Valentine's Day

These Valentine's Day books for children are a must for your bookshelf in February.
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21 Valentine’s Day Books to Help You Celebrate Love

Because even the littlest of kids understand that love comes in all forms.

In late January and early February, many bookstores start putting together their red-and-pink Valentine’s Day displays. There’s no shortage of Valentine’s Day picture books for kids where a familiar character (Elmo, Curious George, Peppa Pig) celebrates the holiday, usually by sharing cards and eating candy hearts. There’s nothing wrong with those Valentine’s Day books for kids — but these below picks are a little further off the beaten track and will hopefully breathe some fresh life into your Valentine’s Day picture book selection.

The following Valentine’s Day books for kids capture the range of feelings kids may have about Valentine’s Day, from “Yuck! Mushy Stuff!” (A Crankenstein’s Valentine, Valensteins, and It’s Valentine’s Day, Jack Prelutsky’s book of Valentine’s poems) to excitement and anticipation of what the day will bring (One Good Night ‘Til Valentine’s Day). There’s two non-fiction picks that might teach kids (and their grown-ups) about how Valentine’s Day came to be (Valentine’s Day and The Legend of the Valentine), and some books that aren’t exactly about the day itself but are definitely about the power of love (Love Monster, Slugs in Love, The Love Letter, Plenty of Hugs, The I Love You Book).

Two bilingual books (Mi Amor Por Ti/My Love for You and Valentine is a Shape/Valentin es una Figura) are great picks for kids who speak both English and Spanish, and help round out this list. No matter what kind of vibe you’re looking for, these Valentine’s Day books for children will delight kids and grown-ups alike, even for those who aren’t in a very lovey-dovey mood this year.

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1

A Sweet Story About A Long Quest For Love

This sweet book’s message resonates all year round. Love Monster is the first of a series that recently became the basis for an HBO Max show. But before all that, there was this simple book about a monster, who no one loves because of his funny looks. He sets off to try to find someone who he can love and who will love him in return, despite his strange appearance. Just when he’s about to give up hope, he finds love in an unexpected place. The dedication in the back also can’t help but make you smile: “For the monsters who’ve found me — and one slightly hairy one in particular.” A good pick for 3 to 6-year-old kids.

2

A Goofy Story For Kids Who Think Kisses Are Yucky

Froggy, a delightful agent of chaos who never learns any lessons, is the subject of over 30 books. This one, Froggy’s First Kiss, was published in 1999, and is a leeeettle bit dated — Frogilina should have asked for permission before giving Froggy a “big, juicy kiss.” But it’s a cute story for early to middle elementary school kids dealing with first crushes and all the embarrassing feelings that come with them. At the end, Froggy decides that his most special valentine card should go to — who else — his mom.

3

A Cute Story For A Kid Who’s A Little Anxious About this Whole Valentine’s Thing

Nervous mouse Mirabel in Mirabel’s Missing Valentines might resonate with a kid who is anxious about a change in routine in her school day. While she’s traveling to school, Mirabel’s Valentine cards fall out of her bag one by one — which leads to her spreading cheer and joy to everyone in her community. Its rhymes, simple language and cute pictures make it great for the 3-7 year old age group.

4

An Adorable Board Book For Younger Kids

Big-eyed baby and her friendly cat are sure to delight younger readers on their first or second Valentine’s Day in My Baby Loves Valentine’s Day, when books are still for eating as much as reading. This simple, rhyming book is too cute to miss, and the illustrations are absolutely darling.

5

A Cranky Book for Kids Who Don’t Like All This Mushy Stuff

Crankstein grumbles his way through life, so it’s no surprise that he is NOT a fan of Valentine’s Day. His feelings are best summed up by his poem: “Roses are red / Violets are blue / Valentine’s Day stinks / Seriously, PU.” It’s a great pick for the early-mid elementary school curmudgeon in your life who wants it to be known that they’re too cool for this Valentine’s nonsense.

6

Nature’s Least-Lovely Animals Go On A Sweet & Funny Quest For Love

Kids ages 4 to 8 will get a kick out of Slugs in Love, which imagines how slugs might act if they fell in love: they’d admire one another’s slime trails, for one. The illustrations and little love poems that are sprinkled throughout succeed in making these slugs downright adorable, and kids will belly laugh at all of the sweetness.

7

A History Lesson For Kids Who Are Curious

This is a serious book: it tackles the civil rights movement, the historical persecution of Christians (including St. Valentine), and the experience of having an incarcerated parent. 9-year-old Marcus lives with his grandmother in the 1960s and is navigating the experience of being the only Black student at an all-white school during Valentine’s Day. The book tells the story of how people throughout time have risen above, from 200 A.D. to the 1960s.

8

A Board Book about the Impossible Enormity of Love, in both Spanish and English

This simple board book has it all: counting, animals, words in both English and Spanish, and a beautiful message. The love the parent has for a child is “mas grande que 1 oso” (bigger than one bear) and “mas alto que 2 jirafas” (taller than 2 giraffes) — all the way up to 10. Perfect for the 1 to 3-year-old set who is just learning about their numbers and animals and ready to learn some simple phrases in another language.

