Who'd have thought finding a multicultural book for Valentine's Day would be such a tall order? I mean, I get that this is a holiday that's not exactly celebrated all around the globe -- and, in truth, it isn't one of my favorites. But this year Sprout's old enough to pick out valentines cards and small candies to share with his friends, and of course if we're going to recognize a holiday we need to read a book about it, too.
Oh boy, did I have my work cut out for me.
Sure, there are books about love and kisses and hugs that feature diverse casts of characters. But I wanted something that would relate the custom we follow here, of making or giving valentines to our special friends. And that presented more of a challenge.
Thank goodness for libraries, though. They have the older titles that just don't crop up on most booksellers' radar any longer. And in this case the older title was Valentine's Day by Anne Rockwell. In this book, the members of Mrs Madoff's class are making some very special valentines to send to their friend Michiko, who has moved away to Japan. Each person in the class thinks of something fun that they remember about Michiko, and uses that as their inspiration in creating a valentine. For Kate, it's flying kites together; for Eveline, it's the wonderful gift Michiko gave her for her birthday; for Nicholas, it's the way Michiko always gave him his turn on the slide. In each spread, colorfully illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, the special memory comes to life, appearing opposite the hand-crafted valentine that inspired it.
Reading this one with Sprout provided us with the opportunity to talk about friends, and how much they mean to us. We also got to talk about what it feels like when someone you love is far away. Though it's not something that he fully understands yet, when he gets older he may begin to experience loss at times when everyone else is celebrating, because people he is intimately connected with aren't part of his daily life any longer. When that happens, it's good for us to have books like Valentine's Day in our arsenal - to show him that time and distance don't diminish the love we feel in our hearts.
Valentine's Day by Anne Rockwell, published by HarperCollins
Sample: "Sarah's valentine is pink. Her valentine says, 'I miss you every single day, especially when it's snack time.'"