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; this list of gratitude books to read for Thanksgiving; or this list of awesome 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, but we read mostly love stories with wonderful year-round lessons.
So, below, you’ll find a list of our favorite love-themed books to read in February (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.
Our Favorite Valentine’s Day and Love Books
(You can click on the links below to find these books via my Amazon Affiliate links, or simply bookmark this for library requests or your next library trip!)
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. Ages 0-3.
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall — A 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.” Ages 0-5, but this could be a hit with older children as inspiration for heart-shaped art.
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett — Beatifully illustrated and gently written, Smith and Flett have done an amazing job helping children find their commonalities with other children from different cultures, as their descriptions of what makes the child’s heart full with happiness are pretty universal. This can be found in either Engligh, or as bilingual book, written in both English and Cree. Ages 0-5.
Where is Baby’s Valentine? by Karen Katz — When our girls were little, they LOVED Karen Katz’s lift-the-flap books. We had one for every holiday, as well as many of her non-holiday-themed books, too. They’re well-made and sturdy, perfect for little hands to manipulate, and they’re short enough to keep a babies’ and young toddlers’ attention. This Valentine’s version is no exception! Ages 1-4.
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! 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.
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. 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, illustrated 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. 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! 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! 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. Ages 2-6.
Where Happiness Lives by Barry Timms, illustrated by Greg Abbott — A new addition to our library, the girls have been reading this one so much since we received it at Christmas that I’ve hardly had my hands on it (and therefore almost left it off of this list, because it never stayed in my “logical” place for it to be!). A tale of three mice, all trying to find the key to true happiness, complete with cut-outs and lift-the-flap features. The message of being happy wherever your home is, because you have what you need and find love there, will resonate for many adults, too, in this age of “keeping up with the Joneses” and social media pressure. Ages 3 and up.
A Hug is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated 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. Ages 3-6.
Catching Kisses by Amy Gibson, illustrated by Maria Van Lieshout — If you’re a parent or work with small children, you undoubtedly know how much small children love to blow kisses. It’s a first party trick for many of them! Gibson has turned a simple act into an amazing, message-carrying adventure of blown kisses, and children and adults alike are bound to love it! Ages 3-6.
Heartprints by P. K. Hallinan — From a young age, we should start to help children know how their choices and behaviors affect, either positively or negatively, the lives of those around them. Heartprints is a perfect first book to explore our behaviors and their effects on others. Ages 3-6, but the board book version is great for younger listeners, too.
That’s Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated 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?). Ages 3-7.
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel — A powerful reminder of being grateful for all that our loved ones, whether friends or family, do for us. I love these unique illustrations, as well as the fact that it shows was that families love each other as well as friends love each other. Available in English or as a bilingual (Cree and English) book. Ages 3-7.
Love by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated 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. 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!). Ages 4-8, but you can definitely go younger.
The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond — One of the more Valentine-y books on this list, I love the thought and care that Cornelia Augusta puts into creating unique, special Valentines for the friends that she loves, just right for every individual, in order to show them how much she loves them. Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day should be about? Expressing our unique love for the people in our lives, reflecting to them how they’ve impacted us in their own special ways? Ages 4-8.
All of Us by Carin Berger — When I first read this book with my daughers, after a few pages the younger one said, “Is this book all about scary things?” And no, no it’s not, not at all! It’s an incredible celebration of community, support, comfort, and love. It’s incredibly diverse, beautifully illustrated, and simply written, bound to leave an impact on its audience. Ages 4-8.
Love, Z by Jessie Sima — What will happen when a robot finds a message in a bottle? All it can read are the words “Love, Beatrice,” but neither Z nor the rest of the robots know what the word love means. So Z sets out on an adventure to find Beatrice, sure that she can explain it to him, only to realize he knew what love was all along. Sweet, tender, but not too sappy, this one is sure to be a hit with everyone in your family! Ages 4-8.
