Valentine's Day Books for Kids
Cherish the young dreamers around you by curating your favorite collection of the best Valentine's Day books for kids and young adults.
Why Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Reading Books?
Valentine’s Day may feel like just one more excuse for commercialism in an already overcrowded calendar, but there are good reasons to search out, read, and celebrate Valentine’s-Day-themed books. Traditionally a Roman springtime festival and later associated with romance, courtship, and marriage, Valentine’s Day is much broader, celebrating love, family, friendships, and positive relationships of all sorts. This emphasis on building, maintaining, and celebrating strong relationships is one excellent reason why books centered on this holiday can be immensely empowering for young readers.
Of course, with so much social currency attached to “successful” relationships, Valentine’s Day can also be a time of insecurity, bruised emotions, and confusion for some young readers. Even “harmless” Valentine’s Day activities can turn into hurtful popularity contests and can send mixed messages about gift-giving and love. Books exploring these themes can help readers of all ages process these emotions and form their own robust responses to love in the era of capitalism.
Valentine's Day Stories for Young Readers
With so many publishers and writers recognizing the importance of healthy relationships, we have seen a wealth of new books about love for young readers. The best of these have set out to affirm the bonds of family, friendship, and humanity and bring us closer through shared emotion.
For very young readers, Jane Porter’s The Boy Who Loved Everyone encourages children just transitioning from home to school life to recognize that love is as much about what you give to others as it is about what others give to you. Elias Barks’ I’m Programmed to Love You is a salient reminder to young readers that parents’ tiresome insistence on boring things like safety and cleanliness is itself an expression of love. Who Loves the Dragon?, written by Bianca Schulze, is an interactive picture book that is not only fun but demonstrates how young readers can learn to show love to the ones they care about. For readers looking for a story explicitly about Valentine’s Day, Little Blue Truck’s Valentine, from Alice Schertle’s immensely popular Little Blue Truck series, is a story about showing love to others.
Each of these gently instructive stories reminds readers that love can come in many forms and is present all around us.
Romantic Stories for Teens
There are far too many insipid cookie-cutter romance novels available for the teen market, but thankfully there are some real gems available as well. When evaluating or selecting books of this kind for teen readers, look for texts that celebrate diversity, offer affirmation, and resist gender and sexuality stereotypes.
Crystal Maldonado’s Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a body-positive teen romance in which a Puerto Rican American teen must learn to negotiate the tension between real life and fiction, especially when it comes to her writing. With realistic, empowered female characters, this story is full of both hope and warmth. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn is as much about the complicated relationship between mother and daughter as it is about teen romance. Romance novels told from a male perspective are hard to find, but Justin A. Reynolds’ Opposite Of Always is an excellent example, offering a heart-wrenching story that insists on teen love as something much more profound than sexual attraction. All three of these gripping roller-coaster romances provide something unexpected and plenty of fodder for deep and meaningful discussion.
Diverse Celebrations of Love
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to discuss the importance of acceptance, regardless of your personal views. Books celebrating the diversity of love exist for readers of all ages and are well worth seeking out.
For very young readers, Vincent X. Kirsch’s From Archie to Zach offers a queer, interracial love story and affirmation that even young love is valid. For a bilingual offering, try Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio by Rigoberto González, in which a young boy celebrates his nonbinary family on Mother’s Day. For middle-grade readers, King and The Dragonflies by Kacen Callender explores the importance of friendship when supporting the choices others make for themselves. Finally, They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera is a YA novel that combines a chillingly dark plotline with a heartwarming affirmation of friendship and same-sex love.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positive, affirmational stories about love for children and young adults. For more curated lists, try the LGBTQ Reads website.
Non-Fiction Books about Valentine's Day
Finally, it’s worth remembering that Valentine’s Day itself has a fascinating history and cultural significance. There are lovely non-fiction books available to readers of all ages that explore how this holiday has come to have such a foothold in contemporary culture.
Sally Ann Lee’s A Short History of Valentine’s Day offers a short history in easy rhyming vocabulary perfect for beginner readers and tied to the Common Core standards. While Bruce David Forbes’s America’s Favorite Holidays takes a gritty historical look at Valentine’s Day alongside four other holidays, exploring questions about religion, consumerism, and pop culture suitable for mature readers.
As well as books about the holiday itself, Valentine’s Day is an excellent opportunity to explore the wealth of love-related history that has shaped our culture today, from the case of Loving v. Virginia to the ancient story of Tristan and Isolde. These stories have timeless appeal and offer fantastic opportunities to discuss what love means.
More Favorite Valentine's Day Books for Kids
Valentine’s Day is also about self-love, and cherishing the most extraordinary things about ourselves as well as others. We recommend parents and teachers create a collection of the most beloved and best Valentine’s Day books for kids and curate annually. Here are some of our favorite articles to help you curate your own Valentines’ Day collection of books for your kids or grandchildren or students:
Ten Kids Picture Books About Unconditional Love
Best Teen Romance Books: Love, Lust & Relationships
12 Kids Books That Celebrate LGBTQI Families
Valentine’s Day Books: 8 Picture Books to Love
Valentine’s Day Gifts: Kids’ and Young Adult Books
If you’re still having doubts about reading kids’ books about seasonal holidays, Ann Marie Pace, the author of Ground Hug Day, may convince you otherwise in her article Why Reading Kids Books About Seasonal Holidays is a Good Thing.
If you are a Valentine’s Day book curation expert and feel that we must know about one of your favorite Valentine’s Day books for kids and teens, send us suggestions through Twitter, and share your most distinguished books on Instagram or Facebook with #thechildrensbookreview. In the meantime, keep turning pages out there.
Buy Valentine’s Day books and ebooks in our affiliate book store. And if you’re lucky enough to have a favorite hometown bookstore, they can always place a special order or it might just be on their shelf.
This article, The Best Valentine’s Day Books for Kids, was written by Dr. Jen Harrison.
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