I came into the library today and found that our wonderful library aide had decorated it for Valentine's Day which is this Friday! So hard to believe and yet so true.
I had planned to read about pandas but quickly switched gears and hunted for a Valentine's Day book. I found Rhyme Time Valentine by Nancy Poydar and read it to all six classes. That they all listened with rapt attention was proof of what a good book it was for the occasion.
It's the story of Ruby who made valentine cards for her classmates only to have them blown away by the wind. Later, they blow by the school window and the children watch the people outside pick them up and read the rhyming valentine's messages. It had all the elements of a good story. First, an interesting main character. Ruby is clever enough to know how to read and how to cut out hearts but she is a bit of a braggart. Second, Ruby has to deal with a big problem. What valentines can she give her classmates when hers blow away? Third, it clues the reader into how things work. What is a candy heart? How do you make a valentine card? Inquiring minds of three- to six-year olds want to understand these things. Fourth, it has diverse characters. Ruby has brown skin as do many of her classmates, but some have white skin. Her teacher is a man. Some kids can read and others can't. Some kids buy the Valentine's cards and others make theirs by hand. The message of diversity is subtle but definitely there.
And if all that isn't enough, there's rhyming! At first the reader can just complete rhymes: Ruby's teacher writes the word "nine" on the board and asks what rhymes with it. Great fun to stop reading for a minute and start making up rhymes. Later, when the wind blows Ruby's cards by the classroom windows, we see part of each rhyme she has written and have the chance to complete it. This kind of interaction makes this book perfect for reading with Mom or Dad. And fun for Story Time, too.
As if decorating the library and reminding me that Valentine's Day is just four days away wasn't enough, my aide brought me a little gift -- pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate and then rolled in red colored sugar. Hmm, good! I found some instructions online here in case you'd like to make some for the holiday.