Category Archives: Valentine

Looking for a book to love…

Valentine’s Day is past, and I’m feeling guilty that we didn’t re-post our guest blogger’s great Valentine’s Day tradition from last year, so here it is (just a couple of weeks late). It looks like spring may have sprung early (around here, anyway!) and I’m fearing that my leisurely reading hoursBook_Lovers_Day will be prematurely replaced by garden-planning and yard work.  I left my last “lost-in-the-book” experience behind when I drove home from our inspiring conference (UVU Forum on Engaged Reading) at the Chateaux in September.


I just haven’t lost myself in a good book, for way too long. Oh, I’ve enjoyed reading some new picture books, and some that are new to me even though they have been around for a while, and I’ve enjoyed classroom and office discussions of the books that my students and colleagues have been losing themselves in.  But I’m feeling pretty melancholy about this, BLANAand I’m starting to worry.  Maybe this is more than a midterm crisis for me – I’m thinking this is serious!  I can’t hear any of my night-stand stacks of “read-me-next” books calling to me.  I look through the Scholastic Book Order leaflets and notice some recent additions, but nothing is reaching out to me. I don’t feel drawn into  bookstores at the moment – not even my favorite ones.  I am stressing over feelings of  guilt about co-chairing a conference that fights the 21st Centure problem of “a-literacy,” while I am exhibiting symptoms of it myself. I don’t want to read a book to “get current” in my field, and I don’t want to read a book just because it received some recent (albeit prestigious) award. I just want to feel lost in a book again.  medalion book-loverI’m longing for a book that holds my heart in between my reading sessions, and that I can hold to my heart as I tell someone about it.


I recently came across a delightful poem written by Tom Robert Shields and published (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004) in Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by Karen Barbour. wonderful-wordsThe poem is “I Am the Book” and it promised to be my friend, stay by my side… bring dreams I’ll “forever keep,” to warm me, and to plant in me a “spring seedling…” while I am reading.  It promises,


“… I am the book

You are needing.”

 So, I decided to ask you…  any reader who may have stumbled onto this blog, in spite of the fact that it hasn’t been updated for some time – until now.  What do you suggest?  Is there a book that has been your friend…  brought dreams bklvr1you have “forever [kept],” and planted in you a “spring seedling – some book that you were needing and found — that you can share with me?  Please write soon., because you may know the book I am needing.  Yours truly, An Engaged Reader in Crisis

Posted by Nancy Peterson, Professor of Elementary Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading

One really unique tradition keeps us looking forward to February — Our Valentine’s Book Tradition!

Valentine’s Day is one of our family’s favorite holidays.  Certainly we all love the obvious perks of the day – candy, love notes, balloons, and of course, chocolate!  But there is also one really unique tradition that keeps us looking forward to this winter holiday throughout the year.  It is our Valentine’s Book Tradition.     

Valentine’s Day actually begins the night before.  At bedtime, everyone finds a breakfast invitation and menu on his/her pillow.  Each order is taken and left on the kitchen counter.  The next morning, the smell of breakfast deliciousness wakes us.  The kitchen is decorated in balloons and streamers, special dishes and place settings are on the table.  But the most anticipated part of the morning is the gift that is sitting on each plate.   On each plate is a gift card to a local bookstore. A gift card, you say?  Why so special?   That evening we all go to Barnes and Noble to peruse the shelves, looking for the perfect Valentine book to take home.  

When we first enter, we tend to stay together, enjoying whatever catches our eye.  After a while though, we seem to all find our own quiet space throughout the store.  I love looking through the magazines, while my daughter loves the children’s section where the latest picture books are brightly displayed.  My son recently got an e-reader for Christmas and is ever looking for a new book to download.  Interestingly, although he wants to read electronically now, he still makes his selections among the colorful covers and crackling pages of the books on the shelves.  There is always something for everyone at the bookstore!  We even indulge at the in-store café having a light snack as we read. 

We love this tradition and look forward to it every year.  I find my kids even in July, planning which book they will get next Valentine’s Day.    

Posted by Lorilynn Brandt

Sending out Valentines of a different kind…

This year I’m sending Valentines of a different kind…  love letters to a few authors of books for young people that have made me stop and think, “Wow, I love you for saying that!”   I’m sending out what I’m calling “Book-Love” Valentines. My Book-Love Valentine list isn’t nearly as long as my Happy-Holidays card list – which is a good thing because I didn’t even get those cards into their envelopes! But there are a few authors… whose picture books or young adult novels I will forever hold to my heart, for one reason or another (I should say, one child, or one student or another). These authors will be my Book-Love Valentine recipients.

I hope authors hear this kind of thing all of the time, even if it’s not in the form of a Valentine or “love letter.” I do know, in fact, that some of the funniest author talks are when they read letters they’ve received from their adoring fans between the ages of seven and thirteen.   I wonder if I can figure out a way to write a Book-Love Letter in a meaningful way – something that an author would be happy to receive, and not think it was a joke.  (I would just die if I were sitting in an audience and heard my Book-Love Letter read out loud as humorous entertainment!  No, this has to be good! 

Here are a couple of drafts.  What you think?

Dear Sara Pennypacker,
          I wish you lots of love and lovely thoughts this Valentines Day, because you’ve given me (and my students) such wonderful thoughts and discussions as we have gotten acquainted with your darling character, Clementine!  I, with my students, have giggled over her fresh view of her world, and her fearless love of words and ideas, and her ability to always say what she thinks and hopes and worries about.  Every time I read Clementine, I giggle, and I even shed a few tears about her patient and good-natured teachers, and her tender and loving parents.  I just have to tell you that my students and I love you for your writing because through Clementine, we think we are a little better at teaching and parenting than we were before we knew her… and you.

Dear Eileen Spinelli,
I hope your Valentines Day is filled with love and brownies and cards and letters from all the people you love, and even some you don’t know – like me!  I want to tell you about how your book, When You Are Happy has created such a loving bond between me and a grown-up daughter with whom I’ve had some rough road in healing a relationship.  The two of us just seemed to keep “missing” each other, when it came to matters of the heart.  But when we shared your book, and pretended to be younger versions of ourselves for those few moments, we did feel happy! We both knew, again, that there was no one else who knew just the right thing to say, just the way to be, or just the right moment that would heal our hearts… but somehow your book reminded us that we have felt something very much like we this.  We love you for that!

Okay, you get the idea.  I think I need to just get busy and write, now.  It’s kind of personal, this business of writing love letters – even Book-Love letters!  But I will share with you a portion of my list (in no particular order):  Maryann Cusimano Love, Karin Cates, Kadir Nelson, Steve Jensen (Yes, his nonfiction has stirred my soul!), Doreen Rappaport, Jerry Spinelli, Shannon Hale, Carol Lynch Williams…  Oh my goodness!  This could very possibly be as long as my Happy-Holidays card list! 

Posted by Nancy Peterson