Bear books for big hugs with your kids

Written by Tim Warnes

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug! is a delightful read – a perfect reason to snuggle up on the couch for a little quality time with your child or grandchild.” —SHERI HOYTE, GOODREADS

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

I’m Going to Give You a Polar Bear Hug! by Caroline B. Cooney, illustrated by Tim Warnes

(Zonderkidz, 2016 & 2019)

Good to Read for:

  • playful interaction
  • snuggling up before bed
  • affirming your child

All parents want to feel connected to their kids.

We want our children to form deep attachments with us so they, in turn, can form deep attachments with others as they go through life. Meaning quality picture books are your go-to tool. My recommendations today have the added advantage of guaranteeing some loving hugs: I Want to Give You a Bear Hug! and its companion title, I Want to Give You a Polar Bear Hug! by Caroline B. Cooney, illustrated by myself (Zonderkidz, 2016 & 2019).

I’m sometimes asked about the target range of my books. I think if a book engages someone, it’s suitable, whatever their age! (Regular readers of this blog will testify – picture books can have complex and nuanced messages waiting to be discovered under the surface!)

The Bear Hug books are marketed for ages 0 – 8 years of age (they come as sturdy board books for the youngest readers, hardcover and e-book versions). So does it deliver to such a wide age range? Let’s hear from some customers:

“I read this book to my 11-month-old son daily and still haven’t gotten tired of it.”

–Ballegra (Amazon 5* review) 

(So that’s a happy parent, too!)

“My 19-month old grandson took to this book at the first reading and has been asking for it ever since. Best part: it provides an excuse for hugs on every page.”

–Amazon customer (Amazon 5* review)

(And a happy grandparent!)

If you need further convincing, check out this video of Baby Ted. It was sent a few years ago and shows him enjoying Bear Hug with his big sister (Ted’s favourite spread? Pig hug!) – and it still puts a smile on my face!


Well, that’s the babies catered for – what about the preschool crowd?

E. Klaffke’s 5* Amazon review has this to say:

“My 4 year old & 1 year old absolutely love this book! We have to read it every night before bed. The rhyming in this book is so fun! Watch out for the Bug Hug!”

I’m going to give you a bug hug.

A wiggly wriggly,

Makes you giggly,

Creepy crawly snug hug.

That spread (from Bear Hug) epitomizes all that’s great about the books. They’re fun to read and enact – and encourage extra cuddles!

Riya Biswas’s 5* Goodreads review of Bear Hug backs my claim up. She says that, although she reads many books with her daughter, it’s not often they “can act silly and give each other lots and lots of hugs and laugh all the way to the last page of the book.” Hugging her daughter and seeing her smile, she says, “feels really nice… it helps us bond, [so] I would say it fulfilled one of [its] biggest purposes.”

But what about those older kids? Most children aged 8 will be on (or are transitioning to) chapter books. But as this review from See Mom Click shows – there’s still a place for ‘younger’ picture books when a big kid is looking for some close connection:

“My son is 8 and this is a pretty simple book for him, but on those nights when we just want a sweet little story to enjoy together, it’s perfect.”

(And don’t forget that picture books – particularly those with rhyming text – encourage independent reading by boosting developing readers’ confidence.)

As well as using them as hugging aids, the stories are great for encouraging imaginative play. Polar Bear Hug, in particular, provides ideal opportunities for your children to join in to practice their bunny hops, stand on their hands like a seal or dance like a penguin!

The Bear Hug books appeal to a wide age range because kids want to feel loved and connected.

These books present a priceless opportunity to facilitate that. ‘Reading this book to your little one at bedtime is sure to make them feel loved, safe and secure,’ writes Sally on GoodReads.

And let’s face it – bringing up kids is tough. They will try your patience and often leave you frazzled by bedtime. Perhaps that’s just the moment to pull out one of these books and enjoy some light-hearted giggles and loving cuddles.

It’s not just your children who benefit from loving hugs.

Sometimes even the most confident parent needs reassurance from their child that they are loved and doing a good job.

Tips for sharing the Bear Hug books

  1. Try asking your child what kind of hug they want, based on the ones described in the books and go for it! Better still, take turns choosing a hugging style. (WARNING! Bug Hugs are particularly tickly!)

  2. Join in with the child protagonist in Polar Bear Hug as they reenact the penguin dance, bunny hops, seal-stands and cardinal flight. Then chase the fox down the trail! (This works particularly well in group settings.)

  3. In both stories, the child’s soft toys play a key part in their vivid imaginations. Chat with your kid and learn what kinds of hugs their cuddly toys like to give!

Copyright © 2016/2019 Caroline B. Cooney (Text) & Tim Warnes (Illustrations)

From I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A BEAR HUG! & I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A POLAR BEAR HUG! by Caroline B. Cooney & Tim Warnes (Zonderkidz)

Customer image © @bedtime_books_with_bear_. Used by permission.