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20 Children’s Books That Celebrate Love For Valentine’s Day by Margaret Kingsbury

While children’s books about love can and should be read year-round, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to restock bookshelves with books celebrating love and reevaluate what love means to you and your family. These 20 children’s books range in themes and tones to appeal to any child’s taste, from funny readers to philosophical explorations to relatable stories. I include board books, picture books, and chapter books about Valentine’s Day for children of many ages and reading levels. Some books have stunning illustrations, like I Love You Because I Love You, while others are great conversation starters, like Rissy No Kissies. Because love is inclusive and diverse, these children’s books about love also celebrate the diversity of love, from LGBTQ+ representation to love between friends to love in any language. I hope you make room for these 20 children’s books about love on your bookshelves for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Make sure to check out our previous post on Valentine’s Day for even more ideas, including a craft!

Board Books About Love For Valentine’s Day

Together: A First Conversation About Love

Author: Megan Madison & Jessica Ralli | Illustrator: Anne/Andy Passchier | Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

This nonfiction board book is part of the First Conversations series and engages young readers in an exploration of what love is. The opening illustration depicts a parent and infant with the words, “Everyone is born to love and be loved.” Each page spread looks at different aspects of love—from the people you love to how love is shown and the words we use to describe who we love—followed by questions to get young readers thinking about how love plays a part in their lives. The illustrations depict all kinds of families and love, like elderly queer couples and an incarcerated parent. Like all the books in the series, it’s a vital book and a great way to start conversations with kids.

Love in the Wild

Author/Illustrator: Katy Tanis | Publisher: Mudpuppy

Illustrated in vibrant rainbow colors, this rhyming board book shows the many variations of love found in the wild. When two flamingos nuzzle, their necks create a heart. A young zebra stands out from the herd with their spotted coat. Author and illustrator Katy Tanis is a biologist who wanted to celebrate the diversity of love in the animal kingdom. The simplicity of the text makes this a perfect Valentine’s Day read for babies and toddlers. 

Picture Books About Love For Valentine’s Day

Love is My Favorite Color 

Author: Nina Laden | Illustrator: Melissa Castrillon | Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

This exuberant picture book explores big ideas about life and what’s important through a gentle poem and retro-style illustrations that follow a child and their family and friends. Laden describes love, hope, peace, equality, and more with each line of her poem, and accompanying illustrations show the child jumping on the bed with a sibling, playing outside with friends after a rain, playing in a treehouse, and circling a tree with a diverse group of friends. It’s a joyful read brimming with hope. 

Eleven Words for Love

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah | Illustrator: Maxine Beneba Clarke | Publisher: Candlewick

In this stunning, lyrical picture book, Palestinian author Randa Abdel-Fattah writes a touching poem about eleven Arabic expressions of love. There is the “love between two souls that are closely entwined” and “love that burns, that yearns to touch homeland-heartland soil one last time.” The love between sisters, neighbors, and more is also shown. Each page also has the word for love in Arabic script. The textured art gives a canvas-like feeling to the illustrations, which depict treasured family photographs and special moments together. 

Love, Violet

Author: Charlotte Sullivan Wild | Illustrator: Charlene Chua | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

This picture book about young love is the perfect read for Valentine’s Day. Violet has a crush on Mira. She longs to go on playground adventures with her, but she’s too shy to ask Mira to play with her and becomes flustered when Mira is around. On Valentine’s Day, Violet makes the perfect valentine for Mira and hides it beneath her cowboy hat, but at school she loses her nerve and doesn’t give it to her. Will she ever find the courage to tell Mira how she feels? This sweet picture book is so very relatable and expressive and provides vital representation for young queer kids.

Love Grows

Author: Ruth Spiro | Illustrator: Lucy Ruth Cummins | Publisher: HarperCollins

A young girl receives a letter and a new houseplant every month from her aunt in this joyful epistolary picture book celebrating how love can grow, both literally and metaphorically. First the girl receives a pothos plant followed by a spider plant, monstera, fern, and more. Each page also gives a fun fact about the houseplant depicted. The colorful illustrations depict the girl and her dog’s reactions to each new plant addition until the end when the aunt arrives for a visit. This is a fantastic read for young gardeners.

