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Birthdays and Animals: Books For Kids

Just like Lemony Snicket, we say, “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” This sage advice extends to everything we do, including birthdays! The party doesn’t start until the books arrive. If you’re looking to add a bookish element to your birthday⁠—a decision we couldn’t agree with more⁠—we’ve got the perfect suggestions.

Growing up, birthdays were always a very well celebrated event in our home. We looked forward to them for quite some time before the big day. We anticipated choosing our birthday breakfast, what kind of party and activities we wanted to do throughout the day, and we always knew there would be a special treat (birthday cake!) of our choice.

Children’s literature does a great job of showcasing some wonderful birthday parties. From Dr. Seuss’s well known “Happy Birthday to You!” to “A Birthday for Cow,” to “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon,” the selection of books is out of this world. Children’s literature does so much for kids, and teaching them of their importance is no exception!

Whether you are looking for board books for your little one’s very first birthday, or your growing toddler on their second birthday, you are sure to find one that is personalized to their individual interests. If your child has a birthday during the school year, sometimes their kindergarten class will invite you to bring something in to share with classmates. This list of books is sure to give you some great ideas. We have also included picture books for their third birthday up to six years old. You can be sure that even when their birthdays mean they are growing up a little too much for your liking, we will still have books for them. For your middle school age kids, you can find chapter books with stories about birthdays that will be loads of fun for them . . . and you can feel good about being able to continue making them feel celebrated!

We’d love to hear which books are your favorites or which you’d add to the list.

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Bernice Gets Carried Away
Written & illustrated by Hannah Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Perfect for a new generation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day readers, this charming story about a grumpy cat gently shows how far a little sharing can go.

Bernice is having a truly rotten time at her friend’s birthday party. First, everyone else gets a piece of cake with a frosting rose. But not Bernice. Then, everyone else gets strawberry-melon soda. Bernice gets the prune-grapefruit juice. And it’s warm. The last straw is the one lousy (squished) candy she gets from the piñata. So when the balloons arrive, Bernice knows just what she has to do: grab them all. And then, poor cross Bernice gets carried up, up, and away. Luckily, she figures out just how to make her way back down to the party…and she brightens lots of other animals’ days on her way.

Hannah Harrison’s gorgeous animal paintings come alive in her second picture book. Her “exceptionally polished” debut, Extraordinary Jane, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.

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The Best Birthday Present Ever
Written & illustrated by Ben Mantle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Squirrel is super excited: he’s been invited to Big Bear’s birthday party! Now he just has to find the perfect present for his friend—but what can you give a bear who already has EVERYTHING? Squirrel searches and searches and chooses . . . a stick! As Bear unwraps his stack of gifts Squirrel begins to worry: is it enough? But with a little imagination, and a good friend, even the simplest stick can become magical. This funny, heartwarming story of friendship is a great gift—and not just for bears!

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Happy Birthday, Little Pookie
Written & illustrated by Sandra Boynton
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm
This fun birthday book perfectly captures the excitement of a child on their birthday--waking up early, getting surprises, and having fun activities!
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Wake up and celebrate Little Pookie’s big day in this way-too-early board book from the beloved and bestselling Sandra Boynton. Is that you, little Pookie? It’s not even light. You ought to be sleeping. Look outside. It’s still night. But it’s my birthday! Birthday! Birthday! Pookie can’t wait to celebrate! There’s only one problem: It’s still nighttime and everyone is asleep. With Sandra Boynton’s signature charm and piggy pizzazz, this surprising (yawn) story proves that every Little Pookie loves birthdays…even before daybreak!

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Happy Birthday
Written & illustrated by Alessandra Psacharopulo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Balloons, treats, and gifts: someone must be having a happy birthday in this fun board book! Something exciting is happening here Adorable animals are baking a BIG cake, decorating the room, and wrapping presents. Plus, Jack Rabbit’s practicing his magic and the monkey band is getting into the swing of things. What could it be? It’s a surprise birthday party! Kids will happily join the festivities in this vibrantly illustrated, delightful story.

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If You Give a Pig a Party
Written by Laura Numeroff & illustrated by Felicia Bond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

If you give a pig a party,she’s going to ask for someballoons. When you give her the balloons, she’ll want to decorate the house. When she’s finished, she’ll put on her favorite dress. Then she’ll call all her friends — Mouse, Moose, and more. The little pig from If You Give a Pig a Pancake is back, and this time she wants to throw a great big party! Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond have created another winning story for this beloved character in the tradition of the best-selling If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Carl's Birthday book
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A birthday for Bear book
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Creepy-Crawly Birthday book
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Happy Birthday to You! book
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  • Carl's Birthday - Happy birthday, Carl! But can Mom surprise him? No way. As hard as Mom tries, Madeleine and her canine babysitter extraordinaire are hot on her trail, tasting the party punch, peeking at presents, and adding some of their own favorite decorations.

