Reading new children's books for Valentine's Day is always a lot of fun for me, especially as my own child is aging into older territory that I'm not even going to think about yet. Every year I discover fresh stories of love, kindness, laughter, and hugs, to add to my favorites from years past.
This year has more stand-out board books than usual, along with a couple of wonderful picture books celebrating friendship--something I really appreciate during a holiday that so often feels hijacked by romantic love. Love and laughter are the perfect match for me, and this winning combination shows up below in a story about a cave boy's first crush, and in a hilariously quirky book by Cece Bell featuring a donkey, a yam, and...homonyms. Trust me, it's funny.
Here are some of the books I set aside as having something special this Valentine's Day. And even though it isn't brand new, I can't resist the chance to remind readers about Love, Z -- truly one of my favorite picture books that is incredibly wise when it comes to the meaning of love.
Happy Heart by Hannah Eliot
A bright little die-cut board book with a line of text on each page celebrating love. Raised glitter accents and a variety of shapes provide a delightful tactile experience for babies. Perfect for Valentine's Day or any day.
Love from the Crayons by Drew Daywalt
The crayons are back in a new book of quirky humor perfect for the holiday. A small hardcover that makes a sweet gift and a fun read aloud, Daywalt's crayons point out all the colors that love can be, from the purple of imagination to the white of love that is sometimes hard to see. At the end of the day, love is all the colors of the rainbow and then some.
Caveboy Crush by Beth Ferry
A clever, funny, take on love at first sight from an author who has produced a number of my favorite picture books in recent years. When young Neander spots the girl of his dreams he moons around a bit before deciding to impress her with gifts; gifts Neander enthusiastically destroys in front of her, because isn't that what a crush means? Prepare for a surprise ending that will readers can't help but smile at.
Little Eva Loves by Rebecca Elliott
Sweet and cheerful, Little Eva the owl loves lots of things, including lending a helping hand, playing pretend, sharing treats with a friend. Love is everywhere and with rhyming text and colorful illustrations, this board book shows little ones where to look.
You Loves Ewe! by Cece Bell
The hilarious characters from I Yam a Donkey are back in a creative and wacky book of homonyms and love. Yam introduces Donkey to his friend Ewe and anyone who read the first book can already tell where things are about to go. Soon, everyone is in love with Ewe, Donkey is confused, Yam is annoyed, but it's all good fun and an excellent read aloud that will get everyone laughing (and thinking about homonyms).
The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise
An anonymous love letter accidentally makes its way around a small circle of friends each of whom feels special when they think the letter was meant for them. A discovery about the author of the letter and its intended recipient turns warm feelings into confusion and jealousy but this passes quickly when all involved realize they are good friends no matter what. An ode to the friends we love and who love us back.
A Valentine for Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Unicorns! Sparkles! Rainbows, dreams, and sweet treats! A sturdy board book that has all the candy-coated sweetness that Valentine's Day begs for, but without going too far into saccharine territory. Rhyming text and detailed illustrations bring unicorn kisses and friendship to a delighted toddler and preschool audience.
The Friendship Book by Mary Lyn Ray
What does it mean to have a friend and be a friend? Author Mary Lyn Ray shows children the many ways we express friendship. One of the messages in this book that I particularly like is that if a child is still looking for a friend that's okay, there's a friend out there for everyone, it can just take time to find each other. A gentle celebration of friendship that would be a lovely addition to any young reader's bookshelf.
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