Extend Valentine’s Day with Random Acts of Kindness

Today is, of course, Valentine’s Day.  The day of Cupid, and roses, and hearts, and chocolate candies. There’s alot of hype and pressure for the single day.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could extend the affection expressed on Valentine’s Day throughout the year?

But then this morning, I read this post over on Lit Linx’s blog about Random Act of Kindness Week.  What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day then to kick off a week celebrating kindness, even to those we don’t know!

Almost a year ago, I was getting ready to drive back to Virginia from a visit with the grandparents 2 hours away.  I was by myself, with my year-old daughter in the back seat and before we got even two miles from our departure point, she started to get squirmy.  I pulled into the Starbucks drive-thru to pick up some liquid encouragement for the trip home.  After ordering, I proceeded to the window, where I was informed the lady in front of me had already paid for my drink, with wishes for a wonderful day.  By the time I had my drink, she was gone, but the warm and fuzzy feeling stayed with me all day.

That example was an example of an adult extending kindness to another adult, but children can participate, too.  While they are likely not going to pay for someone else’s drink at Starbucks, consider these ways to involve your kids in random acts of kindness this week (and of course, I’m adding a literacy twist):

  • Write a thank you note.  It doesn’t have to be for a gift.  Consider having your child write a hand-written thank you to the mom who hosted last weekend’s sleepover, or the librarian who helped him/her find the perfect book, or the teacher who did an extra-cool science experiment.  Letter-writing is a dying art, I guarantee the note will be received with appreciation.
  • Have your child select several recent photos to send to the grandparents.  On the back, have the child write (or dictate) the who, what, when, where, and whys of the photo.  A great way to include grandparents in your child’s activities and encourage communication.
  • Has your child outgrown or lost interest in several books on the bookshelf? Have your child box up the books he/she is no longer interested in, and then include your child in donating the books to a local library, or a charity who provide books to under-privileged youth.  Another option is to freecycle the books, where they are often picked up by those wishing to grow their home library or build school/classroom libraries.
  • Send a cheerful, anonymous card to someone in the neighborhood, church, or school who is going through a difficult time.  The card can be handmade or store-bought, but have your child choose the recipient and include a short personal message.  Getting “real” mail is a sure-fire way to brighten someone’s day–and the “awwww” factor that comes with a child’s own thoughts is an added bonus.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.  Let’s continue to spread kindness this week and throughout the year.

P.S- If you missed them, I did talk about Valentine’s day book selections last week.  You can find them here and here.

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Some More Valentine’s Day Love

First off, I need to say a thank you to Pioneer Valley Books for listing me as one of their ‘Bloggers to Follow’.  My little blog exists only because I enjoy children’s literature, and have a passion for spreading that love around.  So to be recognized as someone worth reading is an honor…thank you!  If you’re unfamiliar with Pioneer Valley books, please head over and check them out.  Whether you’re a teacher, homeschooler, or a parent just looking for a few extra resources for your early reader, they have the tools and materials to help you out (and cute puppies!  Check out the cute puppies!)

Next, on Tuesday I listed some of my favorite Valentine’s Day board books.  I’m back today with five picture books you must get your hands on.


How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You
by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, 2009)

If you have been living in a cave (ha!  dinosaurs…cave…??) and not yet discoverd Yolen and Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs… series, then this is required reading.  Continuing with their theme of dinosaur antics, the duo crafts a story of dinosaurs who behave like young dinosaurs do- kicking the back of the seat, refusing to nap, throwing sand.  But just like your own little “dinosaur”, these dinosaurs also have special ways of letting their parents know how much they love them.  Added bonus for the dinosaur lovers in your family?  Teague’s illustrations are modeled after real prehistoric creatures; you can find the names written discreetly on each page.  Ages 0-4


Yummiest Love
by Lisa McCourt, illustrated by Laura J. Byrant (Orchard Books, 2009)

The everyday joys (and frustrations) this doting daddy experiences with his young son will ring true with parents everywhere.  From belly laughs and never-ending questions, to picky eating and cuddles, this daddy bear knows that “You keep changing and growing and that will never stop.  All I can do is hang on for the ride.” Ages 0-4.

Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea (Philomel Books, 2010)

Old Bear (complete with scruffy white eyebrows) knows that sometimes what his Little Cub needs is tough love, which includes reminding him to eat his porridge, tie his scarf, and not climb too high on the rocks.  But when Old Bear becomes sick with a winter cold, it’s up to Little Cub make things better.  Ages 3-6.


If You’ll Be My Valentine
by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Fumi Kosaka (HarperCollins, 2005)

Valentine’s Day celebrates love of all sorts!  Follow this young boy as he creates valentines for everyone from his puppy, to his Grandma, to his favorite stuffed toy.  Each little verse represents a specific relationship and the over-abundance of love little ones have to share. Ages 3-6.

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton (HarperCollins, 2008)

Splat has a very special valentine for his classmate, Kitten, whom he likes “more than ice cream and fish sticks.”  But when he gets to school, Splat begins to lose his nerve. His dilemma is not helped when Spike announces that he too likes Kitten…and his valentine is bigger and better than Splat’s.  This Valentine’s Day story is hysterical pick for slightly older readers, but still has that quintessential “awww” factor.  (Hint: Make sure your listeners can see the pictures for this one.) Ages 4-8.

Have I missed any?  What books are you sharing with your class or children this Valentine’s Day?


Psstt!  Before I go… tomorrow is Friday, and I’ll have another Friday Confession for you.  Do you have anything to confess?  Come back tomorrow to share!

Valentine’s Day Picks for Tiny Readers

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away.  In our household, we typically exchange a gift between the adults (well, most years…), but since the toddler arrived on the scene, we’ve put together a small gift for her, too.  After all, Valentine’s Day celebrates love and affection of all kinds, right?

On Thursday, I’ll be sharing some favorite picture book recommendations for Valentine’s Day.  Today, I want to share a few Valentine’s Day picks for the littlest readers.  The board books below grace my own bookshelf, so they’re kid-tested for your convenience.

How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church (Scholastic, 2009)

Inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous ‘How Do I Love Thee?poem, this book compares love to a singing bird, dancing snowflakes, and “each shining star.”  The curly-haired toddler and her snuggly friend suggest not only a parent-child love, but also the love between a child and his or her favorite toy.

 

Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram (Candlewick, 1994)

This one is a classic, but for good reason.  Little Nutbrown Hare and his daddy outdo each other with comparisons of each other’s love.  A sleepy Little Hare thinks he has the final say when he declares, “I love you right up to the moon.”  But nothing surpasses a daddy’s love, as your child will learn with the end of this story.

 

In Grandma’s Arms by Jayne C. Shelton, illustrated by Karen Katz (Scholastic, 2001)

“In Grandama’s arms/ In our Storybook Chair/We can do anything– /We can go anywhere.”  So begins this story of a little girl whose storytime in her grandmother’s rocker takes her through her wild imaginings.  Karen Katz is one of my all-time favorite author/illustrators, and this book is the perfect gift from grandparent to grandchild.

 

You’re My Little Bunny by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Gavin Scott (Scholastic, 2010)

This story has lots of wonderful action verbs – leap, flop, munch, skip- that provide fun, energy-burning daytime reading.  But the rhythm and sleepy-soft ending also make it the perfect pick for bedtime, naptime, or just some quiet cuddling.

 

 

Counting Kisses by Karen Katz (Simon and Schuster, 2003)

Each member of the takes a turn trying to lull this fussy baby into sleep by kissing each part of her squirming body, from her ten teeny toes to the top of her (finally!) dreaming head.   Perfect for little ones who are learning body parts and numbers.  This last pick is actually my own personal selection for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day gift this year.


There you have it!  My personal favorites from my own shelf.  Kid tested…Mommy approved.

Chime in!  Do you give books as Valentine’s Day gifts?  Are there any favorite board books that I’ve missed?