The REAL Sweet-But-Very-Sad Story Behind The Book 'Love You Forever'

Photo: robertmunsch
Cover of the book I love you forever.

Wow. We had no idea.

I Love You Forever is one of the best-selling children's book of all time. In fact, the author, Robert Munsch, says on his website that the book has sold over 15 million copies. The book is popular for parents to read to their children, but Munsch says he discovered that the book isn't just for small children and their mothers and fathers; it also resonates with all ages. Parents even buy it for grandparents, and vice versa.

Munch calls it his best book. Although I Love You Forever is extremely, popular it does give some people the creeps. The song that's woven throughout the story goes like this:

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always, 
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

If you've never read it, the story begins with a mother rocking her newborn baby, singing the song as the baby drifts off to sleep. The music isn't included in the book and everyone is encouraged to sing it to whatever tune suits them. As the story continues, we hear about the baby growing into a mischievous toddler, a little boy, a teenager with weird friends and weird taste in music, and finally a husband and father with his own baby.

Throughout the story, the mother sings her son the song. Even when he's an adult and has his own home, his mother sneaks into his room, grabs him from his bed and rocks him while she sings the song. The way the mother is described as crawling up the stairs is unsettling to say the least.

I don't know about you, but if my mother dragged me out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night and sang me that song, I would seriously think she had lost her mind.  

However, it turns out that the story isn't a cautionary tale about a mother with a bad case of empty nest syndrome — it's song inspired by the two babies that Munsch and his wife lost.

Munsch writes, "I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. 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. For a long time it was just a song, but one day, while telling stories at a big theater at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song."

By turning the song into a book, Munsch honored his stillborn babies in a way that makes their memory live on forever and is a true testament of the lasting power of a parent's love.

I still don't recommend pulling your grown child out of bed, trying to hold their adult body in your arms, and singing to them in the wee hours of the morning. That won't go over well.

Check out how the author sings the I Love You Forever song:


Explore YourTango