crying while I read to my kids was a big problem for me! The kids would say, in an exasperated voice, "Mom, are you crying?" The worst offenders were two books I tried to read my daughter when she was a bit older -- "Heidi" and "Little Women." I could hardly get through a page of either one without tears and finally gave up on Little Women which was too traditional for my modern daughter anyway.

    1. Thanks for sharing Stephanie!
      So glad I'm not the only one. :)

  2. Velveteen Rabbit would be a winner for the tearjerkers list. Such sweet life lessons.

    1. I'll have to read that one again. Haven't read/heard it since I was very little. I have seen recent references to the part about defining what it feels like to be "real" which I love!

  3. When I graduated from high school Barbara Bush was the guest speaker (I lived in Kennebunk). She read us Mrs. Ruphius. I have always loved the story every since. I also am totally in love with lupine- they are SO Beautiful!