February is a month full of read-aloud possibilities!
As we celebrate holidays such as Groundhog’s Day, President’s Day, and Valentine’s Day, the entire month also provides opportunities for educators to discuss Black history and celebrate the lives and contributions of Black Americans.
Below you will find read-alouds for grades K-2 for the month of February including activity suggestions to go along with each selection!
Do you teach 3-5? See your February read-aloud recommendations here!
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This is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins; illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
In this adorable book, readers follow a little boy that keeps giving gifts to a girl in his class all while proclaiming that each gift IS NOT A VALENTINE. He claims that valentines are usually red and sparkly and that his gifts to her don’t fit into that category. He offers things like a red superhero cape, a portrait that he drew of her, a paper airplane, and part of his sandwich. Each gift offered shows how much he knows and cares about his friend. On the final page he proclaims that his gifts aren’t valentines because he doesn’t just like her on one day but that he likes her all the days of the year.
Work with students to make two lists: one containing traditional Valentine’s Day gifts and one containing the gifts that were offered by the little boy in the story. Have them talk to a partner and compare the different gifts. Then have students pick a family member or friend to make a special Valentine for.
Love Is by Diane Adams; illustrated by Claire Keane
This book follows a little girl as she takes care of a baby duckling found abandoned at the park. As she takes care of him, she shares all the different ways that she loves him including noisy midnight feedings, peaceful sleeping, early mornings, messy bathtimes, and even letting go once the duckling has grown enough to be released. While a simple story, the pages offer beautiful illustrations and poetic language to show that love is about caring, giving, and sometimes even letting go.
Have students sequence the events in the story using sequencing vocabulary (e.g. first, then, next, lastly, finally). Discuss the different ways that love was shown in the story and have students brainstorm ways that they can show love and kindness to those they care about.
Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace; illustrated by Christopher Denise
With Valentine’s Day only two weeks away, Moose begins planning a party. His friends squirrel, bunny, and porcupine are helping him plan when they realize that attending the party might be a problem for their friend the groundhog. The following day is Groundhog’s Day and they know that if Groundhog sees his shadow, he’ll have to go back into hiding for six more weeks and will miss the party. The friends then try and work together to brainstorm a way to keep Groundhog from seeing his shadow. They throw out ideas such as blindfolding him, changing the dates on his calendar, and putting a tent over his hole. While bickering about whose idea is the best, Groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow. The animals try their best to convince him to not go back down into his hole, but Groundhog explains that he must go back into hiding for six more weeks. To make his friends feel better he gives them all Groundhugs and promises he will see them soon.
Read this book the day before Groundhog’s Day and have student’s vote on whether they think the Groundhog will see his shadow or not. Have them write or copy a sentence about their prediction.
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry & Jessica Curry; illustrated by Brittany Jackson
Parker is a little girl who loves to put on her tutu, twirl, and imagine that she is a dancing queen. One rainy day her mother suggests that they go to the museum, which Parker also loves. They head out together to the National Portrait Gallery where Parker sees men with bushy mustaches, women wearing shiny jewelry, Native Americans with brilliant feathers, and dancers with tutus. Parker is enjoying the art when all of a sudden she looks up to see the most beautiful portrait of all; a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. This portrait is special to Parker because the woman has rich brown skin just like her. Parker’s mother tells her all about Mrs. Obama and her accomplishments and Parker can’t help but be mesmerized. Seeing a portrait of a strong, confident, and caring woman that looks like her helps Parker to see that her future is full of possibilities.
Visit the National Portrait Gallery website (nps.si.edu) and create a slideshow of the different pictures seen by Parker on her trip to the museum. Have students take turns sharing what they like about each work of art. Then have them discuss these questions with a partner: 1) What piece of art from the book is your favorite? 2) Why do you think the portrait of Michelle Obama was Parker’s favorite?
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmen; illustrated by Stasia Burrington
This book follows Mae Jemison as a little girl who loves to dream. While working on a project for school about what she wants to be when she grows up, Mae decides that she will be an astronaut. Her mother and father believe in her and tell her that “ if (she) can dream it, if (she) can believe it and work hard for it, anything is possible.” Mae decides that she wants to know all she can about outer space and astronauts and continues to dream of traveling to space. Mae is disappointed when she shares her dream with her teacher and classmates because her teacher tells her that she should aspire for a profession more fitting for someone like her. While Mae is devastated by her teacher’s response, her mother continues to encourage her to believe in herself and chase her dreams despite opposition.
Lead students in a group research project on Mae Jemison using the Super 3 research model (Plan, Do, & Review). 1) Plan: Think about what they want to learn about Mae Jemison and brainstorm places they can learn about her. 2) Do: Go and find information about her via magazines, books in the library, or web sources. 3) Review: Compile and share the information they learned.
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Farmer Brown has a lot of work to do and he works hard to make sure he takes care of the farm. The animals also have chores they are responsible for, but Duck isn’t so happy about having to work. Duck proclaims that he doesn’t like Farmer Brown being in charge and decides that they need to have an election. All of the animals register to vote and cast their ballots. The results come in showing that Duck has won the election and Farmer Brown isn’t happy (he even demands a recount). Duck then decides that running a farm is no fun and decides to run for governor of his state. Once again, Duck wins and becomes his state’s new governor. Then he decides that being in charge of a state is also no fun and that he will run for president. He wins that election as well but soon finds that being president is also a lot of work and no fun at all. Duck soon heads back to the farm where Farmer Brown continues to work hard while Duck begins writing his autobiography.
1) Talk with students about the process of voting. 2) Create a number line (or use counters) to compare the number of votes received by Farmer Brown and Duck and have students confirm who received the most votes. 3) Have students draw a picture and write a sentence about what changes they would make if they were president.
Additional books to consider for Black History Month:
- V is for Voting by Kate Farrell, illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald;
- I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr, illustrated by Kadir Nelson;
- The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer;
- Equality Calls: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Magdalena Mora.
Teacher tip: This post had many activity suggestions. Once you have the books, get a sticky note and write down the activity and stick it on the inside cover of the book. Any time you do the read aloud, you can remember the easy no-prep activity!
This post was written by my friend Erienne Jones. She is a former school librarian turned entrepreneur who continues to immerse herself in the world of books!