Best Valentine’s Day Books for Young Children


Are you looking for a good Valentine’s Day story to share with your family? Good luck! I’ve found that by and large the pickings are pretty slim. I started writing this post of my favorite Valentine’s Day picture books more than a year ago, and it’s pretty much too late to be much use this year. But what the heck, right? I’ve done a lot of research to develop this list and I can assure you that many, many titles didn’t make my list. (Write me and I’ll give you my opinions about what to avoid.) As usual, I recommend steering clear of any holiday book from a movie or TV franchise.

Snowy Valentine, by David Peterson, 2011

I think this is my favorite of all the books in this list. Peterson is the author/illustrator of Mouse Guard comic book series, for those of you in the know. This is his first picture book. In it, Jasper bunny searches the forest for a Valentine’s Day gift for his wife Lilly. He looks to his neighbors for ideas, and considers knitting a gift, chocolate-covered flies, and wilted flowers. He narrowly escapes the fox’s soup pot! (This part could be unsettling for the youngest readers.) Over the course of his day, Jasper creates the best possible valentine for Lilly. The story and illustrations are compelling.

Henry in Love, by Peter McCarty, 2009

A simple, tender story about a first crush. Henry brings a blueberry muffin in his lunch. Henry likes Chloe very much; he really likes the way she does cartwheels. Chloe and Henry get to sit together at lunchtime, and he gives her his blueberry muffin. Good for the Kindergarten or first- or second-grade child.


Woof A Love Story, by Sarah Weeks, illustrated by Holly Berry, 2009

“A dog is a dog and a cat is a cat, and most of the time it’s as simple as that.” Dogs and cats are different, but it doesn’t stop the dog from falling in love with the cat. Dog tries and tries to say “I love you!” but unfortunately, they don’t speak the same language. Cat can’t understand him, until he finds the universal language of love that she can understand. The illustrations in this book are bold and vibrant.

Plant a Kiss, by Amy Krouse, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, 2011

A perfect choice for a toddler or preschooler. Its adorable illustrations and rhyming text are cute, and it’s pages are embossed, so there is a tactile element to the reading experience. The meaning is simple: Love grows!

Mouse and Mole Secret Valentine, by Wong Herbert Yee, 2013

Secret Valentine is a 40-page “chapter book” for early readers. If you like Frog and Toad books, you’ll probably like Yee’s Mouse and Mole books too. Together Mouse and Mole make valentines for all of their forest friends, and the text gently teaches simple valentine-making skills such as cutting hearts and applying glue and glitter and then tapping off excess glitter. Then Mouse and Mole deliver their valentines together and have lunch at a restaurant. Each wants to give a secret valentine to the other, and they visit the sweet shop and the flower shop for gifts. Then they attend a Valentine’s Day dance. This book shows an innocent romance for little readers or listeners.

One Zillion Valentines, by Frank Modell, 1981

This is a sweet story about two friends, Marvin and Milton. They learn that “Valentines aren’t just for girls. Valentines are for everybody,” and “If you don’t send any, you don’t get any,” and finally that you can make your own. They make valentines for everyone in the neighborhood, and they sell some, too. With the money they earn they buy some chocolate and end up giving it to each other. This is the only Valentine’s Day book I found that includes same-sex valentines.

The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jan Brett, 1983


Mr. and Mrs. Bear hibernate in the winter, but Mrs. Bear sets her alarm clock for February 14 to wake up and celebrate Valentine’s Day, even though it’s not spring yet. Mr. Bear sleeps on. She makes lots of preparations such as getting honey, beetles, and bugs. They celebrate together, and then go back to sleep till spring. The black, white, and red pictures in this book are charming, but not as lavish as many of Brett’s other works.

Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Valentine Trick, by Jan Wahl, illustrated by Erik Blegvad, 1977


Find this one at your library, maybe. The animals of the forest want to know if spring is coming (but Groundhog doesn’t do his job). They are grumpy with each other and tired of winter. Terrible Owl and Tired Fox steal food. Pleasant Field Mouse figures out a way to make his neighbors happy again. The pictures are black and white ink drawings as you see above. This is a good read-aloud story for 4–8s.


