Top 10 Kids' Books for Valentine's Day

Filed under: That's Entertainment, Books for Kids, Opinions

When choosing children's books for Valentine's Day, one general rule to follow: Avoid books that actually mention Valentine's Day in the title. That's where you're likely to get cutesy animals and sweet-but-generic text like, "Valentine's Day means hearts and roses. And little kisses on little noses." Here are 10 great kids' books that capture the spirit of the holiday in its many forms.


1. Woof: A Love Story by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Holly Berry (HarperCollins, 2009)

Good communication is needed for any true love connection. That's the lesson learned by the swooning dog who has fallen head-over-tail for a cat who can't tell "bow-wow" from "arf." Don't worry, though. In this absolutely adorable tale, as in any good romance, love finds a way.


2. Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer & Brooke Dyer (HarperCollins, 2009)

It's a concept that, in the hands of a less talented writer, could have ended up a big saccharine mess. On each page, love-related terms, like "cherish," "heartfelt," "requited," and "tenderness," are defined as they relate to baking and cookies. But the prolific Amy Krouse Rosenthal turns it into a clever and touching rumination on love.


3. Hug by Jez Albrough (Candlewick, 2001)

Even kids who are barely old enough to speak will understand little chimp Bobo's primal need for a warm, caring embrace. And with most pages having only one word ("hug"), toddlers can enjoy reading along.


4. A Letter for Amy by Ezra Jack Keats (Puffin, 1968)

Possibly the sweetest of Keats's Peter books (Peter being the imaginative boy most famous for tromping through a wintry urban landscape in The Snowy Day), A Letter for Amy captures that moment of a child's first crush with incredible tenderness. A true must-read.


5. Smitten by David Gordon (Atheneum, 2007)

A lost sock and misplaced mitten team up to find their missing partners, only to find love along the way. Pixar veteran Gordon packs a whole lot of character development into 40 picture-book pages, and really knows how to land that feel-good ending.


6. Junie B. Jones and the Mushy, Gushy Valentime by Barbara Park (Random House, 1999)

This is an exception to the rule I put forward in the introduction, because the title is actually the mispronounced "Valentime." And Junie B. is about the most unsentimental kindergartner in children's literature. Little cynics rejoice.


7. My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall (Greenwillow, 2009)

That most prominent of all Valentine's Day symbols, the heart, is used in incredibly creative fashions by award-winning graphic designer Hall. If you didn't think it was possible to construct penguins, bulls, seals, and moose entirely from heart shapes, think again.


8. Pierre in Love by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Petra Mathers (Orchard, 2007)

Through text that feels ripped from French noir (though appropriate for kids) we get the story of a hero who can't muster up the courage to speak to the girl he loves, and instead tries to win her over by leaving Boo Radley-style gifts on her doorstep. One of the more original picture-book romances in years.


9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1964)

Few books have ever captured the heart-wrenching sacrifice of parental love better than this classic. Yes, you'll have to explain the allegory to younger kids, but maybe after you do, they'll appreciate you a little bit more.


10. Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora (Knopf, 2010)

Teens and tweens (basically, kids old enough to understand dating as more than an abstract concept) will find much to relate to in this very real-feeling collection of verse. The adult Mora does an amazing job of channeling her inner teen.

Related: Top 10 Love Songs to Sing to Kids


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