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Heartwarming Children's Books About Growing Up

Searching for the best children's books about growing up?

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

#1
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I Used to Be the Baby
Written & 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!
#2
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The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Written & 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.
#3
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New Kid
Written & illustrated by Jerry Craft
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
#4
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Growing Season
Written & 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.
#5
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Once I Was a Pollywog
Written by Douglas Florian & 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!
#6
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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.”
#7
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Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written & 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.
#8
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Babymoon
Written by Hayley Barrett & 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.
#9
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Tad
Written & illustrated by Benji Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From Benji Davies, the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale and illustrator of the Goodnight Already! series, comes a heartwarming and tender tale about courage and growth, featuring a special tadpole named Tad. Tad is small. In fact, she is the smallest almost-a-frog in the whole, wide pond. That makes it hard for her to do big things like follow her tadsiblings who swim to other parts of the pond when they outgrow the nest. As her tadbrothers and tadsisters swim up, up, up, they leave poor Tad by her lonesome. That’s until...Big Blub shows up! He's not only bigger than Tad, but Big Blub isn't exactly what a tadpole would consider friendly. Swimming at her own pace, Tad soon learns how to to be bigger than her fears. Benji Davies creates a memorable and timeless tale that proves sometimes the mightiest creature comes in the smallest package.
#10
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Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Written by Maryann Cusimano Love & 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.
Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Growing Up and...

Books About Growing Up and Self-esteem

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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.”
Add to list
Little Juniper Makes It BIG
Written & 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.
Add to list
Tad
Written & illustrated by Benji Davies
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
From Benji Davies, the award-winning creator of The Storm Whale and illustrator of the Goodnight Already! series, comes a heartwarming and tender tale about courage and growth, featuring a special tadpole named Tad. Tad is small. In fact, she is the smallest almost-a-frog in the whole, wide pond. That makes it hard for her to do big things like follow her tadsiblings who swim to other parts of the pond when they outgrow the nest. As her tadbrothers and tadsisters swim up, up, up, they leave poor Tad by her lonesome. That’s until...Big Blub shows up! He's not only bigger than Tad, but Big Blub isn't exactly what a tadpole would consider friendly. Swimming at her own pace, Tad soon learns how to to be bigger than her fears. Benji Davies creates a memorable and timeless tale that proves sometimes the mightiest creature comes in the smallest package.
Honorable Mentions
Stay, Little Seed book
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Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus book
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Just in Case You Want to Fly book
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I Sleep in a Big Bed book
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  1. Stay, Little Seed - For fans of Amy Rosenthal’s I wish You More and Joe Witek’s In My Heart, Cristiana Valentini’s Stay Little Seed is a moving tale of love and the courage of letting go. “Both children and adult readers will identify with timeless themes, from the joy in comforting familial bonds to the growth that can only happen with independence.”
    --Booklist
    Every year when the wind blows, the tree’s seeds sail away to a mysterious place—until one little seed decides to stay. At first, the tree supposes the seed should leave. How else would it grow roots to rise tall and strong? But the tree is also lonely, and the mysterious place is far, far away. Will the seed be safe on its own? Stay, Little Seed celebrates the rhythms of the natural world and shares a gentle message for all of us, no matter our age: Sometimes, by letting go and being brave, we begin life’s greatest adventures.

  2. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus - “High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.” The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

  3. Just in Case You Want to Fly - The creators of the award-winning When’s My Birthday? team up again to create an inspirational book for anyone—parent or child—looking for support when facing a new challenge. just in case you want to fly here’s some wind and here’s the sky here’s a feather here’s up high and here’s a wing from a butterfly This tender, contemplative picture book is about growing up. It’s about parents giving their children the gifts, no matter how quiet or small, to succeed and to navigate the world on their own. And it’s about the connection that binds a parent and child…because no matter how far they fly or who they become, they will always have home.

