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12 Picture Books to Read to Celebrate Valentine's Day

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Before we had young children I felt pretty “meh” about it. Now, I simply adore taking time to practice ways to show love, be a good friend, and create together throughout the month. One part of Valentine’s day that still isn’t my style? Pressure to give our kids elaborate, expensive gifts. Instead, we have made the tradition to give our girls a new book about friendship, kindness, or love each year on Valentine’s day. It’s a great way to add to our book collection while also having a little something special for them to open.

Want to start a book tradition this year? Here are 12 of our favorite heart-day reads!

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Friendship Carousel by Suzy Ultman

A sweet, colorful board book celebrating friendship in all its forms. The cut out pages make this part toy, part book. It’s so adorable that my two year old claimed it the day it got delivered and didn’t share it for a week!

Happy Heart by Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Susie Hammer

This book has been a Valentine’s Favorite at our house for a couple of years. The sparkly, cut out pages each contain a sweet phrase to share with your little one: “You are the apple of my eye, you are the sun in my sky!”

Always be You by Ioana Stoian, illustrated by Dawn M. Cardona

We love this rhyming board book for its colorful illustrations and affirming message. Such a great way to remind our children that we love and accept them no matter their moods, actions, interests, or who they love.

Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

Another household favorite year round, "Love Makes a Family" is an inclusive representation of many types of families. It holds a sweet message of all the different forms love can take: such as baking a cake, finding the biggest puddle, playing together, and helping each other. At the end of the day, love makes a family!

Heart String by Brooke Boynton-Hughes

This book is a lovely reminder that we are all connected to each other! We follow the heart string from a child and caregiver, through a neighborhood and classroom, and then around the world. Such a reassuring message that we are always bonded to those we love!

Love Grows Everywhere by Barry Timms and Tisha Lee

"Love Grows Everywhere" has rhyming text, simple and colorful illustrations, and a message that love takes many forms. Use this book to discuss ways we can love those around us through kindness and reaching out.

Love, Z by Jessie Sima

In this sweet story, a robot named Z sets out on a quest to find out who wrote a message in a bottle - and discover what love is. In the end, they realize they already knew love, even if they didn’t have a name for it. My girls ask for this one over and over again!

I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Jessica Love

Another story about all the ways we love each other, told as call and response. Love doesn’t have to be big and flashy - and we can show love by receiving love from others. Another book that is inclusive of many different kinds of families!

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey

This book about feelings has become a classic for a reason. The text and simple images really help give children words to go with the way they feel. We love using this book to talk about how our hearts can hold more than one feeling at once!

You Matter by Christian Robinson

Another affirming book about self-love, “You Matter” reminds readers that no matter what, we matter. We love how each illustration connects to the one before it - this really helps show our interconnectedness - and also encourages many re-readings!

This is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

I love this creative peek at gifts we can give each other when we really care for another person. The Valentines in this story may not have glitter or lace, but they are sure to make you giggle!

A Friend Like You by Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon, illustrated by Kayla Harren

“A Friend Like You” is a joyous celebration of all the ways we can be friends. We love using this book to talk about ways we start and foster friendships. It’s a favorite to gift classroom teachers, as well!

Do you have favorite books about love and friendship that belong on this list? What Valentine's traditions have you started with your family?

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