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Birthdays and Growing Up: 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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Judy Moody and Friends: Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx
Written by Megan McDonald & illustrated by Erwin Madrid
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Judy’s mom takes the spotlight as the Moody family tries to give her the birthday she would like in a broadly funny episode just right for newly independent readers. Make a wish, Mrs. Moody! Every year on Mom’s birthday, one way or another, something goes wrong-not-right. Maybe Judy’s been in a bad mood. Maybe Stink’s gotten a little carsick. Maybe Dad can’t bake Mom’s favorite carrot cake. But this year is going to be different. This year is going to be perfect. This year, Judy is going to do all she can to make sure Mom gets the happy birthday she deserves. Watch out! The Boss of Birthday (aka Judy) is on the job! Parsnip cake with avocado frosting, anyone?

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The Importance of Being 3
Written & illustrated by Lindsay Ward
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The perfect present for three-year-olds, this picture book is a celebration of all things three!

All the best things come in threes, not one, not two, but three, like the three-year-olds in this sweet picture book. As all parents know, three is a big year. Follow along as three friends learn new things in threes—from tricycles to triangles—take a dip in the pool, and play in the park with their friends! Of course, it’s not all fun and games. There’s a tantrum and then hugs all around as the three kids head to bed.

This adorable picture book celebrating important life events is the perfect gift for third birthdays. Kids will love pointing out all the activities they can do now that they are three years old.

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Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

This gorgeous gift book, equally perfect for preschool graduations or college commencements, baby showers or birthdays, is an inspirational tribute to the universal struggles and achievements of childhood. Beginning with a first birthday, the scenes travel through childhood triumphs and milestones, coming full circle to graduation. A magical blend of succinct text and beautiful watercolors renders each moment with tenderness and humor and encourages readers to “remember then, with every try, sometimes you fail . . . sometimes you fly.”

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Moon Shadow
Written & illustrated by Erin Downing
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself. Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday. When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play. Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad. With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

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I Feel Five!
Written & illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Fritz’s 5th birthday starts off well when he eats all five of his birthday pancakes and gets brand-new sneakers that fit perfectly, but when he peeks in the mirror, he looks just the same as he did when he was 4 years old—and not even a single tooth is wiggling!

Baby's Firsts book
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The Night Before My Birthday book
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  • Baby's Firsts - Told in rhyming text, the story traces the development of a baby from birth to his first birthday.

  • The Night Before My Birthday - The Night Before My Birthday captures all the excitement and anticipation that every child experiences in the lead-up to their special day. The decorations are up, the table is set, and the food is ready – but what happens when there is an ice cream emergency? Once again Natasha Wing has written a story that is sure to appeal to every child getting ready for a birthday. The book is told by and seen through the eyes of the birthday child, so it is gender neutral and a fun gift for any birthday girl or boy.

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