Your One and Only Heart

Author: Rajani LaRocca | Illustrator: Lauren Paige Conrad | Publisher: Dial Books

Author Rajana LaRocca combines science and poetry in this moving portrait of the heart. Poems describe the cardiovascular system, the chambers of the heart, circulation, electrical systems, death, and more. The poems also work as a metaphor to show how vital the heart is to life. Papercut illustrations in bold colors show children leaping, heart diagrams, and children making valentines. Back matter includes more information about the heart and the 14 aspects of the heart the author uses in her poems. It’s a fantastic and unique STEM picture book.

Like So

Author: Ruth Forman | Illustrator: Raissa Figueroa | Publisher: Little Simon

This adorable picture book shows the love shared between a grandmother and granddaughter. Simple, lyrical prose speaks of their shared love “like so”: “I hug you like so / you hug me like so / we got love / like so.” Luminous illustrations show the pair sharing moments and adventures inside and out, from cooking to building a snowman to going on a walk in the woods. The illustrations also depict the seasons passing, showing that this is a love that will go on forever. It’s a heartwarming read.

I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know

Author: Leslie Odom Jr. & Nicolette Robinson | Illustrator: Joy Hwang Ruiz | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

This lyrical rhyming picture book opens with a family welcoming a new baby into the world. Ruiz’s glowing art depicts different diverse families on each page as infants grow into children, still loved and celebrated by caring adults. The affirming and reassuring words spoken from an adult to a child show that no matter what, the narrator loves the child so much. It’s a beautiful reflection of the love between children and caregivers.

A Pinch of Love

Author: Barry Timms | Illustrator: Tisha Lee | Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books

A boy and his grandmother bring a pinch of love to their community through cooking in this sweet picture book. Rhyming prose compares love to cooking: “One thing’s for sure to bring a smile when sprinkled from above: the miracle ingredient . . . a little pinch of love.” The colorful illustrations show grandmother and grandchild baking cookies and bringing them to a nearby community center, sharing them with construction workers, crying children, and a knitting group. They quickly run out of cookies and rush home to bake more. When they run out of ingredients, neighbors help, and at the end, a community-wide bake sale fundraiser is held. This picture book shows that love can extend to the community as a whole.

Love Made Me More

Author: Colleen Rowan Kosinski | Illustrator: Sonia Sánchez | Publisher: Two Lions

An origami bird narrates this imaginative picture book. The beginning shows a grandmother showing her grandson how to make the origami bird; then the bird proclaims the child to be “My Boy.” As a child, the boy constantly plays with the bird, but as he grows older, the bird is played with less and less. Then the boy writes a marriage proposal on the bird’s wings, and the bird now has a girl and a boy, which soon grows by one more member of the family. With magical illustrations, this lovely picture book shows how love can grow over time.

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

Author: Jane Porter | Illustrator: Maisie Paradise Shearring | Publisher: Candlewick

On Dmitri’s first day of preschool, he tells everyone he loves them, from friends to the teacher to a tree and ants. However, no one says I love you back to Dmitri, which makes him sad. The following day, he doesn’t want to attend preschool, but with encouraging words from his mother, Dmitri realizes that love can be shown in multiple ways and grows with time. As other children welcome him at school that day, Dmitri’s heart grows warm. This is a sweet picture book about a gentle child learning about love.

Keyana Loves Her Friend

Author: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley | Illustrator: Charnelle Pinkney Barlow | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A year ago, Keyana’s best friend Nia moved away. Now she’s coming for a sleepover at Keyana’s house, and Keyana is so excited. She can’t wait to do everything they used to do together. However, when Nia arrives, the girls initially clash. Nia wants to ride her new scooter while Keyana wants to ride bikes. Keyana wants to swim, but Nia doesn’t want to get her new hairstyle wet. The two argue but quickly make up and find activities they both want to do. This relatable picture book shows that friends may change and even clash sometimes, but if both love one another, compromise can be reached. 