  4. I Sleep in a Big Bed - Babies sleep in cribs. Do big kids? No! Big kids sleep in a big bed. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Self-discovery

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New Kid
Written & illustrated by Jerry Craft
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
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Growing Season
Written & 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.
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What Will I Do When I Grow Up?
Written & 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.
Honorable Mentions
When I'm Feeling Disappointed book
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The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up book
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Tender Earth book
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Carlos Santana book
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  1. When I'm Feeling Disappointed - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Books About Growing Up and New Babies

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Made for Me
Written by Zack Bush & 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.
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I Used to Be the Baby
Written & 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!
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Babymoon
Written by Hayley Barrett & 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.
Honorable Mentions
You Are New book
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The Fruits of Your Labor book
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Hundred Feet Tall book
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All of Baby, Nose to Toes book
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  1. You Are New - 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Hundred Feet Tall - Guess How Much I Love You meets Someday in this gentle read-aloud picture book that shows us that with just the right amount of care and support, even the smallest of seeds can grow to stand one hundred feet tall. Thanks for the love that you’ve shown me Right now I’m so very small But with water and light I will keep gaining height And then one day I’ll stand at a hundred feet tall Hundred Feet Tall is a tender ode to the power of unconditional, immutable love. Because no matter how small you are now, with patience and persistence, with encouragement and devotion, you, too, will someday grow strong.

  4. All of Baby, Nose to Toes - 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.

Want to see books about new babies?

Books About Growing Up and Family

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The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Written & 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.
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Looking for Yesterday
Written & illustrated by Alison Jay
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
If yesterday was the best day ever, wouldn't it be great to find a way to repeat it? A whimsical tale about happiness with sure appeal for science-minded kids -- and wise grandparents -- everywhere. What could beat yesterday's perfect day at the fair? Maybe nothing, one boy thinks, and he wishes he could go back and do it again. So he puts all his scientific knowledge to work, from stars to time machines to wormholes (is it possible he could find one in his garden?). He thinks that maybe Grandad could help him. But Grandad, in sharing some memories from his own past, reminds him that every new day brings the chance of a new adventure. With quirky illustrations imparting a sense of wonder, Alison Jay takes a fanciful look at being content in the here and now.
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Marshfield Memories: More Stories About Growing Up
Written & illustrated by Ralph Fletcher
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
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.
Honorable Mentions
Marshfield Dreams book
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Hoot and Peep book
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Wacko! book
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The Kiddie Table book
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  1. Marshfield Dreams - The colorful boyhood of a popular author comes to life in this personal account Imagine learning from a nosy classmate that your mother is having yet another baby. To Ralph’s classmates, news of one more Fletcher baby is just “scuttlebutt.” But for Ralph, the oldest of nine, being part of a large family means more kids to join in the fun—from making tripods in the woods and “snicking” up the rug to raising chicks and even discovering a meteor (well, maybe). It doesn’t feel like there’s life beyond Marshfield, Massachusetts. Then one day Dad’s new job moves the family to Chicago, and there’s so much Ralph has to leave behind. In this humorous and captivating memoir, Ralph Fletcher traces the roots of his storytelling.

  2. Hoot and Peep - In the night skies above Paris, an adorable young owl teaches her older brother about the power of imagination—and the unconditional love between siblings Hoot the owl is very excited for his little sister, Peep, to join him on the cathedral rooftops. She’s finally old enough to learn all his big brother owly wisdom: First, owls say hooo. Second, they always say hooo. Lastly, they ONLY say hooo! But why would Peep say hooo when she could say schweeepty peep or dingity dong? Why would she speak when she could sing? As she explores the breathtaking Parisian cityscape, Peep discovers so many inspiring sights and sounds—the ring of cathedral bells, the slap of waves on stone—that she can’t help but be swept up in the magic of it all. Hoot doesn’t understand Peep’s awe, until he takes a pause to listen . . . and realizes that you’re never too old to learn a little something new. From the beloved author/illustrator of the classic picture book Red Sled, this gorgeous read aloud celebrates the wonder found in little things—and in the hearts of dreamers, young and old.

