Valentines Day was never a huge deal for my classroom. But the week of Valentine’s day we talked a little bit about it, read some books, and made some fun heart art projects. I have a great mini-unit if you want me to do all the Valentine’s Day planning for you. Find it here. Children see the stores done up and I think building on the hearts they see everywhere and using this event (I have a hard time calling it a holiday) is useful, especially when you focus on families, friendship, and love. Find more books about families here.
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Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond is a sweet story that in my experience is a better bedtime story than circle time story, especially for 4 and younger. The story is moving and lovely, but in groups of children, it just doesn’t grab them the way it does when they are snuggled up with someone they love. The story is about a little girl who collects hearts that fall from the clouds and makes incredibly touching gifts from them for special friends. The pace is just too slow for an active class that needs a hook, but perfect for bedtime when you want kids to be slowing down.
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. This author is a preschool parents dream, short and easy to read melodic books with illustrations to die for. The story is simply a little love song about all the ways the dog loves the puppy, simple and touching. As an educator, something I love is that the dogs don’t have an obvious race. They don’t even have an obvious gender which is perfect. Regardless of your family, your child can see you in the dog and themselves in the puppy! I think that is the perfect Valentine! My son didn’t warm up to this book right away as a toddler, but my daughter loved it, and it quickly became a big favorite in our house.
Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane deGroat . This is a great book as it lends itself perfectly for writing/ making valentines as an after activity. In it, a class of animals is writing valentine poems for all of their classmates. One animal decides that today is the day he will fight back against the bullies in his class. He writes mean messages as revenge. It is a learning opportunity for all involved, and a really great book to use as a point of discussion about how to handle bullies without becoming one yourself. This is a great book for PreK!
Dinosaur Valentine by Liza Donnelly is an adorable story about a little boy who adores dinosaurs and makes dinosaur valentines with his dog. They deliver their valentines, and as they are walking through the woods, they get a mysterious valentine with an invitation to a party. Things take a turn from realist fiction as they spot a dinosaur in the dog catchers van and then decide to try to save her. After they successfully save her, they find out she is the one who gave them the valentine and the invite to the dinosaur valentine’s day party.
A Valentine For Norman Noggs by Valiska Gregory is quite cute. It is about a new girl in school who has caught the eye of all the boys. Norman hopes and dreams that she will look at him and fall in love, but all the other bigger, stronger boys seem to be catching her attention. He is kind to her in class though, offering help without being boastful. Although he doesn’t notice, she does notice him. When he is made fun of by the bigger boys about a Valentine he made her, she rescues him. I like that her character was strong but didn’t like that she physically hurt the other boys. This is a longer picture book that would be great for 4-5-year-olds.
My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall is a fun book filled with animals made from shapes, including hearts of course. This book is a wonderful launch pad to start considering the world around us. It also shows how shapes work together to create more shapes. I have used this book many times for circle time at preschool and followed it with a classroom shape hunt.
Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz. Every time my daughter and I would lift the flaps together, I’d get a serious craving for chocolate. Karen Katz is a toddler’s dream come true. Her illustrations are big and bright and filled with happy babies. Her text is short but still meaty enough for young preschoolers. The flaps to lift and open are perfect for this age when a static book often is just too static for a dynamic toddler. I can see why as a toddler my daughter brought it over to me every day.
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty is a sweet book that will transport you back to your elementary school crushes. But it won’t just appeal to the adults, it’s got plenty for the little ones too. Henry has a crush on Chloe although all that is ever really said is that he thinks she is lovely. The best part is that Chloe seems to like him back. This book can teach children a lot about interpreting people’s actions to explain feelings. Simple but expressive illustrations give subtle clues that give great opportunities for conversations about what it means to love not just to feel love.
The I LOVE YOU Book by Todd Parr. Kids need to know that love is unconditiona. This book drives that point home in a simple, bright, and funny way. I cried through reading most of it, but my son laughed and loved it. I specifically love that the author includes that a child is loved even when they are sad, not sleeping, and more. The cover of the book has a cut out heart shape and would be a great add-on to a shape activity about hearts.
Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson had me giggling while reading it. The story is about two slugs who write poetry to each other while admiring each other from afar. The book is too complex for the tiny crowd but PreK and up will appreciate the humor. It could be a great springboard for a unit on poetry. A silly but fun book about those slimy garden pests!
Valentine Friends by April Jones Prince is one of my favorite Valentine’s Day books for 2 and 3-year-olds. It’s simple, sweet, and has a great message about teamwork. The text is short enough for circle time with very young children, but the book isn’t baby-ish, so older children enjoy it too. The friends in the book all work together to make Valentine’s day treats, and readers leave with the message that working together is a treat in itself.
Valentine’s Day by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell is a lovely book with a cute twist. The story follows a class making special valentines for each other; some are very touching others are goofy. The story doesn’t reveal who the Valentine’s are for. There are pictures of the same girl with the various students. After a while you are clued into that they are for her, but we still don’t know why. I worried she was sick in the hospital! As it turns out, the class goes to the post office to send it to a classmate far far away! I like the idea of a class all writing to a friend far away, focusing on friendship and not candy! Plus, I love any book that causes my son to say ” Let’s go see a map of where she lives mama!”
If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant is a great book for preschoolers because it doesn’t just focus on romantic love or love of a parent and child but rather love of all the things this little boy is grateful for. He writes little valentines to his family members, teddy bear, even the bird and tree outside. It’s very sweet and cute without making you cringe one bit! My son loved this one as a preschooler.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores by Barbara Samuels is hilarious. If you are a younger sister or older sister, you will relate to this book. My son didn’t really get it but loved the illustrations especially the one of Dolores in music class. Here is the rundown of the story; Dolores snoops in her older sister’s room. They fight about it, and she stops until she can’t take it anymore. Before Valentine’s Day, she sneaks in and finds a necklace in her sister’s drawer. She ends up wearing it. Then, she loses it, going to hilarious lengths to get a new one before her sister notices it’s gone. I applaud the author for having her fake a veterinary emergency with ketchup! Very funny, cute book perfectly geared to the 4-6-year-old group.
10 Valentine Friends by Janet Schulman is one of my daughter’s favorite counting books along with the other books in this series. While the rhymes are at times forced, the book itself is fun. It kept the attention of my 2-3-year-old classroom, participating in counting the valentines on each page. When my daughter was 4.5, she liked picking out details on each page and making up stories about the characters. I like that the children are all making valentines for each other using the knowledge they have about the recipient. This wonderful lesson about gift giving teaches how you should tailor gifts to the recipient and not just make something you’ll like.
I Lost My Kisses by Trudie Trewin is a cute story about a little cow who has lost her kisses! She looks everywhere for them! She gives wonderful descriptions of what kisses are, sound, and feel like but she just can’t find them. The thing is, she is picking her daddy up at the airport and has to give him a kiss when he arrives! Luckily her heart finds them when she sees her daddy. My son loved this book as a preschooler. He was (and still is) an affectionate kid and loves to tease us that he was “all out of kisses” so this book was right up his alley! Very cute and I love the mostly black and white illustrations by Nick Bland.
Don’t miss our Valentine’s Friends mini unit, learn more here!