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February is the month of love. At least that is what the gift stores want you to believe. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing an endless line up of sappy jewelry commercials and chick flick trailers. Everywhere you look there are red and pink hearts, roses, and lace decorations but Valentine’s Day can be so much more than the commercialize worship of romantic “love.” This year, as I celebrate Valentine’s Day with my family, I want it to be about more than cards and candy. I want it to be a celebration of all love.

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What is love? If philosophers have pondered this question for centuries so how do we teach our kids about love? While the best way to teach someone about love is to show them love in action, books are also a priceless resource. A good book also has an uncanny way of making the elusive concrete for children.

valentines childrens books
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In that spirit, here my favorite books to show little ones what Valentine’s Day is really all about.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

This story beautifully depicts the loving relationship between parent and child. I have vivid memories of my mother reading it to me. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always…” Yeah try to get through that book with a dry eye now as a mother with your own young child.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Guess How Much I Love You reminds me of my husband and son. They enjoy a playful back and forth out doing each other in love. “I love you, so much.” “No I love you SOOO MUCH.” “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” Their banter gets louder and louder and it is always accompanied by a lot of giggles.

Frog and Toad are Friends: The Letter by Arnold Lobel

Other than Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the largest card-sending occasion. Still, in the age of smartphones, the art of snail mail is easily lost. This Frog and Toad story perfectly portrays the joy of sending and receiving a letter. The entire Frog and Toad series is wonderful to teaching little ones about friendship.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

At first I thought this one was a bit cheesy; however my son loves it so it’s grown on me. I made up my own tune to sing to the words and he loves it. Plus Sandra Boynton is one of my favorite authors for littles.

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

“I wanted you more than you ever will know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.” Nancy Tillman writes and illustrates books that beautifully convey a parent’s love for their children.

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell

Like many of our favorite books, I have this adorable rhyming tale memorized, “There once was a kitten so filled with love, he wanted to give the whole world a hug…” Yup, you’re going to want to add this one to your library.

Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a cute story of a parent’s relentless love. It’s from the author illustrator team that brought us the classic Goodnight Moon.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Little Chester the raccoon is nervous about the first day of school. His mother kisses his hand to help him remember that her love follows him where ever he goes.

I Love You Little One by Nancy Tafuri

This story takes you on a loving journey through nature. “Do you love me mama?” the little animals ask their mothers. Every mother reassures them, “Yes little one, I love you…”

Huggy Kissy by Leslie Patricelli

Leslie Patricelli has a way of writing sweetly simple comedic books. Huggy Kissy reminds us that sometimes all a little one needs is a hug.

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These are the books I grab at the end of a hard day of parenting. We’ve all been there. Testing the limits and trying our patience, some days, these little people in our lives have us counting down the minutes till bedtime. After a struggle to get the kids ready for bed everyone finally settles down for a bedtime story. Slowly the stress of the day melts away. The kiddos shed their tyrannical scales of defiance as they snuggle in a little closer. We breath a sigh of relief and relish in the calm after the storm. We realize that even on the tough days our love for our children grows. Perfect for Valentine’s Day these books show us how precious love, family, and friendship truly are.

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Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc and regularly contributes to First Time Mom.

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