  3. Wacko! - This short, joyful, rhyming picture book tells a simple story of growing up and nurturing a special relationship with a grandparent. It depicts the major milestones a young child reaches in the early years of development, such as walking, learning to eat independently, riding a bike, beginning to write and draw, and finally going to school. Each stanza and double spread depicts this growth and development in progression, and the text alternates between child and Grandpa, who share each experience with humor and joy!

  4. The Kiddie Table - On Thanksgiving Day, a girl who has just turned eight loudly insists that she be permitted to sit at the dining room table, rather than with the babies.

Books About Growing Up and Imagination And Play

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When I Grow Up
Written by Julie Chen & 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?
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Lola Dutch When I Grow Up
Written & illustrated by Kenneth Wright and Sarah Jane 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.
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Where Bear?
Written & 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
The Little Blue Cottage book
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Beard Boy book
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Dotty book
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With My Tree book
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  1. The Little Blue Cottage - The little blue cottage waits each year for summer to arrive―and with it, the girl. Through sunny days and stormy weather, the cottage and the girl keep each other company and wile away the long days and nights together. Until one year, and then another, the cottage is left waiting and empty season after season. In this heartfelt story about change, Kelly Jordan’s lilting text and Jessica Courtney-Tickle’s lush art captures the essence of cherishing a favorite place.

  2. Beard Boy - Young Ben wants to be just like his awesome dad—bearded. Ben wants a beard. All the most boss people in his town have them. The baker, the barbers, the butcher, they’re all bewhiskered—even the old lady who waits at the bus stop has one. Most of all though, Ben wants a beard just like his dad. He tries his best to start on some scruff, but nothing works quite right. And when his dad explains he might have to wait ’til he’s older for a beard of his own, he decides to take some more permanent action—with a marker that is. In the end, Ben and his dad find the perfect solution in this hilarious and heartwarming picture book celebrating the bond between father and son.

  3. Dotty - It’s Ida’s first day of school. She carries her new lunch box and a long, blue string with her special friend Dotty attached to it. A big, colorfully spotted pal with horns, Dotty just happens to be invisible. On that first day of school, Ida and Dotty find out there are plenty of other imaginary friends in attendance. But as the year passes and fewer and fewer imaginary friends come to class, Ida begins to wonder if Dotty is welcome at school anymore . . . Perceptive and warmly funny, with charming art from exciting illustrator Julia Denos, Dotty is a celebration of the power of friendship and imagination.

  4. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Friendship

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Toy Boat
Written by Randall de Seve & 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.
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Max and Xam
Written & illustrated by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
Max and Xam are the very best of friends - until they fall out over who is more popular! Determined to prove the other wrong, their exploits bring new meaning to the phrase ‘making friends’. A hilarious and delightfully far-fetched story about the meaning and value of real friendship.
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Dragon Meets Boy
Written & illustrated by Michael Slack
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
**Michael Slack's _Dragon Meets Boy_ is a moving friendship story about the universal joys and tender heartaches of growing up, for fans of _Toy Story_**. One summer day a boy meets a dragon. They become instant friends and share incredible adventures together. When Boy is sad, Dragon cheers him up. When Boy is scared, Dragon makes him feel brave. But, in time, things start to change. Boy gets bigger, while Dragon stays the same. Dragon seems so lonely, until the circle continues with a new generation with Boy’s daughter! This deftly poignant story captures the lifelong friendship between a child and a beloved toy. **Christy Ottaviano Books**
Honorable Mentions
The Ugly Truth book
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Moon Shadow book
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Ella Sarah Gets Dressed book
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Mya’s Strategy to Save the World book
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  1. The Ugly Truth - Greg Heffley has always been in a hurry to grow up. But is getting older really all it’s cracked up to be? Greg suddenly finds himself dealing with the pressures of boy-girl parties, increased responsibilities, and even the awkward changes that come with getting older—all without his best friend, Rowley, at his side. Can Greg make it through on his own? Or will he have to face the “ugly truth”?

  2. 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.

