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Love for Littles: 15 Picture Books Perfect for Valentine's Day

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 01, 2022

If you think Valentine's Day has to be about romance, think again. For youngsters, the holiday offers an opportunity to celebrate kindness, empathy, and appreciation toward our families, friends, and communities. Here are some of our favorite picture books for spreading messages of love.

Bonding for Babies

For our littlest readers, Valentine's Day can be a great occasion to learn about emotions and encourage self-expression.

The I Love You Book by Todd Parr
"I love you when you give me kisses. I love you when you need hugs . . . Most of all, I love you just the way you are." This colorful picture book explores unconditional love.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
With whimsical illustrations by Christine Roussey and a rainbow heart tunneling through every page, this book helps tots practice articulating and identifying their emotions.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Watch out world, here he comes! The Hug Machine! This story about a boy who hugs everything he sees lets wee ones know that it's okay to express all the love in their hearts.

Love and Laughs

Sometimes giggling together is the best way to get those warm-and-fuzzy feelings. These books tickle our collective funny bones in the most shareable ways.

I Love You Like No Otter by Sophie Corrigan
Need to find a different way to tell your favorite people you love them? Have a little pun with it. This book offers a laugh-out-loud collection of terms of endearment.

You Loves Ewe! by Cece Bell
A side-splittingly funny book about a silly donkey, a cranky yam, and an irresistible ewe, packed with a fabulously funny series of who's-on-first misunderstandings.

I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi
Love knows no bounds in this tender tribute to the depths of our closest relationships. It's like Guess How Much I Love You—only funnier.

Family Affinities

Watch out! Readers of these stories about the love between kids and parents may need a kleenex or two.

I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth
The sun rises, and a bear and cub begin their day together. They splash in the water, climb mountains, and watch the shimmering sky. With gorgeous illustrations by Tim Warnes.

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Mama's love is brighter than the sun, even on the rainiest of days. With lyrical prose and a tender touch, this book is an ode to the mother-child bond.

Because You're Mine by Nancy Tillman
This book celebrates the lifelong bond between kids and their grownups and emphasizes a parent's dedication to their child through all ages and stages.

Amiable Affection

Valentine's Day is a wonderful time for kids to think about everything they love about their best pals. These books celebrate friendship.

The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel are best friends. One day, they each find a letter. But not just any letter—A love letter! With charming illustrations by Lucy Ruth Cummins.

This is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins
Throughout this sweet story, a little boy gives his friend, a little girl, small, heartfelt gifts that he explains are not Valentines. But then again, maybe they are. Lucy Ruth Cummins illustrated this one too!

One Love by Cedella Marley
Adapted from the beloved Bob Marley song by his daughter with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, this is the story of a girl connecting with her neighbors to transform her community.

Lonely Hearts Club

For youngsters, one of the greatest takeaways of this holiday is the importance of showing kindness and compassion to those most in need of a little love. Sometimes that means ourselves, too!

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
One wintry day, a lonely man named Mr. Hatch receives a mysterious package. "Somebody loves you," the note says. Illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, this tender story shows the redemptive power of love.

My Heart by Corinna Luyken
"My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed . . . or opened up wide." This gorgeous book is about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy.

Love, Z by Jessie Sima
When a small robot named Z discovers a message in a bottle signed "Love, Beatrice," they embark on an adventure to try and find out what "love" means.

Valentine's Day is a time to honor all kinds of love—with our families, friends, and communities. And it all starts with the kids, right? These books help young readers learn emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-expression.

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