You may have heard of the sensational children’s book “Love You Forever” or may even have been read some of its poems while growing up. For those who are unaware, Love You Forever is a Canadian children’s book which tells the story of the evolving relationship between a boy and his mother [1]. What most people are unaware of is the touching story behind the stories we all love.

A simple four-line phenomenon

Before the “Love You Forever” book was ever conceived, those three words were a part of a simple, four-line poem (I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”) that author Robert Munsch would sing silently to himself to grieve after he and his wife had to endure two stillbirths. He started singing the poem silently to himself as a way to cope. “‘Love You Forever’ was my way of crying,” he told The Huffington Post.

Their second stillbirth came with even more bad news: the couple would never be able to conceive naturally. This news was a big blow to Munsch who had dedicated his life to working with children. He wrote children books professionally, had a master’s degree in Child Studies, and worked in various orphanages. According to him, it felt like “Someone walked up to me and gave me a sucker punch right in the solar plexus.”[2].

A light after the storm

The couple settled for adopting three children but Munsch used the poem to grieve his loss, humming to himself under his breath without singing out loud or writing down a word. One day, the inspiration for “Love You Forever” popped into his head almost in its entirety while performing on stage.

“My stories,” said Munsch, “usually come gradually through storytelling. This one came all of a sudden.” This also went against his traditional story writing system as he usually performed his material in front of crowds and applied several revisions before writing anything down. However, on this occasion, he realized he had a fully formed song at the back of his mind while performing another song at a theater.

He decided to make up a story for the song on the spot and performed the first ever iteration of “Love You Forever” live on stage. Munsch sang about a mother who would always visit her son’s bedroom every night at different phases of his life to cradle him and sing the same lullaby, promising to always love him. The song detailed the relationship between a mother and son throughout the course of his life, showing her reaction to his often-annoying behavior but always showing her unending love.

Great reception

This was the first time anyone had heard Munsch’s “Love You Forever” and he immediately saw the effect it had on the audience. He immediately penned down the song and presented it to his publishers who rejected it saying the theme was not appropriate for the children genre. Fortunately, his distributor decided to take a risk on him. “He said when he read it, he just felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up”.

It turns out that this was a great decision on his part. Ever since its first publication in l986, Love You Forever has sold more than 15 million copies and touched the hearts of millions worldwide. It has also been translated into several languages including Spanish and French [3]. According to Munsch, “The book is ideal for the way we hope things will happen. It’s the only book of mine that escaped being a children’s book.”

Reference:

  1. Love You Forever“, Wikipedia.
  2. “Love You Forever“, Firefly books.
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