Looking for books to read aloud to your learners on Valentine’s Day? I’ve put together a list of our favorites just for you!
Here Comes Valentine Cat, by Deborah Underwood
Please promise me you’ll find this book at your library and read it – even if it’s just to yourself! It’s my absolutely favorite on this list. In this book the narrator speaks directly to Cat, who feels that Valentine’s Day is much too mushy to celebrate. The cat communicates through signboards and facial expressions, and the book is both hilarious and heart-warming. It’s also a great book for teaching inferences. Recommended!
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli
This is a treasure of a book that everyone should read! It’s about lonely Mr. Hatch, who eats by himself during his lunch break at the shoelace factory – indeed, he never speaks to anyone. All that changes when he receives a heart-shaped box of chocolates from a secret admirer. Suddenly Mr. Hatch becomes everyone’s favorite neighbor … until the sad moment when he discovers that the delivery was a mistake. Such a great book! (And if you’re a member of The Measured Mom Plus, be sure to check out the read aloud guide in my collection of Valentine’s Day interactive read alouds.)
Hugs from Pearl, by Paul Schmid
Pearl is a sweet little porcupine who loves to give hugs. Even though her friends are nice about it (and her teacher has a ready supply of Band-Aids), Pearl’s hugs are ouchy. What can a friendly little porcupine do? Pearl finally arrives at a solution. Such a sweet book!
Roses Are Red, Your Feet Really Stink, by Diane DeGroat
This is a good book about taking responsibility for your actions. As Gilbert writes valentine poems for his classmates, he writes two rude poems for students he doesn’t like – and signs them as if someone else wrote them. Before long, everything is topsy-turvy, and Gilbert has some explaining to do. Thankfully, everything is sorted out in the end.
Plant a Kiss, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This is a simple but powerful book about the importance of spreading love wherever we go. I love the simple illustrations and the added texture. Even though the book is very simple (and little ones will enjoy it), its abstract message is very appropriate for older listeners. Use it to start a discussion about the meaning of the book.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores, by Barbara Samuels
Dolores is an irrepressible little girl who means well but doesn’t always make the best decisions. In this book, her bad snooping habit leads her to find a secret Valentine’s Day gift that her older sister has hidden away. Whom is it for? Even though Dolores’ snooping and taking is wrong (which you can discuss as you read it), the book highlights a loving relationship between an older and younger sister – a rarity in children’s literature, and one I’m happy to see.
Elmore, by Holly Hobbie
In this sweet book. Elmore the porcupine has a hard time making friends – for obvious reasons. In the end, this lonely porcupine finds a way into his friends’ hearts. (A read aloud guide for this book can be found in the The Measured Mom Plus.)
Duck Hippo: The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London
While I didn’t find the story particularly engaging, the vintage illustrations are adorable, and both my Four and almost-Six enjoyed this story about Duck’s plan to surprise all her friends with a Valentine’s Day party. I love that the book focuses on friendship (not romance) as the heart of Valentine’s Day.
One Zillion Valentines, by Frank Modell
In this appealing vintage book (1981), Marvin informs his friend Milton that “Valentines aren’t just for girls. Valentines are for everybody.” These two inventive boys create a “zillion” valentines to slip under doors and share with neighbors. The cartoony illustrations are a plus, and kids will appreciate this non-sappy Valentine’s Day story.
The Day It Rained Hearts, by Felicia Bond
This gentle book about a little girl who catches raining hearts. She uses them to create special valentines for her animal friends. The story is nice, but the illustrations (by the illustrator of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books), steal the show.
The Ballad of Valentine, by Alison Jackson
I love books you can sing, so I adore this Valentine book set to the tune of the American folk song, Clementine. Set in a canyon in the west, a lovesick admirer never gives up sending messages to the object of his affection. But for a variety of reasons (a cyclone, a blizzard, etc.) the messages never reach the girl named Valentine. While a lot of the humor was over my preschooler’s head, I loved this one. The hilarious pictures add a lot to the story.
Hug Machine, by Scott Campbell
Oh my – what a wonderful book for little listeners! The Hug Machine is actually a little boy (the narrator of the story) who hugs everything he sees – from family members to strangers, from animals to inanimate objects. The pictures are adorable, and if you’re lucky your preschooler will turn into a Hug Machine as well … it’s been so fun to see my little guy tearing through the house giving hugs while reciting the book!
If You’ll Be My Valentine, by Cynthia Rylant
If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day book that will appear to young preschoolers, try this one. Older children will likely find it babyish, but the sweet pictures and rhymes will delight young listeners.
The Runaway Valentine, by Tina Casey
Victor is the most beautiful valentine on the shelf, until he falls off the rack and gets swept into a corner. When he sets out on his own, Victor quickly becomes a ragged piece of paper. But amazingly, one person after another finds that Victor is just what they were looking for. The happy ending brings all the characters together. What a neat book! (This is also included in the membership’s Valentine’s Day read aloud guides.)
The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting
Bunting’s lovely storytelling and Jan Brett’s beautiful illustrations come together in this lovely vintage book (1983) about two hibernating bears who interrupt their sleep to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A gentle and beautiful story. (Yes, I know bears aren’t true hibernators, but it’s still a cute book.)
Mr. Goat’s Valentine, by Eve Bunting
Mr. Goat is searching for Valentine’s Day gifts for his first love. The gifts aren’t exactly conventional (weeds in a can and rotten eggs), but apparently Goat’s mother (his first love) isn’t too particular. It’s a a sweet book, but I didn’t feel it matched the quality storytelling we usually get from Eve Bunting.
Slugs in Love, by Susan Pearson
I am very anti-slug (thanks to finding way too many of them in our Virginia garden as a child), but this book is adorable. Marylou is a shy slug who wants Herbie to notice her. But even though she leaves him poems everywhere she goes (written in slime, of course), it takes the whole book before the two slugs finally meet. Who knew that a love story about slugs would be a winner?
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