  • A birthday for Bear - “The winning stars of A Visitor for Bear make a return engagement.” — School Library Journal Bear does not like birthdays. He doesn’t like parties or balloons, cards or candles. In fact, Bear does not like anything to do with birthdays at all. He would much rather spend his birthday alone cleaning his house, but Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed, has other ideas. With a perfectly paced story by Bonny Becker paired with Kady MacDonald Denton’s slapstick visual comedy, A Birthday for Bear welcomes young listeners to the party with artwork ideal for sharing.

  • Creepy-Crawly Birthday - When Toby Monroe has a birthday party, his pets’ curiosity is aroused by seven strange suitcases which they investigate, with surprising consequences.

  • Happy Birthday to You! - A group of musicians is traveling to a caf� for a surprise celebration. Press the buttons to hear them play their instruments . . . and join in with the whole band at the end to wish one little otter a very happy birthday! With a flute, guitar, violin, and piano, plus a rousing “big band” chorus and a splendid light-up birthday cake, this delightful little book makes the perfect birthday gift.

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Hazel and Twig: the Birthday Fortune
Written & illustrated by Brenna Burns Yu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A delightful debut about two sisters with big dreams provides a charming introduction to the doljabi, a Korean first birthday tradition. Twig’s first birthday is coming up, and her whole family — especially her older sister, Hazel — is eager to see what she will choose at her doljabi. Whatever item Twig chooses will tell her fortune: Will she pick a hammer and grow up to be a builder? Will she pick a lute and grow up to be a musician? Hazel is hoping that Twig will choose the yarn, just like she did when she was Twig’s age. When the big day arrives and Twig makes an unexpected choice, will Hazel be able to help figure out what the future might hold for her little sister? Sweet, serious Hazel and the adorable Twig are certain to win the hearts of readers, who will long to enter their cozy woodland world.

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Froggy’s Birthday Wish
Written by Jonathan London & illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

It’s Froggy’s birthday, but it seems that everyone has forgotten…

No one seems to remember that it’s Froggy’s special day. Mom and Dad don’t say a word, and all of his friends are busy elsewhere. Until he gets back home to find everyone waiting to surprise him with a party, complete with a piñata filled with chocolate-covered flies!

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A Birthday for Cow!
Written & illustrated by Jan Thomas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Pig and Mouse are hard at work baking the best birthday cake EVER for Cow. But it would be a lot easier if Duck wasn’t hanging around, yammering on about turnips or some nonsense. (Sheesh!) With all this silliness going on, how will they manage to throw Cow a spectacular birthday party? Well, as it turns out, crazy Duck just might have had the right idea all along!

Featuring wacky humor, rowdy repetitions, irreverent dialogue, and a hilarious twist at the end, this book is now available in an accessible reader-size format and is sure to have young readers laughing out loud!

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Birthday Cake
Written & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

HAPPYLAND introduces three friends Bink, Clyde, and Glub-Glub in a series of delightful adventures that illustrate issues including sharing, gratitude, and worry. “Birthday Cake” tackles the ever-important issue of sharing, as the hero Clyde learns it s as much fun to give as it is to receive. There s nothing more important for little kids entering preschool than to be emotionally ready ready to separate from their parents, to mix and play with new children, to broaden their sense of the world. HAPPYLAND, from award-winning children s author Dan Yaccarino, is the board book series that gives kids, and their parents, the language they need to take these emotional steps.”

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Land Shark
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Ben Mantle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

The only thing Bobby wants for his birthday is a pet shark. So you can imagine his disappointment when his parents get him…a puppy. Everyone knows shark lovers can never become dog lovers. Or can they? Full of humor and heart, this book explores the idea that sometimes, getting exactly what you don’t want turns out to be exactly what you need.

Bunny Cakes book
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The Perfect Birthday Recipe book
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Your House, My House book
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The Giant Hug book
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  • Bunny Cakes - It’s Grandma’s birthday, and Max wants to make her an icky, worm-infested cake. But Ruby says, “No, Max. We are going to make Grandma an angel surprise cake, with raspberry-fluff icing.” Will Max let his bossy older sister keep him out of the kitchen? Or will they both become bunnies who bake?

  • The Perfect Birthday Recipe - Summer birthdays can be lonely, but not when you have great friends like Beavers! This year Tortoise, Bird, Rabbit, and Squirrel insist on baking Beaver’s birthday cake, but Beaver isn’t so sure. He is the ultimate perfectionist and would rather do it himself, following the recipe exactly. Will Beaver’s nitpicky ways ruin his birthday and his friendships? The Perfect Birthday Recipe is the fourth and final story in Katy Hudson’s best-selling set of seasonal picture books, including Too Many Carrots, A Loud Winter’s Nap, and The Golden Acorn.

