We Recommend, Small, Strange Valentines Day Edition

A crazy week! Two We Recommends in a row. What can we say, this one is time-sensitive. Yes, yet another in our We Recommend series, where you guys write in asking for what would be the right book for the small reader in your life. Go ahead, try us!

I was looking over our e-mail and saw a request for our We Recommend feature, but one that perplexed me a bit. Here it is, in part:

My
oldest son is in kindergarten and his class Valentine's Day party is
coming up. My husband has volunteered to read the story to the kids
during the party. 
Any suggestions for an appropriate picture book that isn't corny
or religious? (My son's school is a public school and a little antsy
about anything related to any religion.)

Does anyone anywhere celebrate Valentine's Day as a religious holiday? I mean, certainly it is called Saint Valentine's day, so there's that, but mostly I believe it to have been entirely and completely given over to love, hearts, and candy candy candy. Perhaps I'm missing something? As far as I know, the Catholic Church took it over from the pagans, who more or less went with the whole love, hearts and candy and sort of tacked a saint on to it to make it wholesome. So the concern about a religious book seems a bit misplaced. But then, what do I know?

There, that's today's I-don't-know-what-I'm-talking-about-but-almost-have-a-vague-idea-religious-history-lesson.

Anyway, that still leaves us with the quandary: what should this dad read for the Valentine's Day party? I personally am very much opposed to the romanticizing/sexualizing of children's friendships that is so much a part of little kid culture. I always hated it when various parents or teachers said, "Oh, she has such a crush on that boy, it's so adorable!" when as far as I could see the only reason
they called it a crush was because the kids weren't the same gender. Or the "Oh, maybe they'll get married when they grow up!" that people seemed to feel was a great compliment to your child, when all I felt was "Can we let them out of this rigid scheme of gender roles for maybe 20 seconds? Or even 10? Please!" Ugh. I don't know why it irked me, but there you go, I'm easily irked.

But I digress. The book. Here, instead of waffling and worrying, I will go with my gut, a book that I read to Diana's preK class one party that kept them rapt. Rapt! A classic, an awesome read aloud, just an excellent book all around.

Mike-mulligan-and-his-steam-shovel-board-book-edition

For Valentine's Day? Well, the relationship between Mike and Mary-Ann is certainly loving. And besides, the book is red! How much more could you ask for?
No doubt you all will have much more appropriate choices, and here's to you: bring them on. But in my heart I believe that if you read this one, it's going to be a hit.
(Note: If anyone pulls a Ramona on you and asks you how he went to the bathroom, tell them he held it in. He was an impressive man, Mike Mulligan, and didn't drink as much waters as he should have that day.)

7 thoughts on “We Recommend, Small, Strange Valentines Day Edition

  1. Well…not to disagree with your Mike Mulligan, but I think Love Bugs by David A. Carter will be a hit. I also love Love and Kisses by Sarah Wilson and The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting (illustrated by Jan Brett. Another good one would be Pigs in Love by Teddy Slater. The Mysterious Valentine by Nancy Carlson is really good too, but might be a little too old for pre-school. They would still like it, but they might not figure out who the valentine is.

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  2. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher read this to her class last year and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house among the adults. Kids thought it was great, too: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. All about the awesome nature of a caring community.

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  3. You beat me to it, Abby C.! As soon as I read the title of this post, I wanted to yell out “Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch!” Too long and complex for preschool? Maybe. But oh I love that book. And my (1st and 2nd grade) students do too, year after year.

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  4. I like Clifford for random holidays. The puppy Valentine one is really sweet. There’s also Valentines Mice, brought to you by the same minds (I think) as the Biggest…Ever books. For an alternate idea, you could do a book about how the heart works. Which might be weird, but I bet the kids would dig it. I don’t have any suggestions about that, though.

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  5. All the above suggestions are great. Just one unnecessary one to add: How about Rosemary Wells’ I Love You a Bushel and a Peck? Maybe too young for kindergarten, but the pictures are fun and you get to all sing the song together.

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  6. the giving tree? the velveteen rabbit? too old for the audience in question?
    each is, in my opinion, about love that transcends both gender and species.

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