Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and stories of love are already filling the internet. And listening to a good story is one of a child’s favorite pastimes. So why not develop your child’s love of reading by giving him or her one of the following books on February 14th?
Lover Boy/Juanito el cariñoso written by Lee Merill. Illustrated by Francisco Delgado. Cinco Puntos Press.
Parents everywhere will love this sweet, bilingual counting book. Children will learn how to count from one to ten in English and Spanish as they follow the story of 4-year-old Johnny, who affectionately dispenses kisses to one and all…even his bossy, older sister! The vibrant and joyful illustrations perfectly capture the love Juanito has for his family and friends. Ages 4 and up. Hardcover.
I Know the River Loves Me by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Lee & Low Books.
This is the story of a young girl who walks down to meet one of her best friends — the river. In the flowing water, she finds acceptance, joy, and a reflection of herself. If only every child could find this perfect friend, who loves unconditionally and mirrors their inner beauty! The illustrations are a wonderful mix of black-and-white and vibrant color, though throughout most of the book only Nature is drawn in full vibrant hues. It is the perfect book for parents who want to encourage their children to find their inner beauty and take time to love themselves. Ages 4 and up. Paperback.
Be Mine by Brenda Ponnay. Xist Publishing.
Be Mine is a burst of color and a fun book for little children. Each page has simple, yet rich, illustrations of various animals accompanied by phrases typically associated with love and Valentine’s Day. Though the target age range is probably for children 5 and under, this book is also GREAT for beginning readers. My son enjoyed reading the text and I liked the opportunity it gave him to practice reading vowel dipthongs (“ow,” “ou,” “oo”) and vowel digraphs (“ea,” “ee,” “ie,” “ey”). Ages 4 and up. Available as a paperback or as an eBook.
Dizzy in Your Eyes by Pat Mora. Knopf Books for Young Readers
A collection of 50 poems about teens in love. Whether their love is shared or unrequited, lasting a minute or a lifetime, these poems are about everything and anything, including the love for a pet, a sport, and music. This collection explores the intensity, pain, and beauty that love brings — from first crush to love’s bloom, from a breakup catastrophe to starting over. The poems come in a variety of forms, including haiku, clerihew, sonnet, cinquain, and blank verse. A great read for the older children in your life. Ages 12 and up. Paperback.
Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers edited by Pat Mora. Illustrated by Paula S. Barragán M. Lee & Low Books.
Pat Mora edited and contributed to this beautiful anthology of 13 poems that celebrate the powerful bond between mothers, abuelitas, and children. The contributing poets represent a wide spectrum of Latino voices writing passionately about their Puerto Rican, Cuban, Venezuelan, and Mexican American heritage and the important role that their mothers and grandmothers have played in their lives. Barragán’s illustrations only enrich the narratives. Love to Mamá is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift recognizing mothers everywhere. Ages 6 and up. Hardcover or paperback.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher ofMommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.