Valentine’s Day can get a bad rap among adults — it’s an annoying holiday if you’re single, and can come be too much pressure if you’re in a relationship — kids get to opt out of all of that and just enjoy the great things about the holiday: eating candy and telling people you love that they’re special to you. Special books that you read in preparation for the big day can make the loving spirit last even longer. There’s no shortage of Valentine’s Day books for both big kid and little kids to help them prepare for the holiday.
Depending on their age and temperament, kids can feel all kinds of different ways about Valentine’s Day, but Valentine’s Day books aren’t all just lovey-dovey. If your kid rolls their eyes at the mushy message of Valentine’s Day, they might like
A Crankenstein’s Valentine, Valensteins, and It’s Valentine’s Day. If they’re full of excitement and anticipation, One Good Night ‘Til Valentine’s Day might be perfect. There are also non-fiction books 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 will delight kids and their grown-ups alike. 1 A Valentine’s board book for the kid who loves construction vehicles
If you have a little one who can’t get enough of diggers and excavators, and who is a fan of the original
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book, this one might be too cute to pass up. Every truck finds a special Valentine’s note for them, but they don’t learn who wrote them all until the end. The liftable flaps add an extra bit of excitement for the 3-and-under set. 2 A cute book about how teachers get nervous too
This book is #6 in the popular
Jitters series, which tackles all the things that might make an elementary school kid anxious with humor and heart. In this book, it’s the teacher who’s nervous about planning a perfect Valentine’s Day party. This book is a great choice for the 5-8 year old range, and might get them hooked on the whole series. 3 An informative book all about the shortest month
Joining the books
Meet June and Meet January, this third installment of the Calendar Kids series will teach your young reader about Valentine’s Day, but also other aspects of February, like Black History Month and Groundhog Day. Engaging illustrations and a lovable main character make it a great Valentine’s Day book especially for early elementary kids ages 4-8. 4 An educational Valentine’s activity book for toddlers
This “I Spy” book is a great Valentine’s Day book for toddlers up through preschoolers, who are learning to match letters with sound. Each page has a puzzle where a young reader can try to figure out which objects start with each letter. They might have so much fun that they won’t realize that they’re learning too.
5 A sweet story about a long lost 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. 6 A goofy V-day 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. 7 A cute story for a kid who’s a little anxious about this whole Valentine’s Day 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. 8 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, a Valentine’s Day board book aimed at the kid for whom books are still for eating as much as reading. This simple, rhyming book is too cute to miss, and the illustrations are absolutely darling. 9 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 Valentine’s Day book for 10 year olds, or 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.
10 A book about nature’s least-lovely animals’ sweet and 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. 11 A history lesson about Valentine’s Day for curious kids
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. It’s a good Valentine’s Day book for 10 year olds, or maybe a little older or younger on either side.
12 A board book about the Impossible enormity of love in 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.
13 A story of overcoming frustration and 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. It’s a great Valentine’s Day book for kids or toddlers. 14 A non-fiction Valentine’s Day book about the day’s history
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.
15 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.” 16 A lovely board book for little ones excited about the holiday 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 beautiful. This is Valentine’s Day board book you shouldn’t miss if you have the right age kids. 17 A charming tale of a love letter
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. 18 A book about mischevious 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. 19 A bilingual book that combines learning
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. 20 A celebration of love between parents and 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. 21 A rhyming book about love in a two-mom family
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. 22 A silly story of Halloween monsters learning about Valentine’s Day
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. 23 A simple story of a parent’s unconditional love
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.” 24 A sttory about two bears hibernating 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. 25 A vibrantly illustrated story of a school’s Valentine’s Day 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.
No matter if you have a kid who is still reading board books or an older elementary school student who is reading on his or her own, there’s a Valentine’s Day book that’s sure to strike their fancy.
This article was originally published on
Jan. 22, 2022