Heartwarming Children's Books About Growing Up

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In this list, we’ve collected the best children’s books about growing up. These books explore both fun and serious aspects of growing up. Some provide a perfect opportunity to encourage a child’s dreams or help a child explore the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Others are about things like becoming an older sibling, trying new things, and even potty training.

Some books are popular titles you may recognize from your own childhood, while many will be titles you have yet to discover. We’re confident these will soon become cherished favorites.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for infants and toddlers. Picture books are great for toddlers through elementary school age children. Chapter books are recommended for kids from elementary through early middle school age. Our list can be filtered by book type, or you can peruse the entire list.

You can also use our table of contents to jump to specific topics you’re child might find interesting, like how growing up relates to friendship or how adventure is part of growing up. As you enjoy the list, please let us know what titles you would add to it!

Top 10 Books About Growing Up

I Used to Be the Baby book
#1
I Used to Be the Baby
Written and illustrated by Robin Ballard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“I used to be the baby, but now I am big.” So begins this story of a not-very-big sibling who suddenly finds himself with a baby brother. He willing shares his toys with the baby, he plays with him, and he knows when to be quiet. He sings a cheerful song when it is needed, and he teaches his brother many useful lessons. But sometimes even the biggest of us likes to be the baby — and in this loving family, that is no problem at all!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be book
#2
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text reveal a parent’s musings about what a child will become, knowing that the child’s kindness, cleverness, and boldness will shine through no matter what, as will the love they share.

Growing Season book
#3
Growing Season
Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

El and Jo are the smallest students in class—and best friends, too. But in springtime, something BIG happens: Jo starts growing like a weed . . . and El doesn’t. When their teacher asks every child to pick a plant to care for over the summer, poor El ends up with a tiny, flowerless aster. But slowly, the aster blooms—and so does El! A sweet picture book about the joys and challenges of growing up.

Once I Was a Pollywog book
#4
Once I Was a Pollywog
Written by Douglas Florian and illustrated by Barbara Bakos
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Discover what these baby animals become when they grow up in this sweet board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Once I was a pollywog, but now I am a frog. Once I was a piglet, but now I am a hog. In this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian, meet different baby animals and discover what they become when they grow up! The baby/adult pairs include: pollywog/frog; piglet/hog; cub/bear; leveret/hare; gosling/goose; calf/moose. And at the end, meet a little boy who will always be his mama’s bundle of joy!

Sleep, Baby, Sleep book
#5
Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Written by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

As their baby sleeps, the parents wish for their child the many characteristics found in animals, such as being gentle as a lamb, having the sight of a hawk, and the peacefulness of a snowy dove.

Babymoon book
#6
Babymoon
Written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

In a perfect gift for new and expectant parents (and siblings), a gentle story pays tribute to the wonder and emotion of a family’s first quiet days with a newborn. The house is hushed. The lights are low. We’re basking in a newborn glow. Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere.

When I Grow Up book
#7
When I Grow Up
Written by Julie Chen and illustrated by Diane Goode
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“A small child muses about the future as Mom guides the bedtime routine…Winning text and illustrations for bedtime.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The whimsical pictures fill every page with happiness and variety as Chen presents exuberant ideas for the big dreams and wishes of childhood.” —Booklist

“As a mother helps her young son get ready for bed…Mom assures him that the future is wide open, and ‘No matter what, I will always be there for you.’” —Publishers Weekly

A little boy shares with his mom his dreams of what he might be when he grows up in this tender picture book from Julie Chen the host of Big Brother and formerly the host of The Talk and New York Times bestselling artist and Caldecott Honor recipient Diane Goode.

One night while getting ready for bed a little boy starts to wonder what will life be like when he grows up. He could be a painter, a musician, a mountain climber, a mayor…

He tells his mother all about his big ideas…and all of the other things he wants to do. But when will he grow up? And why does it take so long?