The Day It Rained Hearts, by Felicia Bond, 2006, was previously published as Four Valentines in a Rainstorm (1983). Cornelia Augusta catches hearts that fall from the sky and turns them into valentines. Because each one is different, she’s able to make unique valentines for her friends. This book is an endearing choice for a young child.

Bee My Valentine, by Miriam Cohen, illustrated by Ronald Himler, 2009.

This book explores the social life of the first grade. The teacher directs her class to make a valentine for all the children in the class. But they don’t all follow her instruction; some kids send extra valentines to their best friends or even to themselves! George gets fewer valentines than anyone. This makes him feel sad and left out, and he hides in the coat room. The class then cheers George up by playing music for him. The art in the book is quite beautiful, but the valentines are all store-bought and the whole scenario makes me wonder where the kids’ parents are. I would never allow my child to fail to bring a valentine for everyone.

Love Splat, by Rob Scotton, 2008

Splat has a crush on Kitten, and he made her a special valentine. But Spike also likes Kitten and this discourages Splat. Eventually, Splat learns that Kitten likes him back. Very simple. Cute. Not at the top of my list, though.

Will You Be My Valentine, by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Lillian Hoban, 1993

This older story is OK. The story explores the feelings a young child might have when wanting to play with a child of the opposite gender, and not being sure if that person likes him. It covers his insecurity and jealousy when another boy gives his female friend a valentine. The mother in the story does a good job of facilitating their friendship. Some might think it’s a sweet story, as Thomas and Gretchen become friends and each other’s special valentines at the end, but I feel it’s too gender stereotypical and kind of mature for the age of the kids in the story, who appear to be Kindergarteners or first graders. Also, the way the teacher organizes Valentine’s Day for her class is crazy: She has each child choose one name out of a hat. Recipe for disaster.

Cranberry Valentine, Wende and Harry Devlin

I have lukewarm feelings about this one, I admit. But since I didn’t hate it, I figured I’d include it here. Mr. Whiskers has never had a valentine before, but this year he gets one from an anonymous giver—in fact, he gets several. At first this is very upsetting to him, but then he thinks, well,why not me? “I’m the best clam digger in the bog country. I have wonderful whiskers. I sing like a blinking bird.” Turns out, the local sewing circle has been sending him valentines. I don’t really see what about this book would appeal to children, apart for the recipe for cranberry upside down cake in the back of the book, which is cake from a mix plus cranberries. This book is part of a five-book series about the town of Cranberryport. Maybe this book is better taken in the context of the other titles in this series.

Advent and St. Nicholas E-Book on Sale

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

Well, here it is, Advent already. I’m not too great at marketing, but this is to let you know that my co-author Eileen and I are having a sale on our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book until December 7,2013. The sale price is $9.99—half off the regular price of $19.99.

It offers poems, stories, songs, crafts, and many special ways that families, schools, or childcare professionals can celebrate the whole month of December with children.

A measured, calm approach to the winter holidays gives children time to dream, live into the stories of their faith and the season, and count the days of Advent. Children can savor the passing of time with peaceful, delicious anticipation and gentle, useful activity, rather than experience the holiday as a single, frenzied, blowout day that is over all too soon. A peaceful Advent full of simple pleasures and togetherness is what they’ll remember later, not the package-ripping and specific, expensive gifts. We wrote this e-book with the intent of helping families create a thoughtful, heartfelt approach to the holidays, with less rushing commercialism and more togetherness time.

Advent Mosaic 10 x 3

This mosaic is a peek at what’s in our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book. Click on the title  or any of these photos to be taken to the full description of the e-book contents and place to buy it, on the Little Acorn Learning store. Many thanks for reading this far, and for spreading the word to anyone who might be interested in our offering.

Blessings of the season on you and your loved ones!

