How do you show your love on Valentine’s Day? Can you guess what we do? You guessed it. We read books. And we do some Valentine’s projects, too. Check out our favorites.

Valentine’s Day Projects

When CJ was two, we spent a rainy day finger painting. But what do you do with all those beautiful pieces of art? (Throwing away is not my strong suit.)


We made them into hearts for Valentine’s Day cards. That started our Valentine’s Day tradition of handmade cards and crafts for grandparents and other family members.

Valentines From Scratch

My favorites are the ones we created from scratch. They’re sweet reminders of different stages the boys have gone through. That first one reminds me of the scene above. Last year, inspired by hello, Wonderful’s String Heart Yarn Cards, we cut out hearts, hole punched around the edge (my hole punch wasn’t large enough to make the heart on a card like hello, Wonderful’s), and CJ sewed. (Sewing was something he showed interested in at the time. I’m not sure he would have done it this year. I’m glad I captured the interest of the moment!)


To make it a card (and cover the back), we glued it on card stock, which CJ had handprinted and signed.


Handprints are one of my favorite things to add to crafts. It is a special way for kids to “leave their mark.” (When we can’t make a print, I trace the boy’s hand and write “Handmade by …”) Though Cam wasn’t as into making Valentines last year, he was willing to get his hand painted and make a print.


I cut it into a heart making a simple but sweet Valentine.


Valentine’s Bookmarks

Another favorite Valentine was from when CJ was three. I cut out hearts of all colors. Then CJ signed them and added sticker hearts. I loved all of them so much that I captured them in a photo. Then I turned that into a bookmark.


Not surprising, considering my love of books, I really liked the bookmark idea. Another year, I found cute Heart Thumbprint Valentine Bookmarks on Oriental Trading. It has been our teacher Valentine’s gift every year since.


Other Valentine’s Projects

When I can’t think of or don’t have time to put together a Valentine’s project from scratch, I head to Oriental Trading. (For Christmas projects, too.) We’ve made the Valentine Tree Thumbprint Poem craft, Sand Art Conversation Hearts (though they are now discontinued, you could probably make something similar yourself with double-sided tape), and this year’s Valentines (but it’s a surprise!).

Another option is giving your kids Valentine’s supplies and see where their imagination takes them. That’s what Allie and the girls did. Inspired by Valentine’s Day Is… by Gail Gibbons, they shopped for materials to send to friends and family. And a well-timed package from the girls’ grandparents filled with valentine-making supplies meant they could make a lot of beautiful combinations! With paper doilies, red paper, glitter glue and stickers, they’re ready for Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Books

And so starts our list of favorite Valentine’s books…

Valentine’s Day Is…

Gail Gibbons’ nonfiction book is an excellent resource for learning about Valentine’s Day, including its history and customs. You’ll find wonderful illustrations that will inspired you to decorate and prepare holiday sweets. The last page is our favorite because it includes How To Make a Valentine, complete with a list of materials and step-by-step instructions to make your own valentine.

The Ballad of Valentine

Though the girls will try the mail first, if that fails, they will look to The Ballad of Valentine for suggestions on getting their messages of love and friendship to their intended recipients!

In this fabulously fun Valentine’s book, you and the kids can sing (to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”) about a sentimental admirer desperately trying to profess his love to Valentine. Despite valiant and creative delivery efforts, his endeavors all end in silly misfortune. We are inspired by the many ways the hero attempts to share his feelings.

Giggles will ensue, but do not fear that love prevails in the end of this whimsically illustrated rhyming book. Allie keeps catching Winter singing, “Oh My Darlin’, Valentine!”

Hug Time

Allie picked up this unassuming board book by Patrick McDonnell for Winter, but it turned out to be a family favorite. Jules, the kitten, is “so filled with love he wanted to give the whole world a hug.” His hugging mission takes Jules to environments near and far—from his own best friends and local park, across the sea to Africa, to the rain forest, and finally to the North Pole where he’s offered a hug by a polar bear.

The illustrations are sparse and simple and echo the book’s sweet rhyming text, but its message is full: “The world is so big, and yet so small, it’s time that we embrace it all.” It’s final instructions: “ give a hug, starting with the one who’s closest to you.” We love this part. How true that a heartfelt hug can begin to change our state of mind.

If You’ll Be My Valentine

The very first Valentine book I gave CJ was this precious book by Cynthia Rylant. The rhyming verse tells what a little boy will give to each person/animal—cat, dog, Grandma, siblings, parents—in his life if they’ll be his valentine.

Fumi Kosaka’s illustrations complete the sweet book with pictures of the boy with each person as well as what his Valentine’s card to that person looks like.

My favorite lines are the last ones, which I think is so right for the world today: “If you’ll be my valentine then I’ll be one for you. We’ll love the trees and all the world. We’ll love each other, too.”

The Very Special Valentine

Beautifully illustrated by Maggie Kneen with cutouts and flaps to reveal each treasure, this was Cam’s first Valentine’s book from his grandparents. Little Bunny Gray wants to give his friend Rosie a special Valentine. He’s looking for something bright and pretty. On each spread, he thinks he’s found a jewel, but it turns out to be a simple part of nature.

Glistening diamonds are actually dewdrops on a spider’s web. Gold beads are buttercups. But don’t despair. Rosie reminds him that the love in his heart is the best gift of all and nature’s beauty, more precious than jewels. It is a wonderful message to share with your kids, especially as they try to make something to show their love.


There are so many great books about Valentine’s Day and love. What are your favorites? And how will you and your kids show your love this Valentine’s Day?