5 Kids’ Books That Make Great Valentines

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Cristin Stickles

Staff Writer

Cristin Stickles has been nothing but a children's bookseller for the past 25 years. She has a lot of opinions about The Giving Tree.

The emails sent by my bookstore coworkers are the stuff of legend- we recently went eight days strong on a reply-all fest about what type of pen each of us writes with in our non-work endeavors. The first Valentine’s Day that I worked at the store, an email went out looking for recommendations as to what books should be featured on a Great Books About Bad Relationships-themed display. That reply-all fest dragged on for two weeks, which is long by any standards, but especially long when you consider that I had already hit it out of the park on Day 1 with my suggestion that we include The Giving Tree. Has there ever been a better book about an unhealthy relationship than The Giving Tree?! When it comes to matters of the heart, kids’ books frequently hit the nail more squarely on the head than their adult counterparts ever could.

For your consideration, for Valentine’s Day:

Carry ExtI Carry Your Heart With Me by ee cummings, illustrated by Mati Rose McDonough

I can’t believe it’s taken this long for this poem to become a picture book but I’m certainly fine with that because these illustrations were worth waiting for. Absolutely perfect for new parents and new grandparents, and doubles nicely as a baby shower gift.



Missing Pieces CoversThe Missing Piece & The Missing Piece Meets The Big O by Shel Silverstein

I’m a children’s book buyer, and with that job comes a very specific set of concerns. I worry that a child will throw up on the books and/ or me, I worry about parents who don’t practice what I deem to be proper disposal of diapers, I worry about how certain spreads in Where’s Waldo are, let’s be real, not the most politically correct portrayal  of certain non-North American parts of this world, I worry that someone will take a misrepresentative, cropped picture of one of my book displays and then loudly announce to Twitter and God and the world that I only sell books by white people, I worry that I’m going to cry whenever I talk about The Penderwicks because I love that book too much, I worry that this magical realism trend will be an invitation to authors to not resolve their plots, and I worry about running out of stock on The Missing Piece the week of Valentine’s Day. Circa February 13th, these books become Everyone’s Jam.

Most people default to the first book (The Missing Piece OG, if you will), but you should cruise both before you settle on one. There are crucial differences that you need . For example, here’s The Missing Piece:

1Missing Piece 236x253

… and here’s The Missing Piece Meets the Big O (with my favorite quote from children’s literature):

2Big O 450x328

Both important messages, but likely to convey different things to your sweetheart upon receipt.

courageCourage by Bernard Waber 

“There are many kinds of courage. Awesome kinds. And everyday kinds. Still, courage is courage–whatever kind.” Love is terrifying, and being brave is such a hard thing.






Love BugsLove Bugs mini pop-up book by David Carter

I once gave this to a boyfriend because I was scared to say I Love You to him for the first time and, without giving you too many gory details, it totally worked. A few years later, I would go on to give a different boyfriend a copy of David Carter’s Bed Bugs pop-up in an attempt to move on from the fight we were having about which one of us had given the other the bed bugs that we now both in possession of; that was less successful than Love Bugs had been.

Like You ComboI Like You
by Sandol Stoddard Warburg and Jacqueline Chwast

It’s impossible to overstate the slam-dunk potential that this book has as a Valentine. It’s $6.95, which is less than you’re going to wind up spending if you land yourself in the holiday card gulag that is Kate’s Paperie/ Paper Source, and contains, easily, some ofthe best sentiments on love and friendship I have ever read:

One of my friends used this as a reading at her wedding and I cried for like a week.


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