Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and love is in the air! Although most people think of Valentine’s Day as a time to focus on romance, I think it’s a good opportunity to appreciate ALL the love we have in our lives — for our friends, our families, and our passions! That’s why the first book I’m going to recommend is a short picture book called Before You by Rebecca Doughty. It’s a love poem that can be shared with anyone special in your life — a younger sister or brother, a friend, a parent, or a crush.
If you want even more love in your life, curl up with one of these great books about love for girls!
- Have you ever found that special friend who just “gets” you without you having to say a word? When Sunflower’s father dies, she goes to live with the poorest family in the village and meets their son, Bronze. He hasn’t spoken since a terrible fire changed his life. But in one another, Sunflower and Bronze are able to find true friendship that helps them overcome the pain of their pasts. Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan was originally written in Mandarin, a Chinese language, but will be available in an English translation in March!
- In Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly McGhee, best friends Sussy and Guy decide that they want something of their very own to love — so together they adopt a leopard gecko that they name Matylda. But when Guy dies in a terrible bike accident, Sussy decides to pour all the love she had for her best friend into loving the pet they picked out together. This book will also come out in March, so watch for it then.
- Sometimes we find friends in places that we don’t expect. In fact, when Alice’s family moves down south, she is hoping the move is temporary and she doesn’t even try to make friends. But then she is asked to help an elderly neighbor, Miss Millie, walk her dog. On their walks, Alice and Miss Millie get to know one another and the other people around town — and Alice begins to understand the pain of racial segregation that Miss Millie lived through. Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy will release in July, so if it sounds good to you, make sure to jot down the title now and look for it this summer!
- While you wait, you can head to your nearest library or book store to check out Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, another book about unusual friendship that is available right now. Raymie’s adventure begins as an attempt to gain back her father’s attention after he leaves town with another woman. She thinks if she wins the Little Miss Central Florida competition, he’ll notice and come back. But the two girls who she expects to be her worst competition end up being her best hope for getting through this difficult time as they strike up an unusual friendship. Kate DiCamillo says she based parts of this book on her own experiences of having her father leave her family when she was young.
- And if all this reading about friendship puts you in the mood to spend some time with your real-life buds, check out Girls Night In by Gemma Barder, which is bursting with ideas to make your friend-time extra special. Find party idea themes (books, fashion, music, more!), pampering suggestions, hairstyle instructions, and even recipes for snacks you can enjoy while you’re hanging out.
Our families are often the first places we learn to love, and they continue to teach us about love throughout our lives. Check out these three books to enjoy the warmth of family love on the page.
- In Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar, Carol doesn’t want to get to know her grandfather as she and her family help him move off his sheep ranch and into a home for people with dementia. But as he starts sharing his fantastical stories with her, Carol is drawn to him more and more. How much of what he tells her is true, and what is imaginary? Soon, she starts watching the ranch for signs of the mystical bees he swears will return to signal the end of a long drought.
- Madison is looking forward to a relaxing summer vacation in Costa Rica in Hello There, Do you Still Know Me? by Laurie B. Arnold. But all that changes when her grandmother shows up on her doorstep, dangerously ill. The only way to save her is to go back in time — but her neighbor’s time travel device has stopped working, and the only person who can fix it has been missing for five years. Sometimes, love is strong enough to hurl you into the past so you can save the future. (If you like this book, make sure to check out the first one in the series, too: Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting For You!)
- What happens when the love in a family isn’t enough to keep it together? In Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe, 9-year-old Wren is devastated when her parents get divorced over the summer. She has to get used to having a whole new bedroom at her dad’s house and eating dinner alone with her mom — and she doesn’t know how she’ll tell her friends. But when she returns to school and realizes no one knows about the divorce, she decides to go through the year pretending that her parents are still together — until she learns that small lies have a way of getting complicated fast.
Love really can change the world. Throughout history, people have spoken up and taken action about the things that are important to them, and this passion has won women the right to vote, same-sex couples the right to marry, and all sorts of other victories. In Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, Lynda tells her story of being the youngest person to march for civil rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. She was jailed 9 times before the age of 15, but she loved her cause so much that even that wasn’t enough to make her give up. The march Lynda took part in played a big part in passing the Voting Rights Act, which made it illegal for states to make it harder for Black people to vote than White people.
What about you? Do you have a favorite book about friendship, family, love, or a cause you are passionate about? Have you read any of the books listed above? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!