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Surprises: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about surprises?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to surprises. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about surprises.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about surprises, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Night Before the 100th Day of School to popular sellers like I Will Surprise My Friend! to some of our favorite hidden gems like Betsy Red Hoodie.

We hope this list of kids books about surprises can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

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Betsy Red Hoodie
Written by Gail Carson Levine & illustrated by Scott Nash
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Betsy is finally old enough to take cupcakes to Grandma all by herself—with the company of her faithful sheep, of course. And although wolves aren’t good for grandmas, Betsy lets her best friend, Zimmo, come along too. But will Zimmo’s wolfish instincts make Grandma the tasty treat instead? In her second picture book starring the feisty young shepherd Betsy, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine teams up once again with Scott Nash to put a hilarious twist on an old favorite. This reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood is sure to delight readers from little lambs to cupcake-loving grandmas.
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Mail Duck: A Book of Shapes and Surprises
Written & illustrated by Erica Sirotich
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
**Come along on Mail Duck’s delivery route for a day full of lift-the-flap surprises!** Mail Duck is delivering differently shaped packages to all his friends on his mail route. (Trudy likes triangles, and Harry likes hearts!) Lift the flaps to peek inside and guess what each friend received. Then head back to the post office for a big surprise: a thank-you celebration for Mail Duck planned by all his pals using the various packages they received throughout the story! Sixteen flaps and a final double-gatefold spread give readers plenty of sweet and silly details to unpack in this charming board book.
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Happy Birthday
Written & illustrated by Alessandra Psacharopulo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Balloons, treats, and gifts: someone must be having a happy birthday in this fun board book! Something exciting is happening here Adorable animals are baking a BIG cake, decorating the room, and wrapping presents. Plus, Jack Rabbit's practicing his magic and the monkey band is getting into the swing of things. What could it be? It's a surprise birthday party! Kids will happily join the festivities in this vibrantly illustrated, delightful story.
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Little Santa's Christmas
Written & illustrated by Algy Craig Hall
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4
Join Little Santa in delivering Christmas gifts to every good boy and girl! Who's that wriggling down the chimney, and rustling behind the Christmas tree? It's LITTLE SANTA, flying on her sled with a sack full of surprises--like drums, choo-choo trains, and a bouncy ball. And when Little Santa finishes her busy Christmas ride there's something special waiting for her at home: cookies, milk, and a BIG hug! This sweet and simple holiday story will delight small children.
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Fortunately
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Good and bad luck accompany Ned from New York to Florida on his way to a surprise party.
On a Windy Night book
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How to Surprise a Dad book
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Milo's Hat Trick book
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Peekaboo! on the Farm! book
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  • On a Windy Night - On a windy Halloween night, as a little boy makes his way home after trick-or-treating, he hears a voice: “Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours—if you look back.” As his heart flip-flops with fear, the boy dashes through woods and fields that seem full of haunting shapes—owls, ghosts, skeletons, and more. The detailed illustrations are packed with visual tricks for children to discover. Are those skeletons or cornstalks? Ghostly hands or tree branches? The playful tone of the text makes this a perfect, not-too-scary read-aloud, with an enjoyable surprise ending.

  • How to Surprise a Dad - From the creators of the New York Times bestsellers HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA and HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDMA comes a charming HOW TO book that’s all about surprises! So you want to surprise your dad? You’re in luck! The pages of this book are full of tips on how to become a super dad surpriser, including tips for things you can make, do, or find—just for your dad. Be sure to read up on: · Yummy treats and presents for a dad · What to do if he starts getting suspicious · How to prepare for the big moment (where to hide everyone, and how to practice whispering “Surprise!”) From the author-illustrator team behind the New York Times bestselling HOW TO… series comes an adorable, funny, surprising celebration of dads!

  • Milo's Hat Trick - Milo the Magnificent’s magic act isn’t so magnificent after all, until he meets a bear who teaches him the secret to the perfect hat trick in this classic and critically acclaimed picture book, perfect for fans of Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen Milo the Magnificent is the world’s least magnificent magician. He can’t even pull a rabbit out of his hat! When Mr. Popovich gives him one more chance, Milo knows he has no choice: he has to go out and catch a rabbit for his act. Instead, he catches a bear. And the bear promises to help! Into the hat he dives. Milo rides the train home, sure his act will go off perfectly tonight. But when he arrives in his dressing room, he discovers that he left his hat—and the bear!—on the train. Meanwhile, across town, a man in a restaurant has a very familiar hat . . . Can Milo get his hat back in time for his act?

