Ok, something you’ll learn about me over time is that while I love a good themed bookshelf, I really love when the books I choose for said bookshelf can serve multiple purposes throughout the year. So, when it comes to holiday books, I get pretty excited when I find books that work for a given holiday, but can also be read anytime over the course of the year (like this list of my favorite Halloween-y, but not Halloween, books, or some great books to read at the beginning of the school year that aren’t specifically about the first day of school). So, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, our shelf has a few Valentine’s Day books (only 2 out of 15 featured here, to be specific), but we read mostly love and kindness stories with wonderful year-round lessons.
So, here’s what will be on our front-facing bookshelf for the next few weeks (arranged below roughly according to publishers’ targeted ages). As usual, I include the age range given by publishers and note my opinion if I think differently, but remember that these ages are just estimates.
(You can click on the links below to find these books via my Amazon Affiliate pages, or simply bookmark this for library requests or your next library trip!)
My Art Book of Love, words by Shana Gozansky– This book, published by Phaidon Press in 2018, has to be one of the neatest love books I’ve seen! Gozansky took photographs of a variety of pieces of art that feature love, and set them to simple text. “Love is… soft snuggles… and hard kisses… Slow dances… and tender nuzzles… A soft comfort… a secret… even an adventure!” A clever celebration of both love and artwork, this one’s worth purchasing for year’s of enjoyment! **Publishers recommend for ages 2-4, but I think studying the artwork will be interesting for older children and even adults, too, and this could be great inspiration for some love-themed process art.
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall– Another great book for inspiring budding artists! Hall, a graphic designer, used mostly hearts to depict a wide variety of animals (such as the lion on the cover). Along with the clever illustrations, the rhyming text describes different ways a heart can feel, such as “frightened as a rabbit” or “silly as a seal.” **Publishers recommend for ages 0-5, but this could be a hit with older children as inspiration for heart-shaped art.
Tweet Hearts by Susan Reagan– An adorable counting-down and rhyming book, Reagan uses bright graphics to show the love between two adorable birds. This is a third book that could inspire art projects, as Reagan makes the hearts on each page into different objects, such as birds, bubbles, and balloons. **Publishers recommend for ages 0-3.
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell– You can find my full Instagram review here. This was one of the first books I reviewed on Instagram, because it’s been a long-time favorite in our house. **Publishers recommend for ages 2-4, but our 5.5-year-old still gets a kick out of it!
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek, ill. by Christine Roussey– We received this book as a gift a few years ago from my friend Courtney at OT OuTside (be sure to check out her website— it’s a wealth of information!), and I find we frequently return to it while we explore our own feelings. It’s part of a series, but this one is definitely my favorite so far! The endpages and illustrations are beautiful and perfect for February. **Publishers recommend for ages 2-4, but preschoolers and early elementary kids definitely enjoy it.
Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright– Part of the Love Monster series, Love Monster and the Last Chocolate reminds us of the Elephant and Piggie book Should I Share My Ice Cream?. The Love Monster battles an internal dilemma as he struggles to decide if he should eat a box of chocolates he found on his doorstep or share them with his friends. In the end, kindness and giving reign for both the Love Monster and his friends! **Publishers recommend for ages 2-4, but I’d read with older children, too.
Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neil– Originally published in 2015 and reissued in 2017, this book was new to us this year, but it may be high on my list of books to purchase for our home library (we got this from our local library). Not a Valentine’s book or even really a love book, this book reminds children of the power their words have to lift others up… but also to hurt their hearts. Neal challenges readers in the end to use their “words to look after each other’s hearts” and make the world a better place– a perfect message for February and the rest of the year! **Publishers recommend for ages 2-6, but could be useful in direct social-emotional lessons for older audiences.
No Matter What by Debi Gliori– This one reads as almost a mix of Guess How Much I Love You, The Runaway Bunny, and I Love You, Stinkyface… But it seems to be a lot less well-known, so for those of you who love to read books about how much parents love their children around Valentine’s Day, this may be a great addition to your read-alouds over the next few weeks. **Publishers recommend for ages 2-6.
A Hug is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler, ill. by Lisk Feng– A sweet tale of love between a father and daughter, yes, but this story is so much more than that. It’s also honors nature and “hugs” that can be found there, such as within cocoons or seashells. See this post for more books showcasing the special relationships between fathers and daughters. **Publishers recommend for ages 3-6.
That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ill. by Teagan White– Oh, Amy Krouse Rosenthal… I am so saddened to think we won’t continue to be blessed by new books from her, but I continue to be delighted by her “new-to-me” books that I keep finding, such as this one! That’s Me Loving You is a delightful rhyming book about the ever-present love of a parent for a child. And the illustrations have a soft, simple, old-fashioned feel to them, actually reminding me of Precious Moments figurines (anyone else?). **Publishers recommend for ages 3-7.
Love by Stacy McAnulty, ill. by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff– Admittedly, when I initially flipped through this one after getting it from the library, I thought I wouldn’t include it in this list… And then my 5.5-year-old “read” it in the car on the way home, and she took the messaging to heart, inspired to show people around her love in the many simple ways that McAnulty and Lew-Vriethoff highlight. Pay close attention to the illustrations here, because they depict the true message and heart of the book, which is likely why my 5.5-year-old got more out of her “read” than I did from my skim of the actual words. **Publishers recommend for ages 3 and up.
I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman– Tillman’s On the Night You Were Born was one of the first books we received as a gift when our oldest was born, and it was one of the first books my husband and I had both memorized cover to cover. My parents gave the girls I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love for Valentine’s Day in 2016, and it is just as delightful. Definitely check this out if you want a sweet story to read with your children this month (or any month, for that matter!). **Publishers recommend for ages 4-8, but you can definitely go younger.
Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson, ill. by Kevin O’Malley– This is another one that’s been around for a while. I first discovered Slugs in Love back when I was student teaching in 2nd grade, and I read it every year after that to my 3rd and 4th graders. It’s such a delightfully funny, yet completely sweet, love story! (And, it’s another one that’s not Valentine’s-specific, so fun for February but funny year-round). **Publishers recommend for ages 4-8, but my 9- and 10-year-old third- and fourth-graders loved it.
Valentine by Carol Carrick, ill. by Paddy Bouma– Though this story does take place on Valentine’s Day, it is about so much more. It’s about the love between 3 generations under one roof, and the tender care given to other living beings around. I borrowed Valentine from a friend upon her insistence that I include it on my list, but immediately bought my own after reading it… It’s that sweet. **Publishers recommend for ages 5-8.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, ill. by Paul Yalowitz– This has long been a favorite of mine! In previous years we have always gotten it from the library, but I finally bit the bullet and purchased it this year. Though the first major event occurs on Valentine’s Day, the rest of the story takes places over the course of a few months. The sweetest story of the impact of simple, small gestures on those around us, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is the perfect Valentine’s book to buy so that you can read it year-round. **Publishers recommend for ages 5-8, but we’ve been reading it in our house for years.
What are your favorite books to share with your little loved ones this time of year?