  3. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed - The long-awaited paperback edition of a Caldecott Honor book that celebrates a child’s unique sense of fashion and independent streak. Ella Sarah may be little, but she has a BIG sense of style—and it isn’t at all like that of her mother, father, or older sister. Yet they all want her to dress just like them! Ella Sarah will have none of it—and when her flamboyantly dressed friends arrive, it’s clear that Ella Sarah’s favorite outfit is just right for her. Written and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, this spirited Caldecott Honor-winning story will gently nudge young children toward independence—providing plenty of exuberant colors and patterns to identify along the way.

  4. Mya’s Strategy to Save the World - Twelve-year-old Mya Parsons could save the world and organize her family, if only she had her own cell phone. A Dork Diaries for today’s socially conscious young readers. Mya Parsons runs her school’s social justice club with her best friend, Cleo. Her lifelong desire is to work for the United Nations and change the world, and then bask in all the ensuing adulation. Her more immediate desire is to get a phone, preferably one like Cleo’s, with a leopard-print case to match. When her distracted dad and her long-distance mom (temporarily in Myanmar taking care of Mya’s grandmother) both say no, no way, and possibly never, Mya launches a campaign to prove herself reliable and deserving. She advertises her babysitting services, takes on more responsibility around the house, and attempts to supervise her sister’s skateboarding lessons. Her efforts leave her ego bruised and the kitchen slightly scorched. She’s no closer to touch-screen victory, let alone the Nobel Peace Prize she deserves. But all that changes after an accident leaves Mya to take charge–an experience which helps her realize how much she’s grown, with or without access to proper communications.

Books About Growing Up and Science And Nature

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Little Tree
Written & 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.
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Me . . . Jane
Written & 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.
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Sora and the Cloud
Written & 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
How Things Grow book
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How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees book
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  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. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Social Themes

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Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Written by Maryann Cusimano Love & 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.
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Mad, Mad Bear!
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Gee
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8
Bear is very, very, very MAD! Will he ever feel better? Find out in this sweet and silly picture book about toddler tantrums that little ones—and their caretakers—are sure to relate to. Bear had to leave the park early for his nap. Then he fell and got an owie on the way home. And then he had to leave his favorite boots and stick outside. Bear feels like nothing is fair, and that makes him VERY, VERY, VERY MAD! Can he find a way to move through his emotions and get back to feeling better? Maybe…but not before having a major meltdown!
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Outfoxed
Written & illustrated by Claudia Boldt
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7
Harold is unlike any other fox. He hates eating chicken, for one thing. He much prefers reading detective novels. When Harold's father challenges him to catch a chicken as part of his initiation into adulthood, Harold is faced with a dilemma--should he obey his father and endanger the chicken's life, or do what his heart tells him is right? The latest title from award-winning illustrator Claudia Boldt, Outfoxed introduces a smart, independent-minded character in Harold the fox and is sure to become a bedtime favorite.
Honorable Mentions
Keep Your Eye on the Prize book
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My So-Called Superpowers book
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I Feel Five! book
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Half a Giraffe? book
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  1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize - The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each book introduces a realistic example of triumph over difficulty in a positive, humorous way that readers of all ages will enjoy! The biggest day of the year at Morecaster School is filled with ideas, hard work, and pressure—it’s time for the annual science fair! Like many kids, Dylan is caught between doing his project on his own, and accepting help from his enthusiastic parents. This year he’s determined to do all the work himself, even if it means his project won’t be perfect. Keep Your Eye on the Prizeis an honest and humorous look at encouraging children to be independent in their work and proud of their results. “Barbara Esham deftly deals with what can be a difficult subject for students or teachers to broach. How do you help parents understand when the help they’re giving is too much?…This book is as valuable for parents and teachers as it is for young people, and is a great way to help everyone understand how to give just the right amount of assistance.” —Academics’ Choice Foundation, Dr. Corinne Hyde, Professor of Clinical Education, University of Southern California Praise for the series: “This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children.”—Dr. Carol S. Dweck

  2. My So-Called Superpowers - The first book in a quirky and funny coming-of-age series follows a girl whose emotions physically manifest themselves for the whole world to see. Veronica’s story is sure to resonate with readers who feel desperate to fit in. Illustrations.

