by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership
Writing and receiving cards in the mail or hand delivering a card to someone special can be a fun family tradition. Show your child the value of the written word this Valentine’s Day by making your own cards and sharing them friends and relatives.
Get out your red and pink construction paper (or color some white paper with crayons), scraps of ribbon, buttons, or other odds and ends. Use glue sticks or white glue (for heavier items) and markers or colored pencils. Show your child how to make a heart by folding paper in half and then cutting out just one half of the heart. Open the paper to reveal a symmetrical symbol of love! Cut, arrange, glue and then when everything is ready, add the words to make a special Valentine’s Day message.
When you help your children write the things they want to say on their cards, or you write what they dictate, you are showing them that words are used to tell people our feelings (among other things!).
Read the Valentine message by pointing to letters and words and saying the message together, following along with your finger. Give each other a hug for a job well done!
Give Valentine’s Day cards in person or put in an envelope and show your child how to add an address, stamp, and put in the US mail. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and faraway friends will treasure a handmade card sent to them for Valentine’s Day.
Learn some words about love that you can use in your cards by reading some of these children’s books:
- “How Many Do I Love You: A Valentine Counting Book,” by Cheri Love-Byrd, illustrated by Mei Stoyva, padded picture book format
- “Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book” by Karen Katz, board book format
- “I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home” by Kathryn Cristaldi, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Do you have a favorite picture book character? There is probably a Valentine’s Day book featuring that character that you can read together. You’ll find rhymes and heartfelt messages about love in these books:
- “Llama Llama I Love You” by Anna Dewdney, board book format
- “Love from the Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
- “Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool” by James Dean
- “Love from the Crayons” by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
- “Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse” by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond, board book format
There are few words you can say to your child that are more important than simply saying, “I love you.” With these three words you can bring a smile to a face, warmth to a heart, and joy to your child. Saying “I love you” gives you a chance to change the course of an entire day, and the power to imprint love and security in your child’s heart forever!
Saying “I love you,” or other words that show you care, gives your children the confidence and strong self-esteem that is the foundation of good emotional health. They will learn how to ask for what they need, express how they feel, and respond to others with compassion. You can give your children positive words in your everyday family life by talking, writing, and reading. Here are some ideas to try at home:
Talk. There are so many words that say, “I love you.” Hearing these nurturing words lets your children know that they are important, they are cared for, and they are loved. When said with a snuggle or a hug, these words mean even more! You can say: I am so happy you are _____ (my son/ my daughter/ part of our family)! • I love to watch you _______ (play, draw, hear you sing, see you run, etc.) • You are so smart in so many ways. • It is okay to make mistakes. • I know you can do it! You did it! I love how you did that! • There is no one like you in the whole world! • You make me smile.
Write. “I love you” messages can bring happiness to your child over and over again when you write them down. • Tuck an “I love you” note under your child’s pillow. • Pin one to a backpack. • Write a message with soap on the mirror. • Keep a jar of “I love you” messages to use any time. • Make mailboxes out of empty cereal boxes for each person in your family to send messages back and forth. • Help your child write down an “I love you” message to a friend or loved one.
Read. Snuggle up with your child and read one of these picture books about love and kindness and talk about what happens in the story. • “How Kind!” by Mary Murphy • “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney • “I Love You Little One” by Nancy Tafuri • “All Together Now” by Anita Jeram • “I’ll Always Love You” by Paeony Lewis • “Because of You” by B.G. Hennesy.
Giving your child words of love has a huge impact. In the words of Peggy O’Mara, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” For more ideas, download a Words of Love bookmark at www.familyreading.org.