A small plastic bin hangs on the wall in my pantry. It’s the same kind of bin that displays travel-sized toiletries or knickknacks at the checkout registers in stores. Ours, however, is a “snack and candy” bin. It serves as a catch-all for stray pieces of Halloween candy, rejected treats from Christmas stockings, and the silt remaining at the bottom of birthday party treat bags. Stuff. Although seemingly innocuous as it casually saunters into the house, stuff accumulates with shocking rapidity.
The next opportunity to acquire soon-to-be-orphaned trinkets and treats is quickly approaching. As you roam down the aisles of your local Target (or Targetesque) store in search of the perfect gift, consider an alternative. Give something that’s sweeter than candy, more enduring than flowers, and will grow in value rather than await its inevitable demise from the bottom of the snack bin.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, consider giving a carefully chosen, lovingly inscribed book. Here are a few of our favorites:
Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda
The beautiful picture book tells the story of Saint Valentine through captivating mosaic pictures. Great for children of all ages.
The Story of Valentine by Wilma Pitchford Hays
Octavian, a young Roman boy, befriends a kind priest named Valentine. His adventures invite us to experience the sights, smells, and dangerous political climate of the Roman Empire. Octavian grapples with his own beliefs as he learns about the One True God. A story of bravery, friendship, and faith.
“Valentine came and sat down to rest on a bench beside Octavian. The boy, kneeling on the ground, looked up into the old man’s face. ‘I’m afraid for you,’ he said. The old man did not answer. Octavian took hold of the bench with his muddy hand. ‘People are saying that Rome was powerful and strong when our people went regularly to the altars of the gods. now they say we have grown careless. The gods are angry. People say that is why the sickness is spreading, why we lost a ship last week at sea. And they say -‘ The boy stopped and looked at Valentine as if he couldn’t go on. The old man waited ‘They say we must kill those who do not believe in our Roman gods – or Rome will be destroyed.'”
The Story of Valentine provides much fodder for discussion with your child.
Appolonia’s Valentine by Katherine Milhous
In a little one-room school, the teacher inspires children to create beautiful cards. Appolonia, one of her students, sells eggs in order to buy her own paints, and takes great care in creating a card for her friend. Appolonia’s Valentine captures the essence of childhood friendship and creativity. This is an inspiring book to read before creating your own Valentine’s Day cards. Katherine Milhous, author and illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning Egg Tree, is well-known for her delightful illustrations reflecting her Pennslyvanian Dutch heritage.
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I’ll publicly acknowledge that we are proponents of chocolates and fun treats on Valentine’s Day. Our snack bin will provide proof of said revelry for weeks (and months) to come. But in addition to the chocolate-Hallmark hoopla, our family looks forward to enjoying our treasured Valentine’s Day books which, through the years, have become dear friends.
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