Have a Heart! Books for Valentine’s Day

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Yet another holiday-themed storytime.  Fortunately, Valentine’s Day comes with much better picture book options.  (Thanksgiving is terrible, and don’t even get me started on St. Patrick’s Day).  I actually had a great day reading to different age groups: two classes of second graders, and then my family storytime, which included several of my regular Kindergartners, as well as some new toddlers.

Here were the Family Storytime books:

froggy

Froggy’s First Kiss by Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz (Amazon.com link)

I love the Froggy books.  Yes, they tend to follow the same pattern: Froggy makes lots of mistakes, adults are always yelling at him, and towards the end, he always gets embarrassed and turns “more red in the face than green.”  But they are fun to read aloud, have funny illustrations, and the kids love them.  Plus, they are a wonderful opportunity for teaching print awareness, which helps young children understand the connection between the words they hear and the writing on the page (a recent study found that students whose teachers called attention to printed words while reading aloud performed much better on reading tests up to two years later).  With the Froggy books, I like to show the kids the places where someone yells out “F-R-O-G-G-Y!” (a words that’s usually written in bright bold letters across the page). I tell them to watch for that word, and then join in.  In this story, Froggy is smitten by the new girl at school, Frogilina, who always gives him a surprise at lunch.  One day, she gives him a kiss!  Blaahhh!  I love that Froggy is not interested in romance, and that he gives his special Valentine to his mom (plus he serves her breakfast in bed!).   There were several eager kids asking to check this one out.

splat

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton (Amazon.com link)

Splat is another popular picture book series.  In this one Splat, a fluffy black cat, wants to give a Valentine to Kitten, even though every time he sees her, she “pulls his ears, and pokes his belly, ties his tail and calls him smelly.”  To make matters worse, Spike, the big bully cat at his school, likes Kitten too.  The illustrations are adorable, and the kids always giggle at the parts where Kitten calls Splat smelly.  This one got snatched up too.

ballad

The Ballad of Valentine by Alison Jackson; illustrated by Tricia Tusa (Amazon.com link)

I love this wild West parody of “My Darling, Clementine,” about a man who tries to send his true love a message, but things never go his way.  The mailman can’t find her address, the homing pigeon flies to Madagascar, the Pony Express messenger gets bucked clear to Arizona.  The parents seemed to get the humor more than the kids, but I was grateful to have this book because some of the toddlers were getting restless after the two longer books, and the singing in this one seemed to draw them back in.  Alison Jackson also wrote the wonderful I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, which is one of my Thanksgiving mainstays.

day

The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond (Amazon.com link)

One day just before Valentine’s Day, it starts raining hearts.  Cornelia Augusta catches several and uses them to make special Valentine’s for each of her animal friends: a ring of hearts for the dog; a heart with a cotton ball in the middle for the rabbit; a big heart with holes cut in it for the mouse.  This one was a great lead-in for the heart craft we did at the end.  I was planning to throw some small paper hearts like confetti, but I forgot.

SONGS:

Skidamarink-a-Dink-a-Dink: I like to teach the kids how to say “I Love You” in sign language, and we do that each time it comes up in the song.  Here’s a very trippy animated video of the song, with the lyrics in the subtitles.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs: We did this one after the Froggy book.  I have the kids stand up and jump up and down on the line, “One jumped into the pool.”  I often do this with a frog puppet, and pretend it is catching flies on the kids’ heads.   Here’s an animated video for this song.

If All the Raindrops:  We sang this song before The Day It Rained Hearts.  As I did last week, I asked the kids for suggestions of what they’d like the rain to be and we made up our own verses.  Our rain was made up of milkshakes, pie, cookies, and lots of other goodies.

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: Who’s My Pretty Baby? by Elizabeth Mitchell from You Are My Little Bird (Amazon.com link)

CRAFT: Fun with Hearts

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Heart bracelet by Ella

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Heart person by Ella

I cut out paper hearts in all different sizes and colors, and gave the kids glue sticks, white cardstock, and markers.  I had made an example page featuring several types of heart animals, but in the end all the kids did different things, and it was great fun to see what they came up with.  One little girl even taped several pink hearts together and made me a bracelet, which I thought was a neat idea.

Hearts by Olivia

Hearts by Olivia

OTHER VALENTINE’S DAY BOOKS:

Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Marc Simont (Amazon.com link)

I read this one to the second graders, and it worked really well.  When Nate’s dog Sludge receives a mysterious Valentine, Nate is on the job to find out who sent it.  But then his friend Annie begs him to help her find the missing Valentine she made for her brother, giving him two cases at once.  In the end, Nate is horrified to discover that someone has given him a Valentine. The book includes a section of craft ideas, jokes, and facts about Valentine’s Day, which were fun to share with the class.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli; illustrated by Paul Yalowitz (Amazon.com link)

This was a nice counterpoint to the Nate the Great, although I have to tell myself several pages before the end not to get choked up.  It’s a lengthy picture book about a lonely man named Mr. Hatch, who has no friends or family, and keeps to himself.  Then one day the mailman delivers a big box of chocolates with a card that says, “Somebody Loves You!” and Mr. Hatch’s whole life changes.  Wondering who could have sent the chocolates, he reaches out to help people in his community, and bakes brownies for his neighbors.  When the mailman discovers that he accidentally delivered the package to the wrong address, Mr. Hatch goes back to his lonely ways, thinking nobody loved him after all.  But by then, of course, everybody does.

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes (Amazon.com link)

Great board book for toddlers and preschoolers.  When Lilly gets a chocolate heart for Valentine’s Day, she wants to save it.  But there seem to be no good hiding places.  In the end, she finds the perfect place: in her mouth!

Be Mine, Be Mine, Sweet Valentine by Sarah Weeks and Fumi Kosaka (Amazon.com link)

Cute, rhyming lift the flap book featuring different animals giving each other the things they like best.  Preschoolers enjoy guessing what’s under the flap based on the animal and the rhyme: a bone for the dog, cream for the cat, etc.

What are your favorite picture books about Valentine’s Day?

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