One of the most common questions I receive from adoptive parents is, “Do you have any good book recommendations for our kids?” It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, for I remember scouring the bookstores for adoption-related picture books when we first adopted our little girl. I think I read our beloved copies of A Mother for Choco and Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born a thousand times!
As such, it was a delight when an old friend introduced me to new children’s author Tanya Valentine. Tanya initially wrote her heartwarming new story All Bears Need Love as a keepsake for her son. When she realized that her picture book filled a void in the market, she decided to share it with all families.
My girls and I snuggled up on the couch to read All Bears Need Love. The language was simple enough that my kindergartener and third-grader took turns reading the pages, and my 2-year-old avidly listened and looked at the illustrations.
All three of my girls were touched by the story of Baby Brown Bear, who arrived at the City Zoo, anxious and scared. With gentle reassurance, Mama Polar Bear promises to be his mother.
Over and over, the other mama animals question Mama Polar Bear’s ability to mother a baby that is different, and over and over, she responds with confident reassurance that she will love him and care for him.
The elephant frowned. “But you don’t know where he came from.”
“What matters is that he’s here now, said Mama Polar Bear.
The monkey screeched, “But you have your own cubs to care for!”
“A mother’s heart grows with love for ALL her children,” said Mama Polar Bear.
The lion roared, “Will he be raised as a brown bear or a polar bear?”
“He will be the best of both,” said Mama Polar Bear.
What was fascinating to me is that my 9-year-old picked up on something that I didn’t notice at first. “Look, Mom, in the pictures, it’s only the adult animals that are being unfriendly! See, the baby elephant and baby monkey and baby lion are all playing with the baby brown bear. They accept him!”
Brilliantly done, Tanya Valentine. Your story not only shows that love is universal, but also that prejudice is a learned behavior. Multiple good messages are weaved into this tender story. I wholeheartedly recommend All Bears Need Love!
Tanya Valentine wrote All Bears Need Love to address the many unexpected questions, comments and curiosities that accompanied her son’s adoption. She lives with her husband and children in Atlanta, Georgia. www.allbearsneedlove.com
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, the author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.
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