Giving Thanks


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday. I warn you, this post is going to try to do too much.

Thanksgiving vacation has been all in all pretty great. It started a day early with my grandmother’s funeral services. That first weekend was full and emotionally difficult, but the funeral services eased into an early Thanksgiving family gathering (Ian’s family this time), where people were kind and gentle to me and let me slide on everything because I was sad, and then a party at my home for Tony and our local November birthday girls. My friends made it soooo easy for me to host that party by helping to prepare my house. Once I got over being embarrassed by the neglected state of things, I let go and allowed them to make the place sparkle and shine. When the day of the party came, I just got to sit back and enjoy having my home full of lovely, friendly people. Many, many thanks to Lady K and Jami for making it so perfect.


I got to do two trail runs with Stacy. She is a super running partner for me—very encouraging and she has introduced me to the joys of running on the trails instead of the street. We’re evenly matched, and that means I don’t have to worry about holding her back, and vice verse. Running near the river means we get to see vistas and oak trees, deer trails and sparkling sunshine. This fills my heart as much as the running does.

Sunday's trail run

While they had time off, the kids and I did some normal stuff, like shoe buying and errands. We had lunch with Papa and Uncle Mike one day. I couldn’t help but think I should go and visit my grandmother, but … the time for doing that is done.

Running with my boys; I think we're ready for tomorrow's 10K.

We went running at Del Campo high school’s track on the day before Thanksgiving. We were getting ready for The Run to Feed the Hungry the next day. Thanksgiving morning dawned and we four went to East Sacramento to run a 10K. My goal was to run together as a family, keeping to our six-almost-seven-year-old’s pace—run when he could run, walk when he wanted to walk. It kind of worked and kind of didn’t. I kind of got the experience I had hoped for, but … well, let’s say that Ian was right and I was wrong and it is evidently too hard for fast boys to slow down enough to meet mama’s family experience agenda. We’ll chock this up to experience; I don’t actually know if we can do this event together again.

Asher ran 5.5 miles. We walked the rest and I’m so proud of him. He was absolutely determined to run, and lots of people cheered him on all along the course.


Here we are after the race. There were approximately 30,000 people there. The weather was perfect. The mood, festive. The course started and finished at Sacramento State University and looped through lovely East Sacramento. It was nice and flat.


And let me boast a moment by saying that running this 10K was an incredible accomplishment for me, personally. I’ve never been able to run this far in my life. I am slow, but the training I’ve been doing these last two months has paid off.

A big part of why I’m pushing so hard to rewire my brain about exercise is because I see how naturally movement and athletics comes to my family. I see how much joy they derive from using their bodies and I want very much to be a good role model for them. I also want to be physically capable of doing things they like to do. They have inspired me to be better about this aspect of my life.

Anyway, Thanksgiving. We went to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed a few hours with them and my brother and his girlfriend. It was relaxed and easy, and just what I needed.

Today's trail run

IMG_20131130_112814 IMG_20131126_051325

Sorry, more trail run pics. (Stopping just a sec to take a photo is fun and then I have pretty evidence that I really did it.) Stacy doesn’t seem to mind. We ran yesterday morning I am thrilled to keep going even after meeting our race goal.

Mom and Dad, and Mom's sibs and sibs-in-law, minus one

We visited with my mother’s side of the family yesterday, too. Her brothers were in town visiting, so we got all five siblings together. Many thanks to my cousin Emily and her husband Mike for hosting. The shape of our family has changed and it was nice to meet all the kids and get them together. It was sweet how well they got along!

The "grandkids"

Asher and I have been reading a lot about Pilgrims, and the “first Thanksgiving” of 1621, which is entirely mythologized in our American culture. We’ve read about the time when the Wampanoag encountered the colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, who were able to settle the area because the former occupants, the Patuxet tribe, had been wiped out by disease. Amazingly, this interest Asher has is completely his—I didn’t choose these topics or books for him. Doubly amazingly is that both books about this time of American history do not give the American myth of the first Thanksgiving.


