20 valentine's day books for toddlers under $10

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Happy February 1st AND happy Friday! So many things to celebrate today.

So, can I just say that holidays are freaking great with kids? Lilli is at the age (3) where she’s starting to realize that holidays are extra special days to celebrate, and I love planning out crafts and picking out themed books for her to read.

Speaking of books…we’ve snagged so many cute v-day themed ones this year. It’s all we’ve been reading lately, and I really can’t complain. Today I’ve compiled a list of our top 20 favorites that we’ve read so far this year, all under $10.


Lilli’s Favorite Valentine’s Day Books in 2019

My Froggy Valentine || This one seems to be her favorite this year. She’s been obsessed with princesses lately, and this one has a special take on what we define as a “princess”. It’s a short, easy read with fun graphics and a cute story line.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch || I think this one is my favorite this year. It’s a little long, so you’ll want to save it for an uninterrupted time. But it’s a sweet story about how a lonely man finds out just how much he’s loved by his friends on Valentine’s Day.

Llama Llama, Be My Valentine! || We grabbed this book at the library because I’ve seen this show previewed on Netflix and thought it might be cute. It’s a Level 2 reader about Llama Llama’s class finding their creative talents while making valentine’s for their friends, and that everyone has their own special ability.

Valentine’s Day is Here! by Little People || Lilli has a big bucket filled with the Little People dolls, and she picked this one out herself. She loves books with open-flaps, and this book has a ton of them. Quick, interactive read that keeps her occupied and interested.

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown! || This is the very first Valentine’s Day book I bought for Lilli, back on her very first Valentine’s Day. It’ll always be special to me, but Lilli adores the Charlie Brown stories, as do I. It’s a decent-length read about Charlie Brown finding out that his friends really do care.

Snuggle Puppy! || So, this book might be best suited for younger toddlers, but it’s one of mine and Lilli’s favorites to read. Every night before bed we sing this song together to say “I love you” before bed. Very quick read with some singing involved. :)

Peppa’s Valentine’s Day || Lilli loves watching this show because of the accents throughout the show. It’s a cute story about Peppa showing her friends how much she cares for them on Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse || This is the same series as “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), and it’s a great book if you’re looking for one to explain what Valentine’s Day is to toddlers.

Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar || I adore Eric Carle’s books. I’m slowly stocking them on Lilli’s bookshelf, and she loves them just as much as I do.

I Love You! The Big Valentine’s Day Coloring Book || So, not exactly a book, but we’re really big into crafts around here, and this coloring book is perfect for v-day crafts.

Minnie’s Valentine || We have a Mickey Mouse book for every holiday. They never fail to get Lilli excited to read.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose || Lilli giggles her little head off at the original version of this book (Swallowed a Fly). Love this Valentine’s Day edition.

The Day It Rained Hearts || A cute story about a girl making valentines from hearts that are falling from the sky.

The Biggest Valentine Ever! || If you’ve ever heard of the book, “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever!”, this book might be familiar to you. Written by the same author, it’s a good story with a lesson about teamwork.

One Love || This book is written by Bob Marley’s oldest daughter, Cedella Marley, and is a story revolved around Bob Marley’s song, “One Love” about changing the world we live in for the better. It’s not technically about Valentine’s Day, but it is about love, which is what Valentine’s Day should always be about.

Snowy Valentine || If you live anywhere like me that usually has cold temperatures and snow for Valentine’s Day, this book is perfect.

You Are My Heart || The sweetest story from mom to child about how much we love them, even before they were born.

The Night Before Valentine’s Day || I love how this story entices excitement for the night before v-day, similar to Christmas Eve.

12 Days of Valentine’s || Also similar to Christmas, this book coincides with the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”, just in Valentine’s Day fashion.

The Very Fairy Princess: Valentines From The Heart || A heartfelt story about a little girl showing her friends how special they are to her on Valentine’s Day.

