Our seasonal bookshelf is a favorite in our house and when the Valentine’s Day books come out, the kids get really excited. Maybe it’s because February is an especially dark and dreary month in Ohio, but they love curling up with these books. I’ve said it again, but kids don’t really outgrow seasonal books because of the nostalgia that’s connected to them since they only come out once a year. Even kids who are too old for board books will flip through one and say, “Awe. I remember this one.”
If you’re thinking about collecting seasonal books, start slowly. There’s no need to have a ton of books right away. Add to your collection each year and maybe when you’re kids are grown, you can divvy them out for them to share with their kids or be the extra-cool grandparent who has books for every season at your house. When it comes to Valentine’s books, we have some definite favorites and I know you'll find the perfect book or two for the little ones in your life.
My Family’s Favorites:
The Night Before Valentine’s Day by Natasha Wing (2000)
Ask any of my kids which is their favorite book for Valentine’s Day and this will be the winner. We love this entire series. (I recommend the Thanksgiving one in November). It follows the same meter and style of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, but in this case the children are making valentines for their friends. They have a valentine party that feels just like the ones I had in the 80’s (which is probably why I love it so much). The class and the teacher get little valentine surprises at the end of the book. It’s perfection.
Big Hugs Little Hugs by Felicia Bond (2012).
Maybe you recognize this author. She’s the illustrator for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and all the other Mouse, Moose, and Dog books that followed -such a fun series. We’ve always loved this sweet book about how animals all have their own way of giving hugs. But it also teaches opposites and shows little ones different animal habitats. I love books with a sweet story and teach kids lessons without their even noticing. This book was originally paperback, but also comes in a board book so it’s perfect for any young kids.
The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond (2006).
You might be seeing a pattern, but this book is wonderful. The main character, Cornelia Augusta, notices hearts falling from the sky. She uses them to make valentines for her animal friends. It’s the perfect mix of creativity and thoughtfulness.
The Biggest Valentine Ever by Steven Kroll, 2005.
Maybe you've read The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever. Well, Clayton and Desmund are at it again. The get competitive while making a valentine for their teacher, but ultimately learn they can make a much better one when they work together.
A Charlie Brown Valentine by Charles M. Schulz and adapted by Natalie Shaw (2016).
In my family, we love anything from the Peanuts gang. These adaptations have the same stories as the original cartoons, but are a little shorter. As someone who doesn’t want bedtime to last forever, I appreciate that. I love these inexpensive paperback books for all holidays.
Love Is by Diane Adams and illustrated by Claire Keane (2017).
I’ve said it before, but I believe the best art in the world is in the pages of picture books. This one is no exception. The pictures are sort of cartoony and feel like they move on the page. While this is not technically a Valentine’s Day book, it is about the love one girl shares with her pet duckling.
How to Help Cupid by Sue Fliess (2022)
This is a new book from a series called Magical Creatures and Crafts (which includes titles like: How to Trick an Elf, How to Find a Unicorn, and How to Meet a Mermaid) These books have delightful illustrations and even guides the children to be creative just like the kids in the story who are making valentines to assist cupid.
I Love You Bigger Than the Sky by Michelle Medlock Adams (2020)
Another book about love for this Valentine’s season, it shows little ones what love is from the perspective of loving animal parents. This beautiful board book feels like a hug and is perfect for a storytime snuggle up.
Little Blue Truck’s Valentine by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry (2020)
I love this entire series. I still remember impulse buying the original Little Blue Truck book while waiting in line at Barnes and Noble. That truck drove his way right into my heart and has been there ever since. I can’t say no when a new one comes out. If you’re not familiar with this series, get it now. If you are, this is a good addition to your collection.
Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney (2014).
It was a very sad day in my house when we learned that Anna Dewdneay had passed away because when you invite an author into your home, their books become a part of the family. We always felt this way about our lovable sometimes over-emotional Llama Llama. This book technically fits into my “familiar characters” section below too, but it is a board book and I know some of my readers are strictly in the board book stage, so I included it here. Llama Llama shows his friends and family members he loves them by giving away hearts.
You may be tempted to pass on these books. They’re probably not the award-winning classic stories you would pick, but they are the books your kids will pick. Don't underestimate the fact that they feature characters your kids already know and love. Examples of these books are: Splat the Cat Funny Valentine, Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse (If you Give a Mouse a Cookie), No Valentines for Katie (Katie Woo), Pout-Pout Fish: Special Valentine, and Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool. You may be thinking, “Why invest in books they may not be into by next year?" Will these have the staying power of other books?” And the answer is, probably. Why? Because they only appear once a year. So, when you bring the books, your kids will say, “Awe! I loved Pete the Cat,” or “Remember the Pout-Pout Fish?” So, if you see a character your kids love on the cover of a Valentine’s book, don’t think, “Well, they’re really milking this for all it’s worth.” Instead think, “My kid is going to love this book.” Because they probably will.
Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park (2001)
Junie was like a family member for a few years there. She’s hilarious and more than a little silly. In this book, Junie gets a mushy valentine from a secret admirer and must figure out who sent it.
Geronimo Stilton Valentine’s Day Disaster by Geronimo Stilton (2006)
My son and I always loved reading these books together. They were the perfect mix of humor and adventure. For a new chapter book reader, you can’t beat that. Also, there are still plenty of illustrations in this series, so kids get plenty of visuals and the pages seem to go a little quicker. In this book, Geromino wakes up on February 14 and is surprised to find no valentines in his mailbox! What could be the cause of this Valentine disaster.
My Weird School Special: Oh Valentine! We’ve Lost our Minds by Dan Gutman (2014)
This is another favorite series and it’s especially good when my husband reads it because he does all the voices. This one is so funny. Like almost wet your pants funny. Once, my son was talking about how much he loved Dan Gutman books and I said, “You should tell him.” We found his email address on his website and wrote him a quick note. And within a week, he responded with a funny, and encouraging email. That was really cool. It’s not the reason I’m recommending his books, but I can do it with a smile because of that email.
Valentine's Day is so much fun for kids and there's no better way to celebrate than with books. I hope you find a few on this list for the littles in your life.
Happy Valentine's Day!