  3. I Feel Five! - 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!

  4. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Babies

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Someday
Written by Alison McGhee & 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.
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Baby Tree
Written & illustrated by Sophie Blackall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Cleverly revealing the basics of reproduction in an age-appropriate way, award-winning Sophie Blackall has created a beautiful picture book full of playful details to amuse and engage readers. Sooner or later, every child will ask, Where do babies come from? Answering this question has never been this easy or entertaining! Join a curious little boy who asks everyone from his babysitter to the mailman, getting all sorts of funny answers along the way, before his parents gently set him straight.
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If I Could Keep You Little
Written & illustrated by Marianne Richmond
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5
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!"
Honorable Mentions
When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth book
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Potty Superhero book
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Jump! book
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  1. When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth - Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell perfectly capture a little girl’s simple, joyous celebration of herself, as she looks back on her childhood from the lofty height of four and a half years. This spirited view of growing up is perfect to share at home or in a classroom, as kids will respond to the exuberant pleasures of growing freedom and independence. “When I was little, I could hardly do anything. But now I can do lots of things, like braid my own hair and go to nursery school. I’m not a baby anymore. I’m me!”

  2. Potty Superhero - Every little superhero needs to use a potty, he just needs to know how to go!

  3. Jump! - Title and statement of responsibility from cover.

Want to see books about babies?

Books About Growing Up and Love

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Three Squeezes
Written by Jason Pratt & illustrated by Chris Sheban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Jason Pratt's _Three Squeezes_ is a celebration of life, love, and the unbreakable bond between parent and child for fans of Nancy Tillman and Pat Zietlow Miller--featuring illustrations by Chris Sheban...
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When I Grow Up
Written & 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.
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Over the Moon
Written by James Proimos & illustrated by Zoey Abbott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
This sweet-natured bedtime book proves that a family is wherever you find love. When two wolves see a baby floating down a river, what do they do? Why, they take the baby home. Over the moon with joy, they nourish and teach her. And when that baby grows into a child, she and the wolves know that she will be ready to make her way in the world. Because when a child is loved, she has everything she needs. • A classic fairy-tale premise told with warmth and an inclusive sensibility for all types of families to enjoy • A touching read-aloud books for families, caregivers, and classroom storytime • James Proimos has written and/or illustrated over 20 critically lauded children's books. This gently humorous story shows that families come in many forms, and that love is about both holding on and letting go. Fans of Finn's Feather, Wild, and Wolfie the Bunnie will find Over the Moon a delightful tale for all ages.
Honorable Mentions
Stu Truly book
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Big Little Hippo book
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Always Come Home to Me book
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  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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?.

Want to see books about love?

Books About Growing Up and School

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So Big!
Written & 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
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The Night Before Kindergarten Graduation
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Amy Wummer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
It's time to celebrate kindergarten graduation in Natasha Wing's best-selling series featuring rhyming text in the style of the classic Clement C. Moore holiday poem. Get ready for a major milestone: kindergarten graduation! Of course, there's a lot of preparation the night before as kids prepare for the momentous occasion. This is a great school-year follow-up to The Night Before Kindergarten!
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When I Grow Up
Written by Al Yankovic & illustrated by Wes Hargis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Grammy Award winner and pop culture icon “Weird Al” Yankovic delivers his first picture book, bringing his trademark wit, wordplay, and silliness to a story that explores the timeless question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Funny and charming, this is a celebration of creativity and possibility. An Amazon Best Book of the Month! "The farce and parody make this a rare book with appeal to both kids and adults" (Booklist). It’s Show-and-Tell time in Mrs. Krupp’s class, and Billy just can’t wait for his turn! Today the class is discussing what they want to be when they grow up, and our exuberant eight-year-old hero is bursting to tell everyone about his future career plans. In dazzling wordplay and delicious rhymes, Billy regales his patient teacher and amazed classmates with tales of the variety of careers he wants to pursue—each more outlandish and wildly imaginative than the last!
Honorable Mentions
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Growing Up book
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Big Mouth Elizabeth book
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School book
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  1. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Growing Up - This hilarious final installment in the Charlie Joe Jackson series written by Tommy Greenwald and illustrated by J. P. Coovert is infused with nostalgia and just the right amount of chaos. Yes! Graduation day is finally here! Charlie Joe has been waiting for this moment his entire middle school career. This might even be the best day of his life. No more teachers! No more books! Just make it through the ceremony and he’s free. But suddenly things around him are starting to change. Words like “responsibility” and “college prep” keep popping out of his friend’s mouths. What happened to words like “fun” and “pool party”? And come to think of it, doesn’t high school bring more teachers and more books? Maybe this whole growing up thing isn’t such a good idea after all. Actually being a kid is pretty darn fun! Surely Charlie Joe can figure out a way to put the brakes on growing up-and fast! With laugh-out-loud humor and quirky illustrations, this book is perfect for reluctant readers. Books in the Charlie Joe Jackson series: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Planet Girl Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Growing Up Don’t forget Charlie Joe’s friends! Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It.) Jack Strong Takes a Stand Pete Milano’s Guide to Being a Movie Star More from Tommy Greenwald: The Real Us

