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Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

As a parent, the time you spend with your child—reading aloud, chatting, and interacting in countless ways—is pivotal in helping them develop and thrive as a reader, writer, and thinker. From teaching your child the alphabet to playing rhyming games, you instill crucial knowledge and skills through fun, playful time together. Best of all, it builds your relationship, too—and can even help you feel happier and more fulfilled.

That’s why each month we share a special list of featured reads and literacy activities. Expect fun seasonal reading recommendations, complemented with activity tutorials and free printables for an all-out story time experience with your little one.

Valentine’s Day Picture Books

It’s the season of love, and Valentine’s Day presents us with the perfect opportunity to explore the concept with our little ones. Check out our list of 14 children’s picture books about love this Valentine’s Day to jumpstart conversations about love in all its forms. Whether it’s love for the planet, love for our friends, or even self-love—let these titles take you and your child on a reading journey that highlights what it’s really all about as you explore and expand the concept of love.

Then build on your story time by doing a literacy-building activity with your child: Scroll down for a sweet Valentine’s Day DIY alphabet game and a “conversation hearts” printable.

Books for Black History Month

We believe in celebrating the stories of diverse figures and characters all year long, but Black History Month is an extra reminder to dig into some books about black leaders, stories, and history with your child.

You’ll find no shortage of great reads in our many kids’ book roundups, such as What Color is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, reviewed in our STEM books post.

If you have an older child, you’ll definitely want to check out our article about acclaimed books for teens to read during Black History Month. You may well even want to read many of them yourself!

Kids’ Books by Toni Morrison

Award-winning author Toni Morrison is widely lauded for her powerful writing that examines the black experience in America, with a particular focus on women and girls. Both a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner, she is best known for her classic novels The Bluest Eye (1970) and Beloved (1987), which was later adapted into a movie with Oprah Winfrey’s support. Her vast and impressive body of work includes 11 novels, nine non-fiction books, two short stories, and two plays.

What many people don’t know about Morrison is that her works also include eight children’s books that she wrote along with her son, Slade Morrison. These delightful and whimsical stories explore a variety of themes that will make excellent conversation starters during family read-alouds. 

It’s the acclaimed author’s birthday this month, so why not take the occasion to learn more about Toni Morrison’s books for children and choose some to share with your child? 

Story Time Activity: Valentine’s Day ABC Game


Upcycle a chocolate box into a memory matching game that teaches children to pair uppercase letters to their lowercase counterparts. Go to tutorial.

Book Pairing: Love Monster and the Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright. Valentine’s Day can easily become just about candy for kids. This book sparks conversation about what it means to be thoughtful and how generosity is a way of showing you care.

Featured Printable: Conversation Hearts Activity

Note: If you’re haven’t yet, you’ll need to join the FREE MayaSmart.com VIP Vault of resources for Very Intentional Parents to access this printable (and lots more). It just takes a minute and doesn’t cost a cent!

This Valentine’s Day-themed activity helps kids practice letter sounds and learn to spell and read simple three-letter words. Join the free VIP Vault to get the printable, then follow the simple instructions in our Conversation Hearts Activity tutorial.

We’ll be back next month with our guide for what to read to your child in March. Meanwhile, go ahead and browse around the site for more tips and tutorials, or message Maya with your questions. We’re so happy to have you here!

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Welcome! It’s lovely to have you here. I’m Maya, an author, literacy advocate, and mom. On this site, I publish articles, advice, book recommendations, and activities for busy parents. Through it all, my goal is to help parents like you feel equipped and confident to support your children in reading. Let’s start by understanding what you bring to the effort—your unique superpower.

Find your raise-a-reader superpower now.