Valentine's Day Books for Kids - Ocean County Moms

This story was contributed by Library Mom Rosemary D’Urso. Follow her on Instagram @librarymombooks and head to for more book picks for kids!

Valentine’s Day is almost here and I have the perfect read alouds focusing on love, kindness, and friendship that are packed with kid appeal! 

From an endearing robot searching for the meaning of love to a little girl determined to create a valentine for her entire town to a variety of tales celebrating sweet embraces, the following stories are guaranteed to give readers all the feels and stir up that excitement for Valentine’s Day. 


Get ready for extra cuddles when sharing these sweet books that celebrate love! 


Who Loves the Dragon? by Bianca Schulze; illustrated by Samara Hardy

(Ages 3 and up)

This new interactive book could not be cuter! When Dragon’s friends are all too busy to attend the annual friendship festival, he is left feeling sad and alone. Children will delight in cheering up Dragon by teaching him how to take deep breaths, sharing kind words, and showing off funny dance moves. The gratifying surprise ending will also leave them smiling and feeling loved themselves.


Love, Z by Jessie Sima

(Ages 3 and up)

Love, Z  is the tender story of a robot searching for the definition of love. On his quest, he meets several new friends who share what love means to them. The sweet explanations combined with the charming illustrations are perfect for driving home the idea of love for children.  This is one of those feel good books that you will want to share again and again!


Love Is by Diane Adams; illustrated by Claire Keane; published by Chronicle Books

(Ages 3 and up)

Reminiscent of a parent raising a child, many adults and children will enjoy this amusing and touching journey through love. When a little girl finds a duckling in need of help, she cares for it through midnight feedings, early mornings, and messy baths. When the duck is ready, she lovingly releases it back into the wild. Though they may be apart, she is comforted in knowing they will always share a special bond.

The illustrations perfectly capture the girl’s emotions and the lyrical text makes for a wonderful read aloud. Moreover, the girl shows compassion, maturity, and resilience making her an excellent role model for children. This endearing story is a real winner on many different levels.


Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper

(Ages 3 and up)

Horace and Hattie are hedgehogs that are the very best of friends, which makes it even more painful that they cannot hug due to their spiky quills. The story follows their friendship through the seasons as each new plan to hug is thwarted. When Horace wriggles into a sock on a clothesline, the pair finally find the perfect solution to their problem.

I especially love the ending stating, “So the next time you see someone wearing mismatched socks, or if one of your socks goes missing, you know what it means. A hedgehug has happened!” My son and I still joke every time we can’t find a missing sock that there is a hedgehog running around hugging his friend.


A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Dan Santat

(Ages 4 and up)

The little boy from Crankenstein (2013) is back and is as cranky as ever. Despite his mother and classmates’ attempts to engage him in Valentine’s Day activities, he continues his refrain of “Yechhh!” at each offering. Not even his heart undies can turn his day around. 

The illustrations are hilarious as Caldecott winning illustrator, Dan Santat, perfectly captures Crankenstein’s anguish as he is surrounded by pink hearts all day. As in the first book, his one saving grace is finding a best friend who understands exactly how he feels. It is difficult to find a fun Valentine’s Day read aloud for upper elementary age children, but  this is one that will engage even the biggest Valentine’s Day naysayer.


Love Grows Everywhere by Barry Timms and Tisha Lee

(Ages 4 and up)

Gentle rhymes and warm, colorful illustrations follow a family of gardeners who demonstrate that similar to nurturing a plant, love can blossom anywhere when we cultivate our relationships with kindness. The vibrant illustrations not only beautifully capture the affection among family members, but spills over into the different types of love in their diverse community.

With its theme of compassion, this joyful celebration of love is perfect for sharing on Valentine’s Day and all year long!


Valenslime by Joy Keller; illustrated by Ashley Belote

(Ages 4 and up)

Complete with three unique slime recipes, kids are not going to be able to resist this enchanting STEM story! Victoria Franken loves to experiment and especially excels in making slime. In her previous adventure Frankenslime, she brought her slime to life in the form of a new friend named Goop. Now, she wants to make Goop even more playmates. She includes all of her favorite things into the new slime recipe, but when it grows out of control, she realizes she might have too much of a good thing.


Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright

(Ages 3 and up)

Love Monster returns from a vacation to find a box of chocolates on his doorstep. He excitedly plans to eat the entire box, when he is struck by the idea of sharing with his friends. He proceeds to have an inner struggle debating whether or not to share the delicious treats (reminiscent of Mo Willem’s Should I Share My Ice Cream). In the end, he decides to share… he is a love monster after all. In a surprising twist, he discovers that his friends are the ones who had shared the last candy with him. 


I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van; illustrated by Jessica Love

(Ages 3 and up)

This beautifully inclusive and heartening story will leave readers smiling and comforted in knowing that they are loved. Using a cause and effect format, each two-page spread expresses a statement of why someone is loved and the outcome of that affection. “I love you because you see what others miss. Because I love you, I see more than before.” This sweet and joyful book should not be missed!


Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson

(Ages 4 and up)

This uplifting story about a bird who soars to new heights when he finds self-acceptance could not be cuter!

Bernard is born with unusually long wings that prevent him from flying. While initially disappointed that he can’t join the other birds in the sky, this empathetic protagonist finds another use for his oversized limbs. When he hears an orangutan crying, he wraps his wings around him in a comforting embrace. Soon all of the animals want to share their sorrows with Bernard and receive an uplifting hug. Through helping others, Bernard finds happiness and friendship.


The Secret Life of Squirrels: a love story by Nancy Rose

(Ages 3 and up)

Incredible photographs featuring real squirrels in the author’s backyard fill the pages of this adorable story. The lovable Mr. Peanuts first featured in The Secret Life of Squirrels (2014) is back and finds a new friend that he is nuts for just in time for Valentine’s Day. The photographs featuring the squirrels playing on miniature sets are truly amazing and impossible not to smile at.  This is one of my favorite go-to’s to read to a class. It is always a hit with the kids!


Love, Ruby Valentine by Laurie Friedman; illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath

(Ages 4 and up)

Ruby Valentine is so full of love, she can’t wait to share her handmade treats and cards with the entire town. She works so hard, however, she sleeps through Valentine’s Day! The resilient girl doesn’t let this stop her and delivers her valentines anyway discovering that it brings people joy to say I love you any day of the year!


The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

(Ages 5 and up)

When three animal friends each find a love letter, they mistakenly believe it is intended for them. The letter makes Hedgehog feel cheerful,  Bunny helpful, and Squirrel carefree. When they discover the letter is meant for someone else entirely, they are initially crushed, but soon realize the valuable friendship they share.

This impactful read aloud could serve as the perfect writing prompt for children to write letters to their friends explaining what they appreciate about them.


Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

(Ages 4 and up)

This book may only be a few years old, but it is considered a classic by many. The simple story follows a young boy who shares hugs with anyone who needs them. Adorable details are paired nicely with a message of compassion and friendship in this sweet tale that is perfect for Valentine’s Day and all year long!


Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Scott Campbell

(Ages 6 and up)

 Filled with amusing word-play, the story of Mortimer the zombie searching for love is perfect for those kids who prefer spooky to mushy. Balancing gore, humor, and a sweet ending, this is a fun and unique love story that has tons of kid appeal.  


Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich

(Ages 3 and up)

While he may be adorable on the outside, Hank is a cactus whose prickly disposition keeps the creatures of the dessert at bay. Even the grumpiest of us can change, however, and Hank soon realizes that everyone needs a hug sometimes.

Hank may be small in size, but he has a big personality that is expertly captured through the expressive illustrations. I also love how the pictures beautifully portray the dessert landscape through various phases of the day.


Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney; illustrated by Anita Jeram 

(Ages 0 and up) 

With its message of limitless parental love, this timeless story is one of my absolute favorites. 

Little Nutbrown Hare is preparing for bed and tries to express how much he loves his father by physical measurements. “I love you as high as I can hop.” In a playful back and forth game, father and son continue trying to explain how much they love each other. As Little Nutbrown Hare drifts off to sleep and mutters, “I love you all the way to the moon”. Big Nutbrown Hare waits until he is asleep and whispers, “I love you to the moon and back”. The soft water color illustrations and heartwarming story make this a perfect book to read with a loved one before bedtime.   


My Art Book of Love  by Shana Gozansky 

(Ages 0 and up)

I strive to expose my children to various aspects of the world, so I was overjoyed to receive My Art Book of Love. This beautiful board book features famous pieces of art that highlight different forms of love. The tender text paired with the prominent artwork is a true celebration of what love can look like and how it can make us feel.


This outstanding book is perfect for reading while snuggling up with your own little one or gifting for a baby shower or Valentine’s Day.


The I Love You Book by Todd Parr

(Ages 2 and up)

Todd Parr is one of my favorite authors and illustrators for young children. His signature artwork is bright and bold and very child friendly. His books are well known for their universal themes and for helping to build children’s confidence.

The I Love You Book is a standout because it reinforces the message to children that they will be loved unconditionally. The simple text and colorful illustrations capture moments that will be familiar to many children. “I love you when you are silly./ I love you when you are sad. / I love you when you are scared. / I love you when you are brave.” Children will leave this book feeling reassured that the people in their lives will love them completely and absolutely.


Bunny Roo I Love You by Melissa Marr, illustrated by Teagan White

(Ages 0 and up)

The incredible bond between parent and child is beautifully captured in this charming story. The loving text follows a narrator who compares their child to a variety of animals while the vintage style illustrations provide a classic feel that will attract multiple readings.


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