I hope you found some new books to share with your toddler this Valentine’s Day! If you have a v-day favorite that isn’t on this list, be sure to leave a comment so Lilli and I can check it out!

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meet Kavin Ley - author, father, & friend

I first met Kavin in a college band class six or seven years ago. I say “met”, but I sadly don’t remember talking to Kavin all that much. He was more my husband’s friend than my own, but somewhere along the way, we became Facebook friends, where I kept with his family and he kept up with mine.

Through a thin screen, I scrolled through Kavin and Betsy’s wedding photos, Kavin’s humorous musician jokes, and later their pregnancy announcement, joyfully sharing the news that they were pregnant with their son, Asher.

It brings tears to my eyes remembering the day I saw Kavin’s post about their heartbreaking loss, so very close to Betsy’s due date. I vividly remember calling Kyle while he was at work, tears blurring my words, asking if he saw Kavin’s post. We both shed tears that day for Kavin and Betsy, and for Asher, too.

I do not know the Lord’s reason behind the Ley’s loss, but I know that God used Kavin’s writing talent to aid me through our own loss, and I’m absolutely sure that I’m not the only one. His book is many things, but especially raw, powerful, and transforming.

For this reason, I asked Kavin if I could interview him for my blog about his book, Asher, My Son. Readers and friends alike, meet Kavin Ley.

For those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a husband and father, first and foremost. Our first child, Asher Joseph, was stillborn at 35 weeks. He remains a major part of our lives, though we do not get to watch him grow up. He has been an inspiration to us and to so many more through his too-short life.

Besides devoting the majority of my life to my family, I am also a middle school band director. My wife Betsy and I are both musicians and music is a key element to our life together. We currently live in Auburn, Indiana with our two mini-dachshunds, Leo and Louie. As I write these words, we are expecting the birth of our second son, Bryn Anderson, tomorrow and will be in our arms by the time this is published!

Can you tell us more about your book, Asher, My Son?

When I received the call from Betsy that Asher had died, I had an instinctual awareness that writing was going to be my main coping mechanism to help with my grief. Asher, My Son is the published version of the journal that I created through my first year of being a childless father. When I began writing, I didn't know if I was writing for me or for someone else--I just wrote to fully express what I was feeling and to document all that was to come so I would never forget the important details of our grief journey. After I had written for a few months, I found that what I was writing could--and should--be shared with other people, particularly fathers who had also lost children. I wanted to use my raw, uncensored feelings to communicate what a man goes through with the loss of his child. There are some resources available for loss fathers, but very few. I felt that my journal could be a useful tool for others.

What sort of emotions carried you through the publishing process? I’m sure there was a wide array publishing a book so raw and near to your family’s heart.

Beyond the grief that all those dealing with loss feel, I experienced apprehension and hope while writing and publishing Asher, My Son. Because the book is literally my journal, my heart and soul was poured into the pages. I made known all of the sadness, anger, grief, joy, and anxiety that I experienced after losing my son. I was apprehensive to share that with the world in such an open manner. Very personal experiences were written about and I needed to weigh whether or not the experiences were something that needed to be shared. I eventually came to share everything so my candor could help other people (men in particular) see what a father's grief is. In addition to the apprehension though, I had a good amount of hope. Hope that my words could bring understanding, hope that my experiences could bring empathy, hope that Asher's story could effect change and help others. 

What was a goal you hoped to accomplish when putting your journal out into public eye?

More than anything, I wanted to help others. Even if it was only one person, it would have been worth it. I know from interactions I've had with those who have read my book (including complete strangers) that Asher's story has had an impact on them. I've heard from multiple people that reading my journal has helped them cope with miscarriage, stillbirth, and other losses of their own. I've heard from others that they now feel they can communicate more easily with those they love who are experiencing grief. I've heard from others still that my book has helped them to become more empathetic to other difficult situations. I already feel that I accomplished my goal for publishing my journal. I only hope that it can continue to be a resource to help others.

