Multicultural Valentine’s Books

“Where, Γ” where are thou, my colorful Valentine?”

All jokes aside, this post is actually a cry for help. You see, I looove my public library. I’m continually amazed by its pretty good children’s books collection, which features quite a culturally diverse cast of characters. So the other day, armed with my “special library bag”, I walked in there with confidence and flashed a smile that betrayed my febrile anticipation: I was on a quest for Valentine’s books, dying of curiosity to check out those with a multicultural content.

Like I said my library is good. I didn’t find anything.

Went home. Looked online. Panicked. Surely, I was doing something wrong. Not typing the right keywords in the search engine. I confess that I amused myself with the thought that dogs and cats celebrate Valentine’s Day, but not colored kids. πŸ˜› Just kidding.

So I’m asking you, genuinely. Valentine’s Day, such a popular commercial holiday, seems to be celebrated all over the world. And don’t get me wrong, while I absolutely loooove the books that are already published–so many of them are so sweet, I’m genuinely curious: Where are the culturally diverse versions of Valentine’s Day books? Do all cultures celebrate it the same? Or do they add a flavorful twist to the event?

But holiday books have a short bookshelf life span. I hear you. Does that imply that it would be risky to invest in multicultural holiday books? Hm hm, so as in any book I’d say. What I find so amazing with holiday books in general, is that year after year the same book will sell as soon as February is around the corner. And–take the following with a pinch of salt though, as this is just my personal opinion– though these titles of are labeled “Valentine’s Day Book”, is the celebration of love really reserved for one single day out 365?

Thanks to Sonja Cole, former school librarian and host of bookwink.com, a video booktalk website for kids, for saving the day. The list of Valentine’s books she compiled, hosted on Scholastic’s Book wizard page (thanks, Scholastic!), included the following titles (note: The book summaries are courtesy of Amazon.com):

1- Valentine’s Day, by Jason Cooper. “A multicultural Valentine’s story”. Released in 2002 by Rourke Publishing. Age level: 4-8.

2- What is Love? by Etan Boritzer, illus. by Robbie Marantz. Released in 1997 by Veronica Lane Books. Age level: 4-8. Summary: “WHAT IS LOVE? is a way for children to discover how we all share many of the same needs and concerns in life, especially the need for love! This book communicates a message of multiculturalism and diversity as the means by which goals of understanding and tolerance can be reached. A sincere yet playful message for appreciating one of life’s tenderest emotions through which children can ponder the total human experience of honest caring and good will.

3- Valentine’s Day, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. The book was released in 2002 by HarperTrophy, an imprint of HaperCollins. Age level: 5-7. Summary, courtesy of Anamaria who recommended it and commented below (thank you) : ” Valentine’s Day(…) features all of the valentines made by a group of diverse children for a classmate who has moved back to Japan. It’s part of a series of holiday stories featuring that class that you might (or might not! There are some concerns about the Thanksgiving one) like.”

4- 213 Valentines, by Barbara Cohen, illus. Will Clay. Released in 1993 (possibly 2nd edition) by Redfeather Book from Henry Holt. Age level: 9-12. Summary: “Fourth-grader Wade Thompson is having trouble adjusting to Kennedy, the new school where he has been transferred to a class for the gifted and talented. . . . With fast-moving dialogue, humor and sympathy, Cohen weaves a story of developing freindships and self-knowledge. . . . “–The Horn Book Review

5- Willimena Rules! Rule Book #5: 23 Ways to Mess Up Valentines’ Day, by Valerie Wilson Wesley, illus. by Maryn Roos. Released in 2005 by Hyperion Book CH. Age level: 9-12. Here’s W.E.B., an Amazon reader’s review: “(…) I wanted a series of books with the star character being an African American girl just having fun and doing kid stuff. A book that will make them know that reading is fun. This book does just that and more. I only wish that there were more of them because I already bought them all.

Your turn? Any thoughts? Any Valentine’s book you’d recommend?

Book covers of titles mentioned in this post

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About Nathalie Mvondo

Nathalie Mvondo lives in Northern California. She is a writer, a blogger, a community organizer and a social entrepreneur.
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14 Responses to Multicultural Valentine’s Books

  1. Linda Covella says:

    I don’t know any off the top of my head, but this makes you think about all holidays in regards to multicultural, doesn’t it?

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  2. Thanks for those suggestions. I wish there were more.

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    • Hi Gwendolyn, thank you for reading and leaving a feedback. Please, let me know if you think of any additional titles. I’m sure I simply didn’t look either hard enough or in the right places. πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Hi Nathalie,
    Thanks for sharing this very unique list! I don’t think I’ve read any of these – and I’ve read lots of books. Think I’ll see if I can find them in my local library.

    Thanks again,
    Rita Lorraine

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  4. Your blog is very resourceful. I don’t read too many picture books, but I do love Valentine and love stories.

    Happy Valentine’s Day.

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    • “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

      Aaaaah, Medeia, you made my day. Thank you!
      There’s something about Valentine’s stories, don’t you think? Even when it’s about a day gone wrong, they’re all so cute… *grin*

      Like

  5. Dear Nathalie,

    I am so happy to find your blog ! It is so true, Multicultural Rocks !
    I was born in Peru, to a large Peruvian family and for the past 35 years I live in USA. I am a “grown up ” now but I continue falling asleep with a book. During the past 3 years, the last book I read is a book for children.
    My favorites Multicultural
    Would you visit my website: http://www.Kusikiy.com it shows some pages of my
    book: Kusikiy A Child from Taquile, Peru…. It is about love,
    Happy Valentine Day Nathalie.
    Mercedes

    Like

    • Hi Mercedes, so glad you found the blog! Thank you for sharing your passion for books with us. I’m heading over to visit your page. Happy Valentine Day too. πŸ™‚

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    • Mercedes, your book looks absolutely lovely and reminds me of elements of the Peruvian culture I learned in anthropology. Would love to learn more about it. Please, email me: nathalie.mvondo (at) yahoo.com

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  6. Anamaria says:

    Anne Rockwell’s VALENTINE’S DAY (illus. bu Lizzy Rockwell; HarperCollins, 2000) features a all of the valentines made by a group of diverse children for a classmate who has moved back to Japan. It’s part of a series of holiday stories featuring that class that you might (or might not! There are some concerns about the Thansgiving one) like. Looking forward to checking out some of the books on this list, too.

    Like

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