February 14th is almost upon us and while that day is just another date to some, a birthday to many people, and International Book Giving Day to others – most people know the day as Valentine’s Day. Last year I struggled to make a list of themed books as I just never really get into this particular holiday, but there really are a lot of lovely books that are love-themed, heart-themed or especially specific to the day. So, I have pulled a few of my new favorites and we’ve been reading them constantly this week in great enjoyment. Reading is a good cause anytime and love is worth being celebrated, so why not have some love-themed books on the agenda for the week! Allow me to help you find some great ones. Here are 10 children’s picture books for Valentine’s Day to help you get in the loving mood.
1. Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Valentine Trick by Jan Wahl, illustrations by Erik Blegvad, 1977.
This is a sweet, yet rather long, wintery tale about a little fieldmouse who couldn’t stand the constant bickering of his neighbors anymore. “He didn’t want anyone to hate.” The small mouse comes up with a surprisingly clever plan to bring everyone together for a night of good-heartedness and friendship on Valentine’s Day. Also, I love the detailed ink illustrations by Erik Blegvad who sadly passed away just two days ago.
2. Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon, 2013.
This darling little penguin has captured the heart of my toddler this week. When he discovers a lost mitten, Penguin sets out to find its owner and ends up knitting his way through a blizzard and into a lovebird surprise. Salina Yoon’s characters are just so adorable and I love her bold color palette. This little penguin is in several adventures in her sweet books and more to come too!
3. Snowy Valentine by David Petersen, 2011.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book and its tender love story. Jasper Bunny sets out on a snowy Valentine’s Day to find the perfect gift for his darling wife Lilly. Disappointed and frustrated again and again, he barely escapes the clutches of a hungry fox only to discover he created the best gift for his dear with his effort and love. A story made for his own wife, David Petersen’s tale is charming, eventful and endearing for little and big ones alike.
4. The Great Valentine’s Day Balloon Race by Adrienne Adams, 1980.
I’m starting to believe that no holiday is complete without an Adrienne Adams Abbott rabbit family creation. I love her illustrations so much and the simplicity of the stories always win me over. In this tale, Orson bunny discovers the competition of a balloon race on Valentine’s Day and determines to win it despite his duties to get going on the family’s Easter egg paintings. Thanks to his lady-friend, Bonnie, their balloon actually has a chance and the race is indeed on against all the hipster-stylish bunnies around!
5. The Best Valentine In the World by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Lilian Obligado, 1982.
This book cracks me up so much! Ferdinand is a very confident and creative fox who begins working on a special Valentine for Florette in November. He is sure she’ll forget him or at least have a less-than-amazing Valentine in return. Unfortunately, when it looks like she did forget, he is furious and storms away only to regret the action later. Perhaps my all-time favorite V’day lines:
“It’s the best valentine in the world,” said Ferdinand, “and I feel stupid.”
“Well, I feel forgetful,” said Florette, “so let’s call it even.”
And I’m very sad to see some reviewers dislike the “outdated” illustrations which are so incredibly great! A green and purple limited color palette Valentine’s Day with adorable pencil rendered characters are perfect in my book.
6. Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell, 2007.
While this book is not Valentine themed, it is all about hugs so I deem it perfect for the holiday. And who doesn’t love a Patrick McDonnell creation! Jules the kitten is intensely filled with love and sets out to make the world better by giving all of it a hug. It is a simple, sweet story that leans a little too heavily on the environmental soapbox for me, but still makes me smile in the end. Hug time everyone!
7. Olive and the Big Secret by Tor Freeman, 2012.
Another non-V’day book, but awesome nonetheless. There’s a secret that Molly tells Olive and Olive tries her best to keep it, but fails miserably and pays the friendship consequences. Hilarious text and illustration style that work marvelously together and end in a perfect secret-keeping way. Only the keen observers will get to know the secret in this gem too!
8. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores by Barbara Samuels, 2006.
There’s something so funny and charming about this sister story that I just had to share it. Dolores is the annoying little sister who constantly gets into big sister Faye’s things. Right before Valentine’s Day, Dolores uncovers the best thing of all in Faye’s room, almost breaks it, loses it, replaces it and ends up with a surprise of her own. Kids will love sidekick Duncan the cat in this one and be quite enthralled with the antics of Dolores as she tries to figure a way out of her dilemma.
9. Jonathan & Martha by Petr Horáček, 2012.
Another book just plain about love. Two worms accidentally encounter each other at the center of a pear, fight, and get tangled. As they cope with their new lives actually attached to each other, they discover something really worth fighting over: love. Simple, humorous, and surprising – this story will win your heart.
10. I Love You When… by John Edward Hasse, illustrated by Lilian Obligado, 2001.
I confess I am ending on the sappiest of picture books, but it just fits. Very much in the vain of every parent speaking sweet things to their little ones, I am delighted by this one every read.
“I love you when you’re sick
and when you’re feeling better.
And when I’m far away,
I say, ‘I love you’ in a letter!”
This is the holiday treat my daughter will be receiving and I look forward to laughing over the fun illustrations (also by Lilian Obligado!) and cuddling through to the end.
Wishing you a very lovely Valentine’s Day and hoping you find a new book to love alone or with someone special too!