At Christmas and Halloween and Easter (and a bunch of other holidays), we get out our seasonal collections of picture books and enjoy them for a few weeks.
A few years ago, it occurred to me that it’d be equally fun to have a birthday book collection too, that came out the week or so before one of my girls’ birthdays.
I’ve collected 16 favorite birthday books that show all different sides of birthdays, from planning the perfect party to having to deal with NOT being the birthday child when your sibling is turning a year older.
Whether you enjoy these as you celebrate a birthday or just check them out from the library to read on a normal Tuesday afternoon, I hope you’ll love these fun birthday books as much as we have!
16 Birthday Books for Kids
A Birthday for Cow! by Jan Thomas
I love Jan Thomas – her illustrations and humor just tickle my funny bone every time. In this book, Pig and Mouse are determined to bake the best birthday cake EVER for their friend Cow, but Duck is making it very difficult. Or. . . is he making everything perfect?
The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
This delightful board book is for every child who has ever loved the box that the present came in more than the present itself.
Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Madame Chapeau is a brilliant hat maker and each year on her birthday, she chooses her own favorite hat and heads to a solitary birthday dinner in Paris. But this year, a crow flies by and plucks her beloved hat right off her head. As she tries to retrieve her hat, many people offer their own hats to her, but none of them are the right.
The Best Birthday Present Ever! by Ben Mantle
We discovered this birthday book through our Bookroo subscription and it quickly became a favorite. Squirrel is thrilled about Bear’s upcoming birthday and is determined to find JUST the right gift. And when he finds a stick, he knows he’s hit the gift jackpot. Until all the other presents get unwrapped and Squirrel starts to feel very worried that his gift isn’t all that great after all.
A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
This birthday book speaks to every child who has ever watched their sibling celebrate a birthday and felt a stab (or ten) of envy that it’s not their birthday too. I love every Frances book and this one is new exception.
The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer Larue Huget, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
With her birthday only 5 months and 3 weeks away (plus 2 days and 8 hours), it’s clearly time for the littel girl in this story to start planning her party. It begins somewhat reasonable and quickly morphs into plans for a wild animals, a real castle, and amusement park rides.
Beatrice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison
This was another Bookroo find and it makes me laugh every time. Bernice, a grumpy little cat, is having a terrible time at a birthday. Her piece of cake has no frosting rose. Everyone else got a strawberry-melon soda, while Bernice gets stuck with a prune-grapefruit juice. WARM prune-grapefruit juice. As one birthday tragedy after another occurs, Bernice takes matters into her own paws, snatching ALL the balloons when they arrive. The illustrations in this start very gray and gloomy and eventually get bright and colorful. I LOVE this book.
Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Christine Grove
Amanda Panda is SO excited for her birthday. She’ll be the first one to celebrate in her kindergarten class AND the oldest. Plus, she’s having a birthday party on Saturday. But when she discovers that her best friend’s birthday is one day before hers? She is devastated. Now she won’t be famous or special. All she’ll get is a leftover birthday.
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson
This book is an unusual shape (tall and thin) and filled with verse that properly exhibits the sort of enthusiasm for a birthday that only a child can have, filled with questions about how many days until your birthday and dreams of a big birthday cake with glowing candles.
Alfie: (the turtle that disappeared) by Thyra Heder
Nia is thrilled to get a new turtle named Alfie when she turns 6, but turtles don’t exactly show a lot of excitement, so eventually she mostly forgets about her pet. But Alfie hasn’t forgotten about her and he is determined to celebrate Nia’s 7th birthday with the perfect gift.
Who Wants a Tortoise? by Dave Keane, illustrated by K.G. Campbell
When you really wanted a dog for your birthday and what you get is a turtle instead. This birthday book is for every birthday child who has gotten a present they decidedly didn’t want and then realized was actually pretty awesome.
Boa’s Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross
Poor Boa. All his friends bring him birthday gifts that clearly haven’t been thought through at all. Mittens? He doesn’t have any hands. Sunglasses? No nose or ears to keep them up. His mother keeps encouraging him to be grateful, even when these gifts really are duds.
The Birthday Queen by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
When it’s your birthday, the Birthday Queen makes it magical, from decorating the house to baking a spectacular cake. Ad who is the Birthday Queen? It’s your mom, of course!
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Rubina gets invited to her first birthday party and she’s thrilled until her mother insists that her little sister attend with her. And, of course, that little sister behaves as horribly as you might imagine, insisting on winning every game and even stealing the party favor afterward. When Rubina gets a chance to get back at her sister, some months later, she chooses the higher road instead.
Ling & Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin
I LOVE the Ling & Ting books and this birthday one might be my favorite as these identical twins deal with buying each other presents (naturally, they each buy the other what they themselves want) and making cakes and receiving gifts from their grandmother. Each of the little stories is so sweet and fun.
Got to Get to Bear’s! by Brian Lies
I’ve been a fan of Brian Lies for years and this birthday book follows a crew of friends responding to an urgent note from Bear, asking them to come quickly. Despite a horrible storm, they all arrive safely, expecting something terrible, and find a birthday celebration instead.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
Any other recommendations for a birthday book I might have missed?
One of my favorite birthday books is Don’t Wake the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup.
I always purchase “It’s Hard to be Five” and “Ramona Quincy Age 8” for my nieces and nephews at those ages.
Megan G says
This is such a great list, thank you!! We also like “A Birthday for Bear” by Bonny Becker (as well as the other books in that series).
Megan G says
Also, as I was trying to find all of these at my library, I realized that the book in your list should be Bernice gets carried away, not Beatrice 🙂 Thanks for putting this together!
We have loved “The Birthday Zoo” by Deborah Lee Rose when our children were small!
Have you a suggestion of which of these birthday books (or others) would make for good reading over Zoom to my twin grandson’s first grade class? I am the “Mystery Reader” on their birthday next month and I’m sure one of these would be perfect!
Thanks for sharing these books.
Happy Birthday Little Pookie is a favourite at our house!
Awesome idea! Another one to add to your list– “Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf” by Frank Asch. https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Birthday-Big-Bad-Wolf/dp/1553373685/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=happy+birthday+wolf+frank+asch&qid=1631039071&sr=8-1 It’s a really charming story of how a pig family takes in the big bad wolf and befriends him.