  • Peekaboo! on the Farm! - Peekaboo! Who’s hiding on the farm? Lift the flap to find out! Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills – and simply joining in!

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Wakey, Wakey, Elephant!
Written by Linda Ravin Lodding & illustrated by Michael Robertson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
A tickly feather. Roosters crowing. Even a marching band. Will ANYTHING wake Elephant? How do you make a snoozing, sleepyhead Elephant get up? Edgar tries everything, from putting a silly hat on Elephant's head to dancing a cha-cha on the bed. Nothing works . . . until Edgar whispers something very special in his friend's ear. SURPRISE! It's Elephant's birthday--and he's ready to party. Lively, silly, and full of fun, this picture book is a joyful celebration.
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Monster Needs a Party
Written by Paul Czajak & illustrated by Wendy Grieb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Disappointed when none of his friends can attend his pirate birthday, Monster cheers up when he goes to a pirate theme park, instead.
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The Cutest Thing Ever
Written by Amy Ignatow & illustrated by Hsinping Pan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
An adorable and hilarious picture book filled with the cutest things imaginable This wacky, imaginative picture book sets out to answer a big question: Wanna see the cutest thing EVER? Just when you think you've seen it, there's more! Is it a kitten? A unicorn? Bunny astronauts? These things are cute, but are they really the cutest thing ever? After being paraded through a colorful world of cuteness, young readers will discover a mirror on the final page, which reflects the actual cutest thing ever and makes them shout--it's me! With charming illustrations and laugh-out-loud text, The Cutest Thing Ever is a fun read-aloud for parents and children to share together.
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Click, Clack, Surprise!
Written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Betsy Lewin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Little Duck learns how to celebrate his birthday with a little help from all the other animals on the farm in this charming picture book from the award-winning duo, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. Happy first birthday, Little Duck! Everyone wants to look their best for the party. But Little Duck has never had a birthday before—so how better to learn how to prepare than to do what all the other animals do! The sheep trim their wool—so Little Duck trims her feathers. The pigs need a mud bath—so Little Duck quish and quashes, too. All over the barnyard Little Duck snips, slurps, squishes, and shimmy shakes herself ready until...WHOOPS! It’s party picture time—and Little Duck is a big mess. No matter—it’s not something Farmer Brown’s frosted maple cake can’t fix!
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Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise
Written & illustrated by David Ezra Stein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid”—or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.
I Will Surprise My Friend! book
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A Hungry Lion, Or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals book
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Masha and the Bear: Reader #2 book
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A Christmas Surprise book
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  • I Will Surprise My Friend! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I Will Surprise My Friend!, Gerald and Piggie want to play a game and surprise each other-but the biggest surprise is the one they least expect.

  • A Hungry Lion, Or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals - Members of a large group of animals, including a penguin, two rabbits, and a koala, disappear at an alarming rate but the hungry lion remains.

  • Masha and the Bear: Reader #2 - An exciting leveled reader featuring Masha and the Bear! After the Bear’s birthday, Masha gets excited about her own special day—and all of the presents she’ll get. But when her birthday finally arrives, she can’t find her friends. Where are they? Did they forget?!

  • A Christmas Surprise - Molly is so excited to spend Christmas with her family. . . she can?t wait for the snow, food, and presents! But Molly just can?t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Luckily, she finds a distraction in Flame, the snow white kitten. With his magical help, it looks like Molly may get the best Christmas present ever!