  • Your House, My House - There’s no neighborhood like a Marianne Dubuc neighborhood —- this time in an apartment building!

    It’s a special day at 3 Maple Street. It’s Little Rabbit’s birthday! His mother makes him his favorite breakfast. His sister has drawn him a picture. And, best of all, he’s having a birthday party! His friends are invited, his father is decorating, and his mother is baking a cake. But that’s not the only thing going on at 3 Maple Street today. The Cat family is moving in upstairs . . . the Fox family is having a new baby . . . Mr. Owl is trying to sleep . . . there’s so much happening inside (and outside) this lively building, it’s hard to keep track!

    This multilayered picture book from international award-winning Marianne Dubuc allows readers to peer into the homes of all the charming animal families in the building on every spread. Though there is one main story, captured in the text, there are multitudes of other stories-within-the-story, told in visual narratives. Dubuc’s winsome one-of-a-kind illustrations include heaps of clever details for children to pore over, promising something new to discover with every look and encouraging visual literacy in readers and prereaders. There are terrific social studies connections here on the concepts of community, inclusiveness and belonging.

  • The Giant Hug - How do you give your granny a hug when she lives far away? Send it through the mail, of course! Owen’s hug travels across the country in a series of hilarious, sometimes awkward, always heartfelt embraces between animals of different shapes and sizes. Valeri Gorbachev’s adorable artwork pairs beautifully with Sandra Horning’s charming text, and makes for a fun, funny, and educational read-aloud. An unexpected twist at the end will delight readers and have kids asking for this book again and again.

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The Mystery of the Missing Cake
Written & illustrated by Claudia Boldt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Donkey has invited Harold to his party, but all is not what it seems when the birthday cake disappears! Everyone is a prime suspect in The Mystery of the Missing Cake! But can Harold piece together the clues to solve the case and save the party?”—Page [4] of cover.

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Ginger Green is Absolutely MAD for Birthday Parties (Mostly)
Written by Kim Kane & illustrated by Jon Davis and Kim Kane
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Ginger is turning EIGHT and she’s having an exceptionally royal princess party! There will be crowns, a fancy castle cake, and even SPARKLE SLIME. But what happens when Crazy Maisy and No-Pants Penny get out of control?

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A Hungry Lion, Or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals
Written & illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Members of a large group of animals, including a penguin, two rabbits, and a koala, disappear at an alarming rate but the hungry lion remains.

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The Mouse House
Written by Poppy Green & illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Excitedly attending her friend’s birthday party, Sophie becomes jealous when her friend receives a mouse house, a gift Sophie has always wanted.

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My Lucky Birthday
Written & illustrated by Keiko Kasza
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A hilarious trickster tale companion to the story time hit My Lucky Day.

Just as Alligator Al is planning the perfect birthday dinner for himself, there is a knock on his door. It’s a delicious-looking piglet—how lucky!

But as Al prepares his feast, the piglet makes some suggestions. Shouldn’t Al have a big birthday cake? Piglet can tell him how to make one. And wouldn’t the celebration be more fun with fancy decorations and party guests? Piglet would be happy to ask some friends to come over.

Al is so lucky that Piglet is there to help…or is he? Could Piglet have a clever party trick up his sleeve?

Fans of trickster tales, rooting for the underdog, and the proven crowd favorite My Lucky Day will be thrilled to see who turns out to have the luckiest birthday of all.

Mr. Complain Takes the Train book
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Zinnia's Zaniness book
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  • Mr. Complain Takes the Train - In this interactive story that encourages positivity and gratitude, a fussy fellow takes an extraordinary train ride, yet remains thoroughly unimpressed. Readers will hoot with laughter at this silly sendup of the sourpusses of the world. After all, doesn’t everyone know a Mr. Complain or two? Mr. Complain is ready for his vacation in Dullsville, but on the train ride there, nothing is the way he likes it. First, the engine is too loud. Then, the passengers are too happy. Plus, the cars are too crowded, the seats are too lumpy, and his seatmate is too prickly. And that’s all before the train even leaves the station! Will Mr. Complain ever be able to relax and enjoy the ride? Find out as he travels through mountains, volcanoes, caves, and even oceans in this silly interactive story that’s perfect for train- and animal-loving kids.

  • Zinnia's Zaniness - With the arrival of August, Zinnia, the youngest of the Huit octuplets, eagerly anticipates getting her power and gift, both of which hold big surprises that are revealed to the sisters on their 8th birthday, in the penultimate episode of the Sisters Eight saga. Simultaneous.

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