The Real Story Behind “Love You Forever” Will Break Your Heart
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Most of us have the classic baby's book Love You Forever on our bookshelves, either to read to our children or sob quietly to ourselves in the corner, but many of us aren't as familiar with the actual meaning behind the famous lines.
I know that I personally have actually avoided thinking about what could have prompted the author's book. In my mind, I've always imagined that the book was probably inspired by the author's own life and watching his own mother quietly age out her life. And now I'm crying just thinking about it.
It's a beautiful book, but let's be honest — it's also kind of horrible because it's impossible to read your kids a sweet bedtime story when you're fighting back tears yourself. And as it turns out, those tears are for a really good reason because the story behind the book will definitely make you tear up.
The author of Love You Forever, Robert Munsch, actually shared the real story behind the book on his website, and it's a heartbreaking revelation. On his website, he describes that the book actually started as a song that he sang to his stillborn babies.
“I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead,” he wrote on his site. “The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time, I had it in my head, and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.”
He describes that, for a long time, he had kept the song as a personal song for him and his wife to grieve with, until one day, telling stories at a theater at the University of Guelph, it occurred to him that his song could be turned into a story.
And like so many of the great books in history, he initially faced some criticism about the book from literary professionals. One publisher turned it down because they felt like the book wasn't a good book for children, and another was puzzled by the book's popularity among parents, not kids.
“One day, the publisher called up and said ‘This is very strange. It is selling very well in retirement communities in Arizona,' ” Munsch describes on his site. “‘It is selling in retirement communities where kids are illegal. This is supposed to be a children’s book. Grownups are buying it for grownups! What is going on?' “
But as Munsch and his puzzled publisher soon discovered, the book's message of undying love resonated with parents and grandparents all over the world with universal appeal. Munsch called the book his “best” and revealed that it has sold over 15 million copies.
And if you're curious about the original tune for the book, Munsch doesn't have an answer for you. “The way I sing it in the story is just MY version,” he said. “You are supposed to make up your own.” (You can listen to how Munsch sings it on his site by hitting the “listen” button.)
I know the way I sing it to my kids, and I know the way my husband sings it differs, so I can't imagine how differently everyone else's version sounds. But Munsch is sharing all those different versions with the world. He lets you record your own version of the “Love You Forever” song and post it on his website to share.
Do you own Love You Forever? How do you sing it to your kids?