Published on September 4th, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books
The children’s books that make you cry
Even as an adult, there are still some children’s books that make you cry. Perhaps even more so once you become a parent. In fact, we’re regularly teary here at Bright Kids Books HQ. Rather than denying this emotional phenomenon, we’ve decided to embrace it. So grab a box of tissues, curl up (with or without your kids) and enjoy this selection of our favorite children’s books that make you cry. If we’ve missed a book that makes YOU teary, feel free to leave a comment.
by Robert Munsch
The mother sings to her sleeping baby: “I’ll love you forever / I’ll love you for always / As long as I’m living / My baby you’ll be.” She still sings the same song when her baby has turned into a fractious 2-year-old, a slovenly 9-year-old, a raucous teen, and so on. Then, inevitably, the day comes when she’s too old and sick to hold him, and the roles are at last reversed. Each stage is illustrated by one of Sheila McGraw’s comic and yet poignant pastels. A touching and thoughtful insight into how we change as we grow older and what we as parents (hopefully) have to look forward to. Love You Forever is one of those (not so rare) children’s books that make you cry.
by E.B. White
E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that you and your kids will simply adore. This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur – and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of their own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig. But be forewarned, you may need a box of tissues within close reach. Definitely one of the most reliable of children’s books that make you cry.
by Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is among the most enduring documents of the twentieth century. Since its publication in 1947, it has been read by tens of millions of people all over the world and is one of THE books that is guaranteed to leave you sobbing. It remains a beloved and deeply admired testament to the indestructible nature of the human spirit. This new edition restores diary entries omitted from the original edition, revealing a new depth to Anne’s dreams, irritations, hardships, and passions. Like many young girls, she often found herself in disagreements with her mother. And like any teenager, she veered between the carefree nature of a child and the full-fledged sorrow of an adult. Anne emerges as more real, more human, and more vital than ever. If you’ve never read this remarkable autobiography, do so. If you have read it, you owe it to yourself to read it again. Just remember to stock up on tissues.
by Katherine Paterson
In 1976, Katherine Paterson’s son David was 8 years old when his friend, Lisa Hill, was struck by lightning and killed. A year later Bridge to Terabithia was published – winning a Newbery Medal and becoming, if such a thing is possible, an instant classic. The story: Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. This story of friendship, loss, grief and strength will touch you – so keep the tissues handy. Guaranteed to be one of the children’s books that make you cry.
by Oliver Jeffers
Award-winning picture book star Oliver Jeffers explores themes of love and loss in this life-affirming and uplifting tale. Once there was a girl who was full of wonderment at how the world worked. She shared all her dreams and excitement with her father (or grand father… it’s not made entirely clear), who always had the answer to every question. That is until one day when his chair is empty, not to be filled again. So what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up… or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play.
Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. For younger readers, the heartfelt simple brilliance ensures this is one of the children’s books that make you cry.
By (author) Libby Gleeson, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Amy and Louis are the best of friends. They do everything together and go everywhere together. They build towers as high as the sky, they look for magical creatures in clouds, and they always greet one another with their special call: “Coo-ee!”
But when Amy’s family moves far across the ocean, the color drains out of their lives – until Louie finds a way to restore their special bond. This book is so sweet that anyone who has a distant friend will either tear up, arrange a Skype session or both! Not well known (yet!), but one of our favorite children’s books that make you cry.
by Shel Silverstein
“Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy.” So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the supremely gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. Since it was first published more than fifty years ago, this moving parable (for readers of all ages) has offered an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving – and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return. In addition, the nuanced and deliberately ambiguous ending provides an interesting philosophical discussion point for young readers. Not to mention relating to this parable as a parent… yes, another of those children’s books that make you cry.
by Andrea Beaty
When we discovered Rosie Revere, Engineer, we literally whooped for joy. Rosie is quiet and shy, and always trying to solve problems with her inventions. She keeps her dreams and creations to herself, until one day her great-great-aunt Rose visits and mentions that she has always dreamed of flying. So Rosie sets about building a contraption to help make her aunt’s dream come true. Her invention hovers then crashes – a complete disaster – or is it? Aunt Rose helps Rosie see that the only way to fail is to quit. The whimsical, charming illustrations and rhyming text complement the inspiring message at the heart of this book. No glitter, no fairies, no princesses, only the faintest touch of pink, and a special appearance by Rosie the Riveter. This kids books about learning from mistakes and trying again is on high rotation in our household. And to prove that not all children’s books that make you cry are due to sadness… at each reading of Rosie Revere, Engineer I’m failing to hold back tears of joy. Simply delightful.
