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14 Children’s Books on Love: Valentine’s Day Edition

Three happy kids sit on a grassy hill. Explore Britt Hawthorne’s recommendations for children’s books on love. Photo: Charlein Gracia

Right now, children across the United States are coming home with class lists, determined to make Valentine’s Day cards for their peers. Grownups are collecting old shoeboxes to be repurposed into mailboxes, and families are loading up on chocolate hearts and teddy bears. Stores and libraries are filled with heart-shaped balloons, the color red, and boxes of candy. It’s time for Valentine’s Day, our annual celebration of love! Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to practice empathy, critical thinking, and activism with your children. If you’re celebrating this year, here are my recommendations for 14 children’s books on love.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” -Cornel West

The History of Valentine’s Day Is Complicated

The origins of Valentine’s Day are pretty old and murky. Many historians believe it comes from the pagan Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, which included sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with the hides of freshly slain animals. During the first rise of Christianity, the festival was soon outlawed. As Christianity spread, a deluge of Christian holidays and practices quickly replaced pagan rituals. Still, the holiday’s intention of fertility and love remained unchanged. 

Today the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia celebrate this holiday. But as it stands, the modern Valentine’s Day tradition is drowning in commercialization focused on proving and performing love. Worse, most representations aren’t inclusive or accurate of the everyday love we experience. 

I suggest we make Valentine’s Day about strengthening self-love, fostering loving relationships, and practicing community care. We can do this in everyday moments filled with playfulness, curiosity, and joy.

14 Children’s Books on Love

I’ve selected 14 children’s books on love to read this Valentine’s Day. I was determined to make a booklist that was honest, inclusive, and grounded in our four parenting principles. Those principles of self-love, embracing people, identifying unfairness, and acting justly guide our children to become compassionate thinkers and doers. Some of the books emphasize the beauty of loving yourself. Other books feature queer love or platonic love. And most importantly, several of the books represent authors of the global majority. By reading these books, I hope children will learn that love comes in different forms and can be found in different places. 

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1. Together: A First Conversation about Love by Megan Pamela Ruth Madison and Jessica Ralli

Cover of the book titled Together. Explore Britt Hawthorne’s recommendations for children’s books on love.

Recommended Age: birth-6 years old 

Studies indicate that having discussions with your children about love, family, and relationships not only enhances their comprehension of what they observe but also improves their self-awareness and confidence, equipping them to confront and challenge unjust situations like prejudice and discrimination. This book initiates a constructive dialogue about love, taking into account both the child’s and the adult’s perspectives.

2. Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie

Cover of the book titled Still This Love Goes On. Explore Britt Hawthorne’s recommendations for children’s books on love.

Recommended Age: birth-6 years old 

This picture book explores the theme of longing for our loved ones and the assurance that we will reunite with them. Filled with love for community and nature, Still, This Love Goes On is bound to be passed down and shared for many generations through reading and singing. 

3. Oh, So Many Kisses Padded Board Book: A Valentine’s Day Book for Kids by Maura Finn 

Recommended Age: birth-4 years old 

From gentle kisses to furry kisses, there’s a kiss for every moment with adorable babies and those who love them. With rhyming text and precious illustrations, this cuddly story celebrates all the lovable babies—even the animal babies—in your life. 

4. One Love (Music Books for Children, African American Baby Books, Bob Marley Book for Kids) by Cedella Marle

Cover of the book titled One Love.

Recommended Age: birth-4 years old 

Inspired by Bob Marley’s iconic song, One Love follows a young girl as she gathers her community to improve her neighborhood. The book demonstrates the power of having one love in our hearts.

5. Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder

Cover of the book titled Bodies Are Cool.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years old 

Bodies Are Cool is a delightful tribute to the diversity of human bodies worldwide. This highly inclusive book showcases a variety of skin tones, shapes, and hair types, and its cheerful illustrations and uplifting message promote body positivity and self-assurance in young readers.

