Let's talk about books that celebrate love. I'm not wild about books that directly talk about Valentine's Day. Most of them seem rather forced and uninteresting to me. But there are SO many great books about love! I have ideas for babies on up, including some funny books for your love-reluctant boys. These would be fantastic as classroom read-aloud books at a Valentine's Day party. They're also perfect for gift-giving.
Our first lovey book, You're My Little Love Bug, was a gift from grandparents. It is the sweetest sing-song rhyme with just enough silliness. For the last thirteen years, I've repeated various lines of the the text to my little ones. It's one of those books that has become part of family culture.
If your little loves Eric Carle and the Very Hungry Caterpillar, LOVE is cute companion book. It's super short with adorable and recognizable pictures, perfect for babies and toddlers.
You may know how much I love Sarah Jane Wright's artwork. It just so happens that she's illustrated two adorable books that are perfect for Valentine's Day. Lola Dutch: I Love You So Much was just released a few weeks ago. It is the sweetest story about a very ambitious girl doing special things to show love to her animal friends. Her gifts are inspired by The Five Love Languages of Children, each gift perfectly suited for its recipient. On top of how delightful the story is, the cover jacket is made for play! It has character paper dolls, a play scene, and cute postcards. This book would be the BEST gift on Valentine's Day! The other book illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright, I Heart You, is tender and sweet. The text is sparse and simple, making it perfect for younger children. It depicts the love between parent and child, showing various animal mothers and babies in addition to a little girl with her mom.
Who knew robots were a thing for Valentine's Day? Turns out they are. Robot in Love is just plain fun. This robot (in a bow-tie!) sees his ultimate crush and swoons over her, a little too nervous to speak. He finally works up his courage and runs away with her. So creative and cute. Love, Z makes me think of my engineer-minded nephew. After all, the robot has no idea was love is and when he asked his fellow robots, the reply is "Does not compute." So he goes on a quest to discover what love is, only to find that he had known that feeling all along. I highly recommend this one.
Hug Machine is a super cute story about a boy who is the best at giving hugs. He happily gives out hugs everywhere he goes, until exhaustion sets in. When he think he can give no more, his mommy wants a hug. And he happily obliges. Another fun book about hugs is Hedgehugs. It tells of best friends who can't hug because of their spikes. They try all sorts of silly methods, until finally they find a cozy way to hug without getting hurt.
While we're on the topic of spiky hugs, I can't leave out Nobody Likes a Cactus. Hank the cactus is reclusive and rude, pushing away anyone who thinks he needs a friend. He finally acknowledges his loneliness and finds the perfect friend--a tumbleweed who can't let go of a hug! Funny, creative, and endearing.
I adore books that are cute at the outset but have a layer of deeper meaning for adults. Love Is tells the story of a little girl who cares for a duckling and eventually lets it out into the wider world, when she happily finds that love lasts and grows! Your mother heart will swell.
And speaking of mother hearts, Loving Hands is another gem. A mother adores her baby from birth, as they hold hands, wash hands, knead dough with their hands. Eventually that baby grows up and moves on, but eventually comes back home to stay with his aged mother and hold her hand. Just try not to get choked up! Its theme is similar to Love You Forever, but I find it more endearing and less tiresome.