by Margret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny begins with a young bunny who decides to run away: “‘If you run away,’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.'” And so begins a delightful, imaginary game of chase. No matter how many forms the little bunny takes–a fish in a stream, a crocus in a hidden garden, a rock on a mountain–his steadfast, adoring, protective mother finds a way of retrieving him. The soothing rhythm of the bunny banter–along with the surreal, dream-like pictures–never fail to infuse young readers with a complete sense of security and peace. For any small child who has toyed with the idea of running away or testing the strength of Mom’s love, this old favorite will comfort and reassure. First published in 1942 and never out of print, three generations of readers have fallen in love with the gentle magic of its reassuring words and loving pictures. One of the classic children’s books that make you cry.
by Mem Fox
Mem Fox’s joyful picture book Whoever You Are, is a celebration of the world’s diverse cultures – both our similarities and differences. Leslie Straub’s innovative, colorful, folk art–style oil paintings of children from all corners of the globe are bordered with photographs of hand-carved, bejeweled frames — and they all reflect Fox’s message that no matter where we come from, within our hearts “Joys are the same, / and love is the same. / Pain is the same, / and blood is the same.” Another gem from Mem Fox, and a heart felt children’s book that will probably make you cry.
by Mo Willems
Merging expressive cartoon network-esque illustrations with beautiful black and white photographs of Brooklyn, this riotous story tells how Trixie and Knuffle Bunny’s trip to the laundromat with Dad goes terribly wrong. When Trixie realizes her bunny’s been left behind, her attempts to alert Dad all the way home are unsuccessful… until Mum points out that Knuffel Bunny is missing and the family hotfoot it back to the laundromat. This stunning book tells a brilliantly true-to-life tale about what happens when Daddy’s in charge and things go terribly, hilariously wrong. Better still, the ending is a pearler and if you’re in just the right mood will bring a tear to your eye.
by Jamie Lee Curtis
Is there really a human race? Is it going on now all over the place? When did it start? Who said, “Ready, Set, Go”? Did it start on my birthday? I really must know.
With these questions, our hero’s imagination is off and running. Is the human race an obstacle course? Is it a spirit? Does he get his own lane? Does he get his own coach? Written with Jamie Lee Curtis’s humor and heart and illustrated with Laura Cornell’s worldly wit, Is There Really a Human Race? Is all about relishing the journey and making good choices along the way – because how we live and how we love is how we learn to make the world a better place, one small step at a time. For any parent, this is a wonderful book to share with your kids, and yes, also one of our favorite children’s books that make you cry.
by Debi Gliori
As bedtime nears, a cute little fox named Small who’s feeling “grim and grumpy” (and whose parent, Large, is pictured chatting on the phone) acts out by upturning the living room. When Large asks what’s wrong, Small begins interrogating Large (neither character’s gender is specified): “If I were a grumpy grizzly bear, would you still love me? Would you still care?” “I’d always love you, no matter what,” responds Large. As in books like Lisa McCourt’s I Love You, Stinky Face, the child ups the ante with unpleasant scenarios: what if Small were some other ostensibly uncuddly creature, like a squishy bug or a crocodile? “No matter what” comes the answer again and again. This children’s book will no doubt bring a tear to your eye asGliori’s warmly comic depictions of Large’s abiding affections drive home the unconditionality of parental love.
by Wilson Rawls
This tale of a boy and his two dogs is sure to tug on the old heartstrings. In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy and his precious coonhound pups romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to “tree” the elusive raccoon. In time, the inseparable trio wins the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, captures the wily ghost coon, and bravely fights with a mountain lion. When the victory over the mountain lion turns to tragedy, Billy grieves, but learns the beautiful old Native American legend of the sacred red fern that grows over the graves of his dogs.
by Margery Williams
A stuffed toy rabbit (with real thread whiskers) comes to life in Margery Williams’s timeless tale of the power of love. Given as a Christmas gift to a young boy, the Velveteen Rabbit lives in the nursery with all of the other toys, waiting for the day when the Boy (as he is called) will choose him as a playmate. In time, the shy Rabbit befriends the tattered Skin Horse, the wisest resident of the nursery, who reveals the goal of all nursery toys: to be made “real” through the love of a human. “‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'” This sentimental classic has been charming children since its first publication in 1922.
by Fred Gipson
No list of children’s books that make you cry would be complete without this Fred Gipson’s classic, Old Yeller. To read this eloquently simple story of a boy and his dog in the Texas hill country is an unforgettable and deeply moving experience. And one that has been moving people to tears for generations. You’ve been warned!
by Nancy Tillman
On the night you were born, you brought wonder and magic to the world. The moon stayed up till morning. Polar bears danced. Here is a book that celebrates the one and only ever you! Now available in its entirety in board book format, Nancy Tillman’s masterpiece is perfect for acknowledging the special people in our lives that they are loved. Cue tears (for adults) at bedtime!