12 Children’s Books for Valentine’s Day

Children's Books for Valentine's Day
Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

Share the love this Valentine’s Day with stories that reveal favorite characters celebrating the holiday, sweet treats to bake, awkward crushes, touching moments of generosity and retellings of classics such as “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Pride and Prejudice.”

Picture Books

"From Archie to Zack"“From Archie to Zack”
Written and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
Archie wants to tell his friend Zack how he feels and decides a letter, from A to Z, is the best way. The only problem is that Archie has a lot of friends whose names start with Z! Luckily, Zelda, Zinnia and Zuzella all know who the letters are really for and deliver them to their true recipient, who has been writing letters of his own.

“This is NOT a Valentine”
By Carter Higgins, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
A little boy gives a friend things that are NOT valentines. Valentines are pink with lacey edges, and he’s gifting his lucky rock and gumball machine jewelry that matches her shoelaces. Besides, he likes her all the days, not just on Feb. 14 , in this sweet story about meaningful and everlasting gestures. This story, much like the gifts it features, outlasts the holiday.

“A Valentine for Frankenstein”
By Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Timothy Banks
Poor Frankenstein—he’s just not very good at being a monster. He doesn’t have a tail and only has two eyes and one head. On top of that, he’s just too nice! At the Valentine’s Day Bash, he gets in trouble for wiping his mouth and decorating his cupcakes with glitter instead of fungus. Despite his setbacks, someone has slipped a Valentine into his pocket, and his secret admirer is set on the getting the other monsters to accept Frankenstein just as he is.

Early Readers

"What is Given From the Heart"

“What is Given from the Heart”
By Patricia C. McKissak, illustrated by April Harrison
After his father died, James Otis and his Mama don’t have much—they had to leave the family farm and now live in a small house that floods when it rains. But for Valentine’s Day, their pastor organizes “love boxes” for needy families. Despite not having much, Mama uses her best tablecloth to make an apron for a family that has lost everything in a fire. James Otis takes his time to think before finding something he can also give. Published posthumously, this work is the last book written by Patricia McKissak.

“Llama Llama Be My Valentine”
Based on the works of Anna Dewdney
It’s Valentine’s Day, and Llama Llama and his friends are having a party at school. Their teacher tells them they each need to bring something only they can make. Gilroy Goat is worried, as he’s not very crafty, so what can he bring to the party? Luckily, his friend Llama Llama is there to help!

“Mouse Loves Love”
By Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Mouse’s sister Mika is being very mysterious. Mouse follows her around the house as she gathers her treasures—shiny red paper, pink ribbons and paste. What could she be doing and why doesn’t she want Mouse to see?

Middle Grade

"The Alien Next Door"“Alien Next Door: The Mystery Valentine”
By A.I. Newton, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
This installment of the series sees Zeke, an alien trying to fit in on Earth, try to make sense of the mysteries of Valentine’s Day. He has his first crush, but all of his attempts to be noticed aren’t working. Zeke and his friends also have a mystery to solve Who sent him the anonymous Valentine? Will Zeke get everything figured out in time for his first Valentine’s Day to be a success?

“Well, That Was Awkward”
By Rachel Vail
Grace’s life gets overly complicated when she develops a huge crush on AJ, but he likes Sienna. Grace is used to being in second place, so she helps Sienna write a text to AJ. Meanwhile, AJ is getting help from his friend Emmet, and soon it’s had for everyone to keep track of who is texting who and why. Enjoy this humorous and touching modern twist on “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

“Bake It!: 150 Favorite Recipes from Best-Loved DK Cookbooks”
One of the best things about Valentine’s Day is the sugar rush. This cookbook is full of recipes for young bakers at all levels. You’ll find great ways to make treats for your friends and grow your skills at the same time. The steps are well-illustrated, and recipes range from savory to sweet, including pizza, pastries and everything in between.

Young Adult

“You Should See Me in a Crown”
You Should See Me in a CrownBy Leah Johnson
When her music scholarship falls through, Liz has one other option to get the money she needs for college—become prom queen, which comes with its own scholarship. Only, Liz is a poor, queer, Black girl in a largely white, rich, prom-obsessed town. Things are further complicated by Liz’s crush on the new girl in school—who also happens to be a prom queen legacy.

“Pride”
By Ibi Zoboi
Zuri Benitez cannot stand Darius Darcy, who just moved in across the street. He may be rich, gorgeous and vaguely mysterious, but he’s also pretentious and snooty. It doesn’t help when her older sister starts dating his older brother. This remix of “Pride and Prejudice” set in modern-day Bushwick tackles class, gentrification and cultural identity in a delightful romance.

“Full Disclosure”
By Camryn Garrett
Simone is doing great at her new school. She is student directing the musical and her crush, Miles, just might return her affections. But then she gets a note that proves someone knows her secret—she was born HIV-positive, and if she doesn’t leave Miles alone, her status will become public knowledge. Simone is healthy, but she was bullied out of her last school after everyone found out. Now she’s torn between giving up a new friendship that might turn to more and disclosing on her own terms or risking it all and hoping it doesn’t come crashing down again. Be captivated by this refreshing and hopeful romance story.

About Jennifer Rothschild

Jennifer Rothschild is the collection engagement librarian at Arlington Public Library.

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