Rissy No Kissies

Author: Katey Howes | Illustrator: Jess Engle | Publisher: Carolrhoda Books ®

Often Valentine’s Day stories feature hugs and kisses, but not all kids want to be hugged and kissed, and it’s vital for children to learn bodily autonomy and consent. This rhyming picture book is a wonderful way to introduce and discuss these topics around Valentine’s Day and beyond. Rissy is a lovebird who doesn’t like kisses. This confuses other birds, but Rissy’s supportive mother reassures her that she can still be a lovebird even if she doesn’t enjoy kisses. She tells Rissy that there are lots of ways to show love, and they discuss some of those ways. This is an adorable and affirming conversation starter.

Valentines for All: Esther Howland Captures America's Heart

Author: Nancy Churnin | Illustrator: Monika Róza Wisniewska | Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Include nonfiction in your Valentine’s Day reading with this picture book about the entrepreneurial woman who popularized greeting cards and valentines in the United States. When her father returned from Europe with a valentine for her, Esther Howland was charmed. Her family owned a paper business, and at just 19, she pitched them the idea of making cards. Initially she made the custom valentines, but as business grew, she hired women to help make the cards as well. These handmade valentines soon blossomed into birthday and holiday cards. Bright illustrations depict valentines with simple poems on every page spread, and back matter includes an invitation for children to make their own valentines. This is a charming picture book biography that will inspire kids.  

I Love You Because I Love You

Author: Mượn Thị Văn | Illustrator: Jessica Love | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

This gorgeously illustrated picture book shows the complexity of love. The text follows a specific pattern: “I love you because . . .” followed by “because I love you . . .” On one page, a woman proclaims, “I love you because you see what others miss,” as a child points to a green moth on a tree. “Because I love you, I see more than before,” she says on the next page as the two peer closer at the moth. Each page follows this lyrical pattern, exploring more and more ways people express love. Love’s illustrations are rich, warm, expressive and show a variety of diverse families. This is a book to be cherished.

Readers and Chapter Books about Love for Valentine’s Day

Flubby Does Not Like Valentine’s Day

Author/Illustrator: J. E. Morris | Publisher: Penguin Workshop

The Flubby reader series follows an adorable and funny cat and child team. In the newest book in the series, the child wants to give Flubby the cat a present for Valentine’s Day because the child loves Flubby so much. But Flubby can’t read cards, isn’t interested in a fruit basket, and is allergic to flowers. What will make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for Flubby? Simple text printed in large font with wide spacing makes this series great for beginning readers.

Miles Lewis: Matchmaker

Author: Kelly Starling Lyons | Illustrator: Wayne Spencer | Publisher: Penguin Workshop

This is the third book in the Miles Lewis chapter book series, which follows a Black boy and his family as he learns about science, but each book can be read as a standalone. Miles isn’t a fan of Valentine’s Day, but he’s intrigued when his teacher announces they’ll be doing science experiments with candy hearts. Meanwhile, he decides to play matchmaker at home by setting up his grandmother with his friend’s grandfather. This chapter book series has illustrations on almost every page and well-spaced sentences for reading. 

Teeny Houdini: The Super-Secret Valentine

Author: Katrina Moore | Illustrator: Zoe Si | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Unlike Miles, Bessie Lee in the Teenie Houdini chapter book series could not be more excited about Valentine’s Day. Her first-grade class is having a Valentine’s Day party, and Bessie’s teacher has asked her to make a special valentine for the class’s new student, who is very shy. Bessie is excited and plans to infuse magic tricks into her valentine because she wants to be a magician. This hilarious and charming chapter book series follows Bessie, who is Chinese American, and her antics as she comes up with inventive magic tricks.

The Apartment House on Poppy Hill 

Author: Nina LaCour | Illustrator: Sònia Albert | Publisher: Chronicle Books

While this chapter book isn’t about Valentine’s Day, it has lots of couples in it and a wedding, making it a lovely Valentine’s Day read. It’s told in a series of three interconnected stories about nine-year-old Ella and the tenants who live in her apartment house in San Francisco. A couple has moved into one of the apartments, and Ella is determined to show them the ins and outs of their apartment and welcome them. However, they don’t believe a kid can help them. Meanwhile, Ella helps a gay couple walk their dog and plan the perfect wedding when everything goes wrong and exchanges letters with the mysteriously reclusive elderly couple that lives at the very top of their apartment house. This is such a charming and sweet illustrated chapter book with lots of LGBTQ+ representation.


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