Little Juniper Makes It BIG book
#8
Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What Juniper lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. And her heart is dead-set on growing up and getting taller. She’s tired of having to reach for the cookie jar or use a stepping stool for the toilet. Everything in Juniper’s world seems to be made for adults. Ugh! Juniper is industrious, however, and builds several silly contraptions to help reach her goals. But it isn’t until she makes a fun new friend at school, Clove, who is even smaller than Juniper, that she is able to see her world from a new perspective — and appreciate all sizes, big or small. Aidan Cassie, the creator of Sterling, Best Dog Ever, employs her pitch-perfect humor and heartwarming illustrations here again to help little ones love themselves at any size.

Sometimes You Fly book
#9
Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate and 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.”

Little Tree book
#10
Little Tree
Written and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

For graduates, for their parents, for anyone facing change, here is a gorgeously illustrated and stunningly heartfelt ode to the challenges of growing up and letting go. A story of the seasons and stepping stones as poignant for parents as for their kids, from the creator of Otis the tractor and illustrator of Love by Matt de la Pena.

“Long’s gentle but powerful story about a young tree who holds tight to his leaves, even as everyone else lets theirs drop, takes on nothing less than the pain and sorrow of growing up. . . . As in Long’s unaccountably profound books about Otis the tractor, a pure white background somehow adds to the depth.”—The New York Times Book Review

In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is.

Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree’s leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered. As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.

Books About Growing Up and New Babies

I Used to Be the Baby book
#1
I Used to Be the Baby
Written and illustrated by Robin Ballard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“I used to be the baby, but now I am big.” So begins this story of a not-very-big sibling who suddenly finds himself with a baby brother. He willing shares his toys with the baby, he plays with him, and he knows when to be quiet. He sings a cheerful song when it is needed, and he teaches his brother many useful lessons. But sometimes even the biggest of us likes to be the baby — and in this loving family, that is no problem at all!

Babymoon book
#2
Babymoon
Written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

In a perfect gift for new and expectant parents (and siblings), a gentle story pays tribute to the wonder and emotion of a family’s first quiet days with a newborn. The house is hushed. The lights are low. We’re basking in a newborn glow. Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding. Paired with warm and winsome illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, Hayley Barrett’s lyrical ode to these tender first days will resonate with new families everywhere.

You Are New book
#3
You Are New
Written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A world of being new is waiting for little ones and the grown-ups who love them in this warm and funny book perfect for baby showers. From napping to crying, cuddling to playing, this book introduces the world with humor, honesty, and unmitigated sweetness. Award-winning author and artist Lucy Knisley celebrates the joys of having—and being!—a baby in this timeless celebration of new beginnings and the transformative power of love.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Fruits of Your Labor - The Fruits of Your Labor is a board book that explores the size progression of a baby in the womb in relation to a fruit or vegetable. Beginning at the size of a sweet pea and growing to the size of watermelon, each week of pregnancy is documented as a watercolor painting next to a fun, and also true fact about that specific fruit or vegetable, mixed with a playful quip. With its endearing illustrations and droll humor, The Fruits of Your Labor makes a perfect gift for both new babies and expectant mothers.

  2. With My Tree - One little girl has a very special friend, the tall ancient tree in her backyard. Through the seasons, she grows along with the tree, playing in its branches and basking in its shade. She can swing and have a picnic, draw the tree and play hide and go seek. Through her time with her tree, the girl learns to appreciate the natural world as something to be savored and protected and acknowledges her place within it. The Growing Hearts series celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, from conquering fears and expressing feelings to welcoming a new sibling.

  3. Baby's Firsts - Told in rhyming text, the story traces the development of a baby from birth to his first birthday.

Want to see more children's books about new babies?

Books About Growing Up and Animals

Once I Was a Pollywog book
#1
Once I Was a Pollywog
Written by Douglas Florian and illustrated by Barbara Bakos
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Discover what these baby animals become when they grow up in this sweet board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Once I was a pollywog, but now I am a frog. Once I was a piglet, but now I am a hog. In this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian, meet different baby animals and discover what they become when they grow up! The baby/adult pairs include: pollywog/frog; piglet/hog; cub/bear; leveret/hare; gosling/goose; calf/moose. And at the end, meet a little boy who will always be his mama’s bundle of joy!