Sealed With a Kiss by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Olivier Tallec — Do you prefer silly love stories over tender ones? If so, this book is for you! Meet Seal, the newest animal at the zoo (who also manages to speak with an amazing French accent). She has a… unusual… way of trying to make friends with the other animals at the zoo. It isn’t until Sparrow talks some sense into everyone that real friendships are formed. If you wanted a takeaway here, you could easily use this to start conversations about personal space, reading other people’s faces and body language, and appropriate ways to make friends! Ages 4-8.
I Love You More Than… by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans — Perfect for anyone who has to spend Valentine’s Day away from loved ones, or for loved ones who spend significant time away from each other throughout the year, I Love You More Than… is a sweet father-son love story. Also, given how much I know children like to out-do their siblings or their parents in expressing love (“I love you this much!” “No, I love YOU THIS much!”), this is likely perfect for any parent-child relationship, regardless of if you’re spending time apart or not! Ages 4-8.
Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson, illustrated 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). Ages 4-8, but my 9- and 10-year-old third- and fourth-graders loved it.
Love by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Loren Long — One of the most beautifully illustrated books on this list, Love is an ode to the acts of love that we might experience by living our everyday lives, from the smallest acts to the biggest. de la Peña writes about many diverse experiences, and Long matches with incredibly diverse characters on each page, so just about anyone will be able to relate to the expressions of love depicted here. Ages 4-8.
Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato — Worm and Worm fall in love and want to get married, but their friends insist that they do everything “right” for their wedding. So, from a “best beetle” to the wedding rings to the cake, their friends help them plan for the perfect wedding… Until it comes time to decide who is going to wear the wedding dress and who will wear the tux. A celebration of love of all kinds, this simple story reminds us all of what’s truly important when it comes to love. Ages 4-8.
My Heart by Corinna Luyken — I would be remiss to create a love booklist and not include a book that addresses self-love and self-acceptance. Luykin neatly connects feelings and emotions to concepts easy for children to grasp, such as slides or open windows. “My heart is a shadow / a light, and a guide. / Closed or open… / I get to decide.” Be sure to spend time with these illustrations, with hearts hidden on every page! You can read my full review here. Ages 4-8.
The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins — There are lots of Valentine’s and love books about hedgehogs, but this one is likely my favorite. This simple story speaks volumes to the impact that kind gestures can have on our hearts, our behaviors, and our outlooks on life. It might even inspire your children to complete random acts of kindness, in hopes that they can make people feel as loved as the characters in this book! Ages 4-8.
How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal — Do you know the words to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43″? Adams has very cleverly adapted Browning’s poem to make it more accessible to children, and it works wonderfully! Though the last few illustrations do show parent-child love, Neal has illustrated most of the book illuminating love between friends, which makes this book extra special for children. Ages 4-8, but could make a neat literary analysis for older children comparing it to the original.
What is Given from the Heart by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by April Harrison — What can you give someone in need when you hardly have more yourself? How do you find generosity in your heart when you feel you have nothing to give? You stop to think about how you would feel if you lost the little you did have in a fire, and that empathy allows you to dig deep within yourself to come up with a perfect gift. Criers beware– you might want tissues nearby for this one! Ages 4-8.
Valentine by Carol Carrick, illustrated 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. Ages 5-8, but absolutely appropriate for younger ears, too.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated 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. Ages 5-8, but we’ve been reading it in our house for years.
I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds — The fourth book in Verde’s and Reynolds’s “I Am…” series, I think this one is my favorite. Verde opens with “When I see someone going through a storm… I ask myself, ‘What can I do to help let the light back in?'” The rest of the book is an ode to compassion, empathy, tenderness, and love, reminding us all of what we can do when those dark clouds roll in, covering not only others but also ourselves. Ages 5-11.
What are your favorite books to share with your little loved ones this time of year?
If you liked this, you might also like our list of 50+ Books to Help Build Compassion and Empathy!