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Birthdays and Bears: 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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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, Moon
Written & illustrated by Frank Asch
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Moonbear discovers that he and the moon share the same birthday. Now Moonbear wants to give his nighttime friend a present. But what do you buy the moon?

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Masha and the Bear: Reader #2
Written & illustrated by Lauren Forte
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An exciting leveled reader featuring Masha and the Bear! After the Bear’s birthday, Masha gets excited about her own special day—and all of the presents she’ll get. But when her birthday finally arrives, she can’t find her friends. Where are they? Did they forget?!

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The Berenstain Bears and the Forgiving Tree
Written by Jan Berenstain & illustrated by Mike Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Cousin Fred accidentally damages Brother’s brand-new bike,Brother Bear is angry. Can Sister Bear help him see that forgiving hisfriend is the right thing to do?

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A birthday for Bear
Written by Bonny Becker & illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton and Bonny Becker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“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.

Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday book
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Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise book
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Bears and a Birthday book
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This Bear’s Birthday book
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  • Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday - Amanda Panda’s birthday is tomorrow. She’ll be the first kid in her class to turn six! But when she gets to the bus stop, her best friend/worst enemy Bitsy announces that today is HER birthday! And her party is planned for Saturday, the same day as Amanda’s! Birthday dreams ruined, Amanda’s can’t keep her temper in check at school. By recess, it looks like Amanda’s birthday plans—and her friendship with Bitsy—is over. But when the girls stop arguing long enough to listen to each other, they come up wtih a birthday plan that is TWICE the fun. Young children will learn about sharing, compromise, and conflict resolution, all the while laughing along with Amanda and Bitsy in this adorable, school-based story from a new favorite character.

  • Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise - It’s his birthday and Big Brown Bear doesn’t even know it until his friend Rat fills him in during a picnic by the river. Everything goes swimmingly until an empty boat passes by and Big Brown Bear jumps in! Beginning readers will enjoy the watery ride in this sweet story full of sunshine, splashes, cucumber sandwiches, and friendship.

  • Bears and a Birthday - In their fourth endearing escapade, four small bears prepare a celebration for Big Brown Bear’s birthday. Mmm, something smells good in the kitchen. Big Brown Bear is curious—what are those little bears up to? Are they making something special? No peeking, Big Brown Bear! Floppy and Fuzzy, Yellow and Calico have a cake to bake and a gift to wrap, then it’s finally time for the birthday surprise. Delightful rhymes and huggable bears are just the right ingredients for a cheerful birthday read-aloud.

  • This Bear’s Birthday - It’s Bear’s birthday, and he’s determined to prepare for his party all by himself. Who can get dressed, pick apples, and make peanut butter and honey sandwiches without (much) help from Mama and Papa? This bear can! Then Bear finds out there are some things that can’t be done. But with friends and family by his side, a bear can still save the day!

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Make a Wish, Henry Bear
Written & illustrated by Liam Francis Walsh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Henry Bear has very unusual parents. They encourage him to stay up all night, eat chocolate cake at every meal, and get into trouble with his teacher. Why? Find out in this droll tale about making wishes with unanticipated consequences written and illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Liam Francis Walsh, author of Fish, which Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, called “full-bodied” and “rewarding.”

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Magic Box
Written & illustrated by Katie Cleminson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

For Eva, a young girl with a lively imagintation, a seemingly ordinary box becomes a portal to a magical, wonder-filled world./DIV Eva wishes for a pet. She reaches into her magic box and pulls out Monty. But he’s not quite what she had in mind. (He’s a polar bear.) What else might be in the magic box? A colony of festive rabbits, some delicious food, and a band of the very best musicians (including a sax-playing leopard)! The party is officially on! Once everyone has danced their socks off, Eva clicks her fingers to make everything vanish. Well, not quite everything… DIVKatie Cleminson’s lively and fanciful illustrations are the perfect vehicle to convey the transformative power of a young child’s imagination.

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Willa and the Bear
Written & illustrated by Philomena Oneill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

More than anything, Willa adores her ragdoll, Rosie, made just for her by Grandma. But one day, on a bumpy sleigh ride to Grandma’s birthday dinner, Rosie falls into the snow and disappears. Willa is inconsolable—until, mysteriously, Rosie reappears at Grandma’s door. Can Willa find a way to thank the special friend who returned her doll? This picture book will warm the heart of every child who has ever had a favorite toy.

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