Me . . . Jane book
#2
Me . . . Jane
Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of “a life living with and helping all animals,” until one day she finds that her dream has come true. One of the world’s most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, McDonnell makes this very true story accessible for the very young—and young at heart.

So Big! book
#3
So Big!
Written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A simple, clever text paired with utterly adorable animal characters makes school-day jitters seem not so big after all! Bear is so big, and he’s ready to start school! But even if you’re SO BIG, you might feel a little nervous at times. Can Bear brave his first day and find a way to make it feel just right? A clever and charming story, So Big! will help young readers through all the important first steps in life. Acclaim for Dad’s First Day Bank Street Best Children’s Books of 2016—outstanding merit title Acclaim for Moo! An ALA Notable book A BCCB Blue Ribbon selection

Honorable Mentions
  1. How Things Grow - A brand-new title in this bestselling series from Eric Carle! A tadpole becomes a frog, an acorn becomes an oak tree, and a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. By lifting the big, sturdy flaps, young readers will discover the world around them and how things grow through Eric Carle’s bright, beautiful images. A perfect companion title for Eric Carle’s ABC, Opposites, and All Around Us.

  2. Half a Giraffe? - All giraffes, even baby Gisele, know that the juiciest leaves are on the tops of the trees. But how does she reach them? No matter how she stretches or twists, those tasty leaves are just too high. A strong story with a light touch, and colorful art with extra touches of humor, appeals to both children and adults.

Want to see more children's books about animals?

Books About Growing Up and Trying New Things

Sometimes You Fly book
#1
Sometimes You Fly
Written by Katherine Applegate and 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.”

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up book
#2
Lola Dutch When I Grow Up
Written and illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright and Kenneth Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Lola Dutch is always bursting with grand ideas—so of course she has many ideas for what she wants to be when she grows up! She could be a magnificent performer . . . or a daring inventor . . . or a brilliant botanist . . . there are exciting ideas all around! But Lola is too excited—she wants to try EVERYTHING. How will she ever decide what she is destined to become? The curious and creative Lola Dutch is inspired to imagine every way to explore the wonder of her world. And she doesn’t have to wait until she grows up! Inspired by their own four gorgeously creative children, Sarah Jane and Kenneth Wright are thrilled to continue this fun series about the unstoppable Lola Dutch, a larger-than-life character perfect for fans of Olivia and Fancy Nancy.

Bye-Bye Binky book
#3
Bye-Bye Binky
Written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Babies use a binky. Do big kids? No! Big kids say, “Bye-bye, binky!” Every child’s life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Big Girl Panties - Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape…and winds up getting her groove back—and a whole lot more! Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

  2. Baby Penguin's First Waddles - What happens after a baby penguin emerges from her egg? Follow her journey and find out! Meet a penguin chick and see how she grows. Developed in tandem with the American Museum of Natural History, and featuring stunning photography in the penguin’s Antarctic home, this nonfiction picture book captures the first few months of a baby penguin’s life and her transformation into adulthood. With fun and engaging text, Baby Penguin’s First Waddles is sure to delight animal-loving kids.

  3. I Use The Potty - Babies wear diapers. Do big kids? No! Big kids use the potty! Every child’s life is filled with milestones. Some happen easily; others need a little extra support. Artist and mom Maria van Lieshout has been there. Drawing upon her own experiences, she has created an engaging series of books that are just right for children on the brink of major changes and the caregivers who encourage them.

  4. Katie's New Shoes - Katie’s toes are feeling very squished in her old shoes. It’s time to shop for some new ones! She’s looking for just the right pair. They must have lots of pizzazz to be perfect for Katie.

Want to see more children's books about trying new things?

