The children’s book ‘Love You Forever’ is promoted on Facebook and discussion arises

Robert Munsch’s 1986 book tells the story of a mother and son throughout their lives. Although it has been wildly popular in recent decades, some can’t help but question some of its ‘disturbing’ aspects


Since its publication in 1986, the children’s book “Love You Forever” has sold many millions of copies and has become a favorite item in many families.

Written by Robert Munsch, the story illustrates the relationship between a mother and son as they both grow older. The mother sings a lullaby to her son as a baby and for each subsequent stage of his life, but some of those stages are a bit strange, writes Marlene Kern Fischer, a New York mother, blogger and author who posted on Facebook about ‘Love You’. Forever.”

“When her son grows up, the mother drives around town and sneaks into his house after dark to sing to him and rock him,” she wrote in the post, which has since caused a stir. “Doesn’t anyone else find this incredibly disturbing?”

Comments on the post are split between the ‘love it’ and ‘hate it’ crowds, with many defending the 38-year-old book as a moving story about the circle of life and love between a parent and a child.

USA TODAY spoke with Fischer this week about the controversy, how she cried when she read it for the first time and what she thinks about the uproar her post caused.

More: ‘Love You Forever’ is called ‘disturbing’. These children’s books are just as questionable

Unpopular opinion: ‘I hate the book’

Fischer acknowledges the emotional weight of “Love You Forever.”

“Anyone who doesn’t cry while reading this book has a heart of stone,” Fischer told USA TODAY on Monday.

But “somehow I feel like my emotions are being played with,” she wrote in the Facebook post. “Here I was a new mother watching my entire life with my son flash before my eyes.”

But that wasn’t Fischer’s only complaint. Although the first pages of the book are beautiful, things get weird when the little boy becomes a teenager and the mother continues to enter her son’s room and rock him while he sings the lullaby, Fischer said.

“Okay, when my boys were teenagers, if they had caught me rocking them, they would have gone ballistic and probably screamed, ‘WTF?’ before they put a lock on their door,” she said on Facebook. But then the book becomes “even weirder,” she said.

“When her son grows up, the mother drives around town and sneaks into his house after dark to sing to him and rock him. Doesn’t he have a partner?” Fischer vented on Facebook. “Or did the mother’s bizarre behavior ruin any chance of him finding a mate?”

Fischer emphasized that she may be thinking too much about what is intended as a book about “a parent’s love and enduring traditions.”

“It never made sense to me though,” she wrote. “I hate the book.”

Commentators explain deep feelings about ‘Love You Forever’

Commenters on Fischer’s post had plenty to say, with one woman saying that at 50, she still lays her head on her father’s chest to listen to his heartbeat.

“If any of them asked to rock me, I would absolutely allow it,” she wrote. “All my friends are losing parents and children (to death, to college, etc.) and those connections mean more to me than ever before.”

Another wrote that whenever her father took her and her sister to the bookstore, she always looked for “Love You Forever” and reread it.

“I believe it helped me become the empathetic adult I am today,” she says. “Even at a young age I remember understanding the symbolism, not taking it too literally, but understanding the deep love that is felt there.”

Another joked that “no one gets mad about Goldie Locks breaking into, stealing porridge and sleeping in random bear beds!”

“Clearly, children’s books should not be taken so literally,” she wrote. “This kid reminds me so much of my sons and it’s so special to me.”

Other users also admit they hate ‘Love You Forever’

Many others agreed with Fischer.

“I always assumed that the fact that the son had no one next to him when the mother sneaked in was probably due to the mother’s strange attachment,” one woman noted.

Another wrote that they were relieved to learn they weren’t the only ones who didn’t like the book.

“That mother is creating a mama’s boy for life, which is toxic to any romantic relationships he may have,” they wrote. “That fictional mother needs to be taught a lesson in boundaries! And that goes for that adult son too!”

How Robert Munsch created ‘Love You Forever’

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when “Love You Forever” became the New York Times’ No. 1 children’s book, Munsch explained that the book’s lullaby was one he and his wife came up with to comfort themselves after two stillborn children.

“I get more letters about this than all my other stories combined and some of them are very heavy,” he says in the interview before reading a letter from parents who had lost their daughter and buried his book with her.

“People who have experiences of grief in their families find it a very beautiful book, although people who like to rock their children to bed at night also find it a very beautiful book,” he said. “People use it when they want to express how they feel about family issues. It seems to help people do that.”

USA TODAY reached out to Munsch about some of the discussion surrounding his book.

Fischer noted that she respects the fact that Munsch wrote the story for his two stillborn children, and that she personally understands that loss, “which is truly tragic,” she wrote. “I can understand his motivation.”

How does Fischer respond to all the noise?

Fischer’s post continues to draw attention, something she seems to be slowly picking up on.

“Politics aside, this has been one of my most polarizing posts,” she told USA TODAY. ‘Everyone and their cousin has a VERY strong opinion about this book. You either love it or hate it.

“I actually received hate comments from readers who were against my opinion, which was honestly meant to be a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek piece,” she continued. “On the other hand, many people who didn’t like the book felt validated by my words.”

Fischer is the author of “I Was Hoping to Age Like a Fine Wine, But I Feel More Like an Avocado,” a collection of personal stories about aging, parenthood and other life events that came out Tuesday. It can be purchased online.

You can also follow her blog called Thoughts From Aisle 4.