Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

MayaSmart.com is your one-stop-shop for raising a reader, from evidence-based early literacy advice to fun activities that support literacy learning and awesome free educational printables. And, of course, one of the best ways to raise a reader is to read to your child (and talk about books with them, even when they’re babies—learn more in our post about how to get the most out of your read-aloud time). That’s why we publish lots of kids’ book lists and book reviews with suggestions of great reads for various ages and interests. 

Young children love hearing the same book over and over and over (you knew that!), but regularly mixing in different books to your shared reading will keep it fresh for you and them, plus introduce them to more words and concepts. To make it easy for you to find excellent new-to-you picture books to share with your child right now, we’ve curated some of our best recommendations for diverse picture books that are extra relevant this month. We include links to Bookshop.org so you can order them from independent booksellers, but remember that reading to your child doesn’t have to break the bank: Your local library should carry these titles, too!

So, without further ado, here’s what to read with your picture-book-loving child this month:

Books About the Winter Olympics

It’s time for the 2022 Winter Olympics! There’s something so unifying in cheering on Olympic athletes as they strive for excellence on the world stage. The Games also offer an opportunity to teach kids important lessons about resilience, teamwork, discipline, winning, and losing. So go for the gold during read-aloud time with our recommendations of picture books about the Winter Olympics!

Then dive into the world of winter sports and join these storybook characters (real and fictional) as they glide along ice, soar through the air, speed down slopes, and set new records. From silly reads featuring skiing penguins to the true stories of barrier-breaking athletes, these books will inspire and entertain your own little athletes all year long. 

Books About Valentine’s Day

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 craft with your child: We have tutorials for making a sweet Valentine’s Day DIY alphabet matching game from an empty chocolate box (your call how you empty it!) and for a cute DIY “conversation hearts” spelling game.  

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? 

Reading widely and frequently with your child is crucial to set them up for success in school and life, as well as a lovely way to introduce them to new concepts. In addition to bringing books into your reading time that tackle timely topics or subjects you want them to know about, be sure to follow their interests, as well. If your kid loves horses or sports—go to town on books about that subject (among others!). If your kid is curious about science or loves animals—ditto. Following their interests keeps them engaged and helps you build a responsive relationship with your child. You also won’t go wrong sharing some books you love or titles about topics you care about, as your child will catch your enthusiasm. (If you really want to get your little one to dig into some new reads, dress up a personalized book grab basket to introduce the fresh titles.) 

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!

What are you and your child reading this month?