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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets’ children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Hearts & flowers

February 11, 2011

It's right around the corner — that lovely touch of color in an otherwise drab winter month: Valentine's Day.

And it's a good excuse for a class party or an extra special reason for a celebration at home.

Making valentines for classmates and family is a fine activity; it can be easy but creative and memorable. (I still have some of the homemade cards that my son gave me over the years and memories of making them with doilies and red construction paper.)

A recent book by Laura Elliott, A String of Hearts (HarperCollins), celebrates that tradition. The characters in Mrs. Wright's class — depicted as various animals in expressive, lighthearted illustrations — are to write "something special about each classmate." Mary Ann shows Sam how to make valentine cards with each adding unique touches. Along the way, Sam experiences a first crush and learns a bit about real friendship.

Sam and Mary Ann include different kinds of poems in some of their greetings ranging from the familiar ("Roses are red, /violets are blue./Your feet are big,/and they smell bad, too.") to an acrostic poem. It just might inspire children and adults to explore poetry or try their hand at writing a short verse.

An endnote about the origins of Valentine's Day concludes this charming book, just right for sharing. It's a valentine all by itself!

For a video visit with Laura Elliott, where she demonstrates how to make the valentines from her book, and talks about writing and the history of Valentine's Day, visit the Reading Rockets Valentine's Day resource page — you'll also find great ideas for writing prompts and books to share.

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"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." —

J.K. Rowling