What is something you hope readers can take from your book?

I hope that readers take a piece of Asher with them when they read my book. While readers can find help with communication, help experiencing grief effectively, and comfort knowing that others has lived through this most difficult of journeys, I simply want people to carry a small piece of my first son with them in their hearts. I know it's selfish to want that most of all, but as any parent would agree, I love my son and am proud of him. I want others to know him as well as we do.

To anyone who has gone through the indescribable pain of infant loss, what is one thing you would tell them? 

Experience and express your feelings fully. Suppressing any emotions--good, bad, or neutral--is unhelpful and unwise. If you are in a situation in which you cannot fully express your emotions, be sure to communicate them when you are back in a safe space. Bring your support system close to you and don't hold back. If you don't have a solid, reliable support system, find one. Reach out to family and friends, join a support group, participate in online groups, email me if you have to (kavinjley@gmail.com)! Fully express your emotions so you can move through them, rather than letting them weigh you down. 

Do you have any more books on the horizon?

I do have some ideas for writing a pregnancy and parenting after loss book from a father's perspective. Such a resource doesn't really exist, but it's another journey that fathers often take without the support of other loss fathers. 

Beyond that, I have some silly ideas of children's books featuring my mischievous dogs and a few other fiction ideas to write for fun. Nothing may come of those ideas, but it's always fun to dream!

If you’d like to read Kavin’s book, you can purchase it via Amazon HERE.


five books to read during October

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We are in the midst of my favorite time of the year! September through January are the months that I truly adore and wait all year to experience.

They are also my favorite reading months. I love to sit outside on a cool day on our swing and get lost in a good book with only the chilly breeze as my company. Can you just imagine it?!

Just as the seasons change, so do the books in my hands. A couple weeks ago I gave you a few books that are perfect for your final summers reads, and today I’m bringing a few more that are perfect for the spooky days of October!

Along with the book deets, I’ve included the “graphic-meter” of each book. I totally understand the feeling of putting a book down because it’s too graphic (that’s one reason I was mindful of the graphicness during the suspenseful scenes of my book!), and it wouldn’t feel right recommending a book without letting you know what you’re getting into.

SO, let’s get to it, shall we?

Perfect || I’m being real honest here: I was not expecting to like this book. I found it at Barnes & Noble in their clearance section for $2. I fell in love with the book cover art and that is the biggest reason I bought it. Turns out the book is just as good as the cover! There’s so many twists and surprises and I adore the author’s style of writing. It’s perfect for the spooky months out of the year not because it’s scary, but because it’s a darker-style book that sucks you into every twist.

Taken || This is another book that has dark elements to it, but not in a horror-kind of way. It contains Christian values, which I loved in a suspense book, and the plot is so, so good. I will definitely be looking for more of Henderson’s work because of this book!

The Collector || There’s a couple moments of graphic scenarios, but not to the point of me shuddering away from them. What I loved most about the book besides the suspense is that it had historical elements in it and I’m a huge history buff. Perfect for chilly weather reading!

The Murder House || I’m going to start out by saying that this book is very graphic. Normally I would put a book with this many “eek’s” down, but this was drew me in from the FIRST page and my goodness, it was so.good. The ending was mind-blowing and despite the graphicness, I’m already ready to read it again!

See Me || This book by Nicholas Sparks is different from his norm, but I actually think it’s my favorite one written by him. Maybe because it’s a similar style to my book? I’m not sure. But I loved it! It’s perfect if you’re looking for a suspenseful book without any gore or horror. Plus, there’s a love story involved, too, and you know I’m all about a good love story.

I’d love to know what bone-chilling books you’re reading with your bucket of candy this October! Let me know in the comments what book I need to look for next.

Ps...be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking the "Newsletter" tab up above to gain first access to book updates, subscriber-only giveaways, and writer tips! 


five spooky (but not scary) toddler Halloween books

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five spooky (but not scary) toddler Halloween books

by Brandi Little

A very happy beginning of October, friends! Even though this month is the beginning of the holiday craze, I look forward to it every year! Pumpkins, apples, ghosts - oh my!