Books About Growing Up and Friendship

Growing Season book
#1
Growing Season
Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

El and Jo are the smallest students in class—and best friends, too. But in springtime, something BIG happens: Jo starts growing like a weed . . . and El doesn’t. When their teacher asks every child to pick a plant to care for over the summer, poor El ends up with a tiny, flowerless aster. But slowly, the aster blooms—and so does El! A sweet picture book about the joys and challenges of growing up.

Toy Boat book
#2
Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Loren Long and Randall de Seve
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A toy boat gets separated from its owner and has an adventure on the high seas.

Where Bear? book
#3
Where Bear?
Written and illustrated by Sophy Henn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This beautifully illustrated, fun-to-read book will have kids everywhere asking the same question: “Where, bear?”

Once there was a bear cub who lived with a little boy. But over time the bear cub grew . . . and grew . . . and GREW! And did things that bears do . . . and do . . . and DO! One day the boy looked at the bear and realized he was just too big and bearish to be living in a house. “I think it’s time we found you a new place to live where you can be bearish and big,” said the boy. “But where, bear?”

So begins a delightful journey that reminds us that even when best friends are apart, they always stay together.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Moon Shadow - 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.

  2. Stu Truly - Stu Truly is the coming-of-age story of 12-year-old Stu as he struggles to navigate the murky waters of adolescence when he finds himself living a lie-that seems to be growing beyond his control-to impress the new girl in school. When Stuart Cornelius Truly first sets eyes on the new girl, Becca, he staples his finger to his seventh-grade history assignment. The second time he sees her, he coughs up a bite of her lunch-a vegetarian roasted pepper sandwich-all over her sweater, and promptly lies, claiming that he, too, is a vegetarian. Their third encounter goes more smoothly, but Stu’s lie turns out to be harder to keep than he expected, especially since his family owns a butcher shop. In this hilarious, heartwarming, contemporary middle grade novel, Stu suddenly begins to realize the opposite sex exists (and isn’t so bad, after all!). Can Stu learn to successfully navigate old friends, new crushes, and horror-filled school dances, or will his lie, intended to impress his crush, actually cause his world to fall apart?

  3. Best Friends - In this M!X original, Izzy is used to being queen bee—but will she ditch her mean girl status for a chance at true friendship? Isabella Caravella is dreading summer. She doesn’t want to spend a month at a lakeside resort with her parents and the families of her dad’s coworkers, especially when she discovers that two of the kids go to her school. She thinks Bailey and Ava are beyond weird—and they’re not exactly thrilled to see Izzy, either. Izzy has been their tormentor, the leader of the pack of girls who made their first year of middle school so unpleasant. Once Izzy discovers that the other kids have been spending their summers together for years and she’s the outsider, she realizes she’s going to have to change her bossy, stubborn ways if she wants to fit in. Bailey and Ava turn out to be kind and welcoming, and Izzy actually wishes she were more like them. Back home, Izzy knows that things are probably going to be different. Ava and Bailey were great summer friends—but are they really forever friends? Can Izzy prove that she really does have the potential to be a true friend? Or is she stuck playing the mean girl forever?

  4. How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees - Roger and Adelia are the very best of friends. They’ve spent many springtimes collecting birds’ nests, autumns jumping into piles of colorful leaves, and winters building snowmen. When the time comes for Adelia to move away, the two friends must say good-bye. But Adelia has one parting gift for Roger: She will teach him, once and for all, how to climb a tree. Lyrical and colorful, the narrative flips between Adelia’s instructions (“hold on tight,” “move up when you’re ready”) and her packing list (things they loved to play with, things they were supposed to throw away). By the time the moving van pulls up, Roger is ready to start his climb. But now, he’s afraid of “letting go.” In a sweet reveal, we learn that Adelia has left behind a soft landing, making sure that—for Roger—falling is the easiest part.

Want to see more children's books about friendship?

