There are lots of terrific books for Valentine’s Day in terms of kindness and compassion towards others. While this is an important message, children also need to know a bit about how Valentine’s Day started to understand the holiday. My list of great books for Valentine’s Day to share starts with two books that explain the holiday: One for K students and one for first and second graders.
The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy J. Skaermas
This short, simple book for kindergartners (and even preschool) tells the story of how Valentine’s Day came to be. In simple words that a young child can understand, this book is the story of a kind man named Valentine who cared for the children of Rome, who prayed for a miracle for a blind child, and who is remembered each February 14. The illustrator has painted the illustrations in bright colors of schoolroom scenes as they might have been in ancient Rome.
Saint Valentine by: Robert Sabuda
This book tells the same story as The Story of Valentine’s Day but in greater detail. In ancient Rome, a kind physician named Valentine took an interest in a young blind girl. Her sight was restored through his deep faith. The holiday of Valentine’s Day as we know it began when he sent the little girl a secret message, which she received after the Christian martyr was killed. For this story, author and illustrator Robert Sabuda has created exquisite paper mosaics suggestive of early Christian art. Be aware that there are some religious overtones to the story. Still… one of the sweetest books for Valentine’s Day!
If your younger students are interested in books from a series here are some titles. You may want to make these available for independent reading after you have used them for a read aloud in kindergarten, or just make available in a holiday reading book box in first grade.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by: Laura Numeroff
This is a picture book about Mouse from the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series. Mouse is making valentines for all his friends. He makes them to match their personalities and wants each one to be perfect. He says why he loves each one of his friends. While Mouse is working on his cards, someone appears at the door. It is all his friends with valentine cookies for him!
Llama, Lamma, I Love You by: Anna Dewdney
I like “Llama Llama I Love You” by Anna Dewdney for three reasons. First, I found the illustrations appealing because you can see the love being depicted throughout the story (ex: llama is making cards with his friends, giving presents/cards, and giving his mom a chocolate heart). Second, I like how all the Llama Llama books are centered around his mama (ex: In all Llama Llama books, his mama is present). Third, I enjoyed reading this text because of its focus on friendship. This instantly makes the book a delightful read (ex: little llama is spending time together with his friends, exchanging cards, and giving hugs).
Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by: Eric Carle
This book is a New York Times Best Selling title because so many children, teachers, and parents know and love The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Using a range of images from the world of Eric Carle, and featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar, this special book gives all the reasons why someone special makes the world a better and brighter place. While this book is not specifically about Valentine’s Day, it carries that message of love and kindness from the holiday.
Now for some books for Valentine’s Day that children who are a bit older may like:
Valentine’s Day Jokes for Kids by: Chrissy Voeg
Especially in second grade, the whole idea of jokes takes on a new meaning! Knock, knock jokes are a big hit at this age. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these clean, family-friendly jokes! Your kids will have funny jokes to share with their friends and family at home. This book is complete with jokes, puns, riddles, and artist illustrations that really bring the jokes to life. You will find jokes flying around the classroom. My students liked writing and illustrating their own Valentine jokes for a fun and interesting writing experience. This book served as a great mentor text!
The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by: Brenda Ferber
This book is a fresh, funny Valentine’s Day book for cootie and candy-lovers alike. Leon, the main character has a crush. A let-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountain kind of crush. And he has the perfect valentine. But this valentine has no intention of getting caught up in any romantic conspiracy. “Love is yucky, kid! Valentine’s Day is all about CANDY!” the card yells at Leon, before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting kids along the way. Saying “I love you” has never been so yucky or so sweet. This book is especially good for your students who may be a bit uncomfortable with the “mushy” side
of Valentine’s Day!
Second Grade readers like familiar characters from books in a series too. Here are three suggestions of series books for your readers in this stage of development as readers. These books make for great independent reading when the children are familiar with the characters and how the books work, or they can be used to introduce the series to the class.
Junie B Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by: Barbara Park
I know that some teachers and parents have a love/hate relationship with Junie B. Jones but if children are reading, it provides us with an opportunity to talk about the various aspects of a book and why an author may choose to write that way. In this book, February 14, Valentime’s Day, as Junie B. (and lots of other children say this word) calls it—is just around the corner. Junie B. cannot wait to see all the valentimes she will get. But she never expected a big, mushy card from a secret admirer! Who is this secret mystery guy, anyway? Finding a secret mystery guy is NOT as easy as it sounds! Can Junie B. solve this mystery?
A to Z Mysteries: A Secret Admirer by: Ron Roy
This series of books (A to Z) is full of hidden messages. In this one, it is Valentine’s Day in the town of Green Lawn. But Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose just are not feeling the love this year since they are a bit older. Valentine’s Day was so much more fun when they were little! Then they each start getting messages and clues from a secret admirer which makes the holiday much more interesting! Can the kids figure out who wants to be their Valentine? This title has a hidden message in the illustrations that make the reading lots of fun!
Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine by: Marjorie Sharmat
The Nate the Great books make for a wonderful transition to chapter books. One thing we know
from reading other books in the series is that Nate the Great hates mushy stuff. But when he spies a big red paper heart taped to the outside of his dog Sludge’s doghouse, Nate knows he must help his favorite pooch. Who has left Sludge a secret valentine? It is a mystery until Nate finds out his friend Annie is missing a valentine. The case seems easy to solve now. Nate is relieved. No more mushy stuff. That is what he thinks.
Enjoy these book ideas with your class and share it with your teacher friends! They provide a way to include the holiday in your classroom while continuing to enhance the literacy learning opportunities for your students! I recommend that you start with the books that provide the background on the actual holiday to that the children can connect the way Valentines are used in the stories to the reason the holiday came to occur.