Best Kids Books About Growing up

78 Kids Books About Growing up

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
The Wonderful Things You Will Be book
#1
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.

Sometimes You Fly book
#2
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.”

Once Upon a Memory book
#3
Once Upon a Memory
Written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Does a feather remember it once was a bird? Does a book remember it once was a word? When a feather drifts through a child's window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical "before" and "after" scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child, ultimately asking the question, "What will you remember?" Nina Laden's poetic and cleverly woven text is perfectly paired with bestselling artist Renata Liwska's captivating illustrations. Together they create a story that will keep readers enchanted long after the journey has ended.

Little Tree book
#4
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.

I Can Be Anything book
#5
I Can Be Anything
Written by Jerry Spinelli and illustrated by Jimmy Liao
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

When I grow up, what shall I be? This exuberant book offers up everything from a paper plane folder to a puppy dog holder, from a silly joke teller to a snowball smoother. Newbery-Award winning author Jerry Spinelli's simple and charming rhymes are accompanied by internationally-renowned illustrator Jimmy Liao's vibrant and fantastical illustrations. This book is an imaginative joyride about hopes and dreams, and a reminder of all the possibilities life has to offer. So, what do you want to be? Remember—you can be anything!

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.

Me . . . Jane book
#7
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.

There Is a Tribe of Kids book
#8
There Is a Tribe of Kids
Written and illustrated by Lane Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

If Lane Smith's Caldecott Honor Book Grandpa Green was an homage to aging and the end of life, There Is a Tribe of Kids is a meditation on childhood and life's beginning. Smith's vibrant sponge-paint illustrations and use of unusual collective nouns such as smack and unkindness bring the book to life. Whimsical, expressive, and perfectly paced, this story plays with language as much as it embodies imagination, and was awarded the 2017 Kate Greenaway Medal.

Beard Boy book
#9
Beard Boy
Written by John Flannery and illustrated by Steven Weinberg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty book
#10
Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty
Written and 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.

Baby Tree book
#11
Baby Tree
Written and 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.

Mad, Mad Bear! book
#12
Mad, Mad Bear!
Written and 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!

Made for Me book
#13
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.

Outfoxed book
#14
Outfoxed
Written and 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.

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty book
#15
Even Firefighters Go to the Potty
Written by Naomi Wax, Wendy Wax and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

Everyone Poops book
#16
Everyone Poops
Written by Taro Gomi and illustrated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

Shows how creatures throughout the animal world--including humans--deal with the products of digestion.

The Night Before My Birthday book
#17
The Night Before My Birthday
Written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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

I Feel Five! book
#18
I Feel Five!
Written and illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

The Importance of Being 3 book
#19
The Importance of Being 3
Written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The perfect present for three-year-olds, this picture book is a celebration of all things three! All the best things come in threes, not one, not two, but three, like the three-year-olds in this sweet picture book. As all parents know, three is a big year. Follow along as three friends learn new things in threes—from tricycles to triangles—take a dip in the pool, and play in the park with their friends! Of course, it’s not all fun and games. There’s a tantrum and then hugs all around as the three kids head to bed. This adorable picture book celebrating important life events is the perfect gift for third birthdays. Kids will love pointing out all the activities they can do now that they are three years old.

Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond book
#20
Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond
Written and illustrated by Belle Yang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

For kids of all sizes (and boasting ability), a funny fable about growing pains, the ups and downs of friendship, and the gift of forgiveness. In a cozy, tropical place called Washtub Pond, three web-footed creatures pass carefree days playing and dreaming together. Sue-Lin Salamander, Mao-Mao Mudpuppy, and Foo Frog have been best, samesize friends since the day they were born. But like all young creatures, these three grow up — and some really BIG changes in Foo Frog put the trio’s friendship to the test. With warmth, lighthearted wit, and a bit of hot air, Belle Yang has written and painted a laugh-out-loud story in bold, comedic strokes.

Judy Moody and Friends: Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx book
#21
Judy Moody and Friends: Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx
Written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Erwin Madrid
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

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

Sora and the Cloud book
#22
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.

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed book
#23
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed
Written and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

How to be a T. Rex book
#24
How to be a T. Rex
Written by Ryan North and illustrated by Mike Lowery
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Being a regular old human is kind of a drag. That’s why Sal is not going to be a teacher or doctor or lawyer when she grows up. She is going to grow up to be an awesome Tyrannosaurus Rex. Her brother thinks it’s impossible, but Sal sure shows him! And in the beginning, being a T. Rex is AWESOME. But did you know that it’s kind of hard to make friends when you are a super-giant, super-loud, super-stompy dinosaur? If only there were a way for Sal to be 100% awesome, 100% of the time…

Always Come Home to Me book
#25
Always Come Home to Me
Written and illustrated by Belle Yang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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?.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.