When I was growing up, my father bought my sister and me a heart-shaped box of chocolates every Valentine’s Day. Mine was gobbled up within 36 hours. My sister, who consumed roughly half a chocolate a week, could make her box last until the next Valentine’s Day (provided I didn’t find her hiding place).
Cut flowers are better for my hips than chocolates, but they don’t last long, either. Books, on the other hand! We keep books forever. A book, as they say, is a gift you can open again and again.
Which is exactly what we do.
All to say, if you’re looking for something longer lasting (and less calorie-dense) than candy to give your kids for Valentine’s Day, look no further. Any or all of the 12 picture books listed below will make a great addition to your home library. And your children will treasure both the books themselves and the memories you make reading them together. Again. And again. And again.
12 Picture Books for Valentine’s Day:
Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney
My children love the Llama Llama books (which the Spanish speakers among us prefer to pronounce “Yama Yama”).
Although most of my kids have outgrown board books at this point, when I spotted Llama Llama I Love You on Amazon recently, I couldn’t resist getting a copy for our home library.
I have 11 (soon to be twelve – this month!) grandchildren so far. And most of them visit regularly enough that our board books still see a lot of use. That means a whole new generation of Flanders kids to be entertained with Baby Llama’s sweet adventures.
I Love You: A Rebus Poem by Jean Marzollo
This is one of the first books my kids ever learned to “read.” Long before they were sounding out vowels and learning diagraphs, they were flying through this book. Marzollo’s I Love You uses catchy rhymes and cute picture prompts that clue kids in to which line comes next.
We’ve had extremely early readers, lamentably late readers, and everything in between. But this book puts them all on equal footing, and gives the late bloomers a much needed sense of accomplishment. For that reason, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
I Spy Little Hearts by Jean Marzollo
The I Spy series is another place where author Jean Marzollo’s sophisticated simplicity shines. Especially amid the exquisitely detailed photographs of Walter Wick. I think we own every book they’ve ever collaborated on.
My children love hunting the handful of items Marzollo mentions in her poems in the uniformly varied but aesthetically pleasing photos spread across every page. I Spy Little Hearts features stripped down verses and cropped-in close ups, making it a perfect introduction to the series for toddlers.
I Love You as Much by Laura Krauss Melmed
Although the subject matter makes I Love You as Much a fitting addition to this list of picture books for Valentine’s, this sweet bedtime story is one you and your little ones will enjoy all year long.
Have you ever read it? If not, you’re missing out.
Henri Sorenson’s gorgeous illustrations give us to peek into a dozen different wildlife habitats, while Melmed’s enchanting text imagines how the animal mothers might assure their offspring of their love. This is a classic that belongs in every home library.
Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz
Our little ones love lifting the flaps in Where is Baby’s Valentine. And it is easy to understand why.
Karen Katz’s bright and glittery illustrations coax kids to interact with the story. We have a whole set of her books. Because my grandchildren enjoy peeking under those sturdy little flaps every bit as much as their parents did.
In this edition, baby needs help finding her special valentine. She looks everywhere before she finally locates it.
Can you help her find it faster?
Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
That tiny caterpillar with the enormous appetite takes center stage again in Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by listing a fruit basket full of reasons someone special makes the world a better place: “You are the cherry on my cake; you make the sun shine brighter; you make my heart flutter.” So it should come as no surprise that this title is a #1 New York Times bestseller.
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish
Well, Amelia Bedelia, that beloved character of my childhood, is no kleptomaniac. But she does tend to favor the literal meaning of words. I was reminded of her recently while reading this list of 25 words that are their own opposites. With words like that floating around in the English language, is it any wonder Amelia gets confused?
Amelia Bedelia’s Valentine was our first taste of the younger Amelia Bedelia books popularized by Herman Parish, the nephew of Amelia’s creator Peggy Parish. We loved it, and are glad to see the legacy continue.
Valentines: A Read-and-Do Book by Judith Moffatt
We’ve had this title on our shelf for years. It’s loaded with ideas for creating your own original valentines, all told in rhymed verse.
I’m afraid Read-and-Do Valentines may be out of print now. But I spotted several 10-cent copies still available last time I looked on Amazon. If you’re blessed with craft-loving little ones, you may want to invest in a copy while you can still find one.
You won’t find any step-by-step instructions for particular projects inside. Just characters who fold paper to cut out symmetrical hearts, use hole punchers to create paper lace, and add in lots of glue and glitter to make one-of-a kind valentines for their friends and family.
Just the sort of inspiration artsy kids are sure to appreciate.
Guess How much I Love You? by Sam McBratney
Here’s another bedtime classic that makes a good read, not only at Valentine’s, but all year long. Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare try to outdo one another in expressing the height and depth and length and width of their love for one another.
The hardbound picture book has been a part of our home library for 30 years now. But I eventually bought the board book version, as well, to make it easier for my babies to turn the pages of this favorite tale without tearing them. Can you Guess How Much I Love You? All the way to the moon — and back!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
In this thoughtful volume, Mouse (of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fame) celebrates Valentine’s Day by recounting all the things he loves most about each of his friends.
Our family spent a week of vacation recently doing a similar thing for each family member over dinner every night. Hearing my children articulate the qualities they most love and appreciate for each of their siblings in this way, one by one, was the highlight of our trip in my mind. I took notes so I’d be able to set all the comments for each child down in a letter to paste in their scrapbooks.
This activity would be a great way to extend the memory-making after reading Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse. Why not give it a try when you gather with your little ones around the table tonight?
Happy Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schulz
He wants to give a special card to the Little Red-Haired girl, but keeps missing her. He feels left out when Snoopy invites all his friends to a Valentine party, but doesn’t include him. He feels used when his dog expects him to purchase all the snacks needed for the party he wasn’t invited to attend.
Charlie goes to Lucy for advice, who encourages him to be bolder about expressing his feelings. He tries to follow her prescription and is pleasantly surprised by how everything plays out in the end.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown is a perfect pick for school-aged children who are trying to gain proficiency in reading while possibly struggling with some tangled emotions of their own.
Arthur’s Great Big Valentine by Lillian Hoban
After Arthur has a falling out with his friend, Norman, his attitude is soured toward Valentine’s Day and everything associated with it. His sister and her friend try to help him sort things out, but he remains glum. But then Norman’s brother shares a secret that gives Arthur a glimmer of hope. He and his best friend make up in the end, and everything is rosy once again.
Arthur’s Great Big Valentine provides lots of good talking points for discussions with your kids: Why was Arthur being mean to his little sister? Were the things he said about younger siblings true? Do you agree with his perspective? Why or why not?
What advice does the Bible give us for dealing with conflict? Have you ever had a falling out with a friend? Did it affect the way you treated your family members? What can you do differently next time?
Extend the Fun
Looking for more fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children? Then check out my Ultimate List of Valentine Day Printables.
Did we miss your favorite Valentine-themed picture book? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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