Books About Growing Up and Self-discovery

Little Juniper Makes It BIG book
#1
Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written and illustrated by Aidan Cassie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What Juniper lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. And her heart is dead-set on growing up and getting taller. She’s tired of having to reach for the cookie jar or use a stepping stool for the toilet. Everything in Juniper’s world seems to be made for adults. Ugh! Juniper is industrious, however, and builds several silly contraptions to help reach her goals. But it isn’t until she makes a fun new friend at school, Clove, who is even smaller than Juniper, that she is able to see her world from a new perspective — and appreciate all sizes, big or small. Aidan Cassie, the creator of Sterling, Best Dog Ever, employs her pitch-perfect humor and heartwarming illustrations here again to help little ones love themselves at any size.

What Will I Do When I Grow Up? book
#2
What Will I Do When I Grow Up?
Written and illustrated by Margherita Borin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Let’s take a walk down High Street and discover the variety of jobs that grown-ups do. We will pop into each building to see what they wear, what tools they use and what they make and do. What will I do when I grow up? invites children to discover the diversity of occupations including teachers, chefs, builders and scientists.

When I'm Feeling Disappointed book
#3
When I'm Feeling Disappointed
Written and illustrated by Trace Moroney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Feeling disappointed is your brain realising how things really are… not how you wish they were. Talking about feelings teaches children that it is normal to feel sad, or angry, or scared at times. With greater tolerance of painful feelings, children become free to enjoy their world, to feel secure in their abilities, and to be happy.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up - In this simple and profound picture book, growing up is seen and experienced through the perspective of a gingko tree. Over the years, the gingko tree that resides outside an apartment building has seen many things. When it was ten, sounds of the Rose Piano Class filled the ground floor and whistled through its young branches. At fourteen, a growth spurt year, it met Mr. Artist on the second floor whose muse was the tree itself. As the years continue on, the tree encounters many people in the apartment building making memories. Some are happy, some are sad—they’re all part of growing up. All part of who we will be in the future. This wonderfully emotional story of life and growing up will pull at the heartstrings of readers.

  2. Tender Earth - Laila Levenson has always been the baby of the family, but now with her older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she starts secondary school, everything feels like it’s changing. Can the reappearance of Nana Josie’s Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends, and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in? A powerful chime rings through Laila’s mind, guiding her to walk the footsteps of the past on her way to discover her own future.

  3. Carlos Santana - Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio’s “”Sound of the Heart, Song of the World””, featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez, the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Santana “”Shaman”” CD cover. Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change. From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.

Want to see more children's books about self-discovery?

Books About Growing Up and Family

Someday book
#1
Someday
Written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A mother reflects on the all the milestones, from walking in a deep wood to holding someone else’s hand, that her child will achieve during life.

When I Grow Up book
#2
When I Grow Up
Written and illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What is your family like? All of the children in Miss Ester’s class know what they want to be like when they grow up: their families! And each family is special and unique. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find that Johnny the duckling’s mom and dad have curly tails, stubby noses, and hooves.

Johnny and his classmates make it easy for parents to show their little ones that there are many types of families, and they’re all made of love. Paula Vásquez’s fun illustrations and sweet writing style make this unique family story a must-have.

Made for Me book
#3
Made for Me
Written by Zack Bush and illustrated by Gregorio De Lauretis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Of all the children that ever could be, You are the one made just for me. From a child’s first uttered “Dada” to his or her first unsteady steps, nothing can adequately convey the joy and awe of watching the birth and growth of a new child. Filled with adorable illustrations and the refrain, “You are the one made just for me,” Made for Me is a winning presentation of tender moments that tie a father and his new child together—forever.

Honorable Mentions
  1. If I Could Keep You Little - IF I COULD KEEP YOU LITTLE exemplifies Marianne’s real insights into the human spirit and her beautiful illustrations that will touch children and adults and that are sure to be cherished for generations to come. Taking the reader on a journey of memory and expectation, IF I COULD KEEP YOU LITTLE showcases the fleeting little moments that reveal how a child changes and grows.If I could keep you little,I’d decide on matching clothes.But then I’d miss you choosingdots on top and stripes belowIf I could keep you littleI’d cut your bread in shapes.But then I’d miss you finding”Hey! I like ketchup with my grapes!”