We’ve also been reading about Vikings, and how archaeologists and historians know what they know about them. Asher seems to have a budding interest in history.


We watched some “Avatar The Last Airbender,” a family autumn staple, and a movie called “Arthur and the Invisibles.” We have snuggled in, cooked and eaten meals together, gone to piano lessons and basketball practice, and the boys have started working on Christmas projects. Ian and I had a date night, Lucas did math homework, and I painted a bit and today I planted irises and tulip bulbs.

See what I mean? Too much in one post, and a full and wonderful week. We are thankful for so much love and abundance in our lives!

Saint Martin Chant

N and Asher

Monday is Martinmas. I’m planning on taking the kids out for a nighttime walk, to take in the cold November night and remember how grateful we are for our many blessings of warmth and safety, full bellies, friendship and light. In the spirit of generosity, I share my little poem with you.

Saint Martin Chant

© by moi, Sara E. Wilson

Into the night, we bravely go!
Within our lanterns a sprightly glow,
Within our hearts a kingly flow
Of sharing and loving to show.

Into the world, we boldly walk,
Singing our courage around the clock.
We listen to others as much as we talk.
Even in darkness, we never do balk.

In giving to others, we ourselves grow.
Thanks to Saint Martin, by giving we know
We reap so much more than ever we sow.
We march for the good, our spirits aglow.

Lantern for Lucas

Beeswax Lanterns

This poem was written originally for Little Acorn Learning’s November Enrichment Guide, which happens to be on sale at the moment at $19.99—$5 off the normal price. Among many other wonderful offerings for the month of November, this e-book features stories of peace and light, lantern songs, and a puppet show for Martinmas.


E-Book for Equinox and Michaelmas Festivals

E-Book Cover

For any new readers, I would like to humbly mention that we have a beautiful e-book for sale that is perfect for this special time of year. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book. Eileen and I are really proud of it.

Here is a mosaic of just some of the images from the projects and activities we offer in our e-book.

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas
in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

Passing on Books


I am a huge fan of books, and children’s books in particular. We have hundreds of books and, well, I’m not sorry. But there comes a time when the right thing to do is to say good-bye.

Last week we got to attend a birthday party for a very special girl, Julia. She turned 3 years old, and the boys and I decided to give her some of our beloved-but-outgrown board books (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, I Love You Little One, and others). To her, each new book was an undiscovered treasure. To us, each one was an old friend moving on, shipping off for new adventures. It was a happy parting of ways, and we know that those books will continue to be loved and used, read and reread over the next several or many years.

Today I sent away a big stack of story books to grandma’s house. My mother has been saying that Asher (6) tends to choose the same baby books at her house, whereas here at home he craves chapter books that we can really get into and enjoy night after night. It’s time for those too-familiar baby books to go, and for new books to be on offer at grandma’s house. Variety is good! I sent over some fairy tale collections and story anthologies, like Seuss and others, which can be read in one bedtime reading session. (And it’s a win for me, too, because I think I cannot read another Seuss story in my life. Seriously. I will die.)

A few months ago we gave cousin Baby Jack a bunch of baby books. Books that my sons loved reading daily (Dig, Dig, Digging!, The Big Red Barn) are staying in the family and that makes us very happy. I’m hoping sometime I’ll get to see Lucas or Asher reading those books to Jack.

I am by no means a Simplicity Hero. We still have plenty of sentimental books in our collection (the photo above shows books we aren’t yet ready to part with). But it does feel good to purge a little because it makes room for new and exciting adventures: Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Norse myths, Septimus Heap, Holes, and so many classics (Robin Hood, Zorro, Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Call of the Wild, The Trumpet of the Swan, Ender’s Game. The possibilities are endless, stretching before us in a river of glorious stories.

What’s on your summer reading list? Any kids’ books?

Tutorial: Make an Herbal Dream Pillow for St. John’s Day

herbal pillow

This article is excerpted from our Midsummer Festival E-Book.