  2. Big Mouth Elizabeth - Second-grader Elizabeth longs to be a member of the Big Mouth club, which is made up of kids who have lost at least one baby tooth. Elizabeth is WAY behind on losing her baby teeth, and so is Cali, a quiet girl who is also left out of the Big Mouth Club. Elizabeth thinks Cali is so much more babyish than she is—in fact, Elizabeth SHOULD be in the Big Mouth Club because she’s NOT babyish. But when she understands how bad it feels to be left out, Elizabeth’s attitude shifts. Here is a story about fitting in in unexpected ways. With copious line art by Paige Keiser, this second book in Rachel Vail’s Elizabeth series is sure to delight fans of Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, and Clementine.

  3. School - A young boy enjoys his first day at school in this story that addresses such questions as: Who will help me find my classroom? Who’s in my class? Where do I sit? When can we go home? and many more. Includes tips for reading with young children.

Want to see books about school?

Books About Growing Up and Toddlers

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Potty
Written & 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!"
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Big Boy Underpants
Written by Fran Manushkin & illustrated by Valeria Petrone
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Follows a young boy as he celebrates wearing underwear instead of diapers.
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Everybody Potties
Written by Cheri Vogel and Cottage Door Press & illustrated by Belinda Strong
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-5
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!
Honorable Mentions
Once Upon a Potty (Boy) book
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My Big Boy Undies book
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  1. Once Upon a Potty (Boy) - Joshua learns how to use a real potty with the help of his mother.

  2. My Big Boy Undies - Get toddlers excited for potty training with this Karen Katz board book just for boys! When little boys graduate from diapers to underpants, it’s a very big deal! Bright illustrations and fun, simple text from Karen Katz will show toddlers that saying goodbye to diapers can be fun–and even a special occassion! It’s the perfect gift for potty training toddlers, and a wonderful way for parents to celebrate this much-anticipated moment.

Want to see books about toddlers?

Books About Growing Up and Trying New Things

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Bye-Bye Binky
Written & 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.
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Big Girl Panties
Written by Fran Manushkin & illustrated by Valeria Petrone
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
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?
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Baby Penguin's First Waddles
Written & illustrated by The American Museum of Natural History
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9
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.
Honorable Mentions
I Use The Potty book
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Katie's New Shoes book
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So Many Days book
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Baby's Firsts book
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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. So Many Days - Life is full of surprises, big and small, and what children will grow up to do with their lives is one of the biggest and most joyful surprise of all. So Many Days reminds us to celebrate the choices our children make along the way, and the bravery it takes for them to decide exactly who they want to be. Like Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go, it’s a perfect gift for graduations, weddings, new babies, difficult transitions, and when you simply want to let someone know you adore them.