  2. Marshfield Memories: More Stories About Growing Up - As the oldest of ten kids, Ralph was often cast as another parent to his siblings rather than an older brother. Teetering between these two conflicting roles, Ralph longed to be home alone on a sick day, but hated the emptiness of feeling left behind. He loved to play marbles with the neighborhood boys but resented the skillful victories of his little brother Jimmy. Thrust into the expectations of impending adolescence, Ralph was curious about girls, but repelled by the improper kissing advances of his first cousin. This satisfying memoir offers a snapshot of the pivotal moments between boyhood and adolescence, all while further tracing the roots of Ralph Fletcher’s acclaimed storytelling.

  3. Big Little Hippo - Little Hippo is the youngest in his family . . . and the smallest. Smaller than his parents, his siblings, and all his friends, too. And even though his mom promises he’ll grow, he wants to be big RIGHT NOW! But when he helps a creature even tinier than himself, Little Hippo learns that it’s the size of his heart that counts most of all.

  4. Always Come Home to Me - A moving and uplifting tale of two children and their parents, and the beloved pet doves that help them to understand one another. “Fei, fei — fly, fly, little birds, but always come home to me!” Mei-Mei and Di-Di are head-over-heels in love with their new doves. Like devoted parents, the siblings tenderly nurture Butterfly and Squeaky as they grow from chicks to fledglings to birds. But when Mei-Mei and Di-Di arrive home to find that the doves have disappeared, their young hearts break into a thousand pieces — and they run away, determined to reclaim their beloved birds. Will Mei-Mei and Di-Di return home with the doves before they break their own parents’ hearts?.

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Books About Growing Up and Parenting

All of Baby, Nose to Toes book
#1
All of Baby, Nose to Toes
Written by Victoria Adler and illustrated by Hiroe Nakata and Victoria Adler
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

From eyes to ears, tummy to nose, legs to toes, there’s a lot for baby to discover – and even more for a family to love. Bright, buoyant art and a roly-poly little baby are sure to inspire plenty of giggling and grabbing and feet-in-the-air-ing. For every baby – and every parent who loves that baby to bits – here’s the perfect first book.

Potty  book
#2
Potty
Written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-3

A new toddler title charts a crucial achievement. There comes a point in a toddler’s life when going in one’s diaper is only one possible option, and the question must be raised: “Should I go in my potty?”

With pitch-perfect humor and pacing, Leslie Patricelli follows the inner dialogue (sure to have little ones shouting responses) and hilarious actions of everyone’s favorite Baby, winding up with an over-the-top look of surprise and delight that will have both parents and offspring laughing out loud—“I did it!”

A Potty for Me! book
#3
A Potty for Me!
Written and illustrated by Karen Katz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

With interactive flaps and child-appealing text, the author describes the steps a toddler must go through in learning how to use the potty.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty - “While most potty books strike readers as too old or too young, here’s one that almost everyone can agree is (you guessed it) just right.” - Kirkus Reviews Little Goldilocks wants to wear underwear — big-girl underwear that’s not too silly and not too frilly, but just right. But that means she also needs to find the “just right” potty. Will she know when she needs to go? And will she get to the potty in time? Find out in this lighthearted story that will have parents and their little ones feeling ready to tackle toilet training.

  2. Everybody Potties - Learning to use the potty is something to celebrate! This shaped board book is perfect for little ones who are ready to try potty training. The light and lively story is encouraging and reassuring. These potty-time buddies will turn fears into cheers!

  3. Princess Potty - After formally announcing that she has to go pee-pee or poo-poo, a princess rides her royal pony to the royal bathroom where she goes potty and gets a special princess sticker for her tiara as a reward.