Herbs harvested at Midsummer and during the Feast of Saint John (June 24, 2013) are said to be especially magical. Certain herbs, such as mugwort, laurel, sage, or marigold petals, are believed to give prophetic dreams if placed under a pillow at night! Will it work, do you think? Wouldn’t it be fun to find out?

It’s best to use dried herbs for your dream pillow. You’ll need two squares of muslin, two squares of yellow cotton fabric (about 5” by 5”), sewing machine, needle and thread, dried herbs, and a hot iron.

Cut your muslin squares to be about ½ inch smaller than your yellow squares. Sew around the muslin squares, leaving a 2 inch gap. Cut the corners off, but don’t cut into the stitching (this makes the pillow easier to turn inside out). Now turn your pillow inside out and iron it flat. Spoon in your dried herbs. Use a needle and thread to stitch up the hole. Now make the yellow pillow case. Put your “right” or pretty sides together. Sew around the three sides and the corners of the fourth side using a ¼ inch seam. Cut off the inside-out corners as before. Turn the pillow right side out. Use a pencil to make the corners look nice. Iron the yellow pillow case flat. Insert the inner muslin pillow into the yellow case. Turn in ¼ inch seam at the opening and iron it. Now sew up the fourth side, using a top stitch.

Now place your herbal dream pillow under your head before bedtime. Perhaps you’ll dream of the future! Or perhaps you’ll have amazing, fanciful dream that you can write down in a dream journal or draw a picture of in the morning.

Midsummer Festival E-Book

For more fun midsummer crafts, herb lore, Waldorf verses, handwork, and ways to celebrate Midsummer and St. John’s Day, please check out the Midsummer Festival E-Book by yours truly, Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs, and the fabulously talented Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning. Click the link or the cover photo above to go directly to the page to find out more.

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Summertime is here! I often wonder how in the world I’m going to fill 13 consecutive weeks of “summer vacation,” and so I tend to start planning early. I’d like to offer up the Midsummer Festival E-Book as a way of filling summertime with festivities and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. My coauthor, Eileen Straiton, and warmly I invite you to check out our e-book, and please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now Available!

This wonderful Midsummer Festival E-Book, our labor of love, will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read Stories and Fairy Tales Filled with Sunshine to the Children
  • Enjoy Verses, Songs, Poems and Fingerplays that Celebrate the Coming of Summer
  • Learn about the History, Background and Symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get Ideas for How to Create Your Own Meaning of this Special Festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice Feast
  • Play Solstice Games
  • Make a Midsummer Bonfire
  • Create Simple Beeswax Suns with the Children
  • Make a Solstice Wreath for the Birds
  • Design Midsummer String Art Sunbursts
  • Read a Story of The Sun Child and Create a Sun Child Necklace
  • Craft a Shiny Garden Suncatcher
  • Use a Rock Garden Sundial to Tell Time in Your Garden
  • Make a Catch the Sun Throw Toy for Your Child
  • Create a Paper Solstice Sun
  • Read How to Create Daytime and Nightime Midsummer Magic
  • Hang Summer Solstice Flags Indoors or Outdoors this Season
  • Plant a Midsummer Indoor Herb Garden
  • Craft a Sun Mosaic Birdbath
  • Make a Sunshine Fairy out of Wool Roving and Felt
  • Sew and Stuff Herbal Dream Pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle Felt a Summer Sun Wall Hanging
  • Create Sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the Children
  • Bake Sun Bread with the Children
  • Go on a Sun Hunt
  • Make a Sun Mask
  • Design a Sunshine Banner
  • Crochet Sun Medallion Necklaces



St. Patrick’s Day Books for Children

I love St. Patrick’s Day. I love the rainbows and shamrocks, green foods, and stories of leprechauns and magic. Over the years, my kids and I have explored lots of St. Patrick’s Day books and this is a list of our favorites. Some are old, some, new. As usual, my fundamental recommendation is that you steer clear of licensed products. Believe me, although this list is long, lots of books didn’t make it onto this list.


Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Kelly Murphy is a fairly new treasure, published in 2009. This book is full of terrific art and a very clever lass who outwits the greedy King of the Leprechauns, who has stolen all the luck from the land and made the people suffer. Most leprechaun stories involve men or boys, and it’s great to have a heroine in the genre. The moral here is that you must depend on your wits, and not on your luck to be successful.

Clever Tom and the Leprechaun was published in 1988 by Linda Shute, who illustrated the book and adapted a traditional leprechaun story originally published in Legends and Traditions of South Ireland in 1825. Shute’s illustrations are watercolor and pencil and are quite lovely. Clever Tom, unfortunately for him, is not quite clever enough to get the sack of gold from the leprechaun shoemaker he captures one day.

From To Sing a Song as Big as Ireland

To Sing a Song as Big as Ireland is by Nathan Zimelman and is illustrated by Jospeh Low. This is quite an old book, published in 1967, that we found at our library. The story is long and wonderful. A little boy named Terrence O’Flaherty O’Flynn wants more than anything to sing a song as big as Ireland, but he’s really quite small. He tries and tries to grow bigger so that he’ll have a strong voice, but none of his plans work out, not even standing on the dewy ground and beneath the warming sun, or carrying a goat on his shoulders like the strongest man in the county carries his horse. Finally the boy goes to ask his mother, who advises that he catch a leprechaun and get him to grant the boy his wish. The leprechaun gets it wrong several times before the boy can finally sing his song, and when he does “his song told of all of Ireland—its lakes and its hills and its green land, of every bird that rose on its air and every animal that grazed in its meadows and passed through its forests … it told of all of  Ireland’s people, and so it was as big as Ireland itself.”

Too Many Leprechauns was published in 2007. Stephen Krensky wrote it and Dan Andreasen is the artist. I love the opening: “Finn O’Finnegan looked like a rogue and walked like a rascal, so it was widely thought that he was at least one or the other. And his shadow, which followed him closely and knew all of his secrets, might have said he was both.” The leprechauns have overrun the town of Dingle and they’re keeping everyone from sleeping with their endless tap-tap-tapping on their fairy shoes. Well, rascally Finn O’Finnegan will fix them. He finds flaws in the little shoemakers’ work, and they’re so insulted they show him their pile of gold coins earned from their shoe-making. Finn manages to hide their gold from them!

Leprechauns Never Lie, by Lorna and Lecia Balian, is a fun book about two women who are too lazy and old to do their daily work. The young woman, Ninny Nanny, sets out to find a leprechaun to change their fortune. She’s lucky enough to find one, and almost gets a great deal, but in the end, her laziness causes her to miss out on the biggest prize of all. Still, in the process, she and ailing Gram do get their chores done, and that’s a good thing after all. This book was originally published in two colors in 1980; in 2004 it came out again with beautiful full color illustrations by Lecia Balian.

From Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott

Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale Told and Illustrated by Gerald McDermott is worthy of a read. Tim and his wife Kathleen are very poor, and she suggests that maybe he should go and find a job; alas there are no jobs to be found. Although Tim gets lucky enough to stumble upon a group of reveling leprechauns, he gets tricked out of his worthy prizes by neighbors. It’s all because he didn’t do exactly what the wee folk told him to do, and that’s what you get by cutting corners. The wicked, swindling neighbors get their comeuppance in the end, though, and Tim and his bonny Kate do make their fortune through the beneficence of the leprechauns. In these bright illustrations the leprechauns are all cute and charming, wearing green and scarlet.

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski with art by Tom Curry might be an outlyer on this list. The story is about two rival towns, Tralee and Tralah, that compete each year to see which one decorates best for St. Patrick’s Day. Six-year-old Fiona Riley comes up with the plan for Tralee to finally win the contest. A leprechaun arrives and asks for help at all the doors, for his cows are stuck in the mud. Citizens of Tralee go to the cows’ rescue, despite their need to finish decorating for the contest, and their generous spirit is rewarded.