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

Books About Growing Up and First Concepts

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Small World
Written by Ishta Mercurio & illustrated by Jen Corace
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. But as she grows, the world grows too. It expands outward—from her family, to her friends, to the city, to the countryside. And as it expands, so does Nanda’s wonder in the underlying shapes and structures patterning it: cogs and wheels, fractals in snowflakes. Eventually, Nanda’s studies lead her to become an astronaut and see the small, round shape of Earth far away. A geometric meditation on wonder, Small World is a modern classic that expresses our big and small place in the vast universe.
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Jamie Lee Curtis's Books to Grow By Treasury
Written by Jamie Lee Curtis & illustrated by Laura Cornell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell's bestselling books have been helping children grow for the past fifteen years! Now four of these favorite titles are gathered in this delightful collection with activities, songs, and stories perfect for families to share. Come read, learn, and play with Jamie Lee Curtis's Books to Grow By Treasury.
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Little Truck
Written & 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.
Honorable Mentions
I Am book
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The Importance of Being 3 book
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I Hear a Pickle book
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Big Time Olie book
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  1. I Am - I Am is a wonderful introduction to emotions and feelings for the very young, helping little ones to visualize situations and giving them words to express themselves.

  2. The Importance of Being 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.

  3. I Hear a Pickle - Hearing, smelling, seeing, touching, tasting-our five senses allow us to experience the world in so many ways! With our ears we hear the birds sing; with our nose we smell the stinky cheese; with our eyes we see the moon and stars (and sometimes glasses help us see even better!); with our skin we feel the rain (and learn not to touch the hot stove!); and with our tongue we can taste our favorite foods. Isadora’s lively art reveals the power and delight of each sense, and young children will see themselves in the charming vignettes that explore a wide range of familiar activities throughout the seasons.

  4. Big Time Olie - Poor Olie. He’s is too Rolie big to do this, too Rolie small to do that. But a turn with the shrink-and-grow-a-lator should fix all that…until Olie grows too much in this classic picture book-turned-beloved-TV-show from the brilliant mind that brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Rolie Polie Olie grows a little every day, but his parents say he’s still not big enough for a trip to Mount Big Ball. At the same time Pappy says Olie is too big to jump on his bed! Olie feels like he isn’t the right size for anything. Then he gets a big and really bad idea: He’ll use the shrink-and-grow-a-lator. But he presses the wrong button, and now he’s a small as his sister Zowie’s dollies! Olie finds the “bigger” button lickety-split and up, up, UP he grows… But being grown up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. Olie bonks his head on the moon, burns his bottom on the sun, and lands with a big KABOOM on Mount Big Ball. Lost and lonely and so, so tall, Olie wishes he could be back to being just plain Olie!

Books About Growing Up and New Experiences

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Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty
Written & illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
"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.
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Tad and Dad
Written & illustrated by David Ezra Stein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Caldecott Honor winner David Ezra Stein’s expressive tale about familial love is full of funny, tender family dynamics that will evoke nods of recognition and lots of laughs. Tad the tadpole loves spending every minute with his awesome dad, whether they’re swimming together, catching flies, or sleeping. But now little Tad is getting bigger. He’s growing new limbs and jumping to new heights. His dad is proud, but when Tad’s accomplishments carry over into nighttime—bringing lots of wiggling, croaking, and kicking in his sleep—their lily pad starts feeling mighty crowded! When Tad finally realizes it might be time for a bed of his own, will Dad be ready?
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Lemon Child
Written by Nele Bronner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
The lemons on the tree are finally ripe, and there is great excitement. Only one of the little lemons is still green. Little Toni has a mind of his own. The view from the lemon tree is enough for him. Who wants to go out into the big wild world? But soon Toni is the only lemon left hanging on the tree. Will he take a risk and jump? When Toni finally lets go, his courage is rewarded. Nele Brönner's humorous story about maturity and growing up with her expressive style is sure to charm little listeners.
Honorable Mentions
My First Day at School book
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Kisses for Kindergarten book
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Piggy Bank Problems book
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  1. My First Day at School - What’s the first day of kindergarten like? Covering all the basics, from lockers and bathroom etiquette to playground rules and afternoon snack time, My First Day of School walks young readers through a typical first, first day of school, complete with kid-friendly, 1st-person narration and playful yet realistic illustrations.