9

A Story Of Overcoming Frustration & Preparing For The Holiday

Brandi Dougherty has many cute “littlest” books for every holiday, and this one, The Littlest Valentine, is perfect for a youngest kid who feels left behind. Emma (whose last name is Valentine) is trying to help her family get ready for the holiday, but can’t blow up balloons, cuts her cards wrong, and can’t figure out how she can help. But when she finds a puppy, she learns that she has something to contribute after all.

10

A Non-Fiction Valentine’s Day Book

This is a straightforward non-fiction book aimed at middle-late elementary school readers, and is a great choice for kids who like to know facts and share their knowledge. It includes 10 short (one to two-page) chapters and a glossary, and covers topics like “The First Paper Valentines” and “How Valentine’s Day Got Its Name.” Adults who find themselves a little fuzzy on where all the chocolate and hearts came from might just learn something, too.

11

A Book Of Poems For Kids Who Like To Laugh

These 14 poems in It’s Valentine’s Day are just the right level for a kid who is recently reading on his or her own. The tone is captured by the end of the poem “Oh no!” about a kid who gets a kiss: “that’s a kiss I must erase / Good bye! / I’m off to wash my face.”

12

A Lovely Board Book For Little Ones Excited About The Holiday

This brand-new book, One Good Night ‘til Valentine’s Day, is perfect for the 0 to 3-year-old set to learn about this new holiday and what to expect. Even big siblings will love flipping through the book with little ones, and the diverse characters and bright, popping images are just beautiful.

13

Animals Discover The Joy Of A Love Letter In This Charming Tale

A hedgehog, a squirrel, a bunny, and a mouse all learn about the beautiful power of a love letter to lift spirits and spread happiness in this lovely tale about friendship titled The Love Letter. Written for children ages 3 to 6 years old, it’s a very sweet story to talk about what it means to make friends and to be a friend.

14

A Book About A Mischievous Porcupine

When a sneaky porcupine decides to stick everyone with his quills, he turns himself into a cupid of the forest in Porcupine Cupid. The genderqueer author described it as a “queer inclusive” Valentine’s day story, a nice change from the heteronormative narrative that dominates many Valentine’s books. This fun and cute book is a great choice for 4 to 8-year-olds.

15

A Bilingual Book That Combines Learning

This book, Valentine is a Shape/Valentin es una Figura, is perfect for 3 to 7-year-olds who will be so engaged by the story that they won’t even notice that they’re both learning a little math, and a little of a different language. Valentine, a heart, celebrates his birthday with all his shape friends in this super cute and educational book.

16

A Celebration Of Love Between Parents & Their Children

Beautiful watercolor paintings bring rabbits, puffins, cougars, otters, and more animals to life in this celebration of love throughout the animal kingdom in If You Were My Valentine. The simple text makes this a great pick for ages 2 to 5, and the sweet story of a bond between parents and their children will make it a favorite for the whole family.

17

A Rhyming Book About Love In A Two-Mom Family

This book, Plenty of Hugs, isn’t explicitly Valentine’s themed, but you can’t help but feel the warm power of love after reading this poem about two moms going through a day of adventures with their toddler. The book uses language in fun, unexpected ways: “There’s a buzz for each bug / and a breeze for each tree / and plenty of hugs for you and for me.” Children ages 3 to 6 in any family structure will enjoy this lovely book.

18

A Silly Story Of Halloween Monsters Learning About The Holiday

The members of Ethan Long’s “fright club” series gather together to learn about Valentine’s Day in Valensteins. This is a great pick for the early elementary set, for whom the word “butt” and the concept of a “kiss on the lips” are a punchline in and of themselves.

19

A Simple Story Of A Parent’s Unconditional Love

This book, The I Love You Book, comes in both hardcover and board book form, and its simple, bright illustrations and language make it a great choice for the 0 to 3-year-old set. Each page begins with the phrase “I love you when...” Some of them are funny: “I love you when you are stinky” and “I love you when you hide my keys.” It ends with the sweet message: “Most of all, I love you just the way you are.”

20

Two Bears Decide To Stop Sleeping Through Valentine’s Day

Two bears always miss Valentine’s Day because they’re hibernating, but decide to wake up early one year and share the special day together in The Valentine Bears. After trading some gifts and some surprises, they go back to sleep. The cute story also teaches kids about bear’s hibernation patterns and the order of the months. This is such a sweet story with gorgeous Jan Brett illustrations, perfect for kids ages 4 to 8.

21

A Vibrantly Illustrated Story Of A School Celebration

Any kid whose high hopes for a holiday were dashed will identify with Ruby, the spunky heroine of this book, Rhyme Time Valentine, who can’t stop herself from rhyming. She loses all her Valentines on the way to school and thinks the day is ruined, but, of course, there’s a happy ending. This is a perfect choice for early elementary school kids.