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, by Eve Bunting features no leprechauns or magic, but it’s magical nonetheless. Little Jamie wakes very early on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day and feels sad that he is considered by his family too small to march in the village parade. But what do they know? He tiptoes out of the house and has a parade all his own with his sweet dog Nell and the slowly waking village. Jan Brett illustrated this sweet book using only three colors, and her pictures of the Irish countryside are charming and evocative. Bunting was born in Ireland and lived there for 30 years. She published this book in 1980.

A Pot o’ Gold is a wonderful anthology of Irish legends, poetry, songs, and even some recipes. It features a legend about St. Patrick, stories with the wee folk, mermaids, fairies, leprechauns, Finn McCool, and more. Works of authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Katharine Tynan, Arthur O’Shaughnessy, William Butler Yeats, and Jonathan Swift grace this anthology. If you were to buy only one book of Irish stories for children, this might be the one.

The Irish Cinderlad was written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, and was published in 1996. This is a male, Irish version of the Cinderella story based on two old Irish tales: “The Bracket Bull” from 1898 and “Billy Beg and His Butt” from 1905. The lad, Becan, is banished to the cow pasture when his stepmother and stepsisters come to live with him and his father. This fairy story features a magical bull, a giant, and an opportunity to rescue a princess from a terrible sea-dragon (à la Andromeda). Becan has his faithful friend, his own courage, and his giant feet to thank for his change of fortune, for no one else can fit into his lost boot.

From O'Sullivan Stew

O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott is a great book. The heroine is Kate O’Sullivan and she is a clever one! When the townspeople anger the witch by refusing to help when her beautiful stallion is taken as payment for taxes by the king, the town suffers terribly: cows won’t give milk, fishing nets come up empty, gardens fail, and everyone goes hungry. Kate convinces her da and brothers, Fergus and Kelly, that they should steal back the horse to appease the witch. But they’re not good horse thieves. It’s up to Kate’s storytelling to save them from the hangman’s rope. There are four great stories within the witch-horse-theft story. Leprechauns appear in one of them. But the best part is the unexpected twist at the end.

The Leprechaun’s Gold is a sweet Irish legend about friendship and generosity. The king of Ireland calls for all the harpists in the land to come and play in a contest. Young Tom is a braggart who thinks he is sure to win, but still stoops to sabotage. Old Pat is a kind gentleman who shares his music and meager possessions freely. On their way to the harping contest, they encounter a leprechaun in a bind. Tom refuses to help, knowing leprechauns are meddlesome troublemakers. Pat comes to the leprechaun’s aid and is rewarded for his kindness. “He played the merriest music ever heard, so wonderful that the wind itself stopped to listen. A wild tune it was, which filled the people’s hearts with joy and their lips with laughter.”

S is for Shamrock: And Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Matt Faulkner provides lots of great lore and information about Ireland, including the Blarney Stone, the Claddagh, The Book of Kells, leprechauns, viking raids, and more. This book includes more factual information about Ireland than the storybooks on this list.

From The House of Gobbaleen by Lloyd Alexander

The House Gobbaleen is by Lloyd Alexander, published in 1995. Tooley believes he has bad luck, and although his cat Gladsake knows Tooley’s luck is no better or worse than anyone’s, he thinks that a little help from the Friendly Folk is just what he needs. When a curious little man arrives on his doorstep, Tooley invites him in. It’s not long before the wicked little man has taken over Tooley’s favorite armchair, his bed, and is eating him out of house and home. Only Gladsake can save his master from his own foolishness and outsmart the little man.

Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland is by Tomie dePaola, a much beloved creator of children’s books. I’m actually not crazy about his books, but this book offers a comprehensive history of Patrick’s life and covers the miracles he is said to have performed. If you are looking for a kids’ book that covers the religious angle of this holiday, this might be the one for you.


Spring Festivals E-Book Is Here

My friend Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning and I are very happy to announce that our Spring Festivals E-Book is now available!