6. I Love You Because I Love You: A Valentine’s Day Book for Kids by Muon Thi Van 

Recommended Age: 4-8 years old 

What makes us love the people we care about? And what does it mean to express our love out loud? This positive book shows that love is a conversation. Love can be both complex and straightforward at the same time.

7. Hair Love by Matthew Cherry 

Recommended Age: 4-8 years old 

Zuri has curly, unruly hair, but she recognizes its beauty. When her dad tries to style it for a special event, he faces a big learning curve. His love for Zuri inspires him to do everything he can to make Zuri and her hair happy. Hair Love is a tribute to embracing your natural hair and recognizing the bond between fathers and daughters everywhere.

8. You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith 

Recommended Age: 5-9 years old 

This book encourages children to demonstrate love and support toward one another every day. It is a basic guide on developing relationships, promoting empathy, and instilling respect among peers, aimed specifically at our youngest members of society.

9. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems: A Valentine’s Day Book for Kids by Eloise Greenfield

Recommended Age: 7-11 years old 

This book is a collection of sixteen award-winning poems that depict love and the beauty of daily life as seen through the lens of a child. Each poem captures the innocence and wonders in experiences such as riding a train, enjoying music, and playing with friends. The poems are accompanied by illustrations that enhance the meaning and depth of the words, including both portraits and panoramic drawings.

10. From Archie to Zack by Vincent X. Kirsch 

Recommended Age: 4-8 years old 

A sweet story about unapologetic friendship and first crushes. Archie and Zach are inseparable; they like each other and love spending time together. But neither of them has expressed their true feelings just yet. This picture book celebrates young, queer love in a whimsical, kid-friendly way. 

11. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel 

Recommended Age: 6-9 years old 

A timeless favorite that has been cherished for generations, Frog and Toad features two best friends who spend much of their time together. Each chapter addresses an important theme: individuality, acceptance, friendship, and love.

12. Front Desk By Kelly Yang

Recommended Age: 9-12 years old 

This story takes us on a journey to see if Mia Tang can retain her job, support immigrants and guests, overcome the challenges posed by Mr. Yao, and pursue her aspirations. The bravery, compassion, and determination shown by Mia Tang will leave readers in awe. 

13. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Recommended Age: 10-13 years old 

This book is a humorous yet touching tale of a family, a vivid portrayal of a town, and a young boy’s mission to save both. Thirteen-year-old Arturo is determined not to let his family and community fall without putting up a fight. With the help of Carmen, he learns about the power of poetry and protest through the hidden stories of his family and the writings of José Martí. 

14. Max Loves Muñecas! By Zetta Elliott 

Recommended Age: 11-14 years old 

Max desires to go to a lovely boutique that sells dresses and dolls but is afraid that other children will make fun of him. When he finally musters the bravery to enter the store, he encounters Señor Pepe, a remarkable dollmaker and tailor. Señor Pepe shares his story and passion for dolls with Max.

Make Love a Verb

Reading children’s books on love allows you to reestablish your family’s values: empathy, compassion, and trust. Use these books to deepen your family’s conversations about strengthening self-love and fostering healthy relationships. But don’t stop there. It’s always important for families to make love a verb.

Some ideas to get you started include:

  • Phone a loved one to say, “I love you!” or “Life is better with you!”
  • Have a neighborhood clean-up day
  • Commit to reducing plastic all year long
  • Show love to local businesses
  • Add children’s books on love to your local lending library
  • Donate much-needed supplies to your local food bank, domestic violence shelter, or public school
  • Go to to find out about the next local election
    • If applicable, children can practice typing their address or completing the form
    • Make an election or primary to-do list
    • Share how this supports community care, self-love, and loving relationships.

I’m rooting for you.

Raising inclusive, antiracist children is a noble goal for any parent, caregiver, or educator—start with this book.

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Development North Star Sites
Photography Bethany Brewster