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Carl's Birthday
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Day
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Happy birthday, Carl! But can Mom surprise him? No way. As hard as Mom tries, Madeleine and her canine babysitter extraordinaire are hot on her trail, tasting the party punch, peeking at presents, and adding some of their own favorite decorations.
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Through My Window
Written by Tony Bradman & illustrated by Eileen Browne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
This special edition commemorates the 30th anniversary of this classic multicultural picture book. Jo is ill and has to stay in bed for the day, but her mum promises to bring her home a surprise to make her feel better. All day long Jo looks out of the window waiting for her mum to return, and in the meantime sees all her friends from the neighbourhood, including the postman, the window cleaner and Mrs Ali from next door. But when will Mum be back with her surprise for Jo?
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A Gift from Abuela
Written & illustrated by Cecilia Ruiz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
In her first book for children, Cecilia Ruiz illuminates how things can change -- and the importance of holding on to our dearest relationships when they do. The first time Abuela holds Nina, her heart overflows with tenderness. And as Nina grows up, she and Abuela spend plenty of time together. Abuela can't help thinking how much she'd like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week -- a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela's dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together -- and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other -- could turn out to be the very best gift of all. With a soft and subtle hand, author-illustrator Cecilia Ruiz draws from her own history to share a deeply personal tale about remembering what's most important when life starts to get in the way.
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Poor Little Guy
Written & illustrated by Elanna Allen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
What do you do when you’re so tiny that the bigger ocean creatures think you might even taste adorable? An itsy-bitsy, glasses-wearing fish is minding his own business when a playful (and hungry) octopus snatches him right up. Luckily, this poor little guy is not quite as innocent as he seems…and he has a BIG surprise up his sleeve!
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Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble
Written by Megan McDonald & illustrated by Erwin Madrid
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6
Pee! Gee! Wee! Gee! What’s that sound? With her birthday coming up, Jessica hopes that, just maybe, her present will be a real-live potbellied pig. Jessica can hardly wait for her party with Judy Moody and all their friends. But Judy Moody is acting like a pig-head, and Jessica UN-invites her from the party. To make matters worse, Jessica has snooped around the house and has found zero sign of a pig present. Could her birthday be any more of a disaster? Geared to newly independent readers, this story will have Judy Moody fans in pig heaven.
The Night Before Father's Day book
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Lily's Water Woes book
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The Night Before the 100th Day of School book
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Ollie's Treasure book
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  • The Night Before Father's Day - It’s the night before Father’s Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin!

  • Lily's Water Woes - The second installment of the Wild Fairies series, Lily’s Water Woes, follows wild fairy (and mermaid) Lily, who is feeling left out. While her fairy friends get to travel to beautiful beaches and lush forests, Lily is always stuck at home, unable to be away from the water for very long. Her froggy pal, Splash, tries his best to cheer her up, but Lily still wishes she could stay out late and play like the other fairies. Wanting to help their friend, the fairies come together to build an awesome surprise for Lily that just might make it easier for her to travel beyond her small pond. The Wild Fairies series features a group of magical fairy friends who love playing and learning in the beautiful and bountiful forest they call home. With their reliable sidekick critters alongside, Daisy, Thistle, Heather, Celosia, Poppy, Dahlia, Indigo, and Lily care for the natural world around them using their unique and diverse set of special skills. Infused with ecology, botany, and magic, the wild fairies’ whimsical adventures will inspire in kids a sense of wonder and curiosity for nature, as well as inform them about the wildflowers and critters behind the fairies through young-reader friendly nonfiction pages in the back of each book.

  • The Night Before the 100th Day of School - The 100th day of school is almost here and one student is desperate to find 100 of anything to bring to class. Then all of sudden inspiration strikes, and he comes up with a surprise that makes the 100th day celebration one to remember! This hilarious story of a popular school tradition offers a perfect modern twist on Clement C. Moore’s classic poem.

  • Ollie's Treasure - Ollie’s Treasure is tale of mindfulness for young, developing minds. Ollie’s grandma sends him a treasure map that promises to lead him to ‘something that will make him happy always’. Of course, Ollie thinks this ‘something’ will be a toy of some sort, but he gets both a rude shock and a big surprise when his treasure turns out to be him!

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Spot's Easter Surprise
Written & illustrated by Eric Hill
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Excited about the big Easter egg hunt at his grandparent's house, Spot and his friends search for the hidden treats, but when he sees something special in the bushes, Spot knows that it is the perfect gift for his grandparents. On board pages.
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Spot Goes Shopping
Written & illustrated by Eric Hill
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Grocery shopping is a treat with Spot! Spot is helping his mom shop at the grocery store. He gets to have his very own shopping cart, and helps pick out the cheese, eggs, cereal, and juice. His mom may even have a tasty surprise for him since he helped out so well!
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Seven Orange Pumpkins Board Book
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
A rhyming Halloween counting board book sure to delight the youngest trick-or-treaters Now in a board book edition for the youngest reader, join a sneaky spider, a wily witch, a silly scarecrow, and other favorite spooky creatures as seven orange pumpkins disappear in a countdown to a Halloween surprise. Bright, bold, and fun, Seven Orange Pumpkins is a perfect read-aloud and is sure to capture the imagination of the littlest trick-or-treaters.

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