Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and friendship. The following picture books are centered around that sentiment and are geared for ages three through eight unless otherwise indicated.
In other news, the Coveted Newbery and Caldecott winners for 2024 were recently announced. The Newbery winner, (for the most outstanding literature), is The Eyes and the Impossible. The honor books are Eagle Drums, Elf Dog and Owl Head, Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir, Simon Sort of Says and The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams. The Caldecott winner, (for the most distinguished picture book), is Big. The honor books are In Every Life, Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter, There was a Party for Langston and The Truth About Dragons.
Love is my Favorite Color, by Nina Laden and gorgeously illustrated using pencil and then colored digitally by Melissa Castrillon, states in rhyme the different ways that bring joy and happiness begins with love and ends with what the future holds. Each open page gives a different reason for having joy and appreciating all we have. Gratitude is my favorite instrument. It lifts me up when I play.
All We Need is Love and a Really Soft Pillow!, by Peter H. Reynolds and his son Henry Rocket Reynolds, shows a fluffy small creature asking his Poppy if they need anything. The answer is I’ve got you! We’ve got Love! Love is all we need! Soon the list of items needed grows into a pillow, four walls, a roof, water and more. But when a storm takes away all of those items, Poppy and child realize they still have their love for each other. This is father and son’s first collaboration together.
I love you, Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards and vividly illustrated by Natalie Marshall, has many of the pages full of color with the open-page scenes. This rhyming tale exclaims the tender love a parent ladybug feels for their offspring. My little love, you are the finest bug that ever flew! Your bright red coat, its cute black spots-there’s no one else like you. Here is a book that expresses your great love for you child with bright color found throughout.
Is this Love?, based on the song by Bob Marley and adapted by his daughter Cedella Marley and brightly illustrated digitally by Alex Marley, is a wonderful ode to siblings and their love for each other. A big sister expresses as soon as she sees her baby sister: I’m going to show you everything I know. I’m going to teach you and watch you grow. The sweet message will resonate with families everywhere.
Love Grows, by Ruth Spiro and wonderfully illustrated using gouache, colored pencil, and crayon assembled digitally by Lucy Ruth Cummins, is a celebration of love, family, and nature throughout the year. An aunt sends her niece a plant every month along with a note of the name of this plant and how to nurture it. The text is framed in the rhyming letters that she sends making this wondrous book rich in sentiment, information and a strong bond between aunt and niece. The ending is especially telling: Just like your new plants, my love for you grows! Be sure to check out the informative end-pages.
Hearts are Everywhere, by Wednesday Kirwan, is a very clever board book for toddlers that has a hide-and-seek activity. Each open-page scene has lift-the-flaps to locate specific hearts to match by turning the wheel. The animals featured throughout as well as the scenes are colorful and adorable.
A B C I Love You, by Maggie Fischer and richly colored by Grace Habib, is full of encouraging love towards a toddler. This board book goes through the alphabet with each letter expressing a positive feeling towards the book’s recipient. F is for forever, that’s how long I’ll love you. P is for proud, which is how you make me feel. What’s not to love about this smallish-sized book?
Cupig: The Valentine’s Day Pig, by Claire Tattersfield and ingeniously illustrated using collage and digital painting techniques by Rob Sayegh Jr, is a rhyming tale about a cute flying pig who misdirects her arrows creating some havoc on otherwise perfect mates. A fork leaves knife for a whisk. A dog falls for a xylophone leaving bone alone. This book is great fun to read out loud producing giggles and will have youngsters begging to read again and again.
Like So, by Ruth Forman and lavishly illustrated displaying full open-page scenes by Raissa Figueroa, cuts across generations with a grandmother expressing her love across the seasons to her young granddaughter. The simple yet powerful text expresses this great love. But the examples of all that grandmother and child do together demonstrates this love just so!
Eleven Words for Love: A Journey Through Arabic Expressions of Love, by Randa Abdul-Fattah and richly colored using watercolor pencil and collage on textured cardstock by Maxine Beneba Clarke, showcases in an oversized picture book with an Arabic word on one side of the open-page. The other side expresses love and family in lyrical form as well exhibiting a gorgeous picture. There are eleven words for love, and my family knows them all.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Loves (Your Name Here): A Personalized Story Book, by Eric Carle, is a customized smallish-sized board book made for toddlers to hear and see their name on every page. Each page, rich in color, expresses what your toddler loves to show such as sharing or being thoughtful. This little book will become a big hit with your youngster!