  2. Kisses for Kindergarten - Join Stella Isabella Harden and her puppy Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and heartwarming story about the first day of kindergarten. Stella Isabella Harden contemplating kindergarten declared she didn’t have to go… because her puppy told her so. School is about to begin, and Stella Isabella Harden decides that kindergarten just isn’t for her. Instead, she decides to spend the day learning from her puppy named Buster. Together these two adventurers plan a day full of playtime, teatime, nap time, and story time. After every “lesson,” Stella gets the best reward: a kiss from her best friend and favorite puppy. But will she change her mind about kindergarten before the first day of school? Join Stella and Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and heartwarming story about growing up. 2017 Mom’s Choice Awards, Gold Award Recipient 2017 NAPPA Winner

  3. Piggy Bank Problems - Katie goes to the bank with her friends JoJo and Pedro, and learns the value of having a place to keep her money.

Books About Growing Up and Action And Adventure

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The Darkest Dark
Written by Chris Hadfield & 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.
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I'm the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up
Written by Marilyn Singer & illustrated by Jana Christy
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Award-winning poet and author Marilyn Singer presents 21 poems celebrating milestones both big and small in a young person’s life, such as learning how to whistle, riding the school bus alone, and becoming an older sibling. Growing up is exciting! It’s packed with firsts—losing a tooth, visiting the ocean, and going to a baseball game. It’s bursting with accomplishments—figuring out how to snap your fingers, reading a whole book by yourself, and learning to ride a bike. And it’s full of experiences that change you—being stung by a bee and understanding that even big kids cry, and holding your baby brother for the first time and realizing that you’re the big one now. Saluting significant milestones every child can relate to, these poems are accompanied by sweet, joyful illustrations by Jana Christy
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Go, Bikes, Go!
Written by Addie Boswell & illustrated by Alexander Mostov and Addie Boswell
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
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.
Honorable Mentions
Rosetown book
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Fairy Tales for Little Folks book
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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Girls And Women

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Where Are You, Agnes?
Written by Tessa McWatt & illustrated by Zuzanna Celej
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Agnes Martin was born on the Canadian prairies in the early twentieth century. In this imagining of her childhood from acclaimed author Tessa McWatt, Agnes spends her days surrounded by wheat fields, where her grandfather encourages her to draw what she sees and feels around her: the straight horizon, the feeling of the sun, the movement of birds' wings and the shapes she sees in the wheat. One day, Agnes's family moves to a house in a big city. The straight horizon and wheat fields are gone, but Agnes continues to draw what she sees and feels around her. No one except her grandfather understands what she is trying to capture -- not her mother, who asks, "Where are you, Agnes?" when she sees her daughter engrossed in her drawing; nor her siblings, who think her art is ugly. Still, Agnes keeps trying to capture what she sees inside her mind. Agnes Martin grew up to become a famous abstract expressionist artist. Tessa McWatt has written a beautiful story of Agnes's childhood and how it might have shaped her adult work. Zuzanna Celej's watercolors adeptly capture Agnes's world, including hints of the grid paintings that she was later known for, against the backdrop of prairie and city landscapes. Includes an author's note with more information about Agnes Martin's life and the inspiration behind this story.
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The Potty Book for Girls
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by Dorothy Stott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
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.
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Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Written by Judy Blume
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Margaret shares her secrets and her spirituality in this iconic Judy Blume novel, beloved by millions, that now has a fresh new look. Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong. But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush. Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.
Honorable Mentions
Best Friends book
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My Big Girl Potty book
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  1. 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?

  2. 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.

Books About Growing Up and Parenting

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A Potty for Me!
Written & 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.
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Princess Potty
Written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Amy Cartwright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
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.
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Tiny Potty
Written & illustrated by Andrea Olson
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Potty training board book
Honorable Mentions
Even Firefighters Go to the Potty book
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The Potty Train book
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Poop! There It Is! book
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P Is for Potty! book
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  1. 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.

  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. P Is for Potty! - In this interactive book with lift flaps, Elmo helps his little cousin Albie learn to use the potty.

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