“Have a great day!” My daughter’s bus driver says cheerily, smiling broadly.

My daughter turns slowly, pausing in mid-step with a wry little grin: “No, you have a great day!”

“No, YOU have a great day!” the good-natured bus driver rejoins. “No, YOU!” my six-year old insists, and I am slightly relieved when the bus driver sees that this could actually take all day, and merely smiles and waves in reply. I seize the opportunity to herd my little one off the bus, hoping to spare the bus driver awkward explanations of why she is 15 minutes late for her next stop.

At lunchtime, during a rare, quiet moment, my three-year old pauses between bites of quesadilla (“It’s a torsadilla, Mom”) to say, “I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too,” I say with a smile.

“I love you more,” she counters.

“I love you most!” I say, triumphant.

“I love you a-hundred-million-miles-all-the-way-to-infinity-so-much-I-can’t-even-tell-you.”

What to say to that? And she, wholly satisfied that there could not possibly be any superlative response, takes a big bite and lapses into meditative chewing.

It got me thinking about the ways in which we attempt to articulate our love for our kiddos, and whether they can truly understand the magnitude of it. The wise elephant mother in this month’s featured book,1, 2, I Love You, written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, seems to have the right idea. She embarks on a series of fantastical adventures with her elephant son, all the while describing her love in sing-song counting rhymes. This mother’s love (and her energy!) seems to have no bounds as they march through a desert (“5, 6, clickety sticks, /a trumpet and a drum,/ I’ll march with you to Timbuktu,/ toot-toot tumpety-tum“), sail on an ocean, and hurtle down a grassy hill in a little, red wagon. Enjoy the vintage-looking watercolor illustrations that feature quite an array of headgear for mom (Can your little reader count how many fashionable hats she wears?) and ask your reader if she can find the two tiny mice friends that accompany mother and son on each page.

The book concludes as the counting reverses (“2, 1, now we’re done…”) and mother elephant tenderly tucks her little one into bed, softly beckoning him into sweet dreams and sailing among the stars.

So, next time my three-year old proclaims her inexpressible, infinite love, I’ll just say, “Come here. I have a book I want to read to you.”

Express your love this month by logging in to read 1, 2, I Love You with all of the sweet children in your life, and don’t forget to stop by our Facebook page and tell us what you think. We love hearing from you!

Thank you to Chronicle Books for making this story available to read during the month of February.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And happy reading!

Kristen Johnson