Spring Festivals mosaic 3x10

This is a teaser mosaic of photos from our e-book. It covers St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Equinox, Ostara, and Easter, and is packed with Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials, caregiver meditations, fingerplays, and stories to inspire you and help you create fun and meaningful festival celebrations with children in your home or classroom.

four leaf clover hunt

Part One: Saint Patrick’s Day
Leprechaun Poems and Finger Plays
Irish Blessings
The Four-Leaved Clover
Four-Leaf Clover Hunt
Caregiver Meditation: Luck
Saint Patrick’s Day Kid Craft
Make a Leprechaun House
Simple Shamrock Crown
Irish Stew
St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Mobile
Shamrock Window Transparency
The Sunbeam’s Visit
Rainbow Playdough
Jolly Leprechaun Ring
St. Patrick’s Day Paper Ornaments
Clover Suncatcher
The Golden Purse and the Seeing Eyes
To Catch a Leprechaun
Rainbow Science
Dip a Rainbow

Third Grade Cherry Blossom Poetry Festival

Part Two: Spring Equinox, Ostara
To Spring
Seeds and Grateful Spring
Spring Poems
The Story of the Two Seeds
Spring Equinox Wreath
Recycled Bird Feeder
The Feisty Fairy Story
Make a Fairy Pouch with Your Child
Build a Fairy House
Five Little Fairies Finger Play
Homemade Fairy Wings
Spring Bird Puppets
Spring Cleaning in the Home or Classroom
Natural Vinegar Cleaning Solution
Cherry Blossom Festival and Writing Haiku Poetry
Cherry Blossom Branches
Paint Cherry Blossoms
Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry
Pressed Flower Frame for Spring
Flower Pot Compost
Spring Zucchini Bread
Watercolor Flower Wreath
Simple Tissue Butterflies

Natural Dyes

Part Three: Easter
The Easter Flower and Easter Week
Lent and Sacrifice
Easter Hymns
Five Little Easter Rabbits and other Rhymes
Creating Your Easter Nature Table
Easter from Calendar of the Soul
Caregiver Meditation: Awakening
Little Felted Chicks
Stewart’s A, B, C’s
Flood-Tide of Flowers
Easter Dish Garden
Dyeing Eggs with Natural Dyes
Dyeing Easter Wool
Easter Egg Rolling
Easter Glove Bunny
Paper Easter Bunnies Banner
Felt Easter Ornaments
Decoupage Easter Eggs
Needle-Felted Easter Egg

This volume is the fourth in our series of Festival E-Books designed to help you find a way into the natural and religious festivals that occur around the time of the Solstices and Equinoxes. We have endeavored to provide inspiration and celebration ideas that will help you create fulfilling and joyful holidays in your home or classroom.

Some of the craft projects in this e-book are geared for adults or older children (but everyone can enjoy them). We have written simple instructions and provided step-by-step photographs to assist you. Other projects are simple enough that even the youngest child can assist, for creating art is a fundamental human desire and an important part of learning and expressing ourselves.

Circle-time rhymes, fingerplays, and games are also an important part of learning about our bodies, our world, and our friends. Some of the classic poetry we included may speak especially to the adult caregiver or teacher, for we believe it is through maintaining a sense of wonder and a love of beauty that permits our souls to shine forth in our daily actions.

This volume contains both a nature-based religious perspective, honoring the Goddess of Spring, and a Christian perspective on the holy days of Lent and Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection. There is, in our opinion, significant overlap of symbols and traditions, and we feel they can coexist in the context of the spring festivals in peace.

We hope you enjoy our e-book. It can be purchased on the Little Acorn Learning website here, and if you look around on Little Acorn Learning you will find many more delightful products there.

My personal thanks go to my coauthor Eileen, for her can-do attitude, unflagging faith, endless creativity. I’d also like to say thank you to my husband and my children for their assistance, participation, and great tolerance of the many messes my creative projects produce in our home during book production.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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