Valentine’s Day is just 2 weeks away, and there’s still time to get your loved one something they’ll treasure for years — a book. Below are picture books that help celebrate love. Books are listed by suggested age, youngest to oldest. Synopses are in blue and provided by publishers.
MY HEART GROWS, by Jeffrey Burton and Joanne Liu, Little Simon, Dec. 7, 2021, Board Book, $8.99 (ages 1-5)
My heart used to beat for one,
now it beats for two.
But oh how giant my heart grows
all because of you.
A parent’s love for their child grows daily, always in new and unexpected ways: through making mistakes, through asking why, through taking a stand, through making up your mind. With a die-cut heart that gets bigger and bigger on every spread, each turning page expands the love that’s shared. —Synopsis provided by Little Simon
This sweet board book features bold colors and tender text. Little ones will enjoy the heart cutouts that allow you to see onto the next page.
BE MY NEIGHBOR? by Suzy Ultman, Chronicle Books, Feb. 8, 2022, Board Book, $15.99 (ages 2-4)
Welcome to the neighborhood! The new cats on the block are ready to bake cookies, but they’re a few items short! Help them gather ingredients by going house to house, and meet a medley of critter families. Explore each neighbor’s unique home while searching inside lift-the-flap cupboards, drawers, and more to find the needed ingredients. The best housewarming treat of all? A neighborhood full of new friends! —Synopsis provided by Chronicle Books
This interactive lift-the-flap and seek-and-find book is sure to entice little readers. Smaller fingers may have a hard time with the initial “lifting” so this is definitely a parent-child book for those still working on dexterity. Cute, stylized creatures and a smart color palate make this a fun option.
AGES 3 AND UP
OCEANS OF LOVE, by Janet Lawler and Holly Clifton-Brown, Viking Books for Young Readers, Feb. 1, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)
From whales and dolphins, to hermit crabs and jellyfish, the ocean is filled with many different creatures. Join them on this imaginary undersea journey as ocean mamas care for their babies, each in their own special way! Because one thing is universal: there’s no other love like that between mamas and their little ones. —Synopsis provided by Viking Books for Young Readers
This is the perfect Valentine’s option for little ones who love ocean creatures. Beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the mamas and babies to life.
WHAT IS LOVE? by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis, Chronicle Books, Dec. 28, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)
“What is love?” a young boy asks. “I can’t answer that,” his grandmother says, and so the boy goes out into the world to find out. But while each person he meets — the fisherman, the actor, and others — has an answer to his question, not one seems quite right. Could love really be a fish, or applause, or the night? Or could it actually be something much closer to home? —Synopsis provided by Chronicle Books
This tender book examines how love is interpreted. Gentle text combined with charming illustrations is a fun choice for families.
THE HOUSE OF LOVE, by Adriana Trigiani and Amy June Bates, Viking Books for Young Readers, Dec. 28, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)
Mia Valentina Amore loves valentines. After all, her name means My Valentine. When she wakes up on Valentine’s Day, it looks like just another morning in the rickety old Amore house in the Blue Ridge mountains of Appalachia. But over the course of the day, her home is transformed into the House of Love. Mia and her mama festoon the halls, build a gumdrop tree, bake cupcakes, and most importantly, make valentines for all six of her siblings. But when Mia doesn’t receive her own valentine, she wonders if Mama could have forgotten her. —Synopsis provided by Viking Books for Young Readers
This book will be a hit with creative kids who love holidays. I could see my own daughter in Mia’s excitement. Warm illustrations are paired with comforting story celebrate familial love at its best.
AGES 4 AND UP
LOVE IS FOR ROARING, by Mike Kerr and Renata Liwska, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Jan. 18, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
Today the fierce, fearsome Lion is supposed to show his love. But that makes him grumpy.
“What do you love?” Mouse asks Lion.
Lion doesn’t love lovey-dovey stuff.
Hugs? Kisses? NO WAY!
But Mouse wonders, doesn’t Lion love . . .
to growl? Love to roar?
Hmm, maybe Lion likes that.
Doesn’t he love to run? Love to chase?
Actually, maybe Lion loves that.
And maybe he DOES love to share his love.
—Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
This playful look at love is a great option for kiddos who don’t like the lovey dovey stuff. Simple text accompanied by lively illustrations will appeal to emerging readers.
LOVE IS HERE, by Mike Malbrough, Philomel Books, Dec. 21, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)
“Listen. Do you hear it?
Hidden up in the storm clouds, stored up and waiting. It’s time for a celebration.
Love is here.”
A child takes a magical journey in search of love, only to find that it lived everywhere, in everything, even in one’s own backyard. —Synopsis provided by Philomel Books
Love Is Here is one of those books you actually want to read aloud. The poetic text is paginated for maximum impact. Expressive illustrations bring the text to life in this excellent look at kindness and empathy.
SOMEBODY LOVES YOU, MR. HATCH, by Eileen Spinelli and Paul Yalowitz, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Dec. 7, 2021, Hardcover, $9.99 (ages 4-8)
One wintry day, a postman delivers a mysterious package with a big pink bow to a lonely man named Mr. Hatch.
“Somebody loves you,” the note says.
“Somebody loves me!” Mr. Hatch sings as he dusts his living room.
“Somebody loves me!” Mr. Hatch whistles as he does his errands in town.
“But who,” Mr. Hatch wonders, “could that somebody be?”
When Mr. Hatch discovers just who his secret admirer is, the answer is even better than he could have guessed! —Synopsis provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Though this charming book has been around since1991, this new hardcover edition is hard to beat at just $9.99 list price. This gem of a read focuses on platonic love rather than romantic love, making it the perfect choice for children. And children love it. My second-grader saw my review copy and exclaimed, “We read that book at school! Is this our very own to keep?”
MY LOVE FOR YOU IS ALWAYS, by Gillian Sze and Michelle Lee, Philomel Books, Sept. 7, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 4-8)
What is love? a child wonders. What does it feel like, smell like, taste like? How does it move? How long does it last?
And as she prepares a traditional Chinese meal for her family, the child’s mother replies: her love for him is rosy as wolfberries, warm like tea, sweeter than the red dates she puts in his soup. It shines through the water like its own brilliant sun. It goes round and round with no beginning and no end. Because a mother’s love for a child is always there, warm and soft, broad and tender. —Synopsis provided by Philomel Books
This gentle read is a great starting point for conversations with children. By giving readers tangible examples, they are able to “put a face to name” so to speak. Recognizing love opens the door to recognizing other emotions, too. I can see it being a great conversation starter for older kids as well.