These picture books might just be even sweeter than candy.
I Love You, Spot, by Eric Hill
Readers aged 3 to 5 will love following the adorable yellow puppy, Spot, as he devises a plan to show his mom just how much he loves her on Valentine’s Day. This 10-page board book is perfect for little hands and guaranteed to last long after February 14.
To Buy: $7; amazon.com.
Plenty of Love to Go Around, by Emma Chichester Clark
In the sequel to Love Is My Favorite Thing, Plum the mutt must adjust to the new cat living next door with her best friends, children Sam and Gracie. While Binky the cat does his best to win Plum’s affection, Plum wants nothing to do with the feline frenemy. How can there be room for both of them in the hearts of Sam and Gracie? As the title suggests, Plum eventually learns that there is, indeed, enough love to go around.
To Buy: $13.50; amazon.com.
All Kinds of Kisses, by Heather Swain
This adorable book asks kids to wonder how 11 different animals might kiss. For example, how might a grasshopper kiss if its mouth is designed “like scissors for chopping up leaves?” What about a giant-mouthed humpback whale or a crossbill bird with a twisted beak? Steven Henry’s vibrant, retro illustrations capture the affection between adult animals and their offspring, and a closing spread offers additional factoids on animals like sun bears and chubsuckers (a species of freshwater fish, for those who may not know), making this a cute and informative read for youngsters.
To Buy: $17; amazon.com.
Groggle’s Monster Valentine, by Diana Murray
It’s Valentine’s Day and Groggle is determined to make the perfect card for his “beast friend," Snarlina. He sets out into the forest to find the perfect heart-shaped leaf and then meticulously inscribes it with bog slime. But shortly after admiring his work, Groggle can’t help his monstrous appetite and eats the valentine! As one valentine after another ends up in the well-intentioned monster’s gullet, time is running out to make Snarlina the perfect card. Bats Langley’s illustrations jump from the page as Groggle rushes to impress his friend. You may want to have craft supplies at the ready in case Groggle’s sweet poems inspire your tot to whip up his or her own card.
To Buy: $8; amazon.com.
Love Matters Most, Mij Kelley & Gery Turley
Beautifully illustrated, this sweet book follows a mama polar bear searching for her lost cub. Observant readers will notice that as the mama bear traverses tranquil winter landscapes, she isn’t entirely alone: A small yellow bird is never far. Written in a charming rhyming scheme, this book is a testament to the boundless love a mother has for her child (or cub).
To Buy: $14; amazon.com.
What I Love About You, by Susan Farrington
Oddball animals, monsters, and animal-monster hybrids celebrate their children’s creativity, kindness, and talents in this fanciful picture book. For example, one parent avows, “I love when you’re creative, even when things get messy,” to his child. Farrington’s mixed-media collages add a touch of wonderful whimsy to this zany declaration of love.
To Buy: $15; amazon.com.
Heart to Heart, by Lois Ehlert
My punny Valentine! Ehlert delivers her iconic cut-paper images of fruits and vegetables with modern love notes (e.g., “Do U [carrot] all 4 me?” and “[Olive] u, n it shows”). The high-contrast artwork will excite young minds, and the illustrations give kids the chance to practice their growing vocabulary.
To Buy: $9.50; amazon.com.
I’ll Love You Always, by Mark Sperring
In the spirit of Guess How Much I Love You, this darling book moves through the day, the seasons, and even the years to demonstrate the everlasting love of parent and child. The simple rhyming scheme is easy to read, and the soft illustrations will help lull your child off to sleep.
To Buy: $17; amazon.com.