  4. Even Firefighters Go to the Potty - Clang! Clang! Clang! The fire truck is pulling out of the station. But wait! Where is the firefighter going? To the potty! Even firefighters go to the potty! Toddlers are uneasy about toilet training. And in most cases, even if they know they have to go, sometimes they are too busy to bother. In this hilarious gate-fold story, each person—from a firefighter on the way to answer a fire alarm to a zoo keeper on the way to feed the polar bears—stops what they are doing to go to the potty. With humor and no pedantics, toddlers learn that everybody uses the potty.

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Books About Growing Up and Adventure

The Darkest Dark book
#1
The Darkest Dark
Written by Chris Hadfield and illustrated by The Fan Brothers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible. Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem—at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark. But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is—and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company.

Little Truck book
#2
Little Truck
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Little Truck is setting out to explore! He’s going fast, climbing hills, and braving tunnels, being just the right amount of careful along the way. But no matter how far he goes, his caring parent is never far behind. This on-the-go board book by beloved author-illustrator Taro Gomi is perfect for toddlers moving onwards and upwards to big adventures.

Sora and the Cloud book
#3
Sora and the Cloud
Written and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

A noted children’s artist, Hoshino authors her first picture book, inspired by her own experiences as a mother to her son Sora: a growing boy enjoys the ultimate daydream - to soar like a cloud!

Once a baby, now Sora is a boy who explores the world around him. First crawling and then walking, Sora soon learns to how to climb a tree. Up there a friendly cloud awaits! Hopping aboard, Sora embarks on a fantastic trip.

Curious birds, squealing kites and whispering fireworks whirl by. This wonderful flight of fancy is created in Hoshino’s hallmark style: a unique combination of mixed media creates ethereal environments with subtle shading, and contemplative characters who invoke the innocence of youth.

Also included is a bilingual Japanese translation which highlights how Hoshino shares her heritage with her children and readers.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Go, Bikes, Go! - This fun and colorful board book introduces children to the joy of bike riding and bikes in many forms. There are big bikes, small bikes and extra tall bikes, and old bikes, new bikes and built-for-two bikes, and more! Inspired by the strong biking culture and community in the Pacific Northwest, this board book features different types of bikes and the diverse people, young and old, who enjoy them. It features bikes children will recognize and some they can imagine, like bikes that wear shoes and bikes that fly.

  2. Rosetown - From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana. For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window. But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third. Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!

  3. Fairy Tales for Little Folks - Five best-loved fairy tales by a renowned folk artist Any parent or grandparent longing to share these timeless, well-loved tales with a favorite child will welcome this enchanting collection from acclaimed folk artist Will Moses. Five tales are included: Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, and Puss in Boots. Each one is profusely illustrated with vignettes as well as a lavish double spread that incorporates all the key events of the story. This handsome volume, full of fascinating detail and plentiful charm, is destined to become a family treasure.

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Books About Growing Up and Potty Training

Big Boy Underpants book
#1
Big Boy Underpants
Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Valeria Petrone
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Follows a young boy as he celebrates wearing underwear instead of diapers.

Tiny Potty book
#2
Tiny Potty
Written and illustrated by Andrea Olson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Potty training board book

Potty Superhero book
#3
Potty Superhero
Written and illustrated by Parragon Books
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Every little superhero needs to use a potty, he just needs to know how to go!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Potty Book for Girls - A little girl receives her own potty, and in spite of accidents, she makes her mom and dad proud when she no longer has to wear diapers.

  2. The Potty Train - Despite a few bumps, leaks, and spills along the way, the trip overall is a great success as the kids aboard the colorful train take great delight in their potty-training journey to Underpants Station.

  3. Poop! There It Is! - Every parent knows how difficult potty training can be. Shed a little humor on the subject by reading your child “Poop! There it is!”. Kids will giggle and laugh along with this silly book while learning the basics of potty training.

  4. My Big Girl Potty - Ashley learns to pee and poop in her potty and makes the transition from diapers to big-girl pants. Includes tips for successful potty teaching.

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