My daughter is just as big of a fan of the holidays as I am, especially Halloween and Christmas! Well-rounded Christmas books are pretty simple to come by, but I find that I have a harder time with Halloween books. Either they story too spooky for my toddler or the pictures would give me nightmares.

But this year, I’ve done all the hard work for you! I went to the library and sifted through a good chunk of their Halloween books, and compiled a list of all those I recommend for your toddler this Halloween.


“Slide and Find” SPOOKY || There’s not too many words in this book, but that’s okay because the “slides” make up for it! Filled with 16 “spooky” slide and finds, your toddler can use their counting, matching, and deciphering skills to find the answer behind the slides. There is only one thing I warn about: there is a picture of an actual spider in the book. My daughter has never batted an eye at it, but some of your toddlers might!

Five Little Pumpkins || I will admit, this story doesn’t make much sense to me, haha! But my three-year-old loves the pictures and we count the five little pumpkins on each page to add a little more education to the book. Short and sweet, it’s also perfect for beginning readers!

Mouse’s First Halloween || This book is SO fun to read! Lilli gets a kick out of hearing me try the sound effects of Halloween night. If your kiddo is especially prone to the scares of Halloween night, this book may be a good option. It talks about some of the elements of Halloween that are scary (bats, rustling leaves at night, etc.) and makes them into something joyful!

Mickey’s Halloween || Attention Mickey Mouse fans! This is one of Lilli’s favorite Halloween books because it has the flaps to lift, which she just loves. There’s also an educational aspect to it, like counting and deciphering skills, that are perfect for toddlers.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown || I don’t think I need to say much about this classic, do I?! This book is perfect to read around the same time you and your toddler watch the movie to see if they can spy the similarities and the differences!

What books do your toddlers love to read around Halloween time? I’d love to find some new ones for my three-year-old!

If none of these appealed to you, check out THIS list with more toddler Halloween books!

Ps...be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking the "Newsletter" tab up above to gain first access to book updates, subscriber-only giveaways, and writer tips! 


five books to read before summer ends

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

It's officially September and you know what that means: autumn is just around the corner.


I'm one of the few people in the world that doesn't care for summer, and I readily welcome fall with open arms. As much as I wrinkle my nose at the heat, I have enjoyed quite a few novels that put me in the summer mood this season.


Here are a few books that I recommend you get your hands on before the high temperatures relinquish themselves to autumn's grasp:

The Good Wife || A quick and easy read, The Good Wife sucks you in with romantic drama revolved around the hardships, and beauty, of marriage. The author, Jane Porter ponders the question within the drama if it's worth staying in a marriage when things seem too tough to withstand. Buy it HERE.

Dear John || A classic love story by one of literature's most romantic authors, Nicholas Sparks, Dear John tells the tale of a love tested by the military. Sparks keeps you guessing until the very end how the story will unfold, leaving you shocked on the final page. Buy it HERE.

A Little Bit Country || Two love stories for the price of one. Debbie Macomber and Raeanne Thayne team up to tell the tales of two girl-next-doors and their search for love. The perfect book for sitting on a bench in the park or on your back porch while the birds sing to you. Buy it HERE.

The Chance || Karen Kingsbury is one of my favorite authors. I bond with her stories, as her Christian values and life-changing stories connect with my own writing desires. This story is no different as it tells the tale of two individuals who believe they are too late for love - or so they think. Buy it HERE.

The Year We Turned Forty || This continues to be one of my most often recommended novels. Authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke put an interesting twist on turning a year older by giving three best friends the opportunity to return to the year they turned forty and change their lives most defining moments, both the good ones and the worst ones. Buy it HERE.


What books have you read this summer that made